Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-20-2012, 08:25 PM
charlesgarnier charlesgarnier is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Toronto
Posts: 5
Default Continuation

If think it is useless to discuss with people who consider cheating as a crime, even if more than 70% of people in the US (after 5 years of marriage) have been unfaithful at least once. Those people simply deny reality. Yes, I think divorcing for one single cheat is, in most of the cases, stupid. Less hypocrisy in the society would avoid a lot of trauma and family destruction. Anyway I donít want to have a philosophical discussion on this point. I repeat again: each of the 4 of us now know what happen, so there is no more ďcheatingĒ for two years. When facts are not hidden, there is not cheating. Thatís a part of my own ethical code.

I also consider that people, married or not, are free and responsible. If Chrisí husband wants to leave her, he can. If Anna wants to leave me, she can. No need to transfer funds, each of 4 of us can afford a divorce. I do not consider marriage as something more than an arrangement to live together more easily, and not as a contract who should force people to stay together whereas they do not want to, or not to have sex with somebody else whereas they want too. Thatís a part of my own ethical code, see that as arrogance or asa, I donít mind, I do not look for a judgment.

I donít seek for being forgiven or something like that. Anna is the only person on earth who can give me absolution.

I am not looking only for my own selfish happiness, I want Anna and Chris to be happy, and wish Chrisí husband to be happy too. I wonít be happy until Anna and Chris are both happy.

I was not clear enough about some points.
- I apologized and made huge efforts to convince Anna to stay with me. We have met several counselosr, have discussed whole nights and days and we are trying to advance together. I find myself guilty of putting her in this situation and want her to find happiness. I strongly doubt (and so does she) that my separation from Chris is THE solution.
- As I said, Anna is not unhappy. We had discussions years ago on whether we should have other relationships. We did not go further in these discussions, but she enjoys the relationships she has now. She is open to the idea we have both extra relationships, but she is still hurt by my relationship with Chris and by its strength. She is still not clear on what she really wants.
- Chrisí husband still does not consider polyamory as a model, but his life with Chris is quite normal, it seems he has found a kind of equilibrium.

I read that if everybody is not happy, we should move. But move to where? I do not want to lost Anna nor Chris. Anna and Chrisí husband do not want to divorce. Chris does not want to break her family nor lost me.

To answer dingedheart :
- We consider our spouses are primary
- We continue to have long time project with them

But we have difficulties Chris and I to be completely clear on the fact that we do not want to live together. We have difficulties to make our spouses happy again. The two issues are probably linked.

The best suggestion I've read is to have a discussion between the 4 of us. I am considering that.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2012, 01:18 AM
Anneintherain's Avatar
Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Seattle-ish
Posts: 826

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post

- Do you think that, with time, Anna and Chrisí husband could accept the situation and become happy with it ?
- Chris and I consider our relationship as very strong, with attachment and a notion of engagement. Do you think it is possible to have a long-time lasting relation with another person, with that high frequency ?
- Chris and I are both hesitating. Do we have find a very intelligent way of dealing with our love, allowing us to make it compatible with our weddings, or are we lying to ourselves, because our main couples can only weaken ? Or are we missing the main love of both our lives by not being courageous enough, by compromising ?
- Anna and I are wondering. Are we going to have an open marriage ? Are we going to lost each other ? Is it going to make us stronger ?
Cheating statements aside, there are a LOT of questions people have asked you that you have not responded to. A lot of those questions they were asking directly addressed those things you are asking about, or were seeking more information about the subject so they COULD give you useful advice.

I suggest you reread the thread and try find those questions and answer them.

#1 That really depends on a lot of the questions people asked that you dont answer, such as have you talked to her husband, do you have a schedule that meets everbodies needs more or less, can you stop sms'ing Chris during your time with Anna so you are making her a priority and not being selfish.

#2 I don't know what you mean by "with that high frequency" but yes, of course its possible to maintain long term relationships with multiple people.

