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  #41  
Old 05-01-2011, 03:40 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Originally Posted by Indigomontoya View Post
Well first and foremost I think you are confused by your wife's actions and words because she is confused by them too.
No doubt. I do not want to mislead her, or let her go merrily along believing something of which she has convinced herself, but which is not true (and in the bigger picture, that applies to what she may believe about open marriages in general--we haven't even yet gotten to the discussion of "what is polyamory" or of how, specifically, I see us practicing it. I think it's too soon for that).

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Originally Posted by Indigomontoya View Post
Speaking from experience she needs reassurance (as it has been mentioned) because I imagine she is feeling less than adequate to put it mildly. No matter how you have explained it or rationalized your mindset to her inevitably she is feeling unwanted and feels like now she is in direct competition for a prize (you) she thought she had already won.
This is a profound statement. I have already, for myself, subscribed to the notion that, when the time comes that I'm seeing others, one of the rules is "anyone who tries to break us up is GONE." I'm not sure if that would reassure her or not, as for now, I've pledged to put other relationships on hold so that we can work on us, and I don't want it to seem like I'm going back on that.

Word and deed. It's not enough to say words to her; I believe that I have to show her that I mean what I say as well, so that she can see and trust that I'm telling her the truth that I love her and do not want to leave her.

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Originally Posted by Indigomontoya View Post
Best thing you can do is reassure her that you love her and that while this change is something you need, the "new you" is still in love with her.

Any insecurities she had about herself, your relationship, or her life in general just had a magnifying glass put on them by telling her; by no means should you have not told her, but be prepared for peaks and valleys of being ok or not ok with poly.
OK, yes. I should have known it would be this way.

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Originally Posted by Indigomontoya View Post
I think her actions with the time spent together (your self described NRE with your wife) are her attempt to show you she can be what she thinks you want her to be, she may be trying to show you she can be what you are looking for. I say this because at first I saw poly as just a way for TP to sleep with other people (it wasn't but that's how my emotional side viewed it) and I imagine your wife might have the same feelings and is trig to compensate for shortcomings she thinks you believe she has. Reassurance is key, and honesty about what you really want (physical vs. Emotional for poly.)

I should point out that when TP and I first started dating she made it clear that she wanted nonmongamy but was willing to work up the trust before opening the relationship; your wife didn't have that benefit. Hard question time: do you want to stay married and be nonmonagmous? Or are you convincing yourself you still want to be married for your son and because it's the status quo? So it comes down to you really wanting nonmongamy or saying you want it to rationalize feelings for other people and a wandering eye? (neither are bad but there's a distinction to be made between those and Poly.)
In the best of all possible worlds, I would remain married and nonmonogamous. I still love her very, very much. My son is a HUGE consideration, of course. I do not want to damage him with divorce and separation, and I will go to considerable lengths to avoid that. Earlier in the week, my wife had told me that she believed that, too, and that for his sake, she'd rather live as roommates than break up our family. I'm not sure how that would go with him, but I do believe it would be better than living in separate homes or in separate states.

I was, of course, overjoyed on Thursday when she told me that she wanted me to make it work, and Friday was the most intensely passionate day that I can ever remember spending with her--even moreso than when we were newlyweds.

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Originally Posted by Indigomontoya View Post
Ultimately your honest[y] is your biggest credit right now but dont take her mixed messages at face value; as was said she needs to know you value her feelings in this.
Thanks. It's hard to tell what to take at face value vs. what is coming from fear and insecurity. Everything that I've been able to find about opening up a marriage has vagaries and platitudes about "go slow, be compassionate," etc. None of them have any specifics about what to say to reassure your partner, or what you might experience as you ride the roller coaster.

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Originally Posted by TruckerPete View Post
This, especially. She may very well be trying to show you that you don't need anyone else.
This occurred to me.

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Originally Posted by TruckerPete View Post
If this is the case, it will be very important to clarify that the enthusiasm you had for having your wife back should not be confused with admitting you were wrong and you don't want anyone but her.
This is what I think she thinks at the moment.

