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Old 08-03-2010, 06:09 AM
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cruftnot cruftnot is offline
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Question

I've come to this site mostly for advice, and to get that advice I would need to tell a big part of my story. This thread is where it will happen.

But before I begin, let me ask my overarching question: when do you draw the line and decide to make big, life altering decisions that will have repercussions for you and your loved ones for years to come? do you wait until your feelings force change upon you? are you proactive and logical? in particular - being poly with a mono spouse who has been waffling for years regarding the poly lifestyle - how long is too long to wait for things to change for the better?

overview

The cartoon version is that I am in a 9 year marriage to N (+kids), who is becoming more monogamous as time goes by, while I am becoming more certain that I want a poly life. Over these years we experimented with opening up several times; most recently with K and G -- both of whom now live 3 time zones away.

9 years of fairly dramatic marriage don't lend themselves to a pithy summary. Instead, I'll do what I usually ask people who ask me for advice to do- I will start at the end, and work my way back only in as much as it touches on relevant topics.

2010, summer

This summer I spent two weeks away from my wife and family with my girlfriend G. It was supposed to be two weeks with both G and my other girlfriend K- but K broke up with me two weeks before I came to visit.

K and I ended up spending two nights together, saying our goodbyes; it was sweet and painful. I love K deeply and have an incredible connection with her -- but my drama filled life and our long distance relationship was tearing her up; she needs peace, and the emotional space to find a local primary relationship. The problem this summer was in part that K was supposed to put me up... there are some interesting stories about the sublet I got instead, but they are not germane to this post.

Two weeks with G, working half time, was wonderful beyond words. I also met her other boyfriend and one of his girlfriends; my first meeting with metamours outside "public" events. It was fun, and I like them; by now I know I rarely get wibbles.

These two weeks proved to me what I already knew in my mind- that living a fully poly life is as natural for me as breathing. I learned how happy G makes me- her warmth, wisdom, sexiness, and deeply ingrained poly mindset felt like home.

Being far from G is pain. For both of us, it's a lingering background ache that we want to be done with. She is dealing with job hunting and some issues of her own. It is certain that G and I want to be local, maybe even cohabitate- were it not for N and the kids. We hope G can find a job not too far away, and that we can see each other more than once every 6 months.

My going to see G and K this summer was not a pleasantly negotiated event. It was part of a condition I imposed-- that as a precondition for trying to work out my differences with N for the 5th time, I require two things:
(1) that I see my lovers once every 6 months at least; this was the most space they felt they could give us
(2) that N and I negotiate towards some form of open relationship that we can both be happy with

N put up many roadblocks to the trip. One was that she insisted on going overseas to visit family so that she won't be "waiting for me at home". She also insisted I go see a former marriage counselor we were happy with. Both are large expenses that she lays at my feet as the "price of your poly".

The humdinger was that before the trip N and I discussed an outline for an agreement. It was a good agreement from my perspective- not all that I hoped for, but one I had a good chance to be happy with. Most critically, it included the possibility of a local paramour I could spend some regular time with.

N backed off from this rather reasonable proposal, to saying that she was only okay with my having a long distance relationship, for which I could travel for two weeks twice a year. This is despite my explicit statement that the "two weeks in six months" model was one I proposed as a painful and untenable temporary measure to allow us to work things out without destroying my relationship with my paramours.

Since I'm telling the story backwards, I must note that this is the recurring theme-- N makes reasonable proposals and then backs down from them, flails in emotional drama, and remains distant and cold. While in this most recent round I mostly isolated my paramours from the practical implications of this instability, in previous cases I allowed N to veto or destroy what were otherwise perfectly good relationships.

I put it to you, the readers-- where should I draw the line? at what point is a marriage and a family not worth the loss of living true to myself? I can be somewhat content with N- but I will never be truly happy in a monogamous lifestyle. I can always give another chance, try another month or two-- but when do I toss in the towel? when I no longer care for N because the pain has eaten me up inside? that only increases the chance of an ugly divorce, and the extra wait and drama will likely make me lose G in the process.

