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Old 02-24-2011, 05:18 PM
Lunshbox Lunshbox is offline
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Unhappy 8 years in, wife wants an open marriage.

Hi everyone. I am glad I found this site. I have been reading through a lot of the posts here and find a lot of the information to be great. I wanted to give my story that began all of 4 days ago. Also, as with many of the people posting here, I need advice.

There were certain circumstances that led to my wife and I have a conversation in which she told me she wanted to consider the prospect of us opening our marriage. I have been in a bit of a rough spot lately but have been seeing a therapist which has helped me a great deal. Now, my wife and I have been married for 8 years and the subject of polyamory only came up when some friends of ours came out to us as polyamorous about a year ago. We had a pretty in-depth conversation about it and both of us agreed that we are glad that it works for them but that it is something that neither one of us were interested in. In fact, she was the first one to say it, it wasn't like she was following my lead.

On Monday night we had a very serious conversation about our happiness levels. In short, she told me that she is completely happy with me and that I am her center and she loves unconditionally and that I have a place in her heart that could never be touched. BUT, (the dreaded but which I am sure brings many people here) over the past year she has felt that, in her own words, she has an extension of herself that is not happy. A small part of her brain (5% in her estimation as if that means anything) is curious about what it would be like to be with someone else while still being with me (not a sexual encounter, but having a honest poly marriage). To her credit, she didn't want to tell me about it until I was better and had my issues and medication worked out (not overly crazy, just some anxiety issues that got a little out of control). However, due to certain extenuating circumstances I found out how she felt and drug it out of her.

I cannot tell you in words how I felt when she told me this. The first thing I felt was anger that she didn't tell me when she first started having these feelings. I felt like she had lied to me because we have talked about it a few times since our friends came out and we both were, at least in words, on the same page. We have always had an honest relationship, sometimes perhaps too honest. The second things I felt was sadness because (as most people tend to do) I felt that it was about me not being enough for her. She assured me that it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her. However, you can understand my confusion on that matter because, as a family, what one person does effects the other person. The only analogy I could come up with (and I am not equating polyamory with a crime), if I go out on my personal time and have a few drinks and get a DUI on the way home, it is squarely on me. I will shoulder the burden of the fine, the night in jail, the loss of my license, and the stigma of being a drunk-driver. However, that doesn't effect just me because I have a family to consider. I have a wife and a 10 year old daughter at home that expect me to be somewhat stable.

There have never been any outward signs that she felt this way. She is very good about hiding certain feelings and it usually takes some work to dig them out of her. But this was completely-out-of-no-where, blind-siding material. She said that she hadn't told me yet because she was scared that I would a) hate her and b) leave her. I thought I was the only one with abandonment issues (not really). I told her that I would never hate her for her feelings. No one can help where their feelings bring them. My first reaction (the wrong one) was that I told her that I couldn't do it and that if she needed that in her life then I couldn't be there with her to go through it. I don't think that anyone should be unhappy in a relationship. I also told her that I am not 100% happy in our relationship. Anyone who says they are 100% happy in their relationship is a goddamned liar in my opinion. There are always places that could use improvement or curiosities that go unfulfilled. I (being bisexual) have wondered what it would be like to have a relationship with another man again now that I am more mature and financially and physically stable. However, I am fine with not fulfilling that curiosity because she makes me so happy that I can do without it. Not 100% happy, but close enough for me to round up.

Eventually I told her that I would do all of the research that I could possibly do into the subject of polyamory, including asking my friends questions about how they live their lives. I will keep an open mind and give it true consideration (I am an engineer and a physics student, I have to be open-minded), but that she must also be open to the fact that I may come through this and realize it is not for me, that polyamory isn't something I can deal with in my life. So I started my research here and at Modern Poly, I subscribed to Poly Weekly, and I have a few books coming to me (Opening Up and Ethical Slut). I can honestly say that I am terrified. I haven't been this scared about something since I was in the Marines and found out we were going into Afghanistan and then on to Iraq. There are so many outcomes that could happen that give me pause. I am a planner and I know there is no way to know the outcome of every situation, but it is possible to be educated on 95% of the possible outcomes. I could share some of my concerns, but I think I need to do more reading to see if some of these books and articles help with those concerns. I am sure they are concerns that many people new to polyamory have.

