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  #21  
Old 09-01-2012, 02:11 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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I find it interesting that you say you are "not all that comfortable with poly," yet you think you could "really love the polyamourous lifestyle." What a contradiction. It seems to me that you may have opted for poly as a way to avoid looking deeper at why you think your wife's needs would not be satisfied by you, and as a way to be less responsible. I think you two clearly need to reconnect and remember why you are together before moving forward again into non-monogamy.

If you read around the forum, you will see alot of people talk about the importance of a marriage having a strong foundation before opening up. It needs to be happy, functioning well, and satisfying in and of itself, in order to work well when it shifts to a polyamorous arrangement. Adding more people is only a disastrous move to make if the foundation isn't strong. Hoping that only will provide for a spouse's needs or fix things that aren't working is foolhardy at best, and damaging at worst.

I also sense that, perhaps, when you chose to open up your marriage, you let things move too fast. Since you are "not comfy" with poly, why not take baby steps when you are ready again? As far as developing new boundaries/guidelines if you are going to continue, I would think some good boundaries would be to take things slowly, step by step, before either of you jumping into sex with anyone else. Perhaps each of you should meet any potential partners first, develop friendships with those people, limit number of days to be with others, and stay in communication about what is happening, things like that. Also make sure that you and your wife have a date night set aside each week to romance each other.

I think you would do well to write a list. Make it two columns: "What makes me uncomfortable about poly" and "What appeals to me about poly." Write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how irrational. Let this list guide you in creating your personal boundaries.
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Last edited by nycindie; 09-01-2012 at 02:14 AM.
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  #22  
Old 09-01-2012, 05:40 AM
scout989 scout989 is offline
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So we just had a VERY long conversation that covered boundaries, as well as some unresolved issues in our marriage and where we want to go from here.

Her issues with boundaries arise from a few areas. First, she was brought up in an atmosphere in which her boundaries were not respected at all- she basically wasn't allowed to have any. She has never really understood why boundaries are important to others. As a result, her protection of her own boundaries and her respect for others' is low. I didn't know it, but it seems that she has had problems with cheating all her life.

Also, she still harbors a lot of resentment for the way that I have handled boundaries with her in the past. When I was a practicing alcoholic, I had pretty much no respect for her boundaries. I am tons better these days, but I step over her boundaries sometimes- and sometimes I don't even realize it. So, boundary issues exist on both sides.

We have concluded that we are both still very much in love, and that we will do what we can to work this out. We both have work to do on respecting each others' boundaries. We also need to start working out what our life will look like from here. If it turns out that she needs to be poly and I need to be mono, so be it- but we're not giving up unless we reach that point.

@nycindie:
All excellent points.

Let me be more specific: I am comfortable with poly as regards my wife's emotional connections. I am not comfortable with the physical manifestations of her loves- that whole jealousy thing, again. Seriously, I don't know how to close this cognitive gap, but I do want to.

In the past, I chose poly so that she could get her needs met. More recently, I chose poly because I have a desire to give her the freedom to love as she wills.

My conclusion, especially after the conversation we just had, is that our marriage is pretty definitely not strong enough to support poly right now. I was already getting ready to start seeing a psychologist (in part to try to help me work through my mental blocks with jealousy, as well as other reasons). I am pretty well convinced to add marriage counseling in as well.

RE: babysteps. Yeah, good idea. I already tried diving in headfirst, and found that it did suck. I suspect that I will be aiming for a course of action that is more sustainable for me next time, if there is a next time.
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  #23  
Old 09-01-2012, 07:30 PM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scout989 View Post
Her issues with boundaries arise from a few areas. First, she was brought up in an atmosphere in which her boundaries were not respected at all- she basically wasn't allowed to have any. She has never really understood why boundaries are important to others. As a result, her protection of her own boundaries and her respect for others' is low. I didn't know it, but it seems that she has had problems with cheating all her life.

