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Old 03-05-2012, 04:14 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Default Jealousy? Entitlement?

Ach, it's happened again! I had that fateful New Year's Eve dance, shortly after my husband and I first opened up our relationship to allow some physical intimacy with my other beloveds. I danced with C for the second-to-last dance before midnight, and when I found my husband for the last dance, found him angry that I had not saved him both dances. Weeks of tension and arguments ensued (see my previous thread) but after much work we reached a happy space again, including reopening my intimacy with C to the point of my spending a whole weekend with him.

Today, my husband and I were nearing the end of a 3 day dance workshop. At each 1 or 2 hour session, the instructor would ask people to rotate partners several times, but at the end and sometimes in the middle he would say, "Go back to your original partner from the start of this session." At our lunch break today my husband got restaurant take out and I ate at home (another point of contention between us) so he didn't have time to eat before the afternoon session started. I sat with him at the side of the hall while he started eating, then found a partner when the workshop began. He joined the class after 10 minutes or so, with someone else. We danced together during partner rotations, but when the instructor told us to return to our original partner for the last minute or so of class, I returned to the man I had started that session with.

Well, my husband thought I was not being considerate of his feelings. He said I should have told him to expect that I wouldn't dance that minute with him. As with any change of partners, there are always a couple of people who don't find partners immediately, and they raise hands and find each other, so my husband had someone to dance with. And it was only the last bit of practice for that session, before a short break and another session. Unlike New Year's Eve, there was really no sentimental attachment to that moment, in my view. In his view, I was apparently thinking only of myself, not of him. (I did make eye contact to indicate that I was with my original partner, when I saw him approaching me, so it's not like I ignored him.)

I don't understand it. After New Year's Eve, I concluded that the deeper issue was my intimacy and feelings for C, not the second-to-last dance. In this case, this other dance partner was a man whose name I didn't even know -just a random man in the class. I don't think my husband could have been jealous of this guy. And he didn't seem to have any problem all weekend with anyone I danced with, even the ones I dramatically flirt with on the dance floor (for the fun of it; these guys know it's all in fun). I'm left feeling like he has some sense of entitlement to me, and I hate that. I've asked him to start going out dancing without me so he stops thinking he needs me to make him complete in any way, as a dancer. I feel so much anger over this, and I'm not really sure why. All I can think is that it's because I've been working so hard to look out for his feelings through my whole poly journey, only to feel accused of wrongdoing for something that in my mind was not only not wrong, but was the only thing any woman would have done in the same situation.

Does anyone have any insights on a) why my husband had such a strong reaction to my dancing with someone else at the end of the session, or b) why his reaction makes me so angry?
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:13 AM
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sounds like he was triggered. I hope he decides to look deeply at what is going on for him rather than having these out bursts directed at you. That is entirely unfair and manipulative.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:10 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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A little more discussion and he says it's not that I went back to that partner at the end, but that I started with someone else in the first place, rather than sitting with him while he finished eating. He says most couples would have waited out together. I figured we were attending in order to improve our dancing, so if at least one of us was out there learning the new steps, it would benefit us both.

I'm starting to think dancing is not an activity we should do together. I know I have a tendency to get critical of his dance steps and I don't know where it comes from. And he has these expectations that don't feel comfortable to me. Next weekend there will be a dance where he, C and L all plan to attend, and again I'm getting paranoid he's going to have some reason to be disappointed with me that I don't see coming. Almost to the point where I shouldn't even dance with C or L, to avoid it. Although now these issues even come up when I dance with total strangers, so social dancing has become a land mine when he's present. When I go dancing without him (which is most of the time, 2 or 3 nights a week), I can just relax and enjoy it and not worry about how much attention I'm giving to any one person. I have seen other married couples who manage to exist as separate individuals on the dance floor, so I know it's not impossible.

