Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-25-2011, 04:43 AM
kidsoul kidsoul is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Boston
Posts: 10
Default Advice for a secondary in a slowly opening marriage

I haven't had much luck finding posts that deal with the problems a single person faces in dealing with the boundaries and rules that are encountered in pursuing a relationship with a married person; one that is in the initial stages of slowly opening up their marriage.

I'm in a relationship with a married woman. Like many on the board, this started "backwards." We fell in love, shared our feelings for each other, and then she started the difficult work of opening her marriage.

Eight months later, her and I have a regular date night once a week. The three of us are learning to get comfortable with each other's presence, and enjoy spending time together. We ate dinner together tonight, and we're planning a BBQ this Saturday. The poly "familial bubble" is starting to expand. We enrich each other's lives.

However the boundaries are starting to chafe and wear on me. While we do spend time alone together, the current rules limit us to holding hands and hugging.

I've read Franklin Veaux's "Secondary's Guide" http://www.xeromag.com/fvsecondary.html It's helpful, but misses the mark in providing concrete tools for dealing with the host of raw emotions that arise. And while these are horrible feelings, I also firmly believe that they can be powerful catalysts for personal growth. Some are dealt with introspection and letting time pass. I also try to put myself in everyone’s shoes, and strive to find joy in her relationship with her husband.

What I'm currently dealing with is envy for the physical intimacy they share, things her and I can't have. This leads to anger and depression on my part. I seek to avoid growing resentful of her or the situation by humbly reminding myself of the enormous risks she has taken and for the gifts that her husband has given us. I cherish this woman, am amazed at the connection we share, and marvel at how far we have traveled.

She's going to talk with her husband about re-evaluating our boundaries next month. Part of me is elated at the prospect of being able to communicate and sharing my love for her in a more physical manner. But the other part wonders, won't the pain and anguish I feel just get moved to another boundary (oh yes, you can kiss her, but don't touch her here or there).

Are there other secondaries on the forum that have experienced a similar situation? How do you deal with the feelings and keep the relationship healthy?

Peace and kindness,
kidsoul
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:06 PM
BlackUnicorn's Avatar
BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 906
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidsoul View Post
Eight months later...While we do spend time alone together, the current rules limit us to holding hands and hugging.
Gut reaction; eight months is a really long time to be holding hands with someone you love.

Honestly, not a single kiss during this entire time? And weekly one-on-one dates? I marvel your self-control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidsoul View Post
She's going to talk with her husband about re-evaluating our boundaries next month. Part of me is elated at the prospect of being able to communicate and sharing my love for her in a more physical manner. But the other part wonders, won't the pain and anguish I feel just get moved to another boundary (oh yes, you can kiss her, but don't touch her here or there).
Why next month, why not now?

Frankly, the prognosis isn't very good. You write that the opening up of her marriage was difficult. Did the three of you at any point, while making and agreeing to the boundaries/rules, discuss a schedule?

Did you in the beginning of the relationship imagine the two of you still only holding hands after eight months? Is that what you signed up for? What if next month, you are allowed to kiss her? Will you be content with that for another nine months? What if he sees the two of you kissing, decides he can't cope and goes back on a boundary? Will you be able to contain yourself for an unspecified amount of time, just kissing, unsupervised, in love?

Very strict boundaries that are enforced "for now" seem to lead into frustration and/or cheating. I understand the gratitude you feel for her husband for even considering this, and since you and especially your SO are the "bad guys" here, having broken the monogamous promise she gave to her husband, it might feel like you really are in no position to make demands. But at some point, you will have to start considering your own emotional health.
__________________
Me: bi female in my twenties
Dating: Moonlightrunner
Metamour: Windflower
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:32 PM
Carma's Avatar
Carma Carma is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 477
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn View Post

I marvel your self-control.

Frankly, the prognosis isn't very good.

I understand the gratitude you feel for her husband for even considering this, and since you and especially your SO are the "bad guys" here, having broken the monogamous promise she gave to her husband, it might feel like you really are in no position to make demands.

But at some point, you will have to start considering your own emotional health.
This feedback makes me feel mixed emotions, BU. I marvel at the self-control -- but I do find it loving and honorable. Don't you? Who's to say it's a bad prognosis, if this man is willing to restrain his physical urges out of deep respect for this woman and her marriage?

As far as being in no position to make demands, yes, that is true -- when you get into this situation, you have to know what you're signing up for. It requires so much patience and acceptance. I see kidsoul's demonstration of these characteristics as admirable and awesome. How respectful!

But, kidsoul, if you go too long without being able to express the love you long to give in physical ways, you may find yourself really hurting. There may come a day when you have to make a tough decision. If the husband doesn't ease up, and she accepts his boundaries, then you may have to honestly say, "I need more. If I can't exchange love with you, I may need to move on to someone I can exchange love with, at a level that is healthy for me."

I have thought a lot in my own poly situation, "Is this a dead-end street?" In many ways, YES, mine is. Can I accept that? I have to have a "carpe deim" way of living. Does it matter where it ends up? Is love in and of itself enough of a journey along the way? I choose to focus on the present, and not get so caught up in where this is going, where it will end. However, I have to sometimes take a cold hard look, and accept the fact that it will likely end painfully. "Tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all." Right? Well -- I guess we all have to decide for ourselves, what is worth it, and what is too expensive for our souls to endure.
__________________
Married to Sundance
Boyfriend -- Butch Cassidy
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:58 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,230
Default

I find myself somewhere between BU and Carma. I've been in a secondary relationship with a married woman for almost two years. I started out as a casual sex partner with her and her husband, so boundaries on physical intimacy were never an issue. However, she and I haven't done more than kiss and cuddle just a little bit for the last 10-11 months because of her desire for space during her pregnancy... the baby is now almost 2 months old and it's understood between us that sex is "on hold" not "off the table", but I don't think either of us could begin to say when she'll be ready. So our situations are very different and yet very similar.

