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Old 06-21-2010, 09:23 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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omg, this thing is so huge and detailed, i don't even know where to start. i think i'll just lay out facts and then say where i'm sitting right now and see if anyone has any thoughts. i don't know if i'm looking for advice, per se (although if someone has some great advice i'll certainly listen), maybe just some sympathy or empathy.

joyful - me: 28
bi since forever
poly in thought forever (and sometimes in action, i encouraged my boyfriends in mono relationships to "go have fun" and had a great open relationship with a female roommate throughout college)
first poly-in-name relationship with my husband, we never closed off our relationship and made "agreements" 2 years in
hubby and i have been together 5 and married for 2.5
boyfriend and i have been together for 1 year
raised catholic, catholic family, currently atheist with a yoga/buddhist slant
not out to parents/gparents
out to siblings, most friends and friendly coworkers

perm - husband: 35
straight
poly in thought since i came along
raised methodist, EXTREMELY religious and conservative family
emotionally/physically abused by his father growing up
sexually abused by a caretaker at ~5
not out to anyone he knew before i came along

cue - boyfriend: 40
straight
poly to some degree for ~15 years (started out with BDSM play, evolved to more serious poly relationships)
has been with L for 5 years (last weekend, yay!), engaged for 1 year
clinically depressed (mostly under control w/exercise)
out to anyone who is interested, but a private person

L - cue's fiancee and my...something: 37
homoflexible (yay fetlife!)
poly in thought since cue came along
has had some jealousy/security issues, but she and i communicate RIDICULOUSLY well and we have helped each other through a ton of stuff in the last year
she and i fooled around a little on new years, then she went to school for 5 months and we talked via letters/email...we hooked up once when she returned in may
recovered alcoholic
out to anyone who is interested, but is a private person


so that's the basic picture. there are tons more details but that should give you general ideas of what we're all about.

long story short, while L was away at school, cue became pretty integrated into our lives. perm had a girlfriend who was living with us at the time. our marriage got off track for a number of reasons. one being that i didn't initiate intimacy and 1 on 1 time enough and got wrapped up in the shiny of cue (assuming, incorrectly, that perm was wrapped up with shiny too). another being that perm had/has trouble speaking up (or even identifying) when he needs something and it comes back later and bites us in the ass.

perm has since broken up with girlfriend (they dated for ~6 months total), had a series of flings (and he broke our "condoms unless discussed" agreement 3 freaking times), and dated a (really awesome) chick for about a month before breaking it off with her about a month ago.

so throughout my relationship with cue, which has admittedly been very intense, there have been a series of "enough!" discussions with perm: regarding time/money spent with cue, lack of intimacy in our marriage, etc. each time i was quick to accept responsibility, work with perm to determine a positive way forward, and keep cue in the loop so he could know what needed to change and why. the problem is that a lot of these things (especially the time) happen because perm is unable to express to me when he needs time. he was always quick to say "yep, go have fun!" and then 3 weeks later, blow up at me about it. i suggested non-verbal "red!" signals, counseling, weekly check-ins...i mean, anything to make him feel like he could talk to me. anyway, that happened maybe 2 or 3 times leading up to this last one. and each time i felt like we came to a good resolution, had a good talk, felt closer afterwards, etc.

but about 3 weeks ago, i came home one night and it was an argument, then a progression of restrictions regarding cue over the next week (all of which i went along with), ending with a final ultimatum: that cue has done too much damage to our marriage and that he has to go. !!!! i mean to me, this literally felt like it came out of nowhere. i mean literally there was NO BREAKING POINT. damage? what?

perm says the ultimatum was the culmination of the thought process from his flings + latest breakup...which, ok, i can see how you would get introspective. so i'll hear him out. he lists some legitimate problems.

- i spend a lot of money going out with cue. however, i am not in any debt because of it, and i can easily rein that in (and had already started doing that a few months ago) by making dinners at home, renting a movie instead of going out, etc. easy fix within my comfort zone and cue was on board with helping.

- i spend a lot of time with cue. this one seems like a simple fix. when i ask perm if we have plans on a given night, either say "yes" (and make some!) or say "no, but i want you to stay home tonight." or just start giving me more positive verbal feedback and i'll naturally gravitate towards that. easy fix within my comfort zone and cue was on board with helping.