Also, she still harbors a lot of resentment for the way that I have handled boundaries with her in the past. When I was a practicing alcoholic, I had pretty much no respect for her boundaries. I am tons better these days, but I step over her boundaries sometimes- and sometimes I don't even realize it. So, boundary issues exist on both sides.
This prompted me to respond as I have similar history/issues. Is she willing to understand why others' boundaries are important, now? I have been no end of annoyed with people in my life who refuse to believe me when I say stuff. 'This hurts.' 'oh that couldn't possibly hurt, i'm not doing anything' ugh (as GG might say)

I had the conversation over the word 'control' rather than boundaries. I was talking about drug use to someone, and she was saying she was never willing to take (street) drugs because she was a control-freak. I had the revelation that I never, as a child, was able to imagine having control of ANYTHING, so it never occurred to me that I need to avoid drugs to be 'in-control.' From infancy, it was made very clear to me that I was not in control of ANYthing. Ever.

It was a good revelation. A huge amount of my emotional work has involved what am I in control of and what is okay to let go.

But, I suspect you both know the difference, and I feel the need to write, perhaps for anyone else who might come along and read the thread...
Just because we learned stuff as children, doesn't mean we cannot unlearn or change it as adults. In fact, I'd say it's damn important, to live in a civil society, to unlearn much of what we learned as children. Moreso if we were raised in difficult situations.


Quote:
Originally Posted by scout989 View Post
We have concluded that we are both still very much in love, and that we will do what we can to work this out. We both have work to do on respecting each others' boundaries. We also need to start working out what our life will look like from here. If it turns out that she needs to be poly and I need to be mono, so be it- but we're not giving up unless we reach that point.
That's wonderful.

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Originally Posted by scout989 View Post
I suspect that I will be aiming for a course of action that is more sustainable for me next time, if there is a next time.
That is an admirable aim.
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and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who lives in the apartment building next door)
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  #24  
Old 09-02-2012, 01:44 PM
roots989 roots989 is offline
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[QUOTE=NovemberRain;152144]This prompted me to respond as I have similar history/issues. Is she willing to understand why others' boundaries are important, now? I have been no end of annoyed with people in my life who refuse to believe me when I say stuff. 'This hurts.' 'oh that couldn't possibly hurt, i'm not doing anything' ugh...]

Scout989 asked me to register and reply to this thread. I was thinking of doing so anyway, and his request helped me get the courage to write. So, here goes -

Scout and I have been together for over 8 years. We met in an incredible manner, and we live an incredible life. I love him, and I know that he loves me.

Throughout our relationship, we have struggled with several patterns: co-dependency, boundary breaking, boundary hiding... Over the past week, we have discussed so many emotional topics that I feel numb and very topsy-turvy. I want to keep exploring, though. I want him. I want my self as well.

@NovemberRain - Yep. Childhood can truly suck, and adulthood is an extension of the conversations that are started in childhood. I have been in therapy for over a decade, and I have made huge progress. Many of the conversations that were started in my childhood no longer play out in my head or in my life. Some do. I agree that boundaries - mine and others' - are very important. What is still hard for me is understanding how to navigate those moments when another person's bondaries and my boundaries do not match up well. I come from a place of emotional poverty... and I tend to want to snatch up moments and opportunities whenever I feel can. I also tend to want to either defend my boundaries in a rock-hard way or completely tune out and turn off when another person asserts his/her right to overstep my boundary. I understand that I have a lot of work to do in this area. I also know that I am very proud of the work that I have already done.

Last week, Scout said the word "cheater" for the first time. I was floored, hurt, very angry. I am not a cheater... or am I? I looked back through my life, and I realized that I do have a problem with breaking boundaries in that way. Scout and I talked for hours last night about why I do that... I am still not sure why exactly, and I suspect that there is no one answer. The c-word has A LOT of bad associations for me... and I can't really wrap my head around it being part of my identity... I don't see myself that way. I said it out loud to Scout last night. I tried it on. I feel a sense of panic this morning.

But a low buzz of panic, frustration, anger, ... all low buzzes... I haven't been able to feel much in a week or so. Scout said last week that I am icky. He also began to use the word incompatible. When cheater became part of the conversation, I nearly shut down completely. I am working so hard to stay in here with him, to keep feeling and thinking, too. These have been very difficult days. I am not sure I have ever felt quite this level of dissociation. At least I have been able to feel an emotion or have a coherent thought in the past. Now I just feel... empty? confused? numb? apathetic? I am not sure. I see every topic that we have discussed from so many perspectives... I am not sure which is my perspective anymore.

