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Old 02-02-2015, 10:08 PM
Gateway91 Gateway91 is offline
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Default Trust broken, help sought!

I am brand new to the forum, but I am finally seeking out some advice on the encouragement of a good friend whose judgement I trust. Please bear with me because the context for my problem is a little convoluted.

3.5 years ago my husband and I became polyfi with a woman who was our very good friend. She and her (at that time, now ex-)fiancee were our housemates. We have helped her through a number of traumatizing events in the last 5 years, including her break-up with her fiancee and that was not even the most emotionally trying item on the list. Getting through everything together made us feel very close to her and when she admitted to an attraction to my husband and even a little to myself, I didn't feel that self-conscious admitting that we had felt attracted to her, in return. We had plenty of speed bumps, all of us were new to polyamory, and between the three of us there are 2 diagnosed cases of PTSD. Generally, things are good, we work on easing each other's triggers and supporting each other, but she and I do knock heads from time to time. Unfortunately, these disagreements have become one of my husband's triggers, as is the prospect of her up and leaving us....which makes many minor and certainly any serious disagreement even more difficult than it would be otherwise. We try to handle these things as best we can, with mixed success. Yes, she and he see a therapist pretty regularly, and sometimes I even go and speak with him, too.

Ok, so here's the present issue. She has always wanted children. Given that she has a history of abuse (she was a child and life has not treated her well since, not until she came to my husband and I), and that she cannot support herself financially but relies on my husband and I for many necessary requirements, whether she should even be thinking about kids is something else, entirely. My husband and I, however, know that we are not ready to have children in our lives, at all. We are young enough that we still have plenty of time (he is in his early 30's, I am in my late 20's, and our partner is a couple years younger than me). One day in October of last year, out of the blue, she tells me that she wants to have my husband's children. That we don't want kids yet has never been any kind of secret, but here is this demand. She never asked me, never even asked him, but told him and me separately. Neither of us was happy about this. He does not want to have children with her. I do not want another woman bearing my husband's children. Neither of us is ready to have kids in our lives and given the situation with our partner we know we would end up providing for and raising these children that we are not prepared for. Stunned and not quite sure what to do with this pronouncement, we told her that we aren't comfortable with that and that we don't know when we will be ready to have children. She said she understood and that she could hold off until the new year for some kind of answer. We were still stunned, so we agreed to that.

Yep. Hindsight is 20-20. That probably should have been a red flag right there. Fast forward to the first week of January...and she just dropped it on us, again on each of us alone. She did not ask if we felt any more clear about children, she did not ask if we felt any better about the prospect of her having his children, she just demanded answers and renewed her stated expectation that she would be reproducing with him. It was very badly done and, no, our answers had not changed! What followed was the better part of a month of her playing for time and somehow not understanding that we were not uncertain of our answer, that we had a decision, that she had already been told what it was. I was unable to participate in many of these conversations because I was either at work or in another room because she does [I]not[I] handle confrontation with me well, at all (passive aggression and catty bitchiness), so when situations are very tense with her and she needs a gentle hand I have learned from much pain and trial-and-error that it is best for me to be absent until she has calmed down.

My problem is that this....this broke my trust. She has now been told three times that NO, we are not ready for children! And, NO, she will not be having my husband's kids! Just because I am not ready to be pregnant and bear children yet, and I don't know when I will, does not mean that she gets to be having my husband's children, instead! We don't know where this expectation came from. She never brought up this topic for discussion or negotiation until she was dumping it in our laps as a firm expectation.

I have made it clear to her, accompanied by the worst panic attacks my husband has ever had, what our answer is and that it is not changing. For my part, I know that she has been hurting because her plans have been taken from her, but I have been furious and feeling that my trust has been very betrayed. We are all trying to see if we can get back to a better state together, but I am seriously doubting whether I even feel like she's my partner anymore...and I don't know how to go about allowing myself to slowly trust her again, even though my husband needs that normalcy very badly. I find myself doubting whether we should have her in our lives anymore. Fear of loneliness without her is not enough reason to be with her if she keeps hurting me, and while she and my husband do not fight or disagree like she and I do, I worry sometimes that she unconsciously used his attachment trigger for her to manipulate him in to putting off being told for the final time, and a final time after that, that kids were not in the plan for her and us. As it is, we had had a plan to slowly let ourselves drift apart from her, that she had agreed to...but I am still hurting so badly and am suspicious enough of her that I am fearfully wondering if this will just drag on and on, and what if she tries pressuring us? Or my husband, who is still emotionally compromised?

