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  #11  
Old 11-12-2011, 03:00 PM
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First of all, thank you to everyone that has responded. Just having other people willing to share their thoughts and encouragement has been immensely helpful. I’ve had a couple of conversations with my wife (I’m going to adopt convention here and call her D) over the past few days and am now trying to give her time to process all of this.

On the positive side, D hasn’t run screaming for the nearest divorce lawyer and has reassured me that she loves me and doesn’t want to see me unhappy. Have I mentioned that she is an incredible person am that I’m very fortunate to have her in my life (yes, I tell her this regularly)?

On the not so good side, I feel like a complete jerk and idiot. I imagine there are many people that would love to have a partner like D and here I go, making a mess of things (and hurting her in the process). At this point D feels inadequate and is sure, in spite of anything I can say or do, that I will find someone ‘better’ than she is. I think all I can do at this point is continue to show her that I love her.

Does anyone have any other suggestions at this point?
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  #12  
Old 11-12-2011, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Openman View Post
I recently told my wife the same thing about three weeks ago. It was a huge burden off of our marriage. I feel "clean" in a relationship for the first time in my adult life. I no longer expect my wife to give what she can't give and can appreciate even more deeply what she brings to our marriage.
I experienced the same thing, from the other direction. It was my wife who initiated the conversation. I wasn't angry or hurt or afraid, just puzzled and wary.

Frankly, I was more worried that I would be the one who would fall madly in love with someone else and end up leaving my wife and our children. It was definitely the scarcity model of love: to give my love to one, I have to take it away from another.

Cue my inquisitive nature: I started looking online for information about polyamory.

About a week later, I initiated a conversation with my wife . . .

We're still fairly new to all this, but it really has taken a burden off our relationship. It's much easier to be open and honest with one another about our relationship and about other aspects of our emotional lives if we're not afraid of shattering the fragile monogamous dream that we must be all things to one another.

The term I used at the time - last March - was that our relationship unclenched.

As for your particular situation, maybe you could offer your wife some resources - and find some for yourself - for making sense of responsible non-monogamous relationships, then be patient.
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Old 11-12-2011, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by joedad85 View Post
At this point D feels inadequate and is sure, in spite of anything I can say or do, that I will find someone ‘better’ than she is. I think all I can do at this point is continue to show her that I love her.

Does anyone have any other suggestions at this point?
This may also just take patience, and lots of communication.

Again, from my own recent experience, even discussing the possibility of polyamory forced my wife and me to look very closely at the basis of our own relationship and the nature of our commitment to one another.

The bottom line is that our commitment to one another is much stronger and much more vital now that it is more clearly a matter of choice, rather than habit or convention or - as it might occasionally have seemed - dreary duty. (We never did think of our marriage as a matter of mutual ownership.) It is also stronger and more vital now that we see it as a choice open to ongoing negotiation, and a commitment to keep negotiating, to keep working it out together.

Maybe this is where you need to focus in conversations with your wife: What does your marriage mean?
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Old 11-13-2011, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by joedad85 View Post
On the not so good side, I feel like a complete jerk and idiot. I imagine there are many people that would love to have a partner like D and here I go, making a mess of things (and hurting her in the process). At this point D feels inadequate and is sure, in spite of anything I can say or do, that I will find someone ‘better’ than she is. I think all I can do at this point is continue to show her that I love her.
The best thing you can do for your relationship is to be honest (as kindly as possible) and patient. You are only responsible for your own feelings and actions. You are not responsible for how your wife reacts. Her hurt is not caused by you, it is a reaction to you sharing your inner process of change and growth. This does not mean you don't have to feel empathy for her hurt, but recognize it's not your fault!

It's a tough situation you're in and hopefully you and your wife will give each other space and lots of love to process this. Stay true to yourself; it will be the best thing for you and your family in the long run.
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Old 11-13-2011, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by joedad85 View Post
Maybe writing this will help me process my thoughts and emotions…

Tonight I told my wife that ideally I would have more than one love in my life. She took it surprisingly well and even managed to make a joke, something along the lines of “You mean I get to have two men now?” Later, she said she didn’t really know what to think and would need some time to digest it all.