Last edited by NeonKaos; 08-06-2010 at 04:25 PM. Reason: merge posts
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:49 AM
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Be strong and do what you have to in the long run to be healthy. Not just healthy for you, but above all, your children. Being apart healthy will probably be better for your children than staying together miserable.

I keep coming back to your kids because they are the priority. Those of us that bring kids into the world have a responsibility to raise them in as healthy a way as we can by setting good examples of strength and honesty. Staying in a marriage solely for kids does not do this.

Tell your wife how bad it is getting....be honest and caring, but clear.

Take care
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:53 PM
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If the 2 of you really can't come to a place where the relationship will work for both of you in a healthy way it's most likely better for the both of you to part ways on good terms so that you can both live the lives that you need to live in order to be happy. I don't know that there is any answer here that will keep everyone happy. From the sounds of it you don't want to leave your wife. Sounds like it's a tough spot to be in. Good luck

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Old 08-04-2010, 05:28 AM
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Sure - we need to come to a place that is healthy for both N and me. We shouldn't just stay together because of the kids. We know unhappy parents set a very poor example, even poorer than separated or divorced parents who are happy.

We've been trying to do that for a long time. What I'm trying to figure out is when does it make sense to stop trying?
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:01 AM
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I think that only you can answer that. If it's at a point where it doesn't seem possible that either of you will be willing to move to a comfortable middle ground for the other then that might be a good indicator that it's time to move on.

-Derby
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:40 AM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruftnot View Post
being poly with a mono spouse who has been waffling for years regarding the poly lifestyle - how long is too long to wait for things to change for the better?
It doesn't sound to me from your story that she's waffling; it sounds like she's pretty clear that she would prefer a monogamous relationship and is putting up with the minimum possible amount of openness that keeps you going.

I think that the interesting question here is "Why are you agreeing to things that make you seriously consider ending the relationship?" I'd suggest that the time to end things is when both of you sit down to talk with the purpose of doing the right thing for the marriage (instead of this push-pull around the how open question where you're on opposite sides of an issue) and realise that you're at an irreconcilable impasse.

My understanding is that the marriage counsellor visit is still to come, right? I'd recommend putting off any big decisions until after you give that a chance.
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkelly View Post
It doesn't sound to me from your story that she's waffling; it sounds like she's pretty clear that she would prefer a monogamous relationship and is putting up with the minimum possible amount of openness that keeps you going.
The waffling isn't about whether she would like a poly relationship -- she prefers monogamy. The waffling is about what level of opening up she can be happy with. (Please note: "be happy" and not "put up").

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkelly View Post
I think that the interesting question here is "Why are you agreeing to things that make you seriously consider ending the relationship?"
Why indeed? I don't know. There have been multiple times when "mis-communication" about boundaries made me the bad guy. The most extreme recent one was when I was considering getting involved with G, and was asking N for permission to embark on this new relationship. Purely by chance, G came over while I was online with N -- and N thanked her, to her face, on video, for her "extracurricular" involvement with me. Later on N claimed that she was against it the entire time, but at least this time the woman I was dating had direct evidence that I'm not cheating, and that my claim that N flip-flopped on me is reasonably supported by the facts.

Your question is a very apt one. I agree to such things very grudgingly because I am well aware of the caustic effects they can have over time; N seems unable to plan for her future emotional happiness. It makes having a positive and supporting relationship very difficult.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkelly View Post
I'd suggest that the time to end things is when both of you sit down to talk with the purpose of doing the right thing for the marriage (instead of this push-pull around the how open question where you're on opposite sides of an issue) and realise that you're at an irreconcilable impasse.