All in all, I have always been monogamous. I may not have stayed with some people very long, but I have been monogamous none-the-less. Honestly, and I feel that I can be honest here and get honest answers in return, I feel that her asking me to have an open marriage is the same as her asking me to not be attracted to men and to be completely straight. It is so against my nature that I don't think I can do it. Then she tells me that she can't do it without me. So do I go against every fiber of my being and open our marriage to make her happy? Do I become bitter and resentful of her because she "forced" me to do something that I would never ask of her ( know this is up to me, but like many have said, feelings are valid if they effect your life that much)? I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never stay in a relationship that made me unhappy. The kicker is that I have fallen in love with her so hard and deep that I am not sure I would ever be happy without her. A Catch-22, as it were. Do I tell her I can't do it and then have the knowledge that for as long as we are together that she will never be completely happy? She has said that she could never leave me, but she also told me that she could never be poly.

I am stuck and I don't know what to do. Help me.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:25 PM
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Hi and welcome!

Just one question: What is the one thing you fear most will come out of this?
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:31 PM
Lunshbox Lunshbox is offline
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Hi and welcome!

Just one question: What is the one thing you fear most will come out of this?
Hi and Thank you

I have a few fears that are equally present in my mind, mostly dealing with not being the only person for her affection and her not being mine. Also the whole insecurity issue of "what if she decides she doesn't want me anymore". Mostly though I am afraid of creating an unhappy environment for either one of us or both of us.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:06 PM
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Entirely personal musing follows:

1) People are not interchangeable. Neither are relationships. The love I feel for my friend or mother is different from the love I feel for my partner. The love I feel for one partner is again different from the love I feel for another.

2) Because people and relationships are unique, there are no guarantees that everyone will want everyone in the same way and at the same time for the rest of their lives. However, I think that the fact your wife wants to discuss and embark on this journey together with you speaks volumes for her continuing desire to be with you.

3) Continuing to deny a major part of your self and desires is a sure route to unhappiness.

You also expressed insecurity about the fact that although one year ago, your wife said she is not interested in polyamory, she has now seemingly changed her mind. It might be that your friends coming out started out a process of reflection and re-evaluation for your wife that has lead to this point; it might also be that while she felt intrigued and that something in the poly lifestyle 'clicked' within her, she did not want to burden you with unnecessary complications while you were going through your rough patch. It might be that now is the first time she feels you are truly able to handle this type of discussion openers.
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Last edited by BlackUnicorn; 02-24-2011 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:12 PM
Lunshbox Lunshbox is offline
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Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn View Post
Entirely personal musing follows:

1) People are not interchangeable. Neither are relationships. The love I feel for my friend or mother is different from the love I feel for my partner. The love I feel for one partner is again different from the love I feel for another.

2) Because people and relationships are unique, there are no guarantees that everyone will want everyone in the same way and at the same time for the rest of their lives. However, I think that the fact your wife wants to discuss and embark on this journey together with you speaks volumes for her continuing desire to be with you.

3) Continuing to deny a major part of your self and desires is a sure route to unhappiness.
I think it speaks volumes also. I just don't know if it is something I can do. I agree that denying a major part of oneself is a sure route to unhappiness, but which person has the right to the happiness when there is no compromise? It is either we go through with this and she is happy and I am miserable or we don't and she will never be completely happy and I will constantly feel like I stopped her from finding true happiness. I know I am just speaking in circles at this point, but this has been what has been going through my mind for the past 4 days and it is really starting to get to me.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:20 PM
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It is either we go through with this and she is happy and I am miserable or we don't and she will never be completely happy and I will constantly feel like I stopped her from finding true happiness.
Is there absolutely now way you can imagine you two surviving a polyamorous relationship? Think of a fantasy la-la-land where you both fall for this awesome bi guy whose super-attractive, mature and totally into you both? Is this a horrible future scenario where you would be equally miserable than in any other possible non-monogamous future you can imagine?
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:14 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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hi lunshbox welcome....your now in the deep end of the pool.

I got here under similar circumstances a few months ago. There are lots of folks here that given lots of time and energy to helping those of us who are struggling. They have years and years of experience to draw from.

I would caution you and your wife to explore this more thoroughly than anything you have done before. Once you go through that door things are going to change and there maybe no going back. I'm not saying it is going to be negative or bad but things as you knew them will change.... if you and your wife don't like a lot of change then this may not be for you.

I think it might be a good idea to ask member who have gone down this road if 5% increase in happiness would be worth all the pain, and skull gnawing that is a result. Her 5% could cost everyone else including her 20-60% happiness in the short term. Right now my daughter and wife are at each others like a couple of pit bulls and I think it revolves around my daughter suspicions of her mothers outside relationship or affair, boyfriend.

I also think no matter how you feel today never remove the possibility of yourself having outside relationships. The reason I say this is during all the hypotheticals she can see things from all points of view. I don't believe that we "human" can control these matters of the heart. That said I believe no one can guarantee how they are going to feel once they fall in love and have a relationship....I was given similar assurances at the start....not sure how I would describe what those mean to me today. Good luck and ask as many questions as possible before going forward. Better to be sure this is something very important to her than some curiosity or whim.