I want him to feel special to me, and important, and that I enjoy the time I spend with him. Yet the more I feel confined by expectations, the less loving I feel -I have the urge to push away, not draw close. Not sure how to get around this.
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Old 03-06-2012, 04:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
A little more discussion and he says it's not that I went back to that partner at the end, but that I started with someone else in the first place, rather than sitting with him while he finished eating. He says most couples would have waited out together.
Well, why didn't he say, "Hey, wait for me" if it was so important to him? Once again he expects you to be a mind reader and accuses you of selfishness and being uncaring for not knowing his thought process, when he could have made it all so clear by stating his feelings or needs in the moment. I would find that exasperating and utterly exhausting. I do also see some sense of entitlement and possessiveness on his part, because he feels married people have certain roles to fulfill, especially in public. He may just have felt that it looked bad more than he felt dissed by you. Perhaps he didn't want anyone to think you'd pick someone else to dance with instead of your husband, who should come first in all matters, and especially when anyone is looking.

Did you two ever continue with further counseling? You both have different systems of logic, so he needs to learn how to speak up more -- instead of making these blanket statements about what "most couples" or a properly attentive wife should automatically know and do.

I also think you would do well not to let yourself feel so discouraged whenever there is another bump in the road. Sometimes relationships are like that: a few steps forward, a step back, a few steps forward, a step back -- but you're still moving forward! He has come a long way from where he was in his thinking, you've both done a lot of work on the relationship, negotiating agreements with each other, communicating better, but it isn't always going to be perfectly smooth-sailing all the time. Just don't think that if he gets upset again that everything has been for nought.
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Last edited by nycindie; 03-06-2012 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:17 AM
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Lemondrop Lemondrop is offline
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Well, I can tell by what nycindie said, that I'm missing background that might make me sound wiser than I do right now. But, typical of me, I can't keep my mouth shut anyway.

He said, "Most couples would have..."

Well, it's not about what most couples would have. It's about the two of you. If he has a need that's not being met--you waiting for him to finish eating--it's up to him to speak up. Now, keep in mind that sometimes it isn't so easy to identify what the missing need is. I'm having a bit of a jealousy problem right now, and I can't for the life of me figure out what's causing it--and this is in an established relationship. Nothing is new.

Perhaps the two of you can find an activity that *doesn't* cause strife, that you do as a couple with the intent of spending the time focusing on each other and no one else. Maybe being the center of your attention for a certain amount of time would help him feel less needy of your attention the rest of the time. (or, I could be completely off base. You're the lucky recipient of my free time tonight, whether I'm helpful or not.)
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:15 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Ok, things are looking up. He gave me a written explanation and apology, and I can see his point of view better now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Well, why didn't he say, "Hey, wait for me" if it was so important to him?
Exactly. He says I simply walked away without giving him that chance, but I only went a few feet away so nothing was stopping him. I think he's so conflict-averse he tries to just suck it up when things bother him, until they get to the boiling point. Unfortunately my reaction to this whole thing has made him resolve to hide his disappointment in the future rather than risk upsetting me. Not really what I want, either!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
He may just have felt that it looked bad more than he felt dissed by you. Perhaps he didn't want anyone to think you'd pick someone else to dance with instead of your husband, who should come first in all matters, and especially when anyone is looking.
This seems to be a huge part of it. He doesn't want to be made to look bad. This is why he could stomach me spending nights naked in C's bed, but not dancing with C at 11:45 New Year's Eve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
He has come a long way from where he was in his thinking, you've both done a lot of work on the relationship, negotiating agreements with each other, communicating better, but it isn't always going to be perfectly smooth-sailing all the time.
Thanks. I do need to keep some perspective. I think what really got me going is that this felt so out of the blue to me. It makes it hard to see the path forward when the obstacles pop up suddenly in completely unexpected places.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lemondrop View Post
Perhaps the two of you can find an activity that *doesn't* cause strife, that you do as a couple with the intent of spending the time focusing on each other and no one else. Maybe being the center of your attention for a certain amount of time would help him feel less needy of your attention the rest of the time.
Good advice, lemondrop, and thanks for chiming in even without spending a week reading up on my story! I think I was making some efforts in this direction, and that was helping, but then I also think what he needs more than, say, lazy Sunday mornings in bed with the paper, is to go out in public and have me devote my attention to him in front of other people. Or maybe it's in front of certain people? There's definitely some need that has to do with public perception of our marriage, which feels ridiculous to me but is obviously important to him.