- i wasn't pulling my weight around the house. this is the one i really got pissed off about, because i did/do most of the cleaning and laundry. he organizes the bills, i do the housework. but we bought a house in august and there have been some projects that he didn't feel i was helping with (frustrating, because i offered...), but this is the one where i can really make a compromise and start doing more than i'm usually comfortable with. and i am totally willing to do that since the house is new and perm is feeling off.

so then the not-legitimate stuff. he starts ripping into cue's personal shortcomings and accuses him of being irresponsible, a loser, a mess, "trampling" on our marriage...i can't even remember everything he said because it honestly made me sick. i am ok with discussing issues that may cause problems in our marriage...i am not ok with him dehumanizing someone i love, and (tearfully) said as much. he is a person, and despite his mistakes and shortcomings (which he DEFINITELY has!), he has feelings and fears and hopes and dreams just like anyone else. it's also been a red flag to me that he has been willing to dehumanize the chicks he's dating (calling them crazy, psycho, just generally really negative stuff) in order to feel closer to me. so this is not ok, and i unequivocally told him that during our arguments (one of the few things i really got riled up about...i'm generally really calm).

we ended up in a counseling session (which i posted about). it was marginally helpful in that the counselor pointed out that expecting me to anticipate his needs without him saying anything (which he outright says he did, and still does) isn't exactly fair. and also that it really seems like he wants something more traditional with a side dating relationship thrown in here and there, whereas i want people IN our lives. she said perm needed to define his needs and decide whether i can meet them (since i have already laid out on the table all my needs, all my abilities, and then some).

after our session, he said he doesn't think our poly models line up anymore, wondered if they ever did, and then told me that i can either "get on board to getting back where we were" or "move out and get an apartment and be fine".

...

so. there's no room for this person who i've been with for a year and have come to love dearly to fit into this picture? the answer has pretty much been "no". or that if he is to fit into the picture, he has to get "whatever is left over" from out marriage relationship.

one of the things that makes me really sick about all of this is the verbiage perm is using. it just feels hateful and negative and it makes me so so so sad that my husband has clearly been really unhappy for a long time and has just let it fester into this hatred and resentment towards cue.

so anyway, that's where i sit. we've been living in limbo since then, because i think we're both scared to make the next move. he's told me that i need to go back to counseling, but i dunno man...like i said, i feel like all my shit is on the table. if anyone goes back, i think it should either be as a couple or him solo, so he can sort out his real needs.

i'm just...heartbroken. i don't feel like i recognize the person i'm dealing with here. i thought he liked cue (and up until 4 weeks ago, ACTED like he was a good friend). i was happy. there were things to fix with perm, sure, but i was focused on moving forward and figuring out solutions...not going back to "the way things were". cue HAPPENED. he changed me (i think for the better), he changed my relationship with perm, no question about it. but this is not the time to wish him away...it's a time to grow from that, to learn from it. this has shown us our weak points, stuff we can fix, stuff we can make stronger. instead i feel like perm wants to rip out the growth (or opportunity for growth) and go back to this "perfect" life he thought we were living before.

so yeah. sympathy, empathy. hell even: you're fucking nuts woman, dump your boyfriend. i mean, anything. my catholic upbringing is screaming "FIX YOUR MARRIAGE", but my heart and brain are telling me that it may be time to throw in the towel...

Last edited by joyfulgirl26; 06-24-2010 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:00 AM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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so yeah. sympathy, empathy. hell even: you're fucking nuts woman, dump your boyfriend. i mean, anything. my catholic upbringing is screaming "FIX YOUR MARRIAGE", but my heart and brain are telling me that it may be time to throw in the towel...
I find it saddening to hear what you're going through. Were it up to me, I'd have a magic wand to wave that would compel everybody involved in a relationship to step up and deal with things in a forthright fashion. Of course, it's not up to me.

I think the marriage is broken. I also think that your husband is unwilling to work on saving it. I don't see any way you can save it without him being willing to work on it with you.

Dumping your boyfriend would accomplish nothing, as I see it. Your husband's history of regarding other women as objects, coupled with his repeated serious lack of respect for you (the lapses in condom use), suggests that at some level he regards you as an object. He's uncommunicative and given to deceit (saying one thing while apparently thinking/feeling something quite different)--so how can you trust him?

