Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Old 08-07-2010, 07:49 PM
anotherbo anotherbo is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Homer, Alaska
Posts: 133
Default One foot out the door?

It seems to me that you've already got one foot out the door.

And it may be that the healthiest thing for you both, is to end the marriage. She's mono, you're poly... its a huge difficulty to overcome.

Anyhow, I've noticed a common thread among the couples who seem to be working out this dilemma/negotiation in a healthy way. They seem still deeply in love with their primary.

I think that most mono's in this situation can't easily wrap their minds around the idea that you being poly is NOT ABOUT THEM. They need tons of love and support and affection to feel safe. Because their gut is telling them, if you were really happy with them, you wouldn't need anybody else. So they need all the evidence to the contrary that you can muster.

It sounds like your relationship is past the point where you can honestly give her that. You sound way more frustrated than in love.

Anyhow, best of luck finding a way for both of you to be healthy... together or not. And echoing what Mono said, the MOST important piece is the kids. If you break up, you'll still be co-parenting, I expect? If so, a healthy ongoing working relationship is key. And the more loved and respected you can make her feel during the breakup, the easier that working relationship will be.


Anotherbo
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-08-2010, 11:33 PM
cruftnot's Avatar
cruftnot cruftnot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
Default New to poly? ha ha!

Thank you erato and anotherbo for your posts, I feel they both capture part of what's going on in a useful way.

But before I respond in any way, I must laugh at having this thread moved to "new to poly". The first explicit consentual extramarital romantic involvement we had was in 2003. From what I've seen of this site so far, folks who have been poly for scant a year don't consider themselves new. By that count, and the fact that I have been with 5 partners outside N during the 9 years we have been married, I find the noob label touching. It is good to know that I can ask my questions with a freshness that comes off as naivete. Like being carded getting into a bar - at my age I consider that a compliment.

The previous 3 times N went ballistic on me, I was still very optimistic. There was still a lot of passion and a lot of love to bounce back on. Some of that optimism cracked when I got involved with K.

Winter 2008 to Spring 2009 - dating K

In the winter of 2008, we were very happy and also monogamous and at the end of a long process of couples therapy and anger management therapy that started in the summer of 2006. We already knew we were going to move across the continent in the summer of 2009, and that any romantic involvement would, perforce, become long-distance -- which N finds a lot less threatening. We had been reading about poly and open relationships, and decided to take the plunge.

On the face of it, it seemed we were doing everything right. I met K, a poly-activist who pulled my heart-strings as few ever girls have, and after a few coffee dates we invited her over, and N gave the all-clear to get romantically involved. K has some intimacy issues that mirror and complement issues that I had -- and we consciously decided to work out our issues with each other, which made for a lot of relationship drama.

Turned out N could handle me being infatuated with K, but could not handle me being hurt by K. As I was wrestling my inner demons with K, N was getting more and more uncomfortable -- and at the worst possible moment, when I was wrung out and hurting from the dynamic with K -- she laid it all at my feet, and re-started the bad relationship pattern that we had gone to therapy for.

Commentary

There are a few lessons to the reader here:
  1. Don't get into new relationships when you're time-limited by an impending move. There is going to be enough drama without new partners.
  2. Don't assume that poly-activists have their issues with poly (or relationships) sorted out.
  3. Compersion is rare and precious. Often your partners hurt more when you're happy with others.
  4. Despite the previous item about compersion, your partners may be even more disturbed if a new partner makes you unhappy and you don't immediately dump him/her.

But the most important lesson is that N, in off-loading all her pain and hurt on me when I'm are down, and then trying to force me to break off my strongly emotional relationship with K, which she initially condoned -- that took a real bite out of the heart of our marriage. The consequences of N's actions, and my actions in mending my relationship with K despite N's wishes, may have ended up destroying our marriage.

Conclusions

So - to erato's question: is she (N) the Queen of the relationship? - I spent 6 of the last 7 years thinking about the good of our relationship, and slowly getting ground down -- because assertive, respectful and clear statements of my emotional needs were ignored, at best, or met with intolerance and derision, at worst. I have a great deal of emotional flexibility and toughness, I grind down slowly, and I express clearly and in a respectful way that I am being ground down, with the expectation that my partners engage in finding a remedy. So at this point I am mostly done looking out for the good of the relationship. I am looking out for me, for N, for our kids and for G - and staying together with N only makes sense if taking all these interests into account it is among the best options.

As for anotherbo's comment: that's a good point. Right now there are blocks in the plumbing of my love for and with N. This why we're giving it a few more months (until my next meeting with G in the winter holidays) to rekindle our love. If we can, there is a chance to try and sort things out together; if we cannot, it is surely time to part ways.

