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  #1  
Old 03-27-2013, 04:55 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Default Question for primaries, Outside partners enhance marriage

Since I started seeing BF about 18 months ago--my only experience with polyamory, only time I've ever known anyone in an open marriage (that I know of)--I have done a lot of reading on polyamory and open marriages.

BF said from the start that problems usually arise when, like us, one person is married and the other single. So far, it's suited me, because I'm busy with work and children, wasn't looking for a boyfriend, and have no desire for a husband. I've enjoyed every minute with him, I have seen both of us grow, change, and, I believe, become better people as a result of our time together.

The only issues between us have involved him getting upset when I try to understand this world that's totally unfamiliar to me and question my place in his life and what this really means to him. He lives in fear of me breaking up with him.

The times I feel most inclined to break up with him is when I'm reading about open marriages and/or polyamory and read the statement that outside relationships enhance the primary relationship. As the outside relationship, this leaves me feeling that these extra relationships are, well...marital enhancers. Living, breathing marital aids. I, personally, have no desire to enhance someone's marriage at what could be seen as a cost to myself (the cost being that there is no future in this relationship, although at this stage I admittedly don't want one--one day I might.)

I do not believe for a minute that BF sees me as that. But he gets agitated when I try to understand from him how people in open marriage do see their OSOs, and apparently can't explain, although he's normally well-spoken, articulate, and thoughtful. He says I should know I'm not just a side dish to him and don't I know how he feels about me. He tells me what we have is 'the real deal.' Whatever that means in the context of a relationship that can never be more than what it is now.

So...I still struggle with that idea that outside relationships 'enhance' the primary relationship. Can those members who are in primary relationships, especially those whose OSOs are single, tell me their response to this comment on OSOs enhancing your primary relationship, and how that balances with seeing your secondary/OSO as a person in their own right?

Last edited by WhatHappened; 03-27-2013 at 04:57 PM. Reason: clarification
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2013, 05:27 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am confused.

How I perceive this? (And I could be wrong...)
  • You ask the BF to affirm that he values you and loves you. He does so.
  • You do not believe the BF thinks you are some "side dish" thing. He has validated you.
  • He gets upset when you question your place in his life despite his reassurances.

Quote:
So far, it's suited me, because I'm busy with work and children, wasn't looking for a boyfriend, and have no desire for a husband. I've enjoyed every minute with him, I have seen both of us grow, change, and, I believe, become better people as a result of our time together.
I note you write past tense here. Is it that you are questioning HIS place in YOUR life at this point in time?

Quote:
I, personally, have no desire to enhance someone's marriage at what could be seen as a cost to myself (the cost being that there is no future in this relationship, although at this stage I admittedly don't want one--one day I might.)
I'm not sure what "future in a relationship" means to you. Remarriage?

But if you are wanting more comittment from the relationship than it can give you... is that what this is about? Could "one day" actually be here already? Or on the horizon since you feel inclined to break up with him at times?

It doesn't really seem to be about other people's relationships and how they view their OSO's and if it "enhances the primary relationship." For some it might. For others it might not. So? That's those other people over THERE.

It seems to be about THIS relationship HERE and your desire not to be "less than" and your desire to have "a relationship with a future" at some point. That you sort out with him.

He's been TELLING you that you are NOT "less than" to him. Do his words and actions not match? Why not just BELIEVE him? And get on to the next part of the question? Talk about your shared future and what that may be like?

Is the future he can offer you in this relationship not the kind of future you ultimately want for yourself? Could ask him.
"What sort of future do you envision for us? 5 years down the road? 10 years? Is there a committed future here or is this a float along thing?"
See if it matches your wants/needs for your future or not.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 03-27-2013 at 05:50 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-27-2013, 06:59 PM
kkxvlv kkxvlv is offline
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You can't try to apply everything you read about polyamory or open marriages to yourself. There are tons of different situations that people use the polyamory or open marriage label on and unfortunately some people write about themselves or their experiences as if they are the only definition.