I'm of firm belief that each and every relationship has to be evaluated on its own merits. It's not a case of "this one has been in existence longer than that one so it automatically has precedence." It's purely a matter of how well the relationship works *on its own* and whether the other person involved is working fully to support all the different parts of it (You, Me, and Us).

I don't know. Perhaps with some time, he may decide to work with you on it instead of simply treating you as an object that must do as he wills. There's no way I can say and I've never been in a situation near that bad. Perhaps somebody else has been in much the same boat and can offer better observations than I can.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:37 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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so anyway, that's where i sit. we've been living in limbo since then, because i think we're both scared to make the next move. he's told me that i need to go back to counseling, but i dunno man...like i said, i feel like all my shit is on the table. if anyone goes back, i think it should either be as a couple or him solo, so he can sort out his real needs.
I think you're right. If this marriage can be saved, it's going to need couple's counselling as a bare minimum. It even sounds like you have a supportive and intelligent counselor.

You husband may not have liked the fact that the counselor seemed to take your side in calling his expectations unfair. Seems a lot of people who need counselling the most want it the least. They don't hear what they want to hear, which is that they need to change.

Ultimately, you're the only person who can make the tough decision he's laid out for you: him or poly. It's not really "him or cue" because it seems clear enough that your husband has issues extending far beyond poly. He needs to learn to communicate and share his feelings and fears. In essence, he needs to learn to trust you.

Even if you were to breakup with cue, these kinds of issues are detrimental to a relationship and will find other venues to rear their ugly heads. If he outright refuses to change and grow, then there's only one thing you can do.
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:33 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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Even if you were to breakup with cue, these kinds of issues are detrimental to a relationship and will find other venues to rear their ugly heads.
this is my real fear...this is the core of what terrifies me. i have dated other people (not as seriously) that perm has had "issues" with, and he's pulled this same kind of shit-talking about the other guys too. and in the past i indulged him, heard him out, respected his fears and what he was working through, and broken off those relationships. again, they weren't as serious, so it wasn't a huge issue, but the fact that it's coming up AGAIN (with someone who is experienced in poly and mature and has really been good for me!) is really disheartening.

and it's most frustrating because i've told him from the beginning that it's OK if he's not poly or if he has certain limits or anything like that...because if i know that BEFOREHAND, i can limit who i see and the extent to which i integrate them into my life. but he's always insisted that he really is poly and really is ok with whatever i want...he just has some things to work through. and i've really put a lot of trust in his ability to talk to me about this stuff he's working through and that has been just absolutely destroyed. because not only has he not talked to me, but he's let the things he's trying to work through simmer and become destructive.

i'm really just miserable. i love this man so much and i really want to help him work through this, but at what point do i decide that it's too much for me to handle? like i said, my catholic upbringing is telling me to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice...i am TERRIFIED of "failing" at marriage (not least of all because my family would just be devastated). but my logical, independent streak is just RAILING against it. =/
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:37 PM
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It sounds like he is giving you an ultimatum, using a veto and expecting you to compromise all because his poly life isn't working as well as your and he is jealous.

I know you love him, but that is unfair and I think he needs to find the root of the issue rather than expecting you to solve it for him by being a good girl and doing what he tells you. Bullshit. That will not solve it and that will only make it worse if you ask me.

I think it is possible to work on creating a balance and harmony within your relationship if he looks inside himself and finds what it is that is not working with out blaming you or your boyfriend. he needs to do that for himself and needs to do it in order to have compersion for what you have. Perhaps if he really studies what is working for you then he will find what isn't working for him.

Excuse me for the brashness but he sounds like a whiny child that isn't winning at a board game and is stamping around flapping his arms and getting ready to hit the edge of the board so the pieces go flying off. Not okay.

How does one deal with a whiny child? Talks to them about the game. It isn't about winning or losing it's about learning and strategizing when you find you are losing... figuring out what went wrong and where you could of done better and then trying again. When one is winning it is important to stay humble and pass knowledge on on how to win.