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Originally Posted by TruckerPete View Post
I would also suggest taking a read through Freetime's thread, here: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7618

Notice how he oscillates between being okay, being great, and also thinking his marriage is done. It's a very real accounting of how the mono partner feels.
Thanks. I will. There's a lot there, and I think that it will be more helpful than most of what I have been able to find.

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Originally Posted by TruckerPete View Post
That said, I think Freetime made HUGE progress, very quickly, so don't expect your wife to do the same.
Thank you. That's important for me to continue to keep in mind.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I agree that your wife likely feels threatened by your revelation and is focusing on the sexual aspect that she probably sees as the reason why you want to explore polyamory. If I were her, I'd be doing the same thing, trying to make you "see what you'd be missing" if you went elsewhere, and give you reasons to want me more and forget about this "silly" idea you have. It is very easy to feel totally insecure about being desired. Plus, most woman know that a man can become pretty drunk on sex, which puts them in better shape to be convinced of something (that's just intuitive, not necessarily manipulative).
Yes, I think this is where she is right now with all of this, and I think that she thinks she has at least started convincing me of that, if not having already convinced me.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
She is probably absolutely terrified of your choosing someone else over her, or of leaving her. Terror is extreme fear, but the quality of being unseen or unknown sets it apart from horror, which is what we feel when confronted head-on and we see what it is we're horrified by. (...expectations of how life was going to go are gone, and that's scary...)

Plus, I think that your "confession" has thrown her for a loop; it doesn't make sense to her. She is grasping at the most obvious "reason" she can find for what she sees as a complete 360 about-face on your part, of course not understanding how you've struggled for so long.
Yes. I think I'm going to have to (gently) remind her of that--I've made a good long run of "trying it that (the monogamous) way," and it doesn't work for me. I've actually come to resent the "forsaking all others" portion of the marriage vow, in fact, as a cruel con that is played on young people in love, who haven't yet lived long enough to realize that, for most people, that's a fairy tale that's simply not going to work for a lifetime.

"In sickness and in health" ... I'm right there.

"For better or for worse" ... you betcha.

"For richer or for poorer" ... you bet.

"Forsaking all others" ... no, I can't do it anymore, but I still want to be with her for the rest of my life, and I still love her so much it leaks out my eyes.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
[...]

The trick is to let her know that the increased ardor and closeness you two have been experiencing in the last few days is something you appreciate, are thrilled with, and want to continue, but that it isn't what has prompted you to broach the topic with her.
What I want to convince her of, as well, is that what, I think, has made it so intense is that it is no longer diluted by the guilt and shame of keeping secret from her the feelings that I had, that I thought were wrong of me to have--that I had thought was a moral failing on my part, rather than a natural part of who I am.

And for that, as well, I'm trying to understand her, in that she said that she never once thought about being with another man. I thought everyone thought about being with someone else, and the difference between a good person and a dirtbag cheater was whether or not they resisted the temptation. It never occurred to me that the actual difference is whether or not someone actually cheats (meaning that honest polys aren't cheating, when it's all above board).

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I don't see how it could hurt to gently and lovingly tell her at the next opportune moment, if it feels right, "You know I love you, and we still have a lot to talk about."
Yes, I agree, though that will certainly, I think, bring the fears and insecurities rushing back. That's not to say I shouldn't do it; I just need to suck it up and let her feel it, and keep actually being the loving, patient husband that I said that I still want to be.

Thank you all.
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  #42  
Old 05-01-2011, 06:02 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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I told her that Friday was the most passionate day I can remember us ever sharing. I told her that the secret I had been keeping (my feelings for others) had been driving me away from her, and now that I didn't have to keep it anymore, I was free to simply love her.

I saw her smile start to falter for an instant, and some tears start to well up, but she got hold of herself. I believe that the message I needed to send was delivered, without beating her over the head with it.

I told her how beautiful she looked--her skin was positively glowing in the lamplight. She said that she must be happy. I told her that I wanted her to be happy, and she replied that she wanted me to be happy too.