I'm reading this and..yes..it looks awful. When she is in a right mind she can be wonderful, and we have supported each other through so much in the last 3 1/2 years, so I don't want to throw this away if this is something that we can work through and my trust is something that she can regain over time. But...I worry about that trigger of my husband's. And I worry about being hurt again by her. One more big drama outbreak like this and I don't think I could continue this relationship at all, which would probably end my husband's relationship with her out of loyalty, and would furthermore require her to find somewhere else to live...all while she still cannot even support herself. I have a lot of guilt about this, I feel bad for being suspicious of her motivations, I feel protective of my husband and of my relationship with him...

I...I don't know what to do about this. I am finally starting to feel more like myself after the most recent emotional explosion, accompanied by panic attacks, pain, and admissions of continued anger. She seemed angry and annoyed that I was angry with her for asking the question about my husband's children, but I still can't feel guilty for being angry that she asked. It seems like the sort of question you do not ask if you have respect for your boyfriend's marriage. I am trying very hard to slowly trust her again, to make gestures of good will, but it is very hard and I would be very grateful for the observations of experienced folk that are not involved in this situation (our therapist is wonderful, but we are the first polyfolk he has ever knowingly seen).

Thank you, all. I'm terribly sorry it took so long to get that all out there.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:25 PM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is offline
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Could she be looking to have his children because she feels like it will help cement a future for her with your husband (and possibly you)? The language below says a lot, and she almost certainly knows she's secondary in reality, regardless of what the verbalized structure of the relationship is, and that may be part of the issue for her.

I am not saying she handled it well, but it's also worth thinking about whether she's fighting to get out of the "unicorn" box. (referring to this: http://davidlnoble.livejournal.com/176039.html). Many times, the third is expected to conform to a couple's already-in-place life plan, rather than for the plan to be refitted to the situation of all three people. Could this be what has happened?

Out of curiosity, why do you believe your desire to not have children at this time trumps her desire to have children? Was there a discussion about when she could have children? Are only you allowed to have your husband's children, and if so, what about her desires for children? Can she find another partner with which to have children without losing her relationship with your dyad? Do you have a known and stated hierarchy in place that, has been talked about and agreed to, that the desires of you and your husband come before her desires and life plans?

It's also worth thinking about the future at this point. Having someone totally dependent on you can really strain a relationship, and it also paints everyone into a corner. She isn't free to make her needs a priority for fear of getting kicked out, for example. You feel guilty. The dynamic will likely continue to get screwed up, and I suspect it's about far more than just the kids vs. no kids issue that is happening right at the moment.

Can you sit down, and talk about all of your relationship expectations? Your realistic, pragmatic plans and ideas for the future (finances, children and child-rearing, retirement, death benefits, etc.?), and see if you're at all in the same headspace?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gateway91 View Post
One more big drama outbreak like this and I don't think I could continue this relationship at all, which would probably end my husband's relationship with her out of loyalty, and would furthermore require her to find somewhere else to live...all while she still cannot even support herself. I have a lot of guilt about this, I feel bad for being suspicious of her motivations, I feel protective of my husband and of my relationship with him...
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Last edited by GreenAcres; 02-02-2015 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:55 PM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is offline
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also, I'm unsure how, exactly, she broke your trust. She brought the subject up to you, you said you wanted to wait to talk about it, and agreed to wait until the new year. Correct?she brought it up, as discussed, in the new year. She has not gotten pregnant, correct? So she did not do anything behind your back, simply brought up the conversation again?if she were trying to get pregnant without talking to either of you, I would definitely see that as a breach of trust. But you make no mention of that being the case? Could she have approached you separately because she wanted to talk with each of you separately, and not face the united front of a couple?it can be very intimidating for a third to try to make their which is known in the face of two people who unite together regardless of circumstances simply because they're married. Is there any chance that could be what was going on? again, I'm not saying demanding that she have children right now is correct. Obviously, it is also your husband's decision whether or not he wishes to have children with her. as for the rest, I am a bit unclear and I'm having difficulty understanding the breach of trust aspect, I guess.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:59 PM
Gateway91 Gateway91 is offline
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Hi GreenAcres,

We have no problem with her having kids! We know this is something that she wants very dearly, but we are not in a place where we are ready to have kids in our lives, and this is a conversation that we had with her after the first round of drama last October. We don't want her to have to change her life plans, we want her to be happy and successful. If that means, as she has stated, that she would have to move somewhere else and try to start a more traditional family, we would miss her terribly, but we understand.