So, last night we got a babysitter and went out dancing together. On the way there I asked him what his specific expectations were for the night. He said he'd like to dance our first and last dances of the evening together, and that he'd ask me now and then in between. Funny thing is, when we got there he said to go ahead without him while he used the men's room, so I danced with someone else. And after our last dance together, when I was too tired to dance more, he still had energy so I encouraged him to do one more with someone else, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. Even more funny was the dance he did with a favorite partner of mine, a man I'd been in a mutual crush situation with last spring ("D"), who my husband harbors a lot of ill feeling towards as a result. But D went up and asked him, and he was too polite to refuse, and boy did I get a kick out of watching them together! Ha ha. There were extra men so I got to see him dance with men a couple of times, which tickles me.

We only had one therapy session, and realized we needed to choose a different person to get insurance coverage, and then things were feeling so good we decided not to make an appointment with the new person until we felt like we had things to work on again. Meanwhile I'm planning to start individual therapy for help with anxiety and work stress, and I'm sure I can sort out relationship struggles there too, and maybe bring him with me on occasion.

All in all I'm feeling pretty positive about things again. Until the next hiccup!
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:06 PM
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Just a few thoughts, if they help...

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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
Ok, things are looking up. He gave me a written explanation and apology, and I can see his point of view better now.
It often helps me to communicate in writing. I can think about what I'm going to say, and I don't get distracted from what I'm actually trying to communicate. Also, I feel less need to keep things to myself to avoid upsetting people. And less embarrassed if an apology is necessary.

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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
This seems to be a huge part of it. He doesn't want to be made to look bad. This is why he could stomach me spending nights naked in C's bed, but not dancing with C at 11:45 New Year's Eve.
Oh my gosh, I totally get this. In recent months I had a relationship change to platonic. I was humiliated to be seen in public with my partners, because it felt like everyone could see that *I* was the one who stuck out, *I* was the one who had been rejected, that everyone else was happy but *I* was defective, unwanted, and didn't belong. Ah. I think I might have figured out some of why I'm having trouble with jealousy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
So, last night we got a babysitter and went out dancing together. On the way there I asked him what his specific expectations were for the night. He said he'd like to dance our first and last dances of the evening together, and that he'd ask me now and then in between. Funny thing is, when we got there he said to go ahead without him while he used the men's room, so I danced with someone else.
I think the difference here is that he felt he had more choice in the matter, that he could see that his opinions/wants/desires mattered. It's easier to let go when you can see you don't have hold on tight to get what you want, if that makes any sense? Anyway, I was glad to come back and see that things are going better for you.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
...I also think what he needs more than, say, lazy Sunday mornings in bed with the paper, is to go out in public and have me devote my attention to him in front of other people. Or maybe it's in front of certain people? There's definitely some need that has to do with public perception of our marriage, which feels ridiculous to me but is obviously important to him.
Oh, my ex had a lot of similarities to your hubs. Is your husband a Leo? My ex is, and although I don't put much stock into astrology anymore, he did always love being the favorite, the star, the one on top. It was never enough to be acknowledged or praised, the thing that thrilled him more was to be acknowledged or praised in front of other people. It's so natural to him to want that, it seemed to hold more meaning to him when his place in life (whether related to his work or our marriage) was observed by others. He never understood my shyness about things like that.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:33 PM
polypenguin polypenguin is offline
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as a dancer myself, i've dealt with similar problems. My girlfriend became very jealous when she first saw me dancing with another girl. A balarena at that. It took some doing, but I finally convinced her it was nothing more than dancing. Even if it were more than that, there are only two reasons why people are opposed/jealous of their partner: societal influence (an easy one to see, and therefore a difficult one to avoid), and more likely insecurities, that idea of what is he/she is better than me? Or what if he/she has a bigger penis or tighter vagina. NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTER! You are beautiful, and so is your partner, nether one of you are any better/worse than anyone else.
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