I'm tentatively optimistic.
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  #43  
Old 05-01-2011, 03:16 PM
TruckerPete TruckerPete is offline
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You are sounding more and more like someone who is willing to put the work in to do this properly.
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  #44  
Old 05-04-2011, 07:54 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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We went to see the counselor together Monday evening. There were some good thoughts exchanged, but the time is too brief to get everything out, and I still didn't feel as comfortable talking as I do when seeing the counselor alone (or when typing here).

I said that I had been feeling like I needed to walk on eggshells after having shocked her so badly, and that I felt like she was fragile, so I didn't want to push; I wanted to take it easy. She responded that she did not want me to think of her as fragile. If something's on my mind, I should tell her. The counselor affirmed that thoughts such as these can be self-fulfilling: by treating her as fragile, I could inadvertently make her fragile.

My wife said that she "never signed up for this," referring to the notion of me seeing other women. The counselor said that it was likely that I'd never signed up for it either, and I agreed. When I was a young man, I never thought I'd feel this way.

People drift apart, little by little, without even noticing, and it becomes all too easy to just go with it, and adapt to it little by little, until the closeness that used to be there is missing. That had quite clearly happened to us, and I believe that, in large part, it had been due to the guilt I'd had over keeping the secret of my (unacted upon and undisclosed to anyone) feelings for other women. That secret is gone, and there have been fabulous moments of closeness between my wife and I since, but read on.

The counselor raised (for the second time--the first time was a session with me alone) the notion that perhaps the feelings I've had for others have grown as a result of the growing separation between my wife and I. I'm not entirely sure that is so, but I cannot discount it out of hand. Later in the evening, I told my wife that while we were working on our relationship, I would not seek anyone else (and truthfully, I never have), and we would see if the hypothesis that my feelings are a symptom and not a characteristic is correct. She appreciated that, and said that if they turned out to be real, at least we tried. I told her that even if that was so, we needn't throw in the towel, but I think she is still stuck on "one man, one woman, that is marriage." I also think that is a mechanism she's using to avoid having to confront jealousy, fear, and insecurity.

The counselor made a point to let us know that we should tell each other, every day, something we like about each other. That's a good point, and we did so tonight. Conversations cannot always be negative. I've been telling my wife constantly how desirable I find her (and truthfully, I think she's hawt), and I thank her all the time for the things she does for me. During the session, she let on that she thought my remarks about her meant that I wanted more sex. I do, but that was not my intent--I want her to know that I still want her, I still desire her, I still think she's beautiful, and that I in no way am looking to make up for any kind of perceived shortcoming.

My wife told me that it was okay to have friends who were women (more on that below). I don't think she appreciates what that could mean for me, despite my having told her why I've avoided it.

In the session, we practiced telling each other something and then repeating it back, to make sure that what was heard was what was meant. I suspect we'll be doing more of that.

I ended the day feeling pretty good, and started Tuesday OK, but as the day wore on, it struck me that I have already been trying, for more than a decade, to not develop feelings for others, having gone so far as to avoid close friendships with women altogether out of fear that they would develop into something more. (For those of you out there following, that strategy DOES NOT WORK. If you meet someone whom you admire, even if you only interact with her briefly and courteously, as in professional behavior at the office, you can still fall for her without even expecting it.) Now, I have agreed to keep trying, to see if the feelings go away, but I fear that what I am also doing is enabling my wife to avoid having to deal with or prepare for "what if?" What if these feelings are real and won't go away? What if the current crush fades, but in making friends with women, I fall in love with one of them? I think she thinks that merely by telling me not to, that it won't happen, or if it does, by telling me to stop it, that I can turn it off like a light switch. Emotions don't work that way.