We have no problem with her dating someone else, but she has expressed no desire to pursue it. We tried once or twice to encourage her to give a very close friend of hers a chance, after he confessed his attraction to her, but she said she was wary of losing the friendship if things didn't work out. Since that seemed like a pretty fair reason for not dating, we have not pressed her on it. We want to respect her boundaries. We want to help her have a good life. Too much of her life has definitely NOT been good and she deserves better.

The problem is that this desire of hers, while it might be good for her, would very definitely not be good for my husband and I, and even after she knew how we felt about it she continued to press. By all means, she can go have kids! There is no one on earth with the right to tell her she can't. But we aren't ready for kids in our lives and we're not ok with her having my husband's kids...and we do have a right to say that.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:06 PM
Gateway91 Gateway91 is offline
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Hi GreenAcres,

I just saw your second post. We didn't ask for time to wait, we already knew how we felt about her expectation. She said she didn't want to talk about it again until she brought it up, at some undetermined time in the new year. What feels like the worst breach of trust is that she has kept asking last month even after we told her the first time. She has now been told a total of four times and the answer is always the same. The first three times she convinced my husband to wait on a "final answer" while I wasn't present because of previously stated reasons, but now I have answered her, myself, with my husband there, and only now does it seem like she regards the answer as final and real. It has made me feel as though, somehow, all the other times we said it or my husband said it just didn't count to her. We know that she finds me intimidating, which is why she probably approached us separately and it is also why when my husband has talked with her about this very sensitive topic I have mostly not felt bad about not being there. I don't want to make things worse for her, or to make her feel cornered or ganged up on, just by being present.

Last edited by Gateway91; 02-02-2015 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:38 AM
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Infinity Infinity is offline
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The way you say 'we' are not ready for kids, make your husband and you sound like an 'us' while she is a 'she'. Kind of like she is definitely the secondary bolt on to your marriage. Have you ever had an explicit talk about the status of your relationships, in what ways she is equal to you and your husband in terms of life rights and responsibilities, and what ways she's not?

Sounds pretty uneven at the moment with you guys supporting her materially and with her not having same rights (it sounds like) as you do with each other.

As an example, if you decided you were ready to have kids, would you ask just hubby about it or would you need her and hubby to agree? If you would only need hubby to agree, but for the other way around she'd need both to agree, that shows this isn't an equal, everyone giving and taking, all having same rights and responsibilities relationship.

But I guess that's ok if that's what you all agreed to...is it? If it was, is she till ok with that?

It sounds to me unhealthy that you guys will feel financially responsible for her if you kick her out. Because that means she's already dependant on you both in a way that makes you feel responsible for her, when she doesn't give the same back.

If it were me (and it's not), I'd be looking at clearly setting out conversation (rules and boundaries) that say what the relationship is or isn't and make it clear whether this is a equal triad or a dyad + secondary.

Then she can decide if she wants to stick around.

Either way I'd either get her to start pulling her weight financially or kick her out until she learns to. It kind of sound like you guys don't need a kid at the moment because you're already babysitting her, both with money and her emotional tuff. But then you hve to be clearer too. If this is not an equal partnership make that clear. If the answer to kids is NO, stop having the conversation (don't agree to discuss in the new year). And if the situation is not just 'neither of us want kids now' , but is actually 'my husband and I ONLY will have kids with each other, even in 5-10 years when we DO want them', then make that very clear rather than just saying 'we're not ready now'.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:53 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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So, if you're that offended by her telling you what she wants, and are quickly becoming incompatible, end the relationship. What is the problem with breaking up if you see her as causing too much drama and unhappiness?
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Old 02-03-2015, 05:49 AM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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that sounds pretty horrible to be in a long term relationship with somebody like that and then be told that "no you can't have children with him because he's my husband and only I get to have children with him." I would be pretty heartbroken and quite honestly I would leave because that right there speaks volumes as to my standing in the relationship. sounds like you don't consider her an equal in the relationship, if she wants more than what you are willing to let her have then cut her loose.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:07 AM
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That's what I was trying to figure out. Has it been put to this girl that the husband is not ready for kids and therefore doesn't want them now with anyone at all? In which case, whether the original poster is ready for them or not wouldn't be an issue, because it's between hubby and girlfriend.

But the way the OP puts it is *WE* are not ready for kids - her and her husband. The girlfriend even felt she had to include the OP in the discussion, like asking permission. To have kids with 'her' (original poster)'s husband. I wonder if the original poster wanted to have kids with her husband, whether she would need to ask the girlfriend's consent as they are all equal members of this triad?

