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  #11  
Old 07-19-2011, 07:31 PM
JT2 JT2 is offline
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Thank you for the responses! To clarify some things -

We all live together - I moved in to their house almost ten years ago, after dating my partner ("Husband") for about a year. Wife and I are not romantically or sexually involved. Mostly because I'm 90% gay, but also I think the two of us just don't "click" on a number of levels.

I know it isn't my responsibility to fix their relationship, and Husband certainly hasn't told me to fix it, but he seems stuck and out of ideas, and I want to help. This is a research/brainstorming thing, not some kind of blame-the-secondary thing. Even if I was just his good friend and co-worker I would want to help, because I can see he's been struggling with this for over a year, and hasn't made any real progress. In any case, I don't think you can last ten years as a happy secondary without figuring out that if the primaries are unhappy, that is bad news for everyone, and being helpful in attempting to find a resolution is in your best interest.


Sagency - Those are some really great ideas. I'll talk to Husband about them. It hadn't occurred to me that Wife might like to know about all the times when Husband deprioritizes Boyfriend (me) in order to do things for her. I think that on some level he's always assumed she'd feel awkward knowing that her special whatever happened at my expense. That it would contribute to a "scarcity mentality" and promote the idea that she and I were in competition for his time and attention. But... if it is a "competition" that she almost always wins... maybe she'd like that?


I was especially struck by your last point about encouraging Wife to have more things outside the house and the relationship. Now that I think of it, the problem became most obvious soon after she retired from her job, and she's just not the "stay at home housewife" type. I wonder if it isn't so much that she resents when Husband's job takes him away from her, but that she is jealous because she wishes she had a fullfilling "important" career like his that got her attention and praise from other people. Which might explain why attention and praise from him seems like it is "never enough".


SNeacail - I'll check out 5 Love Languages - Thank you! As a third-party observer, it does seem like they've got very different ways of showing their love for each other. That could be another piece of why his praise/attention is "never enough". It seems like even his best attempts to show her how special she is keep missing the mark, and he isn't able to figure out why. It makes sense that he might be aiming at the wrong place.

-- JT
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2011, 07:57 PM
JT2 JT2 is offline
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Default Another clarification

I just noticed the mods moved this thread to the "New to Polyamory" forum. I am not sure why - I suppose it wasn't clear what I meant by...

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Originally Posted by JT2 View Post
My partner (of 10 years) has a wife (17 years).
Regardless, none of us are new to polyamory. This isn't the first poly relationship for any of us. Husband & Wife have been poly for the entirety of their 17 year marriage. Both were experienced at poly prior to getting together, and have both had quite a few secondary lovers prior to me, including some serious live-in relationships. I had a five year poly relationship prior to this, including living in a triad, and I've been living with Husband & Wife for close to 10 years.

-- JT
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  #13  
Old 07-19-2011, 08:10 PM
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MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
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I don't get it either. You've got more experience than most on here :
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  #14  
Old 07-19-2011, 08:53 PM
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It seems that something happens around years 17-20 in marriages (not all, but quite a few). I don't know if it's the amount of time people have been together, lets face it most of us couldn't wait to move out of our parents house after 18-20 years, or that the female hormones are starting to revert back to when we were 12 or just life stresses (house, kids, finances, etc) or just mid life crisis. We seem to have to consciously make an effort to "court" our spouse again and that becomes increasingly difficult when faced with everyday stresses and old resentments that haven't been resolved. My husband and I had to learn how to communicate all over again. We were in the habit of making assumptions based on what we "thought" was being said or done and we discovered that these assumptions were biting us both in the ass.

Last edited by SNeacail; 07-19-2011 at 10:23 PM.
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  #15  
Old 07-19-2011, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JT2 View Post
Sagency - Those are some really great ideas. I'll talk to Husband about them. It hadn't occurred to me that Wife might like to know about all the times when Husband deprioritizes Boyfriend (me) in order to do things for her. I think that on some level he's always assumed she'd feel awkward knowing that her special whatever happened at my expense. That it would contribute to a "scarcity mentality" and promote the idea that she and I were in competition for his time and attention. But... if it is a "competition" that she almost always wins... maybe she'd like that?


I was especially struck by your last point about encouraging Wife to have more things outside the house and the relationship. Now that I think of it, the problem became most obvious soon after she retired from her job, and she's just not the "stay at home housewife" type. I wonder if it isn't so much that she resents when Husband's job takes him away from her, but that she is jealous because she wishes she had a fullfilling "important" career like his that got her attention and praise from other people. Which might explain why attention and praise from him seems like it is "never enough".
My mono and I are pretty good about scheduling and routines. As such, she notices when something is out of place. Occasionally if I have something that is optional that really doesn't have my interest, I'll seek her out and offer to do something with her. Usually she'll ask why I'm not elsewhere. Technically, "meh" might be as true an answer as "sometimes I like to remind you you're a priority." But I'll guarantee one of those answers is better for the relationship than the other.

If something in the schedule gets cancelled so there's a pocket of free time I will consider what to do. Even though it seems redundant, if I decide to do something with K, I try to make a point of mentioning that she was the option I chose. It's not about trying to flatter her to score points. It's about words and actions together that reinforce the idea that she's important.

You might have a point about a scarcity mentality, but K's personality and my unwillingness to entertain a scarcity mentality mean we've not had that issue.

As far as other things, if she's basically retiring after a career, it seems like she might be a bit stircrazy. Volunteerism and hobbies could help with that. With what little details we have here, I'd suggest some sort of volunteer effort that involves interacting with others on a regular basis. (A hobby or solo volunteerism might not meet the interactive needs it sounds like she has.)

Best of luck.
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  #16  
Old 07-24-2011, 09:46 AM
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The Five Love Languages principles are brilliant and definitely have helped some (mono) relationships I know. It could be something as simple as communicating in different love languages, which is relatively easy to fix.

But yeah, if she's going stircrazy because of a lack of work/life ambition I would get her out of the house and pursuing something she enjoys. Just because she's retired doesn't mean that she has to let go of ambition.
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  #17  
Old 07-27-2011, 12:03 PM
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This whole primary/secondary might be easier to secure when everyone involved is relatively young and "unattached".

To me, having kids with person/people A instead of B pretty much shows you consider them your primary/primaries. Although I plan living with/close to Moonlight & co at some point, kiddies are definitely out of the discussion. Part of it is of course the fact that they have kids already, and I wouldn't want to create "competition" in a way. And the greater part is that because I consider Vanilla my primary, kiddies will enter into discussions with her.

But the love languages might help. If hers is quality time, indeed pointing out when he's made plans to hang out with her instead of you might work. Or if it's physical touch, then ensuring that whenever he passes her by, there is a embrace, a caress or a quick kiss involved. Words of affirmation maybe don't work for her so much, because I understand that he has told her already multiple times how he considers her his primary?
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