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Old 12-07-2011, 04:56 AM
Lila Lila is offline
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Unhappy Enforced Polyamory?

Hi,

I am new to all this, my husband of 20yrs just told me last night that he wants me to consider polyamory. I don't want to, we have had our issues but I think things could be worked out if we made more effort. (ie. we've not been out on a "date night" for over 4 years!)

I guess the only alternatives are living separate lives in the same house (we have a toddler to consider) or divorce.

I can understand that he doesn't want divorce for our sons sake, he says he still loves me but needs a new "dynamic" as he puts it, and has "more love to give" and "we'll both benefit". I just don't see it that way, call me jealous but I'm thinking of all the things he wants to do with a new woman that he never bothers about with me. I am not usually a jealous person and he's given me no reason to be jealous until now, but I think this would push me over the edge.

I feel like I wouldn't be going into it willingly so on that basis alone I doubt it would work.

Is there anyone who has been in this situation and felt pressure to comply? If so, how did it work out? any advice PLEASE!

Thank-you!
Between a rock and a hard place.

PS. I'm pregnant, so his timing REALLY sucks!


(edit) further info:

My husband wants a deep and meaningful, loving intimate relationship with one other woman and believes somehow she can fit into our lives and we’d all grow from the experience. Whether she lives with us or not she would somehow be integrated into our family. He doesn’t want a fling (I wish it was that simple!) he doesn’t want to cheat and he doesn’t want to be promiscuous, he doesn’t want to swing or have a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy (unless I'd prefer that).

I appreciate his honesty, but sometimes it seems so brutal that I think my heart will implode! He said he has no-one else to talk to about it, but I find it hard to be objective even though I really do want him to be happy, but right now if feels like it would be at my expense.

I mentioned a long time ago that we really needed couples therapy but for some reason he didn’t want to do it, don’t know if he thought it wouldn’t help or just wasn’t up for sharing the details of our relationship, I will have to ask him about that and convince him it is essential, even just from the point of improving communication and letting go of the past.

I am also responsible for the current state of our relationship, I have no doubt about that. I guess I didn’t realize how bad it was until he got switched onto the idea of having another woman in his life, he has been pondering it for a couple of months now, but I think this polyamory idea only came to him yesterday. He would be happy for me to start a relationship with another man, (post-pregnancy) but it’s just not on my agenda, I don’t want to complicate my life even more! We both agreed that if we were to start over we would choose completely different types of partners for ourselves.

If it wasn’t for our son, we would have divorced a couple of years ago and started fresh. But right now that’s not an option, we want to offer our son the stability that neither of us had when we were kids, (I never knew my father and my husband was from a divorced family with no real father figure). We do not want that for our son. Therefore I seem stuck with either a poly option or living separate lives in the same house in order to ensure stability for our son.

At the moment I’m pretty sure he’s just seeing the positive side of this idea (he admits he’s a dreamy idealist with his head in the clouds!) I don’t think he realizes that it still takes lots of effort to make it work and that there would still be rules and boundaries.

Anyway, I will speak to him about it further and see what we can do, though I am definitely not in any position to decide anything at the moment.

Thanks to you all for your advice, please keep it coming, I’m so grateful that you have taken the time to reply as I’ve no-one else to discuss this with!

Thanks, AnotherConfused I will take you up on that advice!

NB: "Relationship broken, add people." Seems so ridiculous when you put it like that!

Last edited by Lila; 12-07-2011 at 10:17 AM. Reason: further info...feel free to comment!
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:00 AM
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Somegeezer Somegeezer is offline
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You don't have to be poly yourself. Consider his own freedom though.
The way it sounds to me, is that he is not happy about something though. Try sit him down and talk to him, without distractions. Nobody should be looking for other relationships when there are problems in the ones they already have.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:12 AM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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So, he asked you to consider it. Why does that amount to an ultimatum, i.e. it's this or the dissolution of the marriage? Is that how he framed it? Does he need you to make a decision right away?

Is he willing to commit to 1) putting the spark back in your marriage, 2) giving you time to process this new idea without pressure, and, 3) if you both decide to go for it, taking it slow and considering your feelings carefully at every step, not just getting everything he wants right away?