It sounds like girlfriend wants equality on all fronts and you don't. Maybe she has assumed things are more equal than they are?

Have you ever sat down all together and written down the differennt dimensions of your lives and decided who has rights / responsibility to what level on each?

E.g.

Living arrangements
Financial contribution
Housework
Time one on one (e.g. Do you and hubby get more alone time?)
Sleeping arrangements
Who can go on holiday with whom alone?
Being introduced to family & friends as partner, coming to important events like weddings, Christmas etc?
Future plans - e.g children (is everyone ok with girlfriend having kids with hubby once he IS wanting kids?)
Future plans - marriage (ok hubby nor you can legally marry girlfriend, but would you consider restructuring things so that you are all represented equally - i.e. You and hubby get a divorce and then maybe individual commitment ceremonies which are not legal marriage so everyone on same footing?)
Future plans / life commitment - how much do you all consider each other in your long term plans, if someone wanted to move to another country for instance, would the others come too, would it be expected to be a group decision? Or only if you or hubby would do that would you consult the other but just expect girlfriend to 'fit in'?

Sounds to me like this kids issue is just exposing a deeper issue - that she's not equal on all fronts and wants to be. But to be she'd have to not be financially reliable on you guys.
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:48 AM
Gateway91 Gateway91 is offline
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Wow, thank you for the feedback, everyone! I will try to get to everyone's points and questions, so please bear with me.

Decision making depends on who it effects. My husband and I are legally married and have been together for coming up on 15 years while our partner has been with us for 3.5, so there are some things that we need to take care of that don't affect her, such as jointly-filed taxes, etc. Things that *do* affect all three of us, however, we decide all together and everyone has equal authority. Examples of this include innocuous things like planning a weekend or chores as well as serious decisions like emergency medical steps (such as whether we should take one of us to the ER or not).

Alone time: My husband alternates where he sleeps and he frequently gets to spend more time with our partner because they keep more similar work hours than I do. Depending on work hours in the past our partner and I also spent a lot of time together during the day, but this has changed in the last couple of weeks due to stress in the house as well as changing work schedules for both her and me.

Housework is divided evenly amongst the three of us.

Financial contribution: Right now the primary financial support is from my husband and I. We pay all our utilities, provide all of the groceries, recreational funds, and even some (but not all, although at one point we did provide practically everything) of her personal bills and requirements like new clothing for work. She is working on getting a final degree and is getting into a program that will help her find steady work in her field, but as of now she has not held a steady job in the last 5 years, although a large degree of that was due to the onset of her PTSD.

Introduced as partner: While it is unfortunate that we have all three decided our parents would not handle this well (conservative streaks all the way around), all of our most important friends know that she is our partner and they are supportive of our triad.

Future plans/life commitment: As I said above, my husband and I are very happily married and we have been together a long time and while we would be happy to have our partner with us for the long haul (we talk about getting new house together someday, how we fit into each other's lives in the context of decades on down the line), she has been passionately adverse to the idea of commitment ever since she broke up with her fiancee. It has hurt and been awkward to know that's how she feels about it, but it's her boundary so we don't push it or bring it up. She also has expressly insisted that we never refer to her as our partner or girlfriend in public or behave in any tellingly affectionate way toward her in public because she is terribly worried about any consequences the discovery of our polyamory might have on any one of our careers (we all work in fields where this can actually be a threat, so while it makes us sad to follow through on this, we all see a certain degree of wisdom there).

Kids: Neither my husband nor I are ready for kids, which is why I keep saying "us", it's just faster. I'm terribly sorry if I have accidentally given any other impression. On top of that, he does not want to have children with our partner, which he has told her, and I am not comfortable emotionally with anyone else having his kids, either. We figure we'll be ready to have kids someday, we just don't know precisely when and we're ok with that, we don't want to rush anything, but when we are separately ready we'll talk and we already know that both of us want to have our children together (as in to be the biological and emotional parent of the other's children). Yes, our partner knows this, this has been explained to her in the past. If she is still with us when we are ready to have children, that is something we would then have to sit down with her and carefully discuss. If she decided that she was not ready to be in a family with children or that she wanted to go off on her own to have her own family, we would understand completely. We don't want to be in the way of her happiness. And if she asked us to put it off for a couple of years or some such, until she felt ready? Sure, I have absolutely no problem with that and I really don't think my husband would either. We're more concerned about having kids when we aren't ready and not doing well by them than being ready and then taking our time.

I'm sure I have not answered someone's question, and if so I apologize. I'm trying to find the most common questions and make sure I get those taken care of.

Thank you, everyone.
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