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Old 12-11-2011, 05:19 AM
sevechten sevechten is offline
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Default Advice on not screwing up a newly opened marriage

I've been in a faithful, monogamous relationship for around 20 years. We have occasionally talked about boundaries and other people. The rules evolved from "if you were to cheat once, I probably wouldn't leave" to an explicit 'don't ask, don't tell'. I never met anyone else under those rules because I never found an opportunity that could be taken without deception--at minimum I'd have to lie about where I was going.

Recently things have changed significantly in a short time. Listening to a Dan Savage podcast sparked another discussion where we discussed her fears and how to reduce them, with the result being that I can openly look, openly date with her full knowledge and cooperation, but subject to her veto. Wife prefers to remain mono for now, possibly forever.

I updated my profile on a couple of sites, and was contacted by P, a woman in a long term poly relationship. I initially misunderstood, and thought she was recruiting for a local poly group rather than being specifically interested in me. We got that straightened out, exchanged texts and emails for a while, and Wife and I met P and her husband. That went very well, so P and I are going to meet for lunch in a week or so and see where things go.

The relationship with P appears to be heading in a direction almost exactly what I really wanted--I thought I was going to have to settle for very casual outside relationships with little emotional connection in order to keep Wife from worrying. Since P's primary relationship is also well established and long term, that's much less of a worry for Wife.

Part of me thinks this is too good to be true, there's got to be a catch. I guess what I'm looking for is advice on how to make this go as smoothly as possible. Any obvious mistakes I appear to be making, or things I'm overlooking?
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:07 PM
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The only thing that I see as a potential problem is the veto thing. An initial veto power, as in "Please don't start dating her, she skeeves me out," can be a great idea. But if your wife is expecting that she can say at the 6 month mark "Actually this is bothering me more than I thought, I'm calling in the veto, you have to stop seeing her," that could really mess up all the relationships involved.

If you refuse, you'll be breaking your agreement with her. If you comply and find yourself broken-hearted, you could end up being resentful in a way that's very damaging to your marriage.

Much better, in my opinion, to leave it up to a matter of discussion. You can say "You know you're my first priority and if a particular outside relationship or poly in general was endangering our marriage in a way we couldn't resolve I fully believe I would end it to keep us together," and that's subtly but importantly different from "You have the right to end my outside relationships whenever you choose."

Otherwise, looks great! For helpful basic do's and don't's, have a read through some of the beginner's resources at www.morethantwo.com. Good luck!
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:08 PM
sevechten sevechten is offline
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With the dynamic of our marriage, I think the absolute veto is necessary, and I trust that it won't be abused. Based on our history in other areas she is extremely unlikely to use the veto unfairly or without discussion, or even sometimes when she should. Rather it will make it more likely she will bring up issues that bother her while they can still be fixed.
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:46 PM
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Well that sounds good then.
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:45 PM
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Vetos are not something I really advised. They are very tricky. On the outside they appear to create some stability and control of emotions and what happens but when it comes down to actually using them they cause more damage than good.

My experience with them has taught me that I prefer to trust my partners that they will consider my boundaries and opinions and make a decision that is good for all of us rather than for just themselves. There have been times where I have had the need to point out different ways of seeing my partners love interest that have meant they have ended a relationship because they hadn't noticed, but I have never said flat out that they cannot see them because I said so. Because we trusted each other and had each others best interest in mind, including the other person involved, a choice was made out of that, not out of an imbalance of control.

I have found that vetos create deception. Communication goes well until the one that has veto rights decides they don't want their partner to see a person, put their foot down and then the communication stops and feelings, thoughts, negotiating boundaries are not discussed any more. The idea is to keep talking. Vetos keep that from happening in my experience.

There is also the other persons feelings to consider. How would it feel to know that someone has vetoed you? Very hurtful. Poly to me is about creating more love and connection, not leaving people wounded and more damaged. Sure, maybe the person is considered to be less than perfect by the partner that has veto power but that doesn't give them a right to express that openly to them by saying, "sorry sucker, you're out!"

I would suggest that you create boundaries that address your wife's need to take things slowly, be involved enough to know who you are interested in, what she would like considered if she is struggling and how to make sure anyone you are interested in spending time with is treated with respect regardless if they are a good match for you.

Dating other people is a group effort between all involved, not a couple calling all the shots and the new person just sucking it up and taking the dregs of what they get in my opinion. People deserve and are entitled to love, support, caring, consideration and respect for who they are and what their life experience has brought them. Honouring them right from the beginning in this way means that in turn that is given back. Its a good foot to stand on when starting a new relationship I think. Its served me well any how.
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Last edited by redpepper; 12-11-2011 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:29 AM
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I personally will never get involved with a guy whose spouse has veto power. I never want to be discarded to appease someone else's insecurities. If someone has a veto agreement with their spouse/SO, then I know they will always put that relationship above all others and ultimately wouldn't give a crap about my place in his life. I think when a couple opens up to poly, each needs to acknowledge that where hearts are involved, other individuals they have relationships with may eventually reach a place where they are as important and cherished to them as their existing partner is. A veto policy leaves no room for that.