Poly is hard work and requires a rock solid foundation when you're coming from an existing mono relationship... does he realize this? Has he done any reading or seeking out of feedback (the way you're doing here) himself?

Sorry for replying with questions rather than answers, but it's hard to know how to respond without more context.
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Last edited by AnnabelMore; 12-07-2011 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:25 AM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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From what I've seen and read the chances of it working for are very low.

As you and he will find out this won't fix a struggling marriage...it will kill one though.

Plenty of stories that start like yours. I actually thought once upon a time I saw a trend in some these stories....clearly that's impossible.

I recommend he read all the different threads he can find before jumping into something.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:42 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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In order to successfully transition from a monogamous relationship to a polyamorous one, the relationship needs to be on a firm, secure, and mutually respectful foundation. In other words, you need to address the problems that exist already before trying to add more people into the mix. That will only bring disaster, and is the reason why there is a phrase that illustrates a very wrong-headed approach: "Relationship broken, add people." It is obviously a stupid idea. No amount of branching out into non-monogamy can rest on a cracked and unstable foundation. And it won't work at all if it is not consensual and agreed to by both of you. Don't just given in thinking you have to. There has to be some deep work done first.

You've been married for 20 years, haven't gone out on a date with each other in four - that is a clear indication of a problem. Usually it's something to do with complacency and thinking we know our partner so completely that there is nothing new and fresh about being with them. But when someone is bored, it means they are boring themselves, it isn't the fault of the person they're with. Somewhere along the line, you stopped seeing each other each day as a new person, someone you still want to get to know, and stopped appreciating what you have. I say you both did, because it really isn't one or the other, is it? People do change and grow, even in lo-o-o-ong term monogamous relationships, but we wake up and look at the other person and think it's going to be the same-old, same-old, so why bother.

Fucking other people won't help that. If he doesn't address these issues with you, they will just be accentuated and accelerated with additional partners, whom he will eventually keep casting aside to look for more excitement in the next one, and the next, and the next. In addition, when a married person takes on an additional partner, it is usually recommended that they ramp up attention to their spouse and make sure that the married couple go out on just as many dates as he or she would with the new love interest. No spouse wants to always be left behind with the pile of laundry while their partner is getting jiggy with it across town. So, his getting love and attention elsewhere ain't gonna help nuthin' in your marriage if he is ultimately still avoiding bringing his love and attention back home to you.

And besides, what sane person would want to walk into that dynamic to be involved with him? He'd be using her, placing a burden on her to "fix" what's broken between you two, without doing the work he should to make sure it's a solid place for someone else to want to be a part of. You have a baby on the way - that's what you both need to get ready for, and I think focusing on healing your marriage will be a great way to welcome a new little human being into this world.

No - you both need to come back to your existing relationship, examine why it is not working anymore, and work on healing it before you do anything. Couples Therapy would likely be a very good start. You can also show him this thread and invite him to share his side, so he can express his concerns, reasons, and get feedback.
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Last edited by nycindie; 12-07-2011 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:49 AM
Lila Lila is offline
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Hi,

Thanks for responding, I know him well. Once he gets a bee in his bonnet he just won't let it go. The discussion went like this, he said, "Today I found a word for what I've been searching for, what I've been needing and feeling for quite a while. I've sent you some links to read." He wanted to discuss it after I'd read the links but I pushed him for a discussion because I knew of the word polyamory already (my worst nightmare!)

He feels that he is half dead and needs other forms of emotional expression, to start living again, to have a relationship with someone who is dynamic and fiery and bubbly etc. He said something had to change and asked what would I consider, either polyamory, or living separate lives in the same house, or divorce. I don't want any of the above! I said I wanted to work really hard on our marriage.

I asked if he would at least wait until our baby is born (April) before making any moves and he agreed. I told him I feel vulnerable right now and have enough on my plate (baby has not developed left or right brain hemisphere - trisomy 13 genetic disorder, unlikely to be born alive).

Anyway, I said I can't agree to this right now because then what would be your incentive to work on OUR relationship? NONE!

I don't know how much research he's done, just what he looks up while at work. I think he's just focused on the benefits to himself and decided in his head that I "shouldn't want to keep him on a leash like a puppy" which I do not! I'm happy for him to have female friends, I just don't want to share intimately.