It seems to be true that there are married couples that turn to the idea of opening as a way to fix something that is already lacking in their marriage. Also some couples may look at opening as a way to enhance their existing happy relationship. That doesn't speak for all of them.

In any case, even if they do fall in to the category of looking for enhancement, it doesn't mean that your relationship with your BF exists solely to enhance their marriage or that it should be at your expense.

Presumably you feel you are gaining something from the relationship or you really should consider why you are in it. What you read about other relationships shouldn't define your own. Does your BF or his wife make you feel like he is only with you for their marriage's benefit?

I can tell you that my relationship with my other partner never had anything to do with the intention to enhance my marriage so that statement does not fit me at all. In practice it has had both positive and negative effects on my marriage, none of which I went looking for. I have a relationship with him purely because I want to have a relationship with him so there is no balancing those ideas for me. If you asked me for help understanding couples who are open for that reason I wouldn't know what to tell you. So if he indeed doesn't see you that way, he may just be frustrated that you are asking him for help understanding something that he himself doesn't understand and doesn't apply to the two of you. The fact that he is open doesn't make him an expert on every kind of open relationship.

Instead of asking him about other people, ask him to explain more about your relationship. He shouldn't be fighting that. If you need more information about how he feels or what to expect from your relationship, ask for that. If he says "Don't you know how I feel?" Say "No I don't understand. It isn't clear to me because I'm used to the idea that relationships go a certain way so I need help seeing a new vision of what our relationship can be without being those things (fill in what your typical expectations would be)"

Once you have that vision, you have to decide if that can meet your wants and needs now. Then if your feelings change in the future you'll have to decide again.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:14 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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It's completely different for every relationship. Some poly people in primary partnerships find that they derive a lot of side benefits -- better communication, better trust, better sex -- from having OSOs. Others find the EXACT opposite, and find that everything is harder. Yet others find that there's relatively little impact.

In the end, though, what matters is how *you* are treated by your partner, and how satisfied you are with this particular relationship.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:41 PM
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Vixtoria Vixtoria is offline
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Relationships SHOULD enhance your life. So yes, your relationship with him enhances their marriage. Honestly it should. If you enhance his life, then he's happier, that is going to effect those around him, including his marriage. Guess what? It works the other way too. Think about it, when you spend time with him is he happy or is he in a bad mood because of things going on in his marriage? If someone has a bad day, it affects them.

A mistake we made in the beginning was trying to put each relationship in it's own little box. As if one didn't affect the other. Of course they do! If BF and I hare having problems, just frustrated or dealing with something, hubby is going to notice, he's going to see I'm upset or unhappy or frustrated. And vice versa. You can't have each relationship to completely independent that there is no cross over.

One of the things I LOVE about the openness of the relationships is that I CAN tell hubby something good BF and I shared and vice versa. There is no upset like, "Well I don't want to watch that movie now because you two did and had fun so my fun is lessened watching it." Instead, enjoy how the relationships enhance each other. It's not a one way street. You aren't just some 'tool' to be used to make his marriage better, any more than his wife is just someone he stays with because it makes YOUR relationship better. He loves you both, he wants to be with you both. Probably because of how you both enhance his life and I'm sure he hopes he enhances yours. The effort you are afraid of putting in and going to his marriage and not to you is effort you put into YOUR relationship. If you aren't getting enough out of YOUR relationship for the effort you feel you are putting in, say something. But don't assume it's like some sort of relationship bank where you are making deposits and the wife gets the withdrawals!
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:34 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Thank you all for your responses.

Some of them are exactly what I'm trying to get at: seeing what this phrase about it enhancing a marriage means to others. Scraping below the surface. I see some answers that make it more palatable and understandable than how I viewed the phrase.