I want to help her to understand how much it hurts to fall for someone, yet keep that entirely to yourself, over and over. I want to help her to understand that I've never looked for love elsewhere; my heart betrays me at unexpected times. I want to help her to understand that, although we made a promise to forsake all others when we were young, I have to hurt myself over and over to keep it. I want her to consider if that is what she really wants from the man she loves, and I want her to ask herself if she really, honestly, thinks it would be worse to share me, even a little, than to push me away altogether? I want to convince her to begin the "what if" process, and to look her fears in the eye and stare them down. I want her to know that I am here to reassure her and to help her. I want her to know that falling for someone else does not mean that I've stopped loving her, and I don't want to give up our marriage just because of some traditional notion that "that's what marriage means." Marriage means whatever we want it to mean, dammit, and commitment means that we don't give up on it; it doesn't mean "exclude all others." She defines it that way, but I believe, as I said above, that she does so to avoid having to face her feelings.

So here I am, ready to give traditional monogamy the old college try (guess nearly two decades isn't enough) one more time for her sake, to really examine the hypothesis that I might not actually be poly, but might be compensating for a lack of closeness between us; however, I'm worried that the effort is all one-sided, and if I don't give her the answer she wants, I lose my marriage. In that kind of environment, I fear that the "forbidden fruit" aspect of having feelings for others will prevent the experiment from having any chance of succeeding (as she would define "success").

Some choice, huh? Repress my feelings and suffer heartache after heartache on the one hand, or lose my marriage on the other because she will not consider any other alternative.
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  #45  
Old 05-04-2011, 09:40 AM
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Hi MT,
If I recall correctly, your counselor is poly-friendly, right? I ask because I think this re-examination and question your counselor wants you to ask yourself is really based on the fact that poly doesn't work if a marriage isn't stable and in good shape. She (is it a woman?) would be remiss, I believe, if she didn't do all she could to make sure you two are on solid ground before encouraging any sort of exploration of polyamory. And it has only been one session alone, and one together, correct? Your counselor is also just beginning to know you. Find a way to be a little more patient, though I know you feel as though you've been chomping at the bit for far too long now. The process of getting to know yourselves better can only benefit you both.

A few other points hit me when reading your post.

One is about developing friendships with women and the possibility of falling in love. I say, what's wrong with that? I think it would be wonderful to have a beautiful deep friendship with a man, even if it never became sexual. I met a male-female couple last year who are pretty much best friends and love each other very much but they're not romantically involved. For some, that would still fall under the poly umbrella, I think, because it is about love. Not every love needs to be consummated with the physical act of sex. It could be a great way to enter into poly if you do find a friendship like that. And you never know where your wife's feelings about it will be if some day in the future you have a close woman friend and wish to take it further into the physical. In other words, having the go-ahead to develop close friendships with women could be a blessing, not a booby prize!

The other thing that stood out for me is a pattern I'm seeing emerge from your posts. It seems that when you do talk about what you want, either with your wife or the counselor, you apparently acquiesce or agree to something, and then rethink it and rail against it, pretty much feeling like you've agreed to getting the short end of the stick. I wonder if this is a behavior you have adopted around issues that keeps you feeling like you will never be satisfied, or that you are being forced to compromise yourself more than you really want to. Or it could just be that you personally need to take some time to let things sink in for a bit before you make choices, so you can gain more clarity.

I don't know how you could do it differently, other than either giving yourself permission to fully voice all of your concerns, desires, etc., in the moment, rather than later after ruminating about it... OR... ask for time to think about things before you make any agreements. Perhaps even asking for time would prompt others to ask you "why?" and you would be able to speak up for yourself a little more.

All the things you brought up as concerns are valid and good stuff to bring up in your nest counseling sessions. It is quite evident that you are a thoughtful man, though feeling frustrated right now. I knew someone who used to say that if human beings weren't meant to learn how to be patient, we would have been born as mosquitoes or some other insect.

It is a huge step you want to take with your wife, and it requires all the patience and "due diligence" you can give it. It is obvious to anyone reading your story that the love is there. So, you're in good shape. And remember, you are just starting out! There are so-o-o many stories I've read here of couples who say they jumped into poly too soon, and then they had to deal with monumental problems with jealousy, betrayals, esteem issues, and all sorts of dramas.

So, take it easy, go slow, keep breathing, and know you will have more chances to examine, confront, and express your needs.
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Last edited by nycindie; 05-04-2011 at 09:43 AM.
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  #46  
Old 05-04-2011, 05:31 PM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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Not going to even bother messing with the quotes, but what NYCindie said. Especially about allowing yourself to develop close friendships.