My understanding is that the marriage counsellor visit is still to come, right? I'd recommend putting off any big decisions until after you give that a chance.
We've been to three marriage counsellors. You may call them the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It is very difficult to find good counsellors who are poly-friendly or at least unbiased, and the search is quite expensive and draining. Good is far far away -- in the same town we used to live in, where G and K remain. I spoke with her during my last visit (at N's behest); she didn't sound optimistic.

After Bad and Ugly, N and I decided we're causing more harm to our marriage by trying these buffoons than by working things out with each other directly. Instead, N found a good therapist for herself (she has PTSD and was working through some anger management issues), and I spent an enormous amount of time laying out everything going on between us in writing -- because N can respond much more calmly to the written word.

Is there anyone here who considered or had a divorce because they were poly with a monogamous spouse or a spouse with a stiflingly restrictive view of poly?
If so -- how did you make your decision to stay or go?
Are you happy with it in retrospect?

Last edited by NeonKaos; 08-06-2010 at 04:24 PM. Reason: merge posts
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruftnot View Post
Is there anyone here who considered or had a divorce because they were poly with a monogamous spouse or a spouse with a stiflingly restrictive view of poly?
If so -- how did you make your decision to stay or go?
Are you happy with it in retrospect?
It's been on the burner-pretty much since I put my foot down adn said "I'm sorry, I didn't know before-but I do know now, that I'm poly and I just can't be the person I said I would be when we married." I laid out who I was and what that meant and told him if he wanted a divorce, I'd respectfully do that with no fight over our kids, finances etc. But, that I DO love him and DO NOT want a divorce.

At any rate, that was Sept '09. It's been a nightmare of up's and down's, back and forth's. I don't know where it will lead. I do know that we're living separately now and that has decreased the drama signficantly-but.... not enough.

I don't think there is a "good time" or a "reasonable time" to say for sure it's been "long enough". That's so individual. I do think it's better to end it peacably if it ends... but when? No idea.
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:13 AM
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Default Epilogue -- the curse of an interesting life

It seems that a lifetime ago I posted some questions here, and many (redacted) details of my tumultuous experience with mono-poly relationships.

About a year after posting here last, I got a rare job offer -- the kind that would make or break my career if I chose not to take it. Call it Karma, but it was in G's home town. N freaked out, and insisted that I break off things with G. "You can remain friends; I've been okay with your exes before" she said. To my shame, I agreed. Then N changed her mind, and demanded I break off all contact with G. To my even greater shame, I said I would do that too -- although at this point, I suspected that she would not come around.

When N followed by refusing to show any kindness or empathy for forcing me to break my word to someone I love, and for my pain in losing G -- then, and only then -- I told her we were done. N and I are separated nearly two years, after having gone through a painful "collaborative divorce" process. I will be poor for the rest of my life, but the substantial incentives I provided convinced her to complete our planned move to G's hometown. I have my kids a few days a week, and I have G back, and living with me most of the time.

It is VERY good to live true to myself, with someone who loves in a way that I understand. What it came down to was truly an "irreconcilable difference" -- to me, someone who cannot show me empathy for my pain, for what I was willing to lose of myself and compromise of my core values and integrity for her sake, is not really a life partner.

In the year of intensive couples therapy that preceded that decision for separation, I learned that N cannot handle intimacy; it terrifies her. She wants to live next to someone, not with them, in my sense of these words. I could not have been happy with monogamy like that. Maybe, if we understood our differences ten years ago, we might have had enough patience, goodwill, and motivation to grow together instead of apart. Maybe, but probably not.

I wish I could say that this was a mostly happy ending to a very difficult journey. It was not. G and I are still together, but the fire we have gone through, side by side, makes the burning pain of writing my own divorce agreements seem like a hot-tub... Maybe I'll be inclined to post that story sometime, but not today.

All I will say is that in blood and tears G earned my loyalty more than any partner ever did, or should ever have to. That woman is AWESOME, and I am thankful daily to have her by my side. That should be good enough, as endings go.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:00 PM
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thanks for the update. I hope your life is full of happiness here on.
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