I know that poly is not a game, but perhaps if seen in this context there will be some light shed on what could be going on.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:21 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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yeah, i'm with you RP. another one of the many things i'm sad about is that he doesn't seem to feel any compersion here. i mean, i truly derive JOY...giddy, blissful joy from seeing perm with his gfs or cue with L (holy shit they're cute). and i WANT that for him. i WANT him to feel that joy.

but he says he feels insulted, emasculated, trampled, etc. knowing that i want to be with cue. i've tried to work with him on these things and help him see that 1) cue is still "the shiny" to some extent and that 2) the fact that i have feelings for cue does NOT mean that i do not still have deep, strong, committed feelings for him!

i also agree that he is incorrectly placing blame on cue (and i don't just mean on my relationship with cue, i mean ON CUE) and pointing to that as something that needs to just disappear instead of putting in the work for HIMSELF and for US. if that makes sense. i don't disagree that i could cut back on...whatever...with cue to help perm feel more secure. but letting cue into our life, into our home, and definitely into my heart and now saying that he needs to be GONE and if i see him, it has to be a total separate affair is just totally heartbreaking.

talking about any future plans now just make me miserable, because i know that someone will be missing from my future. whether it's perm or cue/L...walking around my house makes me sad. it feels empty and hostile. i'm just sad. so sad.
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:27 AM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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he broke our "condoms unless discussed" agreement 3 freaking times)

it's also been a red flag to me that he has been willing to dehumanize the chicks he's dating (calling them crazy, psycho, just generally really negative stuff)
Redpepper already pointed out, and I agree with her, that this sounds more like misogyny than anything else.

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Originally Posted by joyfulgirl26 View Post
after our session, he said he doesn't think our poly models line up anymore, wondered if they ever did, and then told me that i can either "get on board to getting back where we were" or "move out and get an apartment and be fine".
I'm not sure that the problem here is a difference in "poly models", so much as it is a difference in "how to treat human beings models". He's treated you badly by ignoring safer sex rules, he's treated his romantic partners badly by calling them names/pathologising them, and now he's demanding that you treat your boyfriend badly by dumping him to avoid getting kicked out of your home.

If he's willing to toss your marriage away because he thinks that your boyfriend is a loser and you're not doing enough housework, what's the next thing going to be that he throws a fit about and you need to change in order to keep him? And how much value is he placing in the marriage?
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Old 06-26-2010, 07:02 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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some updates:

perm has hung out several times in the last 2 weeks with his most recent girlfriend. last week he went with her to run some "quick errands" (at 8:30) and didn't get back till 1am. he insists to me that they're still broken up, but dude, come on...they're clearly still hooking up or *something*. /sigh. i feel like that is unhealthy for both of them to drag it out if that's what's happening. i wish if he was still interested in her, he would just be honest about it. i like this gal and she and i get along great. i would have no problem with him dating her again!

meanwhile i haven't stayed with cue or even seen L since this whole thing started, which is a huge change for me. for the past 6 months, perm and cue were essentially my co-primaries, with my sleepovers split 50/50 or 60/40 with perm/cue - an arrangement that was the result of a discussion with perm and his suggestion.

so i come home every night (although i admit i've been working late and spending more time at the gym)...but the house feels hostile and empty. i won't say i feel uncomfortable here, because i refuse to feel uncomfortable in my own home, but there definitely isn't much discussion happening. he sleeps on the couch (not because i asked him to...i go to bed earlier than he does and about a week ago he just stopped coming to bed with me). a few times i've tried to start a conversation and it's lead to an argument and goes right back to the ultimatum.

yesterday i started making a kind of map of possibilities, with extremes on all sides (ending my relationships with cue/L, ending my marriage with perm, ending all my relationships, ending none of my relationships) and working in towards the middle, factoring in variables like living arrangements and alignment (swinging/poly/polyfi/mono).

my thought is i'll identify the options/paths and i really want, the ones that i can accept as long as we're working towards something else, and the ones that i cannot accept at all. then maybe i can sit down with perm and see if we can find some happy medium. if we can, then i can go to cue and L and see if this aligns with what they need/want...which will piss perm off because they haven't "earned" the right to anything, but i really feel like they deserve a say or to at very least be informed.