The big question (again)
A big reason for my being on this forum is trying to work my way around the following question:

How much poly is enough for me? Where do I draw the line and say with integrity: without this I won't stay in this marriage? Is it at N being friendly towards my paramours and inviting them over for dinner on a regular basis? if so, she tells me I may as well call it quits right now. Is it at seeing G twice a year for two weeks? if so, I'm home free because I truly think N has come to terms with that (of course, G won't stand for this much longer, so it isn't really an option).

So how do I draw the line regarding future relationship boundaries with a wife that is very bad at predicting her own future feelings? How can we set up a process that ends up with everybody being reasonably happy?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-09-2010, 03:27 AM
MonoVCPHG's Avatar
MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: In Redpepper's heart
Posts: 4,742
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruftnot View Post

There are a few lessons to the reader here:
?
Hope you don't mind. I am cutting and pasting your list into the Poly Lessons learned thread. Nice stuff my friend. If it's a problem I'll delete it from there
__________________

Playing the Game of Life with Monopoly rules.
Monogamy might just be in my genes

Poly Events All Over
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-09-2010, 03:44 AM
Erato's Avatar
Erato Erato is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 56
Default

Sorry if this comes off as critical but it's something I feel a need to ask...

Do you feel you have maintained a healthy relationship with your wife?

I know that your secondary relationships are important to you as is being free to express yourself as poly-amorous, I completely respect those two points, but you seem to have allowed your partner's undesirable behaviour and (dare I say) mistreatment of you to sour your feelings toward her.

When I first came here (and I am a self admitted newbie!) I was bombarded with the message: to practice successful polyamory, coming from a state of monogamy in a relationship, you have to have a strong relationship and go at the pace of the person who is struggling the most.

That person would be your wife, it would seem.

Quote:
How much poly is enough for me?
I think you might be asking the wrong question.

My partner said that he would be willing to try poly on the condition that we had a girlfriend (unicorn, to put it quickly) that we shared and that I only saw with him present, at least to begin with.

That was not what I wanted. I tried to go along with the concept as a compromise but then I found out he didn't actually want it either - he had no interest in any other woman; it was just more bearable (read: less painful) than having me have another partner without his presence or involvement.

Then I realised: why would we both go after something neither of us wanted? It made no sense.

You said your partner agreed to open the relationship but couldn't handle you being hurt by a secondary partner. It sounds like that might have been as unexpected a reaction to her as it was to you. Has she come to terms with it? If she's still struggling and trying to restrict you then it wouldn't seem she has, or perhaps other issues have come up, and may need some extra support (you don't seem to have much to spare so another source might be a good option at this point).

I've never practised polyamory, you will know a lot more about that side of things than I will, so I'm just speaking from the perspective of a poly partner of a mono who has grown used to/expected exclusivity to continue. I know it's tricky when you've got secondaries you're already well involved with, I have no idea what to do about your situation, please understand that I make no such claim and hope I haven't offended you or made any assumptions.

As someone else said it looks like you might have already made up your mind and are looking for confirmation that it is the right thing to do. There is no right or wrong, just choices, and no matter what I or anyone else says it's a choice which belongs to you. In your relationship with your wife this seems like a relatively short (if unbearably difficult) situation compared to the happiness you've shared.

I'm stubborn, I know, but I do recognise that everyone has a breaking point. If you don't feel you have give her what she needs and your needs in the relationship are not being met then perhaps it is time to consider other options than continuing to stay married to her. The relationship will always remain, you have children together, the marriage may end or simply change. I like to look for options with lateral thinking, myself.

Rather than "how much (or little?) poly can I handle?" I would ask myself: "Can I cultivate enough patience, love, understanding and tolerance to make this functional? Am I willing/prepared to?" Life (and love) isn't fair but it's worth it.
__________________
About Erato Blog
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-09-2010, 05:25 AM
cruftnot's Avatar
cruftnot cruftnot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
Default Psychic blinders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erato View Post
Do you feel you have maintained a healthy relationship with your wife?
"healthy relationship" - of course not. I tried to make our relationship healthy. I spent years, and tears, and thousands of dollars. But a healthy relationship is, by definition, one in which all participants feel that they gain more than they lose. Both she and I aren't sure that our marriage, in its current form, meets this criterion.

We do, however, have better communication with each other than we ever did. We have respect for each other; we have passion for one another; we have learned to do a great many things well together. We co-parent well, although we are poor parents on our own. All these are healthy things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erato View Post
I know that your secondary relationships are important to you as is being free to express yourself as poly-amorous, I completely respect those two points, but you seem to have allowed your partner's undesirable behaviour and (dare I say) mistreatment of you to sour your feelings toward her.
Hmm. You're mixing a few things together here.