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Originally Posted by MorningTwilight View Post
I said that I had been feeling like I needed to walk on eggshells after having shocked her so badly, and that I felt like she was fragile, so I didn't want to push; I wanted to take it easy. She responded that she did not want me to think of her as fragile. If something's on my mind, I should tell her. The counselor affirmed that thoughts such as these can be self-fulfilling: by treating her as fragile, I could inadvertently make her fragile.
I'd bet that your wife feels insulted by this. Part of the problem is that you are assuming that any future resonses to small stuff will be equal to the reaction you got when you slammed her with the big stuff seemingly out of the blue. My husband does this also, I have one meltdown and he assumes that will always be my response to anything else even partially related. The truth is I react much stronger when I think he has been keeping secrets or hiding things from me.


Quote:
The counselor raised (for the second time--the first time was a session with me alone) the notion that perhaps the feelings I've had for others have grown as a result of the growing separation between my wife and I. I'm not entirely sure that is so, but I cannot discount it out of hand. Later in the evening, I told my wife that while we were working on our relationship, I would not seek anyone else (and truthfully, I never have), and we would see if the hypothesis that my feelings are a symptom and not a characteristic is correct. She appreciated that, and said that if they turned out to be real, at least we tried. I told her that even if that was so, we needn't throw in the towel, but I think she is still stuck on "one man, one woman, that is marriage." I also think that is a mechanism she's using to avoid having to confront jealousy, fear, and insecurity.
This will be a long process that could take years. You have rocked her whole definition of marriage and that won't change overnight or even a few months. You might want to create a time limits for yourself so the whole thing doesn't seem so open ended or never ending. Like for 3 months or so, you will just work on the relationship with your wife with absolutely no mention of others by you. If she brings the subject up, answer honestly, but keep it short. If she pushes for more, say you don't think your relationship is strong enough to have this discussion yet. At the end of 3 months, spart a new step, such as theoretical and hypothetical discussions or such (ie. What is jealousy?). Each time you reach your time limit, evaluate the situation and decide if you can start introducing more. As your relationship improves, being able to discuss sensative issues will become easier.
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  #47  
Old 05-05-2011, 12:36 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Hi MT,
If I recall correctly, your counselor is poly-friendly, right?
Yes. She made it clear, however, that all parties involved have to want to be in that kind of relationship for her to support it.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I ask because I think this re-examination and question your counselor wants you to ask yourself is really based on the fact that poly doesn't work if a marriage isn't stable and in good shape. She (is it a woman?) would be remiss, I believe, if she didn't do all she could to make sure you two are on solid ground before encouraging any sort of exploration of polyamory. And it has only been one session alone, and one together, correct?
Two sessions alone, one together.

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Your counselor is also just beginning to know you. Find a way to be a little more patient, though I know you feel as though you've been chomping at the bit for far too long now. The process of getting to know yourselves better can only benefit you both.
I don't disagree; however, I strongly feel like my wife does not want to know the real me; she wants her idealized me, and I fear that if she does not get it, she will end our marriage. If I can at least have some reassurance that it's not going to be "her way or the highway," I believe I can relax and have patience. I don't know how to get that reassurance, as I'm certain from the things she has said that she's not ready to give it.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
A few other points hit me when reading your post.