so that's kind of my project at the moment. i feel like if i have a "map", then i can set about the emotional task of making that a reality. right now i feel nothing towards perm except maybe some pity and concern. i love him, but i do not want to be physically or emotionally close to him at all.

surprisingly, he agreed this morning that i could go spend some time with cue and L today to celebrate L's birthday. then he promptly invited his ex over...lol. so they're both sitting here now watching soccer and i get the distinct impression they'll hook up after i leave. i don't know what she knows or doesn't know and i haven't had an opportunity to talk to her about it...but that just feels weird.

i went ahead and made another individual appointment for the therapist for next wednesday. not sure what i am going to talk to her about, especially if i have my possibility map finished. but we'll see.

thanks to everyone for your words of kindness, support and wisdom. it feels nice to have a support system with some knowledge and experience, even if it is virtual!
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Old 06-26-2010, 07:16 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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If he's willing to toss your marriage away because he thinks that your boyfriend is a loser and you're not doing enough housework, what's the next thing going to be that he throws a fit about and you need to change in order to keep him? And how much value is he placing in the marriage?
see that's the thing...he is doing this because he doesn't feel like i am as emotionally invested as he wants...and i get it. i really do. he doesn't want to throw our marriage away, but truly, in his mind, I am the one throwing it away because i am not giving him what he wants or needs. but when i ask for things i can do, he points things i've fucked up in the past, or cue being a loser, or me *not* doing x, y or z instead of talking about what he NEEDS to feel like i'm emotionally invested. and hey, i am the first to admit mistakes and agree to learn from them and changed based on those lessons. and i have tried time and time again to just accept responsibility and ask forgiveness so he can get some closure on the things that were wrong...but when all i get is the past rubbed in my face, i don't even know how to start changing things.

i've explained time and time again that unless i can get specifics (and i mean POSITIVE specifics, not "dump cue so you can focus on us"), i naturally gravitate towards MY model of emotional investment: being here physically, trying to engage him in conversation and check in with him, keeping up my part of the housework, contributing to our joint accounts, supporting him in his career, hobbies and other relationships, forgiving him if things go wrong, telling him i love him, etc. if he wants something different or more, he either needs to spell out specific THINGS for me to do or he's going to have to step up/change the feedback he gives to get the results he wants. i've never gotten much in the way of feedback from him, and i even suggested more positive verbal feedback as a very easy way for him to get me "engaged" again. his response? "well obviously cue does that and i don't, so i'll just deal" and completely shut down despite my insistence that it was about ME AND HIM, not him vs. cue. ARRRRGH!!!!

but like he said to the therapist, he truly feels like if i REALLY love him, i should anticipate what he needs and he shouldn't have to spell it out for me. so yeah...frustrating.

Last edited by joyfulgirl26; 06-26-2010 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 06-27-2010, 05:11 PM
saudade saudade is offline
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Default I am so sorry...

(((hugs)))

If I were you, I'd hug Perm, told him I loved him but I couldn't do it anymore, and leave. Maybe move in with Cue and L, at least until I could get my own place, but I'd be out and done. I'd get a lawyer and serve the divorce papers, make sure to watch my own ass in terms of the proceedings. (The court isn't likely to know about poly and open marriages.)

If he can't communicate to you about his needs, and refuses to grow, the relationship is stalled. He's the only one who can restart the engine, and if he won't then there's nothing else to be done.

I was in a relationship that feels to me like yours seems to be (though we didn't marry) for four and a half years, and it was technically open for the last two and a half of it. I loved him, and still do three years later, but he's mono and I'm not, I'd compromise and he wouldn't, and it was the most unhealthy situation I'd ever been in. He wouldn't let me tell mutual friends about A (my other boyfriend), imposed serious restrictions on A's and my physical intimacy, insisted on a DADT policy that wasn't tenable (I couldn't tell him if I was going out with A, and then he was constantly was checking up on me), and was hysterical every time any poly-related topic was brought up. The only times he'd even talk about being willing to compromise where when I'd tell him I was leaving-- and those offers were alongside vaguely suicidal threats.

I wish I could give you a more balanced perspective on this, but the best I can say is that when I was in similar shoes I threw them off and ran.

Thanks for being brave enough to share your story. Keep posting-- we're here for you.

In cahoots,
~S
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