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  #11  
Old 03-05-2013, 03:03 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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And I'm pretty sure I'm not Father of the Year, either.

I want to be careful not to be too hard on Vix in this. I told this story from my point of view, and probably left things out.

Suffice it to say she and I both need to improve our communication and, yes, I need to adjust my expectations.

I've been doing a lot of that kind of adjusting recently, and it's getting awfully chilly around here.
While it's admirable to not want to heap all the blame on your wife, the fact remains, you have a legal obligation, and she is essentially forcing you to choose between being a responsible parent and honoring your legal obligations. And for what? To go to an 'event' with her boyfriend.

The fact remains, she seems, from what you write here, to be making it clear she will do exactly as she pleases with little concern for your feelings, obligations, or wishes, or for her own children.

To my mind, the only question here is, what are the pros and cons of ending this marriage? From where I'm sitting, it doesn't look like a marriage. Are you reaping any benefits from continuing the legal aspect of marriage? Are your children?
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  #12  
Old 03-05-2013, 06:27 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Default Some Resolution . . .

Things have moved along quickly today, through a text conversation while I've been between things at work.

(I know text is not the best way to communicate, but it does allow a certain bluntness of expression that can be useful, sometimes.)

As it turns out, for all that Vix seemed to be taking a hard line on her travel plans, she had consulted (as it were) Doc, who agreed with her that she should show up when she can at the end of summer, but that she should put family first; if they miss the event in question, there is an event the following week.

(To be fair, the event in question is not just some arbitrary thing, but a kind of event that actually contributes to Vix development as a teacher of the activity in question. I'm being a little coy about this, because saying more might come close to blowing her cover.)

That wasn't the end of it, though, because it came across fairly clearly, even in text, that she was caving to what she saw as an arbitrary, almost neurotic fear on my part. That's what really rankled, from the first: the sense that she was viewing my concerns with contempt, brushing them off with a dismissive: "you worry too much."

I see this as a matter of basic responsibility regarding our children; I think it's a reasonable stance, not just neurotic fear.

She may finally have come around to acknowledging that what's at stake is not mere neurosis on my part but a disagreement on a matter of principle. We still have to figure out what to do about the divergence - more explicit communication about travel plans, making sure our various commitments end up on calendars to which the other has access, and so on.

I still have a lingering sense that she does not really like giving in to a boundary she regards as unreasonable. I've told her that, since it's my own understanding of my responsibilities that are at stake, I'll just try to be careful to avoid any further conflicts like that raised by going to the UK. If I think it's important for one of us to be available to the kids at all times, I'll just be sure I'm available whenever Vix is not.

She doesn't seem very happy with that, either, and suggests just communicating and negotiating, case-by-case.

I suppose that makes sense but, since my standards of responsibility to the children are more stringent than hers, wouldn't that just create more instances in which I'm imposing on her a standard with which she does not agree, more occasions for anger and resentment?
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  #13  
Old 03-05-2013, 07:27 PM
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I still have a lingering sense that she does not really like giving in to a boundary she regards as unreasonable. I've told her that, since it's my own understanding of my responsibilities that are at stake, I'll just try to be careful to avoid any further conflicts like that raised by going to the UK. If I think it's important for one of us to be available to the kids at all times, I'll just be sure I'm available whenever Vix is not.

She doesn't seem very happy with that, either, and suggests just communicating and negotiating, case-by-case.

I suppose that makes sense but, since my standards of responsibility to the children are more stringent than hers, wouldn't that just create more instances in which I'm imposing on her a standard with which she does not agree, more occasions for anger and resentment?
Probably the most reliable solution is to think of yourself as a single parent and assume that whenever "one of us" has to be with the kids, it will be you. Then, if it turns out that she happens to be available once in a while, bonus for you.