Trust your gut..... D
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Lunshbox View Post
So do I go against every fiber of my being and open our marriage to make her happy? Do I become bitter and resentful of her because she "forced" me to do something that I would never ask of her ( know this is up to me, but like many have said, feelings are valid if they effect your life that much)? I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never stay in a relationship that made me unhappy. The kicker is that I have fallen in love with her so hard and deep that I am not sure I would ever be happy without her. A Catch-22, as it were. Do I tell her I can't do it and then have the knowledge that for as long as we are together that she will never be completely happy? She has said that she could never leave me, but she also told me that she could never be poly.

I am stuck and I don't know what to do. Help me.
it sounds like its all way to soon to decide anything. 4 days is only, well, 4 days! Some of us have taken years to figure where we are at. Its the journey, not the destination.

I'm glad you are reading some stuff. I suggest you do a tag search on stuff that interests you. There are a lot of things to become accustom to and change your mind set about in order to comprehend what goes on for poly people. Especually those in mono poly relatuonships. If that is in fact what you are thinking. I saw "unicorn" somewhere in here... I confess, I have not read everything... You might want to do a tag search for that if its crossed your mind.

Anyway, others seem to be giving you some thoughts... Good luck.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:25 AM
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It is either we go through with this and she is happy and I am miserable or we don't and she will never be completely happy and I will constantly feel like I stopped her from finding true happiness.
Okay, deep breath. You don't know that you will be miserable, and she doesn't know if poly will make her happier.

Not trying to push you in any direction, just pointing out something I see frequently here. New people come and say, "I could never, because it would make me feel so ____." But the fact is that that is just projection. You never know how you will feel until you are in a situation and feeling it. Or you could make it a self-fulfilling prophecy and drum up the feelings you think you should be having without really being with what is.

You both could be very surprised (if you do choose to explore a poly path).

The thing to do is not necessarily set up some protection against possible future unpleasantness, but see where you are right now. I think it's premature to spin off into what the future will be. Your wife, for right now, is just beginning to look at these thoughts she's had and now you are aware of them. Go slow, read those books you ordered, continue talking, try not to predict what will happen. Don't force anything before you're ready. You are both in a really good place -- it is obvious you care about each other.

Welcome. Gently now...
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 02-25-2011 at 01:19 AM.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:53 AM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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All in all, I have always been monogamous. I may not have stayed with some people very long, but I have been monogamous none-the-less. Honestly, and I feel that I can be honest here and get honest answers in return, I feel that her asking me to have an open marriage is the same as her asking me to not be attracted to men and to be completely straight. It is so against my nature that I don't think I can do it. Then she tells me that she can't do it without me. So do I go against every fiber of my being and open our marriage to make her happy?
Can you open the marriage but not be open yourself? If you love her and she feels this undying need, and you don't. Could you share her? (I know that sounds possessive... just using an example)

Quote:
Do I become bitter and resentful of her because she "forced" me to do something that I would never ask of her ( know this is up to me, but like many have said, feelings are valid if they effect your life that much)? I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never stay in a relationship that made me unhappy. The kicker is that I have fallen in love with her so hard and deep that I am not sure I would ever be happy without her.
Are you unhappy? If you can deal with the emotional upheaval you may be able to find happiness with her open.

But, in look at your bi-sexuality. If poly is that rooted in a persons core then how do you explain how lots of people love multiples but don't act on them.

Just because you are bi doesn't mean you have to bang men and just because she is poly, she doesn't have to be poly.

I use these examples, not to discourage you but show you there are still options. Unless you want a 1 for 1 situations (shes open you are open) type of deal, then that starts to get messy.

Quote:
A Catch-22, as it were. Do I tell her I can't do it and then have the knowledge that for as long as we are together that she will never be completely happy? She has said that she could never leave me, but she also told me that she could never be poly.
Is this to protect her own feelings? If she is open, you are open, so it feels justified? It might be something for you both to consider. How far does the 1v1 go. We see lots of couples come on here and other sides saying the girl won't date until the guy does. That quickly creates resentment as it hands over control to the more uninterested party

Quote:
I am stuck and I don't know what to do. Help me.
You are doing the right things,asking questions. Looking around and researching. Its a good way to find that base foundation for your relationship to open up.

However... as much as you are doing this as a couple, you are doing it as individuals too. You have a right to say no for yourself... while she says yes to the same topic. You might just have to find boundaries that work for both of you

good luck

ari
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