Since P is someone who also has a spouse, the above may not be an issue for her, but she could still feel really shitty if down the road your wife gets upset about something and vetos your relationship. A veto for dealing with jealousy or avoiding the complications of feelings is like putting a band-aid on a broken bone.
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Last edited by nycindie; 12-12-2011 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:00 AM
sevechten sevechten is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Since P is someone who also has a spouse, the above may not be an issue for her, but she could still feel really shitty if down the road your wife gets upset about something and vetos your relationship. A veto for dealing with jealousy or avoiding the complications of feelings is like putting a band-aid on a broken bone.
Some good points here, and I'm discussing them with Wife as well. I'm not going to ask her to give up veto, but she's agreed to try to work things out first, to bring up issues early enough that there's still room to fix them before vetoing if at all possible.

Especially this early into opening our relationship, there's not a lot of practical difference between veto and trusting to respect boundaries and opinions--I'm trusting her to respect boundaries and opinions before vetoing, but there's no guarantee that she can handle an open relationship at all--and our agreement was to try it, not that once she said yes we could never go back to a mono relationship.

Before all of us met, P admitted that she's somewhat concerned that it is Wife and my first time in an open relationship. She's aware of my agreements with Wife, and is OK.

...and since it will be a week or so before P and I are alone together for the first time, this may all be moot--We get along online so far, but that doesn't mean we will have romantic chemistry.
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevechten View Post
... there's no guarantee that she can handle an open relationship at all--and our agreement was to try it, not that once she said yes we could never go back to a mono relationship.
I understand that, but think about the people you would be "trying it" with - people who are real flesh-and-blood human beings with desires, wants, needs, and whose feelings can be hurt. They are not there to be experimented on. Since you said you didn't want to "settle" for "very casual outside relationships with little emotional connection," I think you get what I'm trying to say, and why a veto, for many people, would be at odds with developing real, loving, caring relationships.

I would also add that, although it is perfectly reasonable to leave the door open as to whether polyamory is for you, and to be able to choose monogamy in your life again if you want to (which is what I do myself), it is still important (IMHO) if an when you do get involved with an additional partner, that you go "all in." I mean, it's like any other relationship when it just starts out, there's a giddiness and a hesitancy at first, an "is this really happening?" feeling, but then you go deeper and you invest in it fully, because to hold back would be unfair to the other person (and to yourself). Of course, there are no guarantees that any relationship will last, whether poly or mono, and I'm projecting into the future a bit (you're not even sure if there is chemistry between you and P. yet!) but as long as you are willing to dive in fully and wholeheartedly, I think you will both give and get the best in "loving more than one."
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Last edited by nycindie; 12-12-2011 at 06:35 AM.
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  #9  
Old 12-12-2011, 04:13 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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What are the parameters of the veto power. Too good looking, (hot) ...Too young,(hot) Too stacked(hot) ... over all way Too sexy (hot) Too funny... Too smart ....Too good a cook .....or simply a bad vibe or personality traits...annoying laugh...excessive hair flipping, etc..

The " veto " concept gives the illusion of some control of how far things can comfortably go or a possible replacement threat ....but in reality its just an illusion. Most people can't turn off feelings because someone else told them to.

Good luck
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevechten View Post
Some good points here, and I'm discussing them with Wife as well. I'm not going to ask her to give up veto, but she's agreed to try to work things out first, to bring up issues early enough that there's still room to fix them before vetoing if at all possible.
You seem to have a good head on your shoulders. If your wife and you are really as tight with each other as it appears to be, I don`t see a problem with this particular Veto.
Veto`s are *usually* used by those that feel out of control, and as previously mentioned, can be a type of deception.

However, the flipside of that, is there are people who have just as much fear of dealing with the reality of relationships ending, and try to make veto`s look worse then the actual.

One step at a time, looks about right to me, for your situation. Your wife has a history of coming through, and finding new milestones in this as she is ready. I think you are right to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The other thing to think about is,...your own abilities. Making sure you are straight-forward with both yourself, and those you get involved with, and it will help in the long run, as far as veto`s are concerned.

So take the time to learn exactly what type of scenarios could be veto`d. Also take the time to learn 'why' someone panics and calls a veto. Most times I see one person scream veto, and the other does as told, immediately. I think it would do people some good to 'sit on a situation' for a week or two, and see if they still feel the same.

Once upon a time, my hubby 'veto`d' a relationship I was in, and I was glad he did. I had become caught up in trying to 'make' a relationship work, long after the person didn`t deserve me.

Another time he asked me to end a relationship out of his own fear and panic. I said no. We worked through that.

So,..sometimes it really is in one`s best interest. Other times,..it definitely is not.

As for the point of the post.... 'screwing up' is going to happen. Some relationships just gel, and some are only meant for a short period of time. Don`t forget the feelings of all involved, and weigh your actions with respect for all parties involved...including yourself.

..and for the love of donuts, have FUN ! This shit gets far to serious !

Good Luck !
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