I want to make clear - if even for my own sake - that I have never had sex with another person without Scout's explicit ok or what I thought was Scout's ok. There was once when what I called making out Scout called sex. There was another time when I had sex with a woman, believing that sex with women was ok with him. I have kissed other men. I have made out. Mostly, it has been kissing. And it has happened a handful of times in our relationship. Am I defending myself? Not at all. I just want to help clarify the context so that as he and I continue to post, we all are able to make the best sense that we can of the story.

I see myself as polyamorous, and I also want to make clear that I have done a lot of work to help clarify why I am poly and what I want out of it. When I feel free to practice poly in a way that works for me, I also feel much more empowered to do what I am able to do to maintain everyone's boundaries - I take care of what is in my own bailiwick. When I feel a sense of scarcity in my life, issues with boundaries arise more often.

I echo Scout's plea - help, please?
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  #25  
Old 09-02-2012, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
I want to make clear - if even for my own sake - that I have never had sex with another person without Scout's explicit ok or what I thought was Scout's ok. There was once when what I called making out Scout called sex. There was another time when I had sex with a woman, believing that sex with women was ok with him. I have kissed other men. I have made out. Mostly, it has been kissing. And it has happened a handful of times in our relationship. Am I defending myself? Not at all. I just want to help clarify the context so that as he and I continue to post, we all are able to make the best sense that we can of the story.
Sorry for plunging into the middle -- this is what stood out most prominently, as I've heard/seen/been on both sides of it before.

Part of communication is having mutual definitions to work from. CdM and I used to argue about disability until we decided what it meant in our lives; now he understands what I mean when I use the word, and I see why he balked at the word at all. So we were unable to have meaningful discussions about it until we knew what we were discussing.

When you talk about sex, what does sex mean? You two should be old enough to remember the Clinton administration -- you remember the controversy over what "it" was? You're having a similar problem. Forget defining sex for a moment; look at behaviors that constitute physical affection. List them out if you have to. Then consider:

-- When are these behaviors okay? When are they taboo?
-- Where, ditto?
-- With whom, ditto?

The "why" is what happens when you're negotiating the "what", according to the "when", "where", and "who".

Setting out explicit agreements, and keeping them in writing somewhere, gives you something to which you may refer back.

Do you see similar language issues around other topics? Two of my friends had, at one point, a glossary for outsiders, so we would understand what they meant in their blogging. The corollary to "communicate, communicate, communicate" is "context matters".

Is this the right time to be open? To what extent? Taking time to be closed until you both feel safe may allow you to stay open with less pain. Or no pain. Move slowly and deliberately. Use the tools at your disposal. If those tools include helping professionals, absolutely seek their help. Then, when things are right between you again, see how poly fits your lives.
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  #26  
Old 09-02-2012, 05:17 PM
snowmelt snowmelt is offline
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Hi roots,

You sound very sincere, and you sound like you're working hard on yourself. Both of you seem to be very willing to talk to each other. Since you started doing that, it sounds to me like you both have learned a lot.


I have a suggestion. This entire thread was started by scout talking about jealousy and cheating. I think it would be helpful to look at what he is calling cheating as only one small part of a much larger conversation. I think it would really help both of you to schedule ongoing time to sit down and talk to each other about your entire relationship - like it is starting all over again - because in many ways it is. Talk about everything - leave no stone unturned. Use the momentum you have right now to keep the conversation going. Rebuild your entire relationship with this ongoing conversation as the foundation. That is exactly what it sounds like both of you want to do.

Last edited by snowmelt; 09-02-2012 at 05:22 PM.
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  #27  
Old 09-02-2012, 10:33 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Roots -- welcome.

You sound like you experience emotional flooding. Might want to google that term and learn more about it -- esp when you are trying to have hard conversation with scout.

But keep on talking and sorting yourselves out so you are on the same page using the same language. Breaking down the elephant will sometimes take several passes. (That's another thread where I talked about breaking down the elephant -- getting down to the bottom of the problem together -- whatever it is.)