One is about developing friendships with women and the possibility of falling in love. I say, what's wrong with that? [...such relationships do not have to be sexual...] It could be a great way to enter into poly if you do find a friendship like that. And you never know where your wife's feelings about it will be if some day in the future you have a close woman friend and wish to take it further into the physical. In other words, having the go-ahead to develop close friendships with women could be a blessing, not a booby prize!
That is a helpful way to view it. However, I do not view it as a booby prize, rather, a minefield. I think I know me well enough to know that I form emotional attachments easily, and if my wife thinks that I can have close friendships with women and guarantee that I will not fall in love, then she is deceiving herself. That was the whole reason why I've avoided forming such friendships. And I hate it.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
The other thing that stood out for me is a pattern I'm seeing emerge from your posts. It seems that when you do talk about what you want, either with your wife or the counselor, you apparently acquiesce or agree to something, and then rethink it and rail against it, pretty much feeling like you've agreed to getting the short end of the stick. I wonder if this is a behavior you have adopted around issues that keeps you feeling like you will never be satisfied, or that you are being forced to compromise yourself more than you really want to. Or it could just be that you personally need to take some time to let things sink in for a bit before you make choices, so you can gain more clarity.
I think it's me trying to live out what everyone recommends: be slow, be generous, and have patience. I also think that maybe I spend too much time inside my own head.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
(...fully voice concerns, or ask for time to think before agreeing to something, which may provoke questions that allow for more elaboration...)
That's a good thought. I think part of what is happening is overeagerness to be accommodating, as I still see myself both as heroic for having held all of this in (though in hindsight, I should not have) and as the bad guy for spoiling my wife's view of our marriage.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
All the things you brought up as concerns are valid and good stuff to bring up in your nest counseling sessions. It is quite evident that you are a thoughtful man, though feeling frustrated right now. (...)
Today, I'm beyond frustrated, all the way to lovesick. I've repressed my feelings for my current crush for years now, and I don't really know what to do about that. My wife doesn't want names or details, and it's certainly unfair to my crush to disclose it to her right now, I think, though I want to so very badly. I'm trying to just take deep breaths and pull my head out of my rear, and do everything in the proper order, as I believe that honesty and fairness to others demand it, yet I cannot help but wonder, what about fairness to me?

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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
Not going to even bother messing with the quotes, but what NYCindie said. Especially about allowing yourself to develop close friendships.

I'd bet that your wife feels insulted by this. Part of the problem is that you are assuming that any future resonses to small stuff will be equal to the reaction you got when you slammed her with the big stuff seemingly out of the blue. My husband does this also, I have one meltdown and he assumes that will always be my response to anything else even partially related. The truth is I react much stronger when I think he has been keeping secrets or hiding things from me.
And it all spirals in a horrible feedback loop. Out of fear of a big blowup, he keeps things from you, and then when he does disclose it, there's a big blowup, and out of fear he keeps things from you ... rinse, repeat.

This is certainly a two-way street. I've had to unlearn the response of getting angry and defensive when I receive criticism, as that has kept my wife from talking to me as well. I'm still working on it. Training each other not to rock the boat has nearly sunk it.

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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
You might want to create a time limits for yourself so the whole thing doesn't seem so open ended or never ending. Like for 3 months or so, you will just work on the relationship with your wife with absolutely no mention of others by you. If she brings the subject up, answer honestly, but keep it short. If she pushes for more, say you don't think your relationship is strong enough to have this discussion yet. At the end of 3 months, s[t]art a new step, such as theoretical and hypothetical discussions or such (ie. What is jealousy?). Each time you reach your time limit, evaluate the situation and decide if you can start introducing more. As your relationship improves, being able to discuss sensative issues will become easier.
(deep breath)

I'll try. There are good days and bad days. After a decade-plus, I'm anxious to get through it, but to her, it's still new.

Thanks.
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  #48  
Old 05-05-2011, 01:06 AM
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(((((((Big Mushy, Gushy HUGS to you, MT!)))))))
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  #49  
Old 05-05-2011, 03:50 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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what about fairness to me?
I am married to a terrific woman, whom I love, and I'm bitching because she is resistant to the idea of me being in love with other women.

Just what kind of a selfish idiot am I?
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:31 AM
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I am married to a terrific woman, whom I love, and I'm bitching because she is resistant to the idea of me being in love with other women.

Just what kind of a selfish idiot am I?
You're not selfish. You've had these feelings for ten years. Do you really want to live with them for twenty more??

Selfish would be cheating. Or rushing into poly. You are doing neither of these things.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. POLY IS A VALID WAY TO LOVE.
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guilt, marriage vs. polyamory, mono/poly, opening a relationship

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