#3 Of course you have to handle it well if you want to have multiple successful long term relationships. Your relationship with Anna, her relationship with her husband, do not HAVE to weaken, but if I was a gambler, I don't know that you are all communicating well enough for it to succeed. That is because you can only give your view, I am guessing most people who have posted are skeptical that you are giving (or even know) a clear idea of what the other three people are thinking and feeling and open to.

Also, it sounds like you're wondering if Chris is your soul mate and you are stupid for not ditching Anna so you can go live happily ever after - well only you can answer that, but I'd really go to a counselor and talk about this - you did after all, say Anna was one of your arms and talk about how you couldn't be without her, maybe you are wondering if she isn't your dominant arm .... Sound like you have to figure out this question before you can really address the other ones.

Also #2 There is no such thing as a relationship where there is not compromise. There is no way in hell to have multiple romantic relationships that work for everybody without compromising at least some. Some people compromise more than others. It sounds from what you say that you and Chris are the ones doing less compromising than your spouses. What exactly do you feel that you have compromised that makes you ask this question?

#4 Well you have an open marriage. Are you both able to be poly? I don't know, go see a counselor, I do not see where you have said she wants to have other partners she cares about or that she's open to loving other people. Is it going to make you stronger? Sure there is always that option, if you go see a counselor together and read and work through some of the books in the "Books and website" sticky on the main page.

In summary - have you read poly books together so you can both figure out what you want & need? Do you set time aside for Anna where you put down your stupid phone and stop being in contact with Chris (that is just rude and annoying, I hope when you're with Chris you aren't distracted with contacting Anna every few minutes) Do you 4 all have a schedule set up that at least keeps everybody mostly content? See a poly or open relationship friendly regularly.
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2012, 03:25 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is online now
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 6,087

The best suggestion I've read is to have a discussion between the 4 of us. I am considering that.

Great. If that is the one that is most doable right now? Go with it!
  • Getting all four people in the same room to take the temperature to find out where they are all at now and where they want to go

This is a step in the right direction for setting things right. I commend you.

This rocky polyship of
  • Anna other lovers → Anna ↔ Charles ↔ Chris ↔ Chris Husband → His other lover

has been in effect for three years. So check in with all 4 people in the room.

How are they each in their
  • mental health?
  • Emotional health?
  • Physical Health?
  • Spiritual Health?
  • What are their wants, needs, and limits?
  • Are their wants, needs, and limits being heard and honored well?
  • Where do they want to be in a year's time?
  • Do they need checkpoints more often? Like once a month?

When you ask them to come and meet? Perhaps see if they will come with their wants, needs and limits listed on paper to have things to look at and talk about. That helps get the conversation moving rather than staring at blank paper not knowing what to say.

For you? Take all your posts in your thread. Print it out. Chop it up with scissors and arrange them in the piles to help you see the information you have so far better.

I have only done your original post to help you get started on making your bullet list. You fill out the rest if you wish.

Good luck with your talk.

Best wishes,

  • Charles is married for 20 years with Anna.
  • Charles had 2 affairs in the past.
  • Charles met Chris and they started an affair and feel in love passionately.
  • Chris is married with 1 child.
  • After a few months, Chris told her husband.
  • Anna found phone messages, so Charles also revealed.
  • Both spouses were initially angry and threatened to divorce. Each had (retaliation?) affairs
  • It is now three years later.

  • Anna is deeply hurt by having lost her exclusiveness on me.
  • She says she could accept me having other sexual relationships.
  • Anna can’t accept me being in love with somebody else.
  • She considers her own (extra-marital) relationships as a way of enduring the situation without too much suffering.

  • Chris’ husband considers that his own relationship (with other lover) is only a temporary solution.
  • He wants Chris back in a “normal” situation, which means a monogamous relationship.
  • He says he bears the situation only because he is convinced it won’t last.

