A few questions from a concerned monogamist husband...
I met my wife about 5 1/2 years ago. She located me via a social website, we met, and started our relationship almost immediately. In our earlier days, she introduced me to a man she was friends with, and though I could sense some form of an attraction between the two of them, she was with me, and he was married, though Poly. He and I did become friends, albeit more like acquaintances with the limits amount of time we would be in each other's presence. He respected me for the way I treated my (future) wife, and we did talk on the occasion.
After dating for 2 years, my wife and I got engaged, and then married a year later. During this time, he had a bitter divorce, a change in career, and was in a new relationship, but we rarely if ever talked much. She attempted to call him once or twice, and when she reached his estranged wife, we had gotten an ear full, and eventually, his new number. His life wasn't where he had hoped for it to be, but we were supportive and let him know if he needed anything, to simply ask.
After our wedding (which this man did not attend, though invited), we spoke again on the occasion once his life had settled some. He had a new girlfriend, one that was supportive of his Poly lifestyle, and shared in it as well. Both my wife and I were glad to hear things were looking better for him, and would talk with him more as time permitted.
My wife and I during all of this have had a very happy and wonderful relationship, even thru all of the progressions it had taken, and our marriage was always based on openness and honesty, we would never hide anything from each other, and we communicated about every decision.
We, like most couples, had our share of ups and downs, especially with the economic turmoil of recent years. Our current situation is heavily stressful on my wife, and we are attempting to take steps to help to alleviate a great deal of it from her. Her outlook of things as they stand are grim at best, but I am supportive to her and try to reassure her that things will get better with time and the steps we are taking.
With the added stresses she has had lately, her more deeper rooted self esteem issues have been constantly bothering her as well, and she had started to isolate herself about 6 months ago. Now if I want to find out any information from her about how she is feeling, I must ask her, repeatedly, until she finally breaks her silence.
She came to me 3 days after this past Christmas holiday, with a letter in her hand. It was quite earth shattering for me. What I had thought was a working and over all happy monogamist marriage was about to come to a screeching halt.
In her letter, she told me that she wanted to have a poly relationship with this man. Unlike most of the posts that I've read here, and on other sites about couples discussing what a move to poly would do for their relationships, and how they could benefit from it, I was not so fortunate. The two of them had been talking for the past few months, on a more regular basis (i.e. daily), and according to her, she discovered she had been denying her feelings for him. She told me that she would be acting on them from this point forward, that I had absolutely no say in the matter, and it was up to me to accept her for who she is.
My first reaction was like the majority of people, I was enraged. We fought, lost sleep, fought more, lost more sleep, over the next few weeks. During this time she told me of their intent of the relationship, which was a full romantic, sexual, BDSM relationship. She expressed a need to be collared by this man, and to display it while with me at our home. I asked her why she never brought such concepts up with me, and if there was any way that she would want or had want to explore it with me. Her answer I am still waiting on, and she has never given it to me.
While getting used to the concepts that have been pushed onto me, I had asked my wife to please, if at all possible, to slowly introduce me to things, and let me take one thing at a time. With so many things coming at me at once, everything was becoming so hard for me to handle, that I wasn't quite sure what to think of it all. However, part of their relationship is him pushing her to make decisions, and break down barriers.
I have asked her if she would think some form of counseling would be good for her to help her have a different perspective, and possibly help her to come to terms with how she thinks and feels. At this time, she is open to the idea of counseling, but does not want to seek it, in addition to requiring a professional that is knowledgeable in alternative lifestyle choices, as she fears a normal counselor with view poly as a damn-able point of view.
Having been with my wife for over 5 years, I can see the stress getting to her. She's torn between us both, him pushing her forward, and me holding her back. I've told her if she feels she needs to just break open and try something new it's fine, but I just want her to communicate it with me so I know to prepare myself.
He pushed her a few weeks ago, and it almost made her throw in the towel. Due to her self esteem issues, my wife has an issue with nudity and the female form. Thru her discussions with him, she thinks she may have some bi-curious feelings she may want to explore. I have told her that if she feels the need to explore these feelings, I will support her in any way I can. However, he pushed her to explore these feelings with his Primary, and him, in a threesome. She was against it, as she would rather explore such feelings with someone she has them for, and, in her words "not someone that is virtually a stranger to me". After a fight in which he gave her the silent treatment for two days, she agreed to this encounter. The day came, they all got together, and they never did anything.
My wife and I are currently in a constructive state of mind given the current circumstances. I'm doing the best I can to be supportive and understanding, and she is doing what she can to be respectful and forthcoming.
What I guess I'm trying to get out of this is:
1. In what ways can I be more supportive to my wife's desires to explore feelings and thoughts that she is having, and deal with the fact that she does not wish to explore any of them with me?
2. Given her issues with self esteem and self worth, would there be any direct links between that and the possibility of her exploring these feelings to be more harm than good without seeking some form of counseling?
3. Since many of you have more experiences to pull from, what are some suggested ways for my wife and I to open up dialogs about things, feelings, and thoughts, without causing any undue stress or anxiety about the impending conversation?