I'm not looking for self-expression in being poly. For me, discovering poly was coming home - I was literally in tears the first time I read some of the text on xeromag.com, because never before in my life did I encounter someone who saw relationships just as I do. For the first time in my adult life I didn't feel that I was completely alone in how I see love, romance and ethics coming together. I took to poly like a duck to water; I pretty much never became jealous of K or G despite both of them having other partners; two of my other romantic partners had boyfriends - and I never felt threatened in the least. I'm poly because for me compersion is inseparable from love. I've started to feel that I was selling myself short, and I deserve to be loved back in the same way.

As for letting N's mistreatment sour my feelings towards her- yes, that's true. It is for this reason that we're trying to make it work now. I think neither of us sees any resolution to our incompatible relationship style preferences. But we would both like to be loving to each other again, even if we end up parting ways romantically. We deserve to be loving towards one-another and grow beyond the resentments we accumulated - for the sake of our inner peace, and for the sake of the example we set our children.

Finally, regarding secondary relationships. I don't really subscribe to the notion of secondary or primary; this is semantic gobbledegook that N needs to feel safe. To me there are emotions and commitments. My emotions don't define or constrain my actions; my commitments do. My kids, by virtue of being minors in my care, earn an unwavering commitment. In having been perfectly loving and supportive, G has earned primacy of my very limited promises to her. N, in having time and time again broken her side of our agreements, and having hurt me intentionally, has lost most of her right to expect me to honor my previous commitments to her.

Summarizing- my "secondary relationships" are not important to me as a concept, not is the poly label. I love G, and she has earned my loyalty. I love N, but she's demolished that loyalty and everything I tried to build with her in terms of relationship structure; only the love remains. Being poly isn't a philosophy to me; it's just how I relate and how I understand and manifest love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erato View Post
"Can I cultivate enough patience, love, understanding and tolerance to make this functional? Am I willing/prepared to?" Life (and love) isn't fair but it's worth it.
What "this" are you suggesting we make functional?

The "this" in which I'm "allowed" to be poly and it tears N into shreds emotionally? The "this" in which I put on psychic blinders to enable me to pretend that I can be small enough to love just her, and slowly wilt away from living a lie?

I'm a devoutly religious Utilitarian. The only commandment on my stone tablets is "Thou shall make it Functional." But I haven't a clue *what* I should make functional in this case.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-09-2010, 12:15 PM
Erato's Avatar
Erato Erato is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 56
Default

Secondary, primary, poly etc they are all just labels, yes, and they have different meanings to different people. They were all labels I learnt, for ease of reference - not to confine things to a rigid structure, and poly fits more with my natural view of love also.

You expressed what I feel well, and I believe a lot of other poly people around here see it the same way from what I've seen, that there is no hierarchy in relationships except in the practical sense of who gets the biggest portion of your time/attention/commitment.

I never meant to imply that your other relationships outside your marriage are in some way less than your one with your wife. Sorry if it came off as such.

"This", for me at least, is usually my head. My heart knows what it wants but my head? My head thinks it can get it! Hah, if I could think the world to peace then there would be no more need for war.

So that I cause less confusion I'll just speak specifically from my own experience from here on out.

The more I focus on what I can't have the more I ache for it. The more I implied "I need poly or this is over" and gave no room for other solutions, the more black and white I was about life, the smaller my vision got and the more distressed my monogamous partner became. And the less willing to listen and consider me he became. I became very selfish for a time and we ended up just yelling our needs at each other, basically, and getting more and more hopeless and frustrated at the situation.

With his view point so drastically different from mine we had a lot of cross communication. When he finally felt that he could convey his feelings without me judging him - for example saying that he didn't approve of my choice in secondary since he didn't trust him, which I admitted I didn't either and started to re-think the budding relationship - the more we became allies again.

I was very afraid of being "forced" back into monogamy after only just realising that I could love more than one person ethically, honestly and happily - that people could and did. That was what I started to work on. My own fears, my own anger and frustrations. I cannot change him or how he feels. All I can do is remind myself of his good points, focus on them and watch them grow, and try to provide a space for him where he feels safe enough with me that - despite it possibly being against his true nature - he can explore becoming comfortable with me having other loves. Even if he never does become comfortable at least we'll have had a happy relationship, if I do find that I cannot go without other loves, or maybe we'll just end up happy despite everything.

The marker of a healthy relationship for me is one where all participants are growing.

