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Old 11-07-2011, 09:08 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Default The pace of the one who is struggling most

I've often read this wise little piece of advice on this forum, to go at the pace of the one who is struggling the most. What it usually seems to apply to is when someone gets a new partner, and an existing partner is new to polyamory or otherwise unhappy with the situation, so the new relationship slows down until the existing partner works through those feelings. I get that.

I've been trying to go at my (monogamous) husband's pace for the past couple of years now, by keeping relationships with the other two men I love at a pretty platonic level, where we don't see each other much and we keep our clothes on. I guess in all this time my husband has been coming to terms with the fact that I love them, but he has no intention of letting it move forward. We don't talk about it (or when I bring it up, he tries not to talk about it), he's unwilling to read about polyamory, and he's basically just trying to accept this "flaw" in my role as his wife by not thinking about it.

Meanwhile, I'm really starting to struggle. It's not just a sexual urge, although that can get pretty strong at times. I feel like my life needs these relationships. My husband is very reserved, and I feel starved for connection and intimacy of all kinds (as I've written about in my last thread). I try and try to draw him out, but after years of this I feel like I'm vainly trying to make him into someone he's not. He makes a good husband in all sorts of ways, and he's my children's father, so I don't want to leave the marriage, but the marriage is not providing me with what I need.

Is it ever the case that the person who is struggling the most is the one who wants to move the newer relationship(s) forward? How can I tell if doing so would hurt him as much as I hurt now, if he is unwilling to talk about it? I've told him how lonely I feel, and his response is that I shouldn't feel that way. My emotion is not logical to him. I cry and cry, and he has nothing to say to me. Is it reasonable to ask him to go at my pace for once? That doesn't even have to involve sex at this point, but just the freedom to make these men a bigger part of my life, so I can enjoy some relationships that are close, communicative, interactive, enriching.

He has said I should do what I want, but that he won't like it, and I should weigh the pleasure I would get (from a kiss or sex or whatever) against the pain it would cause him. It's not about the physical pleasure of the kiss for me though. It's the pain of denying myself the kind of deep relationships I sorely want, and have been trying in vain to have with him for such a long time.
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:27 AM
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"Going at the pace of the one who is struggling the most" is never meant to be a life time thing. Its meant to be at certain times throughout a relationship and implies that the person struggling is given the time they need to actually working on the issues that have come up and moving forward. Your husband is not doing that. At some point its time to push. He is in denial and you are helping him be there as far as I can see. Its not okay to do things his way, he is going to have to face up to his fear at some point because its never okay to jeopardize your mental health for another for a long period of time.

What is it that you are not getting from your other partners? Sex? If you are with them and not having sex is there no room for closeness within that? Are you sure its lack of sex that is creating this feeling inside of you of not being fulfilled? I'm not trying to suggest otherwise here, I am just trying to see what kind of dynamic you have created with them.

Its important to note I think the YOU have chosen this, not your husband. He has no clout when it comes to what you do and what you think of what you do. Its your choice to be where you are now and while you have been wonderful at considering his needs, you have considered them at your detriment. Saying to him that you love him and that you always will but you are an independent woman that makes her own choices is not grounds for him to tell you that you are not a good wife. Its might be his opinion, but you don't have to accept that. Nor should you I don't think. He has made his choice, its time to make yours.

If I were in your situation and felt as you do (this is hitting very close to home I might add), I think I would get about planning to become closer to the other men in your life and ask your husband what he will need to be able to walk through his fear and possible jealousy as a result. I think I would inform him that his negative talk about you will not be tolerated and that you will listen but carry on anyway regardless of his opinion. What he says is not what you believe and tell him why. I think I would be informing him of a good therapist to go to (poly friendly), of some good literature to read, or on-line sites and then let him know that you intend to take one step at a time that will eventually lead to sex with these men. All the while reminding him that you love him and all the while showing him that by spending time with him and being the fantastic mother and wife you have always been. Then I would take a baby step and see what happens.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:28 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Thanks Redpepper. I realize I am responsible for my choices, but I think I can't quite reconcile going after what I want when it means hurting someone I love. He wrote this to me today:

"The pattern has always been you make up your mind about what you want and you wiIl keep pushing till you get the concessions that you want. Nothing I do really is material. I see a very slippery slope and the progression (past present and future) is at least to me, very obvious."

It seems to me that he doesn't consider my desire for other relationships to be a valid one, so where I think I am being open about my needs and trying to find ways that work (for both of us) for me to get them met, he sees a pattern of manipulation where I keep railroading over his wishes. He doesn't have any intention of changing how he feels about polyamory, so my little baby steps are to him just going further and further beyond his comfort level, which is static.

I don't need sex with my other loves. I would enjoy having sex with someone who expressed such enthusiastic desire for me, and maybe matched my sexual temperament a little better, so it would be wonderful to add to my life, but I could conceivably be happy without. I do like to kiss and cuddle though. And what I most want is time to be with each of them. They both live out of town, and my husband is adamantly horrified at the thought of overnight visits -even without sex. The impropriety of it disgusts him. I almost think he'd rather I have discreet extramarital sex during the day than spend the night in separate bed in a house alone with a man. To me I feel as if he cares more about what other people think of us than how happy either of us feels.

We are planning a big talk tonight. I wish I could get him to read these things.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:32 AM
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I think "going at the pace of the one who is struggling the most" is a noble thing to do when a couple has first agreed to embark on a polyamorous arrangement, and it's meant to be a stage until the uncomfortable party is more comfortable.

HOWEVER, it is important to note that your husband has made it very clear he will never be comfortable with it. He is not willing to engage in a poly dynamic, does not want it, hates to discuss it, and has not agreed to it. So, I don't think "going at the pace ..." really applies here.