He was even wondering why I objected so much to the possibility of someone else moving into our home....I mean, he's already talking as though it's such an obvious solution (for him!)

Personally I think it's a mid life crisis - he HATES his job, it's very unfulfilling and he's looking for satisfaction elsewhere (he has already bought the electric guitar!) He feels really bound by his current commitments, mortgage, bills etc. Realistically, I have no idea where he would fit in another partner as he constantly complains about being so time poor....even though he only works a 4 day week.

Agh! Just shoot me now!

PS. the other post didn't have a "reply button"...not sure how to respond. Hope I have answered everything here...
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:08 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Sounds really difficult.

I wonder - how does your husband feel about your pregnancy? I mean this gently and with compassion - but is it at all possible that having another child is your version of filling the emotional need that isn't being met by your marriage?

I ask because I was discussing this sort of situation with my SO recently. I wonder how often people who are having problems in their relationships look for outside solutions? Particularly to fill the emotional need that isn't being filled by the relationship?

For me, the worry is that babies, pets and other partners all need work, effort and time. And if your emotional energy is already being used up by a difficult relationship, is there enough left over for adding somebody new?

I once hastened the end of a long-term, loving relationship by getting a puppy. The relationship was difficult at the time and in need of work - work that neither of us knew where to start with.

I have always loved dogs and forced us into getting a puppy. The puppy hastened the end of our relationship - I just didn't have the emotional energy to deal with both the relationship and the needs of the puppy.

I hope you and your husband can work together to find a solution.

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Old 12-07-2011, 06:08 AM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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First, welcome to the forum.

I haven't been on here long, but my experience, so far, suggests you've come to a good place to find some of what you need. Here, I think, you'll receive sound (and sometimes stern) advice here, as well as understanding and compassion.

Others will have better answers - and better questions! - for you, but here's my take on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lila View Post
I am new to all this, my husband of 20yrs just told me last night that he wants me to consider polyamory. I don't want to, we have had our issues but I think things could be worked out if we made more effort. (ie. we've not been out on a "date night" for over 4 years!)

I guess the only alternatives are living separate lives in the same house (we have a toddler to consider) or divorce.
What, exactly, is he asking for? "Polyamory" can mean a number of different things. Does he want to find another woman to join you in a triad? Or does he want to be able to date other women on his own? It is even possible to be a "mixed" couple, in which one partner is polyamorous while the other is monogamous.

All sorts of things are possible, but the indispensable ingredient is the knowledge and freely given consent of all involved. That seems to be the rub, as you see it.

What do you understand "polyamory" to be? What you write here suggests that to accept polyamory would be to give up on your marriage: he wants you to consider polyamory, you say, but you don't want to because you still think your marriage can be saved . . .

For the record, it is possible to have a strong and healthy marriage in which both partners are open to close relationships with others.

You state here that the only alternative to polyamory, in your particular case, is emotional detachment or divorce. Is that your understanding of the alternatives, or something your husband has stated or implied? If your husband states it, did he intend it as an ultimatum ("poly or else!"), or are you just hearing it that way?

It might help to know more about the state of your marriage before your husband brought up polyamory. Were you already heading for a break-up? Or were you generally happy together and able to communicate openly and effectively?

If your marriage was in trouble, then becoming polyamorous will not, in itself, save your marriage. In fact, it could add a kind of complexity that would call for even more openness, trust, and effective communication than a solid monogomous marriage.

Certainly, one partner trying to pressure the other into polyamory won't help things, if the marriage is already going through a rough patch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lila View Post
I can understand that he doesn't want divorce for our sons sake, he says he still loves me but needs a new "dynamic" as he puts it, and has "more love to give" and "we'll both benefit".
I think I'd need to hear from your husband directly on this.

Is the point of polyamory, for him, that he can find someone shiny and new to add variety and spice to his emotional and sexual life? (That's what's suggested by "a new 'dynamic'", at least as I read it.)

Or is it that he is really convinced that human beings are capable of close relationships with more than one person at a time, and he wants to do the hard work of cultivating that capacity in himself? (That's what's suggested by the language of having "more love to give," as I read it.)