Why don't I just ask him these questions? Well, first, this is what forums are for. There's not much point any of us being here talking to one another if we all just tell each other, "Go ask your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend!" We're here to talk about and explore ideas, get input, see how others view things in order to help ourselves in our own situations.

Second, I do ask him. He is unable to explain how he sees it. He gets agitated, defensive, and upset. He told me over and over, a week ago, repeatedly, that he has made it hard for me to be open because of his responses (this sort of came out of the blue, from him, it wasn't anything I brought up). He apologized, said he wants me to feel safe in talking to him, in being open with my feelings, so that he and I can be closer. So I asked him this, what I thought was a simple question, a simple matter of what does this phrase mean to you? How do you see it? It blew up in my face and he told me last night he guesses he really can't handle my questions.

I make no apologies for asking him questions. I have lived solidly in the world of traditional, monogamous marriages my entire life. I have no experience with open marriage or polyamory. I enjoy his company very much, I think we've been good for each other in many ways. I would like to continue seeing him. But it's a foreign world to me, I do not fully understand the mindset and I think I have every right to read, to educate myself, to try to understand, and to ask for explanations and clarification.

As one who has spent my life in education, I do not yell at my students for not understanding what they've never been exposed to. Sometimes, often, in fact, it takes going through a concept multiple times for students to really get and understand even 'straightforward' concepts like math equations, physics, sciences. Never mind the complexities of feelings, emotions, relationships, what it is to want to be with two people.

I have been respectful in all my questions, I am genuinely seeking understanding. I feel if he invited me into this world he knew was completely foreign to me, he has some obligation to help me through it if he wants me to stay here. Just as I would help a visitor to my city navigate the streets and sights. Especially someone I greatly cared about and hoped would come back and spend more and more time with me, and maybe even join me permanently.

I feel if he's this frustrated with what I thought was a rather simple, innocent question, he needs to think about why.

There are other issues raised here, such as feeling second, but right now, I have many other things I need to be doing, and given the discussions he and I are having, it may become a moot point, regardless. I'm looking at some of the reasons why this is bothering me now despite the fact that I have no desire for any husband at all, not him, not anyone, despite the fact that I have no desire to move in with him or any of the rest. I have been quite happy with this situation for those reasons, and logically I ought to still be happy with it, as I still feel that way.

However, I'm seeing that some other things going on have raised that feeling to the surface, things I think it would be unwise to discuss on a public forum.

Again, thank you for the answers, and I'll be re-reading some of them and pondering them again.
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  #7  
Old 03-31-2013, 05:02 AM
turtleHeart turtleHeart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
Can those members who are in primary relationships, especially those whose OSOs are single, tell me their response to this comment on OSOs enhancing your primary relationship, and how that balances with seeing your secondary/OSO as a person in their own right?
If it makes you feel better, I don't see OSOs as automatically enhancing primary relationships at all, rather that if there is another relationship the couple within the primary relationship had better be putting a lot of work into their own relationship if they want things to last between each other. The initial emotional upheaval is similar to what I imagine cheating would entail, and quite a few seemingly happy couples don't make it through the transition of opening up.

I wouldn't recommend anyone add a relationship just to improve the one they already have. I'd only recommend the new relationship if they want a new relationship so much that they're ok with the possibility that it will mean the end of their current relationship, as it very well may, no matter how close the couple felt going in.

My wife and I are doing what we can to make things work, and we each get along with each other's partners, but I'm pretty sure that if we knew what it'd all entail going in we'd have remained monogamous. At this point it just doesn't seem like there's any going back, we can only move forward.

My OSO is single with two kids, and my wife Ginko's OSO is newly single as polyamory unintentionally brought his marriage to a close. I feel lucky to have the metamour that I do. He's done his best to make sure Ginko and I continue to relate well to each other, and he with me.

At this point we've made it through what seems like a lot of the initial growing pains of opening up, and the most prominent challenges are more due to work and class schedules than anything else, which should ease up in the next year or so.
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