BUT I'm a bit confused. You're saying here that your husband is not willing to move forward; however, in your other thread, you said that he told you he just didn't want to know about it.

In that thread, you said that one day, after being very clear for several years that he would not stand for you to have sex with anyone else, he announced that you could go and have sex with the other men in your life. He told you that he would be hurt and unhappy about it and possibly leave you once the children are grown, but that he knows it is your choice, so he wants a DADT policy. Talking any further about it is very painful for him.

You then stated that if he was giving in out of resignation, instead of wanting you to be happy, you couldn't do it. You don't want to hurt him, but you feel like if it isn't all out in the open and with his blessing that it's not going to be satisfying to you in some way. I think you overlooked one very important thing: his request that you be discreet if you choose to develop more of a relationship with these men is his way of meeting you in the middle. This is the compromise he's proposed. He has given what he can live with, because he knows you want this. This is as generous as he can be on the matter. And it is generous!

He has arrived at an option that won't conflict with his beliefs and sense of security in the marriage. But you don't want to accept it. You want poly on your terms only, and are choosing to see him as not wanting to move forward. Can you see how that is a bit selfish on your part? Never mind if other polyfolk frown upon DADT policies. This is the best he can give you right now. I am certain he has gone very far beyond his comfort zone in offering that option to you.

This may seem like an unusual situation to most poly people, but remember, we're all about people discovering and creating the kind of relationships that work for them. So, in that spirit, my response might seem controversial, but if I were you, and I was as lonely and starved for connection and intimacy as you say you are, I'd accept his offer. And in return, with the utmost of gratitude, I would make sure he never knows a thing about it. I would do everything I could to preserve his "blind spot" toward your love life with other men. Realize that that is how you would be honoring his wishes. He doesn't want to know!!! You cannot change him into someone he is not - not overnight, anyway. He may come around years from now, but until then, this is what you've got to work with, honey.

So, the way I see it, his proposal to do what you want as long as he is never privy to it is his gift to you and, if I were you, I'd seriously consider accepting it. Why keep on torturing him by bringing it up and insisting he know and approve?!
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Last edited by nycindie; 11-08-2011 at 02:42 AM.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:46 AM
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The problem as I see it Nycindie, is that he will have to know because she wants to be able to visit these men out of town. Becauit will because they have kids and he has expectations of what a "good mother" does, I suspect that any arrangements that she makes to go visit her male friends will have to be run by him.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:54 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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It's sorely tempting, but he never really offered up DADT as a proposed solution. It was said more in exasperation, like "Fine, be that way!" and pretty much taken back when he calmed down. He tends to be a bit of a martyr at times -for example, fixing a meal for the kids and only eating the leftovers from their plates. If I went ahead with this, I think he would always have that over me -that I betrayed him for my own selfish desires, and he tolerated it out of his amazing sense of loyalty and commitment.

There has been no meeting in the middle. There is only his way (the right/normal/decent way) and my way (the selfish/immoral/homewrecking way) and my freedom to make the choice between them. He has never been willing to look beyond that point of view.

I'm trying to decide between marriage counselors I found on a poly-friendly list. I don't think he's ever heard it from anyone but me that it's possible for married people to love others besides their spouses.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:04 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter View Post
The problem as I see it Nycindie, is that he will have to know because she wants to be able to visit these men out of town. Becauit will because they have kids and he has expectations of what a "good mother" does, I suspect that any arrangements that she makes to go visit her male friends will have to be run by him.
The distance issue does more to inhibit the amount of time I get with them than the way we spend it. I drove 2 hrs each way to see one of them not long ago, with my husband's blessing, and that was the furthest I've pushed for that relationship. The other one lives 5 hrs away so I am totally dependent on his passing through town (which he did today, and we got a whopping hour to spend together). Either way, it always feel like the clock is ticking and goodbye comes too soon.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:12 AM
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Well, the other thing I was going to say is that you are so unhappy now. If you somehow are able to have more of a relationship with these guys, whether as a clandestine affair, or with your husband's knowledge, and he does leave you after the children are grown, would that really be worse than what you have now?

And really, I think if he did say you could go for it as long as he doesn't know, even if it was in a moment of anger, that was a compromise.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:27 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Well, the other thing I was going to say is that you are so unhappy now. If you somehow are able to have more of a relationship with these guys, whether as a clandestine affair, or with your husband's knowledge, and he does leave you after the children are grown, would that really be worse than what you have now?

And really, I think if he did say you could go for it as long as he doesn't know, even if it was in a moment of anger, that was a compromise.
I think I am fast approaching that point where it's worth risking the marriage. First I want to try marriage counseling and hopefully a little more mutual effort into fixing what is lacking between us. There is another complicating factor, which is that I have been ill for over 6 months now, much of it in bed, which has simultaneously reduced the amount of energy either of has to put into our relationship, and increased my need for emotional support. (I used to get a lot of satisfaction from 2-3 nights a week of dancing, and now I'm pretty much dependent on people visiting as my sole social life.) I don't want to make any drastic changes while I am still sick.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:32 AM
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I think you are right AC. You are fast approaching a point where you will likely just have to decide between poly and your husband. You can't change him and make him do something he doesn't want to do. You can't make him do the work, but you can decide what you will do and see what happens.

I suggest you get some things in order first; place to stay, some money, some written agreements if you can on details about the kids maybe... If it hits the fan and he kicks you out you will need these things to be in order... then see what happens if you tell him you are moving forward with your men and that you will be discreet but it has to be this way for you because you are miserable and can't live the way you are any more.
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dadt, mono vs. poly, mono/poly, monogamy, monogamy and polyamory, pace, pacing, reluctant spouse

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