Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-19-2011, 05:10 AM
JT2 JT2 is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 3
Default Helping primary feel "primary"

My partner (of 10 years) has a wife (17 years). It has always been a primary/secondary thing. I'm 100% fine with being the secondary. I like it. It works for me. And it is super important to her to be "primary" - that is non-negotiable.

The problem is that even though she is the "primary" partner, she says she doesn't feel like she's being treated as "primary" and we've had a hard time finding workable solutions to the problem.

While I am very clearly treated as a secondary in all household stuff, and (though less clearly) also in relationship stuff, I am his business partner/assistant. His work involves a lot of travel and long hours, but it is his calling, and he helps a lot of people in his work. In many ways, his work is his real "primary", and I think his wife projects alot of her resentment about that onto me. He does spend a lot more hours with me, and very frequently travels with me, but that is work. (She's tried to help with his work. She quickly gets bored and wants him to pay attention to her, and she's been rude in front of clients.)

When asked what she'd like her husband to do differently, she tends to fixate on impossible or wildly impractical things, so my partner and I have been trying to think of things that he actually CAN do that might help her "feel primary" without putting his career in danger.

Any suggestions?


-- JT
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-19-2011, 08:53 AM
sagency's Avatar
sagency sagency is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: U.S. Pacific Northwest
Posts: 133
Default

What special things do they have that is reserved strictly for them?

When he comes home, how does he greet the people in the house?

Does he do things where he is specifically giving up an opportunity to do things with you in order to do something with her that she wasn't expecting?

Are her needs being met? Are they being exceeded?

Also, it might help is she has things outside the house and relationship that occupy her time and give her a sense of accomplishment. You're pretty light on details about living arrangements and how she spends her time, but if he is her conduit for interaction with the wider world, there's a big adjustment that would help.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-19-2011, 09:07 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,423
Default

So, basically, you're saying that your partner has problems with his other relationship and wants you to fix it?
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia "

An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 07-19-2011 at 05:05 PM. Reason: fixed gender pronoun.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-19-2011, 09:43 AM
sagency's Avatar
sagency sagency is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: U.S. Pacific Northwest
Posts: 133
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
So, basically, you're saying that your partner has problems with her other relationship and wants you to fix it?
If my math is correct, his (Him1) partner is having trouble with his (Him2) relationship, and him1 wants to help him2 research things that could improve the situation.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-19-2011, 02:42 PM
MonoVCPHG's Avatar
MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: In Redpepper's heart
Posts: 4,742
Default

I just wanted to chime in and say congrats on keeping things together for 10 years as a "secondary"! That is a mile stone most poly relationships don't hit.
__________________

Playing the Game of Life with Monopoly rules.
Monogamy might just be in my genes

Poly Events All Over
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-19-2011, 03:01 PM
NeonKaos NeonKaos is offline
Custodian
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: new england
Posts: 3,221
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG View Post
I just wanted to chime in and say congrats on keeping things together for 10 years as a "secondary"! That is a mile stone most poly relationships don't hit.


I hate to rain on your parade, Mono, but It's not clear how much time the op has been in a secondary relationship with the woman. The "partner" he refers to in the first sentence is the business-partner, the husband of the woman the op is involved with.

I do not see anywhere in the original post where it says how long the secondary relationship has been going on.

Last edited by NeonKaos; 07-19-2011 at 03:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-19-2011, 07:31 PM
JT2 JT2 is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 3
Default

Thank you for the responses! To clarify some things -

We all live together - I moved in to their house almost ten years ago, after dating my partner ("Husband") for about a year. Wife and I are not romantically or sexually involved. Mostly because I'm 90% gay, but also I think the two of us just don't "click" on a number of levels.

I know it isn't my responsibility to fix their relationship, and Husband certainly hasn't told me to fix it, but he seems stuck and out of ideas, and I want to help. This is a research/brainstorming thing, not some kind of blame-the-secondary thing. Even if I was just his good friend and co-worker I would want to help, because I can see he's been struggling with this for over a year, and hasn't made any real progress. In any case, I don't think you can last ten years as a happy secondary without figuring out that if the primaries are unhappy, that is bad news for everyone, and being helpful in attempting to find a resolution is in your best interest.


Sagency - Those are some really great ideas. I'll talk to Husband about them. It hadn't occurred to me that Wife might like to know about all the times when Husband deprioritizes Boyfriend (me) in order to do things for her. I think that on some level he's always assumed she'd feel awkward knowing that her special whatever happened at my expense. That it would contribute to a "scarcity mentality" and promote the idea that she and I were in competition for his time and attention. But... if it is a "competition" that she almost always wins... maybe she'd like that?