This is just my experience and opinion; please take what you find useful and the rest with a grain of salt.
__________________
About Erato Blog
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-14-2010, 02:05 AM
cruftnot's Avatar
cruftnot cruftnot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
Default A bit more about the Now

Thank you, Erato.

A quick update about where things are: N and I are doing well, being nice and loving towards each other, and starting to recall what the point of this marriage was to begin with. G and I speak almost every day; she's planning to relocate closer to her birth family while she's job-hunting. It is very bittersweet-- we really yearn for each-other, but cannot meet face to face.

From N's perspective, she's been generous- she grew to accept Gs existance as my GF and my communication with G. She also accepted that I will spend a fortnight with G once every 6 months.

From my perspective, this is only acceptable as a temporary measure while N and I are rebuilding and G is moving. G and I really want to be physically close more often than that in the longer term. Also, I really want to be able to "date" - to meet new women and have some avenue to allow mutual sexual interest to be enjoyed and explored.

So right now we are in a mono + ldr mode, trying to work on our marriage. It is fun to rediscover N, but I'm worried I'll lose G and lose myself to a "don't rock the boat" kind of living death.

How can I keep the joy of being poly fresh in my mind over such a long hiatus?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-07-2011, 06:29 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,255
Default

Just read this thread from last year and wondering how this situation turned out. I hope all concerned reached some compromises or made choices that everyone is happy with. Posting just in case the OP, cruftnot, is notified and might want to come and give us a recent update.
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me. ~Bryan Ferry
"Love is that condition in which another person's happiness is essential to your own." ~Robert Heinlein
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 06-08-2011, 04:42 AM
Anneintherain's Avatar
Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Seattle-ish
Posts: 821
Default

Just a little side trip here - is she not ok now with you having a local paramour because at the time you were discussing wanting it, you already HAD two women you were in deeply emotional LDR's with?

New poly is scary. my husband has gone from saying he'd OK with one relationship to thinking 4-5 of varying intensities would be fine with him. I'm not going to throw stones at her, If she's already been trying hard to be fine with two relationship that you obviously feel pretty intensely about, no wonder she might be scared of you demanding you be able to have a third one. She might be wondering if you really want to have any emotional time or energy left for her, or if she's just an afterthought.

Just a good thing to discuss with her. Will you have more attention for her, or less, if you find a close local relationship? Will you have more or less energy? She can probably feel when you are distracted and sad and missing the relationships with the long distance people, she might think if you have a local girlfriend that would be multiplied by 100x. Just try to look at it from her viewpoint for a bit, maybe if you can alleviate some of her concerns, or make her see how your relationship would be better if you're getting what you are asking for - she would be more willing to be OK with what you want and work with you on it.

EDIT: this is the second time I've responded to a thread because I thought I'd reached its end without realizing I hadn't - but instead of reading the last bit now and figuring out how to edit my advice, I'll just leave it.

I do believe in going at the pace of the person struggling the most. I also believe if you can't live with the slow pace, then it's time to make a decision about what is more important, poly the way you want it now, or keeping the original relationship. If there is some ultimatum you KNOW you need at some point down the road, I think your SO should know it's just that, an ultimatum, that if they wont grow to accept it at some point, you're out of there.

I think this avoids them giving you more and more leeway that makes them uncomfortable, trying to please and keep you - then feeling 2 years from now that they've been screwed. Hating you and blaming polyamory for the outcome.
__________________
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.

Last edited by Anneintherain; 06-08-2011 at 04:55 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-08-2011, 10:17 PM
LovingRadiance's Avatar
LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 5,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruftnot View Post
Is there anyone here who considered or had a divorce because they were poly with a monogamous spouse or a spouse with a stiflingly restrictive view of poly?
If so -- how did you make your decision to stay or go?
Are you happy with it in retrospect?
It's been on the burner-pretty much since I put my foot down adn said "I'm sorry, I didn't know before-but I do know now, that I'm poly and I just can't be the person I said I would be when we married." I laid out who I was and what that meant and told him if he wanted a divorce, I'd respectfully do that with no fight over our kids, finances etc. But, that I DO love him and DO NOT want a divorce.

At any rate, that was Sept '09. It's been a nightmare of up's and down's, back and forth's. I don't know where it will lead. I do know that we're living separately now and that has decreased the drama signficantly-but.... not enough.

I don't think there is a "good time" or a "reasonable time" to say for sure it's been "long enough". That's so individual. I do think it's better to end it peacably if it ends... but when? No idea.
__________________
"Love As Thou Wilt"
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
compromise, long distance

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 12:18 AM.