I feel for you. It's very hard to want someone and to always be holding back. I think BU brings up some very good questions. I think you deserve, 8 months in, to at least know what the intention is. Is sex on the horizon? Does her husband have any sense of the timeline he might require? Is he willing to push himself a little more, knowing that you (and presumably she also!) are hurting?

One thing for the husband to consider... by making you two "forbidden fruit" to each other he may actually be making your infatuation with each other that much stronger, even while you're hurting over it... that's how these things often go. Is that really what he wants?

I think everyone has acted admirably here, but if he really cares about you two he needs to recognize that you're adults with needs and this is a little silly... if you two are so emotionally entangled, that's just as potent and just as much (really just as little) of a threat to him as if you were physically entangled too. Does he really want to deal with his wife's depression and resentment if she loses you because you can't take it any more?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-25-2011, 03:08 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,230
Default

Question -- are you open to the idea of seeing anyone else? I'm not saying you should see someone just to "make up" for what you're not getting from your gf, but I think that just being open to the idea, flirting a little, might help you feel a little calmer. A couple months into my gf's pregnancy I made the conscious decision to be open to other things that might come along, to give me something else to focus on so that I didn't obsess endlessly over her. I ended up meeting a fun new lover and that did really help me be more patient with her.

I feel pretty strongly that if your only relationship is secondary, you should stay open to other loves, serious or casual. Otherwise you can begin to feel like "What's wrong with me that other people get a whole pie of love/romance/time/commitment/sex/whatever and I just get a little slice?"
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-25-2011, 10:35 PM
kidsoul kidsoul is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Boston
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
One thing for the husband to consider... by making you two "forbidden fruit" to each other he may actually be making your infatuation with each other that much stronger, even while you're hurting over it... that's how these things often go. Is that really what he wants?

I think everyone has acted admirably here, but if he really cares about you two he needs to recognize that you're adults with needs and this is a little silly... if you two are so emotionally entangled, that's just as potent and just as much (really just as little) of a threat to him as if you were physically entangled too. Does he really want to deal with his wife's depression and resentment if she loses you because you can't take it any more?
Thank you! These are great points and intend to bring them to her attention.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-25-2011, 10:41 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,230
Default

I forget if this is from the xeromag secondary's bill of rights or elsewhere, but... you have a right to a say in the shape your relationships take. It shouldn't all just be her and him discussing and then informing you of your limits. I know that sounds idealistic now, but your needs should count too.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-25-2011, 03:16 PM
BlackUnicorn's Avatar
BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 906
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carma View Post
I marvel at the self-control -- but I do find it loving and honorable. Don't you?
Yeah, like I said, I find it marvellous. More than I think I would be capable of, worthy of admiration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carma View Post
Who's to say it's a bad prognosis, if this man is willing to restrain his physical urges out of deep respect for this woman and her marriage?
I was referring to a bad prognosis in general for the combination of the following;
1) Very strict boundaries that are enforced for unlimited duration and;
2) Constant physical proximity

I think it creates a situation where the secondary sees the love and affection freely flowing between the primary couple while being prohibited from enjoying that flow themselves, and 9 times out of 10, that creates envy and bitterness in the long run. The prognosis for continued emotional health and fulfillment isn't very good in this scenario IMHO.

It's not simply a matter of containing physical urges; to me, this situation is akin to somebody saying; "Yes, you are allowed to date my partner, but never ever say, in word or text, that you love them. It is okay to feel that but never to say that. That needs to be preserved for our primary relationship and for that alone."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carma View Post
But, kidsoul, if you go too long without being able to express the love you long to give in physical ways, you may find yourself really hurting. There may come a day when you have to make a tough decision. If the husband doesn't ease up, and she accepts his boundaries, then you may have to honestly say, "I need more. If I can't exchange love with you, I may need to move on to someone I can exchange love with, at a level that is healthy for me."
You expressed my point better than I did .
__________________
Me: bi female in my twenties
Dating: Moonlightrunner
Metamour: Windflower
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-25-2011, 03:23 PM
Carma's Avatar
Carma Carma is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 477
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn View Post
It's not simply a matter of containing physical urges; to me, this situation is akin to somebody saying; "Yes, you are allowed to date my partner, but never ever say, in word or text, that you love them. It is okay to feel that but never to say that. That needs to be preserved for our primary relationship and for that alone."
Oh shit, that's Sundance's stance.
__________________
Married to Sundance
Boyfriend -- Butch Cassidy
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-25-2011, 03:30 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,230
Default

Good point about the proximity, BU. It can be hard enough not to be jealous of your partner's primary at times even with sex AND love AND compersion, just because they'll always be "senior" to you, like an older sibling situation but more emotionally charged, and because it can hard to see and to know about special moments, not all of which you can possibly share.

One really bizarre trigger for me is around their anniversary. For the past two years, though I've managed to control it, I've gotten weird and jealous around that day. No good reason for it at all.

I think people really underestimate how much work secondaries have to do to stay emotionally healthy...
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
boundary negotiation, communication skills, mono/poly, new to poly, secondary, vee

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 10:02 AM.