Her initial thought was that it would only be a matter of time before I no longer wanted to be with her. The example she used was “What if I met a rich man that could take me on all the expensive trips to foreign countries that I wanted? Wouldn’t you be worried that I wouldn’t come back?” To which I replied, “Why wouldn’t you come back if you loved me?” She didn’t have much of a response to that and just said that perhaps she wouldn’t feel like she needed me any longer.

I tried to reassure her that I loved her and that no one could replace her in my heart. “Think of all the years and experiences we’ve had together!” I said. She acknowledged that but then reiterated her previous statement that I would eventually tire of her if I had someone else to love. “I can see the progression already,” she said. “You would start out as friends but your feelings would grow stronger. Soon there wouldn’t be any place for me in your life.”

We finally agreed that we both needed to have some time to process our feelings. She is now upstairs in our bedroom, focusing on paperwork for her job. I’m sitting in the living room, hoping that she isn’t crying silently, thinking that her entire life has been shattered.

What comes next? Only time will tell.

If you have any advice please feel free to offer it. I didn’t want to have this discussion with my wife, but I could no longer keep my needs suppressed, twenty-one years is long enough, and I had promised her that I would always be honest with her.

Thanks for reading this.
Thank you for sharing Joe!

It will continue to take her some time to process, and you as well, adjusting to the changing dynamics of your marriage. I know for myself, I have had to come to the realization that that is who my partner is, and I love him still.

Take it one day at a time, and encourage her to do the same. It's important that she doesn't feel neglected or replaced; if it does come up it's important to be receptive, honest and reassuring.
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  #16  
Old 11-13-2011, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
This may also just take patience, and lots of communication.

Again, from my own recent experience, even discussing the possibility of polyamory forced my wife and me to look very closely at the basis of our own relationship and the nature of our commitment to one another
Initiating a conversation about polyamory when in a monogamous relationship definitely opens everything up for discussion! I don't know where we will end up but this is forcing us to really look at where we are at in our lives and what we want for the future. If nothing else, I think we both have had a chance to reaffirm to ourselves how much we value each other.
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  #17  
Old 11-13-2011, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Openman View Post
The best thing you can do for your relationship is to be honest (as kindly as possible) and patient. You are only responsible for your own feelings and actions. You are not responsible for how your wife reacts. Her hurt is not caused by you, it is a reaction to you sharing your inner process of change and growth. This does not mean you don't have to feel empathy for her hurt, but recognize it's not your fault!

It's a tough situation you're in and hopefully you and your wife will give each other space and lots of love to process this. Stay true to yourself; it will be the best thing for you and your family in the long run.
Thank you again for your input and for reminding me that I shouldn't try to take responsibility for my wife's feelings. I have a lot to learn and I think the process isn't always going to be easy or pleasant.
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  #18  
Old 11-13-2011, 02:56 PM
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How long have you been married? Kids?

Why now? What happened? what was the light bulb moment.
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  #19  
Old 11-13-2011, 05:52 PM
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How long have you been married? Kids?

Why now? What happened? what was the light bulb moment.
We've been married 21 years and have two children, a 20 year old daughter and an 18 year old son; neither live with us (empty nesters, yay!).

This has been something I've struggled with, and suppressed, for many years. At first I thought that I was just being a sinful person (my fundamentalist Christian upbringing helping me out there ). Then I thought, "Hello midlife crisis!" Finally, I've come to terms with the fact that a) I'm attracted to other people even though I'm happily married and b) I'm unhappy if I'm not free to see where those attractions lead.

I don't think I really had a single moment or maybe you could say I've had many such moments and managed to ignore them. I've read a couple of books on polyamory in the past, "The Ethical Slut" and "Love Without Limits", and the concepts presented felt right to me. I didn't act on those feelings though. I didn't value myself enough to realize that I deserved to have my needs met, or at least try to meet them.

I've been seeing a psychologist for about six months and, while we haven't discussed polyamory, talking with him has helped me overcome some self-esteem problems I've carried around for most of my life. I'm much more confident and happy with myself and where I'm at in my life. This has given me the courage to address some of the deeper issues I've refused to address.
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  #20  
Old 11-14-2011, 03:15 PM
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Last night, my wife said that she was willing to give polyamory a try and that she trusted me to not abandon her. So, time for first steps into a new world. I think that taking things slowly is the best way to proceed so she can see that she doesn't need to be afraid of someone replacing her. With that in mind, I'm going to just try to make some friends first and see where that takes me.

Wish us both luck!
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