  • We have a passionate relationship
  • As we work together, we can meet several times a week.
  • We send each other a lot of sms.
  • Our marriages are happy (conflicts with things listed above. Get clarification from Anna and Chris Husband on where they really are at NOW.)
  • We love our spouse (Anna) and husband (Chris Husband)
  • We both decided to find another path than both divorcing to get together. (What? Learn about poly? That sentence is not clear to me. Clarify (not to me) but for your meeting)
  • We have somehow succeeded (Details? Again, clarify for your meeting. What IS working is as important as knowing what is NOT working in a polyship. )
  • But it has been difficult for us to give up the idea of living together (Who? Just you and Chris? Or all 4 people? Clarify. You cannot ask if it is possible from Anna and Chris Husband if your dream is not clear. They won't know what you are asking them to consider. Letting you guys go, or everyone living together.)

  • Do you think that, with time, Anna and Chris’ husband could accept the situation and become happy with it ? (Ask them. )

Chris and I consider our relationship as very strong, with attachment and a notion of engagement.
  • Do you think it is possible to have a long-time lasting relation with another person, with that high frequency ? (Are you wanting to legally marry Chris? Or have a poly commitment ceremony? Clarify for meeting.)

Chris and I are both hesitating.
  • Have we found a very intelligent way of dealing with our love, allowing us to make it compatible with our weddings? (Do you mean trying for polyamory? That is the intelligent way? Clarify for meeting. How do Anna and Chris Husband feel now that it is 3 years later? Is it compatible to them?)
  • Or are we lying to ourselves, because our main couples can only weaken? (Ask the main couples if they feel strong or weak. And in what areas. )
  • Or are we missing the main love of both our lives by not being courageous enough, by compromising? (Do you mean not courageous enough to break up with Anna and Chris Husband and move off together? You and Chris sort that one. )

Anna and I are wondering:
  • Are we going to have an open marriage? (You and Anna sort that one out.)
  • Are we going to lost each other? (Are you both still willing to try? )
  • Is it going to make us stronger? (Time will tell?)

Last edited by GalaGirl; 08-21-2012 at 03:37 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2012, 09:12 PM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 10,083
Default Hostage situation

Charlesgarnier, you are not the first person ever to cheat on a spouse. You're not the first to want to change it into a poly situation after getting caught. There are other members here who came to poly that way. No, it is not ethical to cheat and it may seem like everyone here has hammered that point a little too much for you. That is because polyamory is considered an ethical form of non-monogamy which demands honesty and openness. I am sure most of us here, even if we have not cheated on a partner, knows what it's like to give into something unethical... have I always returned the money when a cashier gives me too much change, even though I know she will have to suffer for her cash drawer being short at the end of her day? No, I admit it, I thought only of myself and kept that $10. We are human, we get that you are human, too.

However, in interpersonal relationships, the only way back after such a major transgression against a loved one is lots and lots of hard work to regain trust -- you have to be a man of your word in all ways from now on -- and deep soul-baring communication in order for both of you to find a place of balance and security again. There is also forgiveness, from both of you.

You don't want to see your wife unhappy, but the fact is that you can't make her happy. We are all, each of us, responsible for our own happiness. As I see it, she needs to find her own happiness, whether in or out of relationship with you. That is the choice before her, to accept what is or walk away. To accept that you want to keep your lover, she needs to forgive you fully and completely and let go of resentments. She has to do it wholeheartedly, and that means she has to stop going along with something she doesn't want to do (having these empty flings) just to give her some unreal sense of fairness, revenge, or some weird way to hold the relationship together. If she isn't allowing love to develop in her other relationships, that is not poly, and it seems like she is somehow reserving her love only for you. Yes, you fucked up, big time, and she surely had lots of pain about that, but if she just keeps on holding onto her hurt and acquiescing to an arrangement that creates even more pain for her, then what she is doing is holding both herself and you as hostages of the marriage. If she can't have you monogamously, at least she can make you feel guilty and shitty with how unhappy she is. A shallow victory on her part. It would be good if you could get her to join and post her side of the story.