While not as serious as child-rearing, that's pretty much the approach my husband and I take with household chores. I hate mowing the lawn, my husband hates laundry. I assume that I'm always going to be responsible for the laundry. If I come home and he happens to have washed a load, bonus. If not, no big surprise and no hard feelings. And while he's not thrilled about it, my husband has learned not to expect short grass when he comes home from working out of town. I've threatened that if he expects me to mow the lawn, I'll just dig it all up and plant wildflowers. Besides, my cats like to pretend they're lions on the African Savannah...
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Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 03-05-2013 at 07:42 PM.
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  #14  
Old 03-05-2013, 09:21 PM
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Probably the most reliable solution is to think of yourself as a single parent and assume that whenever "one of us" has to be with the kids, it will be you. Then, if it turns out that she happens to be available once in a while, bonus for you.
This is the conclusion I've slowly been coming around to. I've been a part-time single dad for nearly a year now, as Vix's travel - not just to Europe, but as part of her (a?)vocation - has ramped up. She is home more than she's not, at least for now, and she does a lot of the heavy lifting when she is home.

But, still, the times keep coming around when it all comes down to me, when I'm doing the single-parent juggling act.

It's hard to find words adequate to express the bleakness of this situation, especially given the sharp contrast with what went before. We certainly had our problems, as a monogamous couple, but we could almost finish one another's sentences when it came to making decisions about our life as a family.

If you'd asked, Vix would have trumpeted the virtues of attachment parenting during the early years, and I would avoid too much work-related travel, or even too much time at the office, so as not to put an excessive burden on her.

We seemed to be in sync, able to rely on one another without even expressing that reliance . . . but perhaps only because the matter never came up, and we never had occasion to articulate our underlying values and principles.

Now, we're at odds, and I can't rely on her the way I did. As I say, she does a lot of heavy lifting when she's home . . . but she's away more and more often, for one reason and another.

(Another part of the backstory is that the air in this city is killing her, slowly and surely, and she needs to spend what time she can in places where it's easier to breathe; the mountains of Germany are quite suitable for that purpose, as it happens.)

The net result is that, even when she's here, I find myself feeling isolated and numb.

We've been joking, between us, that the secret to happiness is lowered expectations. I suppose it's a kind of gallows humor, that.

Well, I can't seem to lower my expectations quickly enough to keep up.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 03-05-2013 at 09:55 PM.
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  #15  
Old 03-05-2013, 11:24 PM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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That does sound very bleak when you put it that way. From your description,
you seem to be going through a grieving process. Many relationships have a natural lifespan. Is it possible your marriage is reaching its final days? Have you considered counselling to help cope with these changes?

I tend to agree that the secret to happiness lies in expectations, but I prefer the adjective "realistic." However, that can only take you so far. Sometimes you need to hit the reset button and try a whole new approach.
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  #16  
Old 03-06-2013, 11:59 AM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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That does sound very bleak when you put it that way. From your description, you seem to be going through a grieving process.
This is close to the mark. I think I'm in shock that the marriage I thought I had is gone . . . and not just gone: I think maybe it never was what I imagined it to be.

That's a hard thing to compass.

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Many relationships have a natural lifespan. Is it possible your marriage is reaching its final days?
It's curious to me how quick people on this forum are to suggest pulling the plug on long-term relationships. This is the second such suggestion I received yesterday.

To be frank, it's one of the least admirable aspects of polyamory, and is the aspect of the would-be community here that makes me think monogamy might really be the better way to go.
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  #17  
Old 03-06-2013, 02:12 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Wow, are you letting strangers on the internet do your thinking for you, or what? That last sentence was just hilarious.
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  #18  
Old 03-06-2013, 02:38 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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The net result is that, even when she's here, I find myself feeling isolated and numb.
Are you depressed? Is there emotional distance?
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We've been joking, between us, that the secret to happiness is lowered expectations. I suppose it's a kind of gallows humor, that.
My happiness largely stems from high personal standards. Less players, but better quality of experience. To joke about your marriage doesn't sound respectful of the marriage to me. It seems like another step in emotional distancing to me.

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Well, I can't seem to lower my expectations quickly enough to keep up.
Why lower your personal standard? How's THAT supposed you make you feel content and all your wants, needs, and limits met and respected?