I was especially struck by your last point about encouraging Wife to have more things outside the house and the relationship. Now that I think of it, the problem became most obvious soon after she retired from her job, and she's just not the "stay at home housewife" type. I wonder if it isn't so much that she resents when Husband's job takes him away from her, but that she is jealous because she wishes she had a fullfilling "important" career like his that got her attention and praise from other people. Which might explain why attention and praise from him seems like it is "never enough".


SNeacail - I'll check out 5 Love Languages - Thank you! As a third-party observer, it does seem like they've got very different ways of showing their love for each other. That could be another piece of why his praise/attention is "never enough". It seems like even his best attempts to show her how special she is keep missing the mark, and he isn't able to figure out why. It makes sense that he might be aiming at the wrong place.

-- JT
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-19-2011, 09:54 PM
sagency's Avatar
sagency sagency is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: U.S. Pacific Northwest
Posts: 133
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JT2 View Post
Sagency - Those are some really great ideas. I'll talk to Husband about them. It hadn't occurred to me that Wife might like to know about all the times when Husband deprioritizes Boyfriend (me) in order to do things for her. I think that on some level he's always assumed she'd feel awkward knowing that her special whatever happened at my expense. That it would contribute to a "scarcity mentality" and promote the idea that she and I were in competition for his time and attention. But... if it is a "competition" that she almost always wins... maybe she'd like that?


I was especially struck by your last point about encouraging Wife to have more things outside the house and the relationship. Now that I think of it, the problem became most obvious soon after she retired from her job, and she's just not the "stay at home housewife" type. I wonder if it isn't so much that she resents when Husband's job takes him away from her, but that she is jealous because she wishes she had a fullfilling "important" career like his that got her attention and praise from other people. Which might explain why attention and praise from him seems like it is "never enough".
My mono and I are pretty good about scheduling and routines. As such, she notices when something is out of place. Occasionally if I have something that is optional that really doesn't have my interest, I'll seek her out and offer to do something with her. Usually she'll ask why I'm not elsewhere. Technically, "meh" might be as true an answer as "sometimes I like to remind you you're a priority." But I'll guarantee one of those answers is better for the relationship than the other.

If something in the schedule gets cancelled so there's a pocket of free time I will consider what to do. Even though it seems redundant, if I decide to do something with K, I try to make a point of mentioning that she was the option I chose. It's not about trying to flatter her to score points. It's about words and actions together that reinforce the idea that she's important.

You might have a point about a scarcity mentality, but K's personality and my unwillingness to entertain a scarcity mentality mean we've not had that issue.

As far as other things, if she's basically retiring after a career, it seems like she might be a bit stircrazy. Volunteerism and hobbies could help with that. With what little details we have here, I'd suggest some sort of volunteer effort that involves interacting with others on a regular basis. (A hobby or solo volunteerism might not meet the interactive needs it sounds like she has.)

Best of luck.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-24-2011, 09:46 AM
Satisfiction's Avatar
Satisfiction Satisfiction is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 29
Default

The Five Love Languages principles are brilliant and definitely have helped some (mono) relationships I know. It could be something as simple as communicating in different love languages, which is relatively easy to fix.

But yeah, if she's going stircrazy because of a lack of work/life ambition I would get her out of the house and pursuing something she enjoys. Just because she's retired doesn't mean that she has to let go of ambition.
__________________
Don't fight against the existing model, create a new model that makes the old model obsolete.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-27-2011, 12:03 PM
BlackUnicorn's Avatar
BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 906
Default

This whole primary/secondary might be easier to secure when everyone involved is relatively young and "unattached".

To me, having kids with person/people A instead of B pretty much shows you consider them your primary/primaries. Although I plan living with/close to Moonlight & co at some point, kiddies are definitely out of the discussion. Part of it is of course the fact that they have kids already, and I wouldn't want to create "competition" in a way. And the greater part is that because I consider Vanilla my primary, kiddies will enter into discussions with her.

But the love languages might help. If hers is quality time, indeed pointing out when he's made plans to hang out with her instead of you might work. Or if it's physical touch, then ensuring that whenever he passes her by, there is a embrace, a caress or a quick kiss involved. Words of affirmation maybe don't work for her so much, because I understand that he has told her already multiple times how he considers her his primary?
__________________
Me: bi female in my twenties
Dating: Moonlightrunner
Metamour: Windflower
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
conflict, time management, vee, vee dynamics

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:56 AM.