Originally Posted by kidsoul
This is great advice. But I lack the tools to do so. What do I say?
I have been understanding--you don't turn a traditional monogamous marriage of 21 years into an open one overnight. This has been driven by my nature to be compassionate, and to see things from everyone's point of view. But also, I must admit, partly out of fear. I didn't want to upset her husband and jeopardize the relationship and any potential forward progress.
It sounds like you've been causing yourself a LOT of hurt in the process. I admire you for your self-control and for your consideration, but at this point, what do you really have with her that you would lose? Yeah, if they shut you down, it would hurt for awhile, but that might, in the long run, be better than the torment you are currently experiencing.
And, depending upon how you voice your concerns, you might not get shut down. No one is born with the ability to read minds--it is very possible that the husband does not know how you are suffering, and will be taken quite aback when he realizes just how hard you have worked to take care of his concerns. He also might not, but you will never know if you do not try.
If you do not try, the best you're going to get for awhile is no more than what you have right now. Ask for what you want--the worst that will happen is that you do not get it.
Originally Posted by kidsoul
Another thing, I'm not sure she fully understood just how painful this has been for me until now. How do I convey these sentiments without hurling (e.g. LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME!!) emotional slings? I guess in some ways, you can't. But I do want to avoid "twisting the knife" as it were, if that's possible. Anyone have advice on this?
See, it's that mind-reading thing again. You cannot be certain that people know what you are feeling unless you tell
them. The other side of that coin is that you cannot be certain that you know what others are feeling unless they tell
you. This may require that you ask them.
There is a lot out there in the big bad internet about communication and polyamory (from "I" language to minimizing or avoiding conflicts, even when talking about difficult subjects). It might not hurt to ask some questions and let husband and wife talk for awhile, ask some more questions, and so on, until you believe you understand where their heads and hearts are at. Then it's your turn, and after they've seen that you're willing to take the time to listen, they may be more receptive to your words.
Practice what you want to ask, and what you want to say. Rehearse it. Maybe even make an outline. Remember H.A.L.T.--do not have a deep conversation that may involve having to stand up for yourself when any of the participants are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (H.A.L.T.). Everyone should be fed, rested, calm, and in their happy place, if possible. That helps to avoid throwing dry kindling onto a fire, so to speak.
Here's an example of how it might go (salt to taste):
"I know you've been going through a lot right now, and I've tried very hard to stay out of the way and not push. However, I am having a very hard time right now with the restrictions that are on the relationship I have with X. I care very deeply for her, and have been unable to adequately express affection for her for a very long time now. Can we, together, consider moving the boundaries?"
Make sure, if what you get is a much smaller step than you would like (and it probably will be), that you have an agreement to have this discussion again in a few weeks or at most two months. Don't let yourself get rolled here--you may have to do some nudging to keep the relationship moving. If you get a lot of pushback, or a lot of anger, you may need--for your own sake, to walk away from this situation.
DO read the "Secondary Bill of Rights" at the xeromag website. You MUST be given consideration as part of the secondary relationship to negotiate what that relationship will look like; what the boundaries are, what the schedule is like, etc. If they simply want to impose their view upon you, you are going to be an unhappy, frustrated, resentful, hurt fellow.