Quote:
I think I'm in shock that the marriage I thought I had is gone . . . and not just gone: I think maybe it never was what I imagined it to be. That's a hard thing to compass.
Yes. It is. I hope you both work on bridging the gap. Because if you start skirting toward the 4 horsemen, that's no good.

Galagirl
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  #19  
Old 03-06-2013, 03:24 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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This is close to the mark. I think I'm in shock that the marriage I thought I had is gone . . . and not just gone: I think maybe it never was what I imagined it to be.

That's a hard thing to compass.

...

It's curious to me how quick people on this forum are to suggest pulling the plug on long-term relationships. This is the second such suggestion I received yesterday.

To be frank, it's one of the least admirable aspects of polyamory, and is the aspect of the would-be community here that makes me think monogamy might really be the better way to go.
Interesting. I take the exact opposite view. I think it's a sad waste of our valuable lives when we spend them in relationships that are making both parties' lives worse, not better. I would by no means say that people ought to give up right away, especially when there are kids involved -- what an awful choice! -- but when someone's at the point you're at, when their partnership isn't what they thought it was, maybe never was, when they're feeling hurt, belittled, unhappy all the time, and not just for a brief bumpy period or around something that can be resolved with some hard conversations and compromise, but in an ongoing sustained way and around fundamental core values... well, I think splitting up is a very valid option to consider.

I know that I, personally, have stayed in relationships well after they should have ended. Leaving is *hard*. But in both the cases I'm thinking of, it was so much better for all involved once we could let go. I very much admire life-long partnerships, I just hate the fact that people sometimes feel that they have so much invested that they're trapped, that they can't walk away. I think that sort of feeling just hollows you out over time.

Treating partners as disposable and dropping them at the first problem is obviously no good at all. But neither is blindly clinging to something that's dragging you down. I think it's one of the greatest strengths of polyamory, that it helps you see that you can live and be loved without any one person.

My bf and I broke up recently, and even though I'd wanted to leave for some time, among other things holding me back, there actually was a scared part of me that kept asking "what if I don't ever find someone else who loves me this much?" But my relationship with my gf would then immediately pop to mind and help me remember that, no, that notion was ridiculous, I am loved and lovable beyond this one relationship. I'm grateful for the way that perspective allows me to be more clear-headed.

Fear is a terrible reason to stay with someone, so isn't it better to be free of that and stay or go -- hopefully stay, but with go as an option if necessary! -- on the merits of the connection?
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  #20  
Old 03-06-2013, 03:51 PM
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Are you depressed? Is there emotional distance?
Yes, I think so.

Vix and I had further discussions of this, and it came around in the end to my own despondency. I've been depressed and anxious at least since August, and more and more withdrawn into myself.

Stepping out of that, into the clear light of day, I can see there's still much substance, much that is good, in my relationship with Vix, for all that I struggle to adjust to everything that has changed about it.

We laugh about lowering expectations in part because it's an exaggeration. It may be our prior expectations of one another were unreasonably high, based more on wishful thinking or simple lack of conscious reflection than anything else. Lowering those expectations is likely to be good and healthy, up to a point.

This latest round, the gulf that seems to have opened between us on the question of our responsibilities to our daughters, came as an especially profound shock to me . . . but maybe just because I was already so sunk in despondency.

(I did make Vix laugh by quoting something from Douglas Adams, after observing that I seem to have dug myself into a hole: "Oh, dear. You seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well. Are you all right?")

We have resolved to keep working on our relationship, and to puzzling over polyamory and its implications.

I have to say it really is a matter of adjusting my own expectations, and that the adjustment is generally downward. I can't keep having expectations of Vix that would bind her to a way of living that was stifling her, literally and figuratively.

It does mean I will have less of her time and attention, and that I will have to take on more responsibility for my own understanding of what it means to be a responsible parent.

At the moment, it also seems to mean I'll be spending more time alone, when Vix is away. My doubts about my own capacity to be polyamorous are deepening by the day. Whether that's just despondency, or my own inability to connect with people, or just an accident of my circumstances, I don't know. That's a matter for another thread, though - "Theory, Practice."

I just have to figure out how not to be depressed and anxious about all of it.
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