Anna is your hostage, too. You are blindly going along in your fantasy that your are balancing two relationships and everything is good, oh but, except that your wife and your lover's husband aren't happy. You have some immature ideas about having another wedding, you are all wrapped up in this "passion" for your lover that you have let things slide with your wife. She is like a beggar, looking for companionship and affection with the crumbs thrown her way by you and her other sexual liaisons, but what she wants is to reconnect with you. Meanwhile you are texting your lover all the time and living in la-la land. You both have lots of work to do to recover from this and regain, and create anew, the beauty of your marriage, if that is ultimately what you both want, but it isn't impossible. It isn't hopeless, but it isn't a sure thing, either. I think taking a break from Chris might be a good idea, and to continue with couples therapy with Anna, and to get back to the foundation of your marriage and truly make a choice about whether or not to stay married. And yes, get together with everyone and talk about your deepest, innermost feelings, and goals. As Magdlyn said, you all need to shit or get off the pot. Take action, but don't just feel like it's okay for you to be in this bliss with Chris at the center of other people who are still hurting. It may be that the most loving thing you can do is let go of your marriage.
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia

Click here for a Solo Poly view on hierarchical relationships
Click here to find out why the Polyamorous Misanthrope is feeling disgusted.

Last edited by nycindie; 08-21-2012 at 09:17 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-22-2012, 01:21 AM
CielDuMatin's Avatar
CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,467

Coming in late to the discussion, and some of what I am going to say has already been said, but I feel that it bears repeating, maybe using different words. In random order:

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
If think it is useless to discuss with people who consider cheating as a crime, even if more than 70% of people in the US (after 5 years of marriage) have been unfaithful at least once.
I don't think that anyone here is saying that it is a crime, just that it is morally wrong. Since polyamory is also referred to as "ethical non-monogamy" then if you want to have a discussion with people who consider cheating to be ethically ok, you are most definitely in the wrong place.

So you made vows to Anna to be monogamous and you broke those vows. So did Chris to her spouse. You did this multiple times (even if it was just sex and not love). So it was hardly a one-off for you - you exhibited a habit of breaking your promises to your wife, no?

You then said that you apologized to her for what you did. To me, an effective apology contains the following elements. It:
  1. Acknowledges the mistake or wrongdoing
  2. Accepts responsibility
  3. Expresses regret
  4. Provides assurance that the offense won’t be repeated
  5. Is well timed
  6. Is genuine “prompted by fear, guilt and love”
  7. Avoids the word “but” altogether
Do you agree with this?

Based on what you've described, the apology starts falling apart at about step 4, because you have essentially told your wife that you have single-handedly, without any input from her part, changed the contract of your relationship, and that you will, in fact, continue doing that thing that you are apologizing for (which I see as a big "but" - "I'm sorry, but I'm going to continue doing it"). A fait accompli, in fact.

So it's quite understandable if your wife doesn't feel that your apology is really an effective one, and bears some degree of resentment - whether she is expressly voicing it or not.

From that point, she has a choice - end the marriage, or try to make it work. I don't know on what basis she made the decision to try to make it work - she's not here to talk about it, but for whatever reason, she did.

Tell me, does she know about your affairs prior to you meeting Chris? Did you do a complete "here are all the things I have done to break the promises I made to you" or did you only mention what she had discovered (your affair with Chris)?