The second option is more in keeping with the ideas of polyamory than the first, which could just an ordinary mid-life-crisis kind of thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lila View Post
I just don't see it that way, call me jealous but I'm thinking of all the things he wants to do with a new woman that he never bothers about with me. I am not usually a jealous person and he's given me no reason to be jealous until now, but I think this would push me over the edge.
Okay, you're jealous. That's not necessarily a bad thing in itself, and not really all that surprising, given the assumptions and expectations of our culture.

But what's underneath that jealousy? There are lots of threads on this forum about jealousy, how to understand it, how to work through it. I think they might be useful, even if neither of you follows through on polyamory.

For me, one of the most liberating aspects of polyamory is that it takes a lot of pressure off me and my wife alike: neither of us has to be everything the other could possibly want. If being with another guy brings her a particular kind of good experience I cannot provide - and we're not necessarily even talking about sex, here, but other kinds of activities and interests - then I can be happy my wife has found more ways to be happy. She and I still have a solid relationship, and there are things we can be and do for one another no one else can . . . but I am not her be-all and end-all, nor is she mine.

(Some folks in the poly community have coined a term for the happiness a person feels at the happiness of a loved one, even if that happiness comes from someone else: compersion. I don't much care for the term, but I like the idea it embodies. You might try a tag search of compersion on the forum here to find out more.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lila View Post
I feel like I wouldn't be going into it willingly so on that basis alone I doubt it would work.
This is really the crux of the matter.

You say your husband "asked" you to "consider polyamory". Again, is he insisting? Is there a tacit ultimatum that, if you don't, your marriage is over?

Or is it just that talk of polyamory makes you feel afraid, insecure, jealous . . . and so you feel as if you are being pressured, even though your husband is really only raising the possibility of thinking about relationships in a new light?

Again, it might be helpful to hear from your husband on this. If he's serious about exploring the possibility of polyamory, he could learn a lot by being on this forum . . . including advice on how to approach discussing it with you in a way that won't leave you feeling pressured!

For your part, it might be worth your while to at least learn as much as you can about the idea of polyamory even if, in the end, you choose to remain monogamous. At least then you'd have more of a sense of what your husband might be asking for.

If he really is trying to pressure you into something you don't want, though, then there are deeper communication and power issues in your marriage that might call for counseling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lila View Post
PS. I'm pregnant, so his timing REALLY sucks!
This is a very important postscript. You've got one very big life change coming up - and believe me, I know the difference a second child makes!! - so this seems an especially bad time to be considering the possibility of another major life change. . . especially one that (on the face of it) goes against much of what our culture teaches us about love and marriage.

If your husband is serious about polyamory, and if he's serious about your marriage, it seems to me he should be willing to put off deciding anything about opening up until after the child is born and your life together has restabilized, at least a little.

(If he's pressuring you, or is determined to be polyamorous right now, with or without your consent, then, again, that's a much deeper problem.)

In the mean time, you might benefit from exploring the ideas discussed in these forums and in the broader literature of polyamory - there are threads that provide links to other resources. Even if you ultimately reject polyamory for yourself, I think the ideas discussed here are useful in building and sustaining healthy relationships of any kind - especially ideas about honesty, communication, and consent.

EDIT: Wow! Five or six replies appeared while I was writing this! I hope it's still relevant. Again, if your husband is serious about polyamory, you should get him to join this conversation. We might be able to offer better advice if we could get his perspective, as well.
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Last edited by hyperskeptic; 12-07-2011 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:10 AM
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SourGirl SourGirl is offline
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If he hasn`t taken YOU on a date night in 4 years, and he has one child, with another on the way, what the hell makes him think he can treat TWO women well ?

In the event he is serious and not actually being a bored-turd, I would probably tell him you needed some 'tidying up' of the marriage before you could begin to think about it. YOU can explain to him, that you both need to make more effort into personal time, and building a stronger connection. With a strong connection, time spent, and feelings of love and cherish on BOTH sides, THEN you can examine if poly is a suitable option.

Good Luck.
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:14 AM
calya calya is offline
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I'm new to this. I don't know very much, but I have been in a failed monogamous marriage. It sounds to me like he is not putting any effort into your marriage, and that he has no plans to put any effort into your marriage.

Two of his three options involve not being with you and he sounds fine with that. I hate to say this and I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like the marriage is over. It could maybe be fixed with therapy, which I highly recommend, but you can't make another person willing to work on it.
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