Take a time out to work on yourselves.

GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-02-2012 at 10:38 PM.
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  #28  
Old 09-03-2012, 01:26 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Welcome to the forum, roots. I am always impressed at the sheer bravery of the spouses who come here second. (one joins, posts, gets recommend to invite their spouse, spouse joins ~ it's awesome)

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
I love him, and I know that he loves me.
That's a damn good start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
Throughout our relationship, we have struggled with several patterns: co-dependency, boundary breaking, boundary hiding... Over the past week, we have discussed so many emotional topics that I feel numb and very topsy-turvy. I want to keep exploring, though. I want him. I want my self as well.
I admire your desire to keep exploring. Persistence is good. Taking breaks is good. It didn't all break in one night, it's not going to get all better in a week. In wanting yourself, it's great to incorporate taking the best care of yourself possible. Sometimes take a break, be by yourself; and be with him without the giant emotional discussions sometimes. (it's taken me a long time to be able to do this)

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
@NovemberRain - Yep. Childhood can truly suck, and adulthood is an extension of the conversations that are started in childhood. I have been in therapy for over a decade, and I have made huge progress. Many of the conversations that were started in my childhood no longer play out in my head or in my life. Some do. I agree that boundaries - mine and others' - are very important. What is still hard for me is understanding how to navigate those moments when another person's bondaries and my boundaries do not match up well. I come from a place of emotional poverty... and I tend to want to snatch up moments and opportunities whenever I feel can. I also tend to want to either defend my boundaries in a rock-hard way or completely tune out and turn off when another person asserts his/her right to overstep my boundary. I understand that I have a lot of work to do in this area. I also know that I am very proud of the work that I have already done.
For me, in places where I have had a hard time, I work well by giving my self a rule. 'When X happens, do X' and 'do' doesn't mean talk about or think about or whatever. Like, if someone's been drinking, don't get in the car with them. Period. Or, 'If I don't know whether to stay or go, going is the safer option. Go.' Period. Until I'm able to process the situation later, in a safe space, and look at other possibilities.




I also have some bad associations with 'cheater.' That has probably kept me from much possible joy in my life; however, I chose to deal with it by scrupulously not cheating. And, I have also chosen to deal with it by having a slew of lovers who chose to cheat on me. My moral superiority allowed me to toss them out the door. :P Might have done better to find a way to work through it. But here we are at poly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
But a low buzz of panic, frustration, anger, ... all low buzzes... I haven't been able to feel much in a week or so. Scout said last week that I am icky. He also began to use the word incompatible. When cheater became part of the conversation, I nearly shut down completely. I am working so hard to stay in here with him, to keep feeling and thinking, too. These have been very difficult days. I am not sure I have ever felt quite this level of dissociation. At least I have been able to feel an emotion or have a coherent thought in the past. Now I just feel... empty? confused? numb? apathetic? I am not sure. I see every topic that we have discussed from so many perspectives... I am not sure which is my perspective anymore.
I agree with GG; check out 'emotional flooding.' All those things sound like warning flags, and cues that you might need to back away for a bit, to get some equilibrium.


Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
I see myself as polyamorous, and I also want to make clear that I have done a lot of work to help clarify why I am poly and what I want out of it. When I feel free to practice poly in a way that works for me, I also feel much more empowered to do what I am able to do to maintain everyone's boundaries - I take care of what is in my own bailiwick. When I feel a sense of scarcity in my life, issues with boundaries arise more often.
Will that way include absolute honesty? There are lots of threads around here to read on that. It doesn't mean telling every detail of relationship with an other. It means being willing to bring all (ALL) your own shit to the table. And really hearing all of Scout's stuff too. (well, okay fine, that's what it would mean to me ~ I don't imagine how you could do it without that, especially after your history)(I could be completely wrong)

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots989 View Post
I echo Scout's plea - help, please?
I think you've come to a good place for help. Sounds like you're getting help elsewhere too.
__________________
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own...
Robert A. Heinlein

Me: female, bi, (formerly hinge of a vee)
with FirstBoyFriend (FBF)(moderately long-distance)
and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who lives in the apartment building next door)
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