A few more quotes of yours that I want to comment on before giving the advice that you ask for:
Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
It's strange to see so many people so full of certitudes. Cheating is very wrong, nobody ethical would do that in any citconstances, if my husband cheat once, I divorce at once and destroy everything without a second of hesitation.
Actually, I don't think that anyone here has said anything like that whole thing. Cheating is morally wrong. That is a certitude, yes. It breaks promises that you made to your spouse (otherwise it wouldn't be cheating) - there is no amount of word-play that can turn that into an ethical behaviour. Quite a few of us on here (including myself) have cheated on our spouses or partners in the past. Some of us have done better jobs than others of sorting through the messes that this caused to rebuild our relationships. I made the mistake of trying to keep the relationship with my lover going - while my partner "agreed to it", it was done out of a place of anger and fear - in hindsight it was doomed from the start because of the foundation upon which it was built. I am not trying to say that it is impossible to make it work, just very, very difficult.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I'm truly loving two people. So does Chris. This is polyamory. I just wonder if there is a balanced situation which could make us and our spouses happy, despite those bad beginnings.
You are polyamorous, in that you have the capability and desire to love more than one person, yes. I agree with you there. But part of this is the ethical part - it's not just everyone knowing about it, but truly, genuinely *agreeing* with it, and being happy with the situation. Based on what you have said, this is a missing ingredient here.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I repeat again: each of the 4 of us now know what happen, so there is no more “cheating” for two years. When facts are not hidden, there is not cheating. That’s a part of my own ethical code.
Well, glad you have that worked out - but if we are working from different base paradigms, obviously our conclusions are going to be different.

If the rules of the relationship haven't been explicitly changed and the details worked out, then everyone knowing that you are breaking the rules doesn't mean you have somehow magically stopped breaking the rules. The feeling I get from your posts is that neither of your spouses have really truly agreed to his - I may be totally wrong, but that's the feeling I get, and it would be worth investigating more.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I won’t be happy until Anna and Chris are both happy.
And assuming that Chris feels the same way you do, what is needed is for all four of you to be truly, sincerely happy, and not just tolerating a situation that was presented to them as a "take it or leave it" deal.

So, to come back to my suggestions, which you asked us for...

First, your relationship with Anna - whether it is visible to you or not (and I suspect you know) the major thing that gets destroyed when cheating takes place is a demolition of the trust between you. A good, solid relationship relies on being able to implicitly trust your partner. You and she need to talk about this trust issue, and you need to work to regain that trust with her. Without that, I don't think that you stand a chance of the people you love ever being truly happy.

Second, you need to renegotiate your relationship with Anna. This may not be a one-time deal. You need to very explicitly have a set of new promises and new commitments in place that you can both stick to and be faithful to. One of the questions that you need to get answered from her is "What would it take to make you truly happy?" You need to hear the answer to this, whether or not you are going to like the answer. So this should take her requirements into account with an equal weight to yours.

Chris needs to do these two steps with her spouse too.

Then you need to get the four of you together and talk about how to make this work. You effectively need to come up with another set of rules and commitments that the four of you can put in place so that everyone knows where everyone stands. This will take negotiation and self-knowledge about the desires of each of you involved in this. It is NOT an easy discussion, or series of discussions, but it is very necessary. It needs to talk about safe sex rules and testing, about time commitments, about where sex can take place, etc. It can also include elements such as who outside of the four of you gets to know about what is going on and (if you have children) how much they get to know. It should also include a commitment to regularly get together to discuss how things are going and to give folks an easy opportunity to air any issues that they have. Give everyone a voice in this, not just you and Chris.

Then, most importantly, you need to live by what you have agreed to. And it needs to be followed by the strict wording, but also the intent behind the wording. If what has been agreed to is something you feel you can no longer do, then the responsible, ethical thing to do is to talk about it first, rather than going ahead and doing it.

They say that ex-smokers are the least tolerant of other people smoking - well, in the same way, folks that have cheated are possibly less tolerant of those who cheat - usually this is because they have seen what it has done to the people they love, and wouldn't wish that on anyone else. If the replies in this thread seem harsh, I have a strong feeling that that is why.

I do know how it feels to be in your situation - I know the pain of hurting people you love, the difficulty of seeing a road forward, and wondering if you will ever truly be happy again. It is truly horrible. But I only forgave myself once I understand what my moral compass was and chose to live by it.

And a lot of this will probably not be news to you, either - you know most of this, I'm sure - I am just laying it all out there in a complete picture.

I wish you strength and bon voyage on the path ahead.

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:08 PM.