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Old 04-17-2012, 04:37 AM
carguy carguy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 5
Default Recently opened up to my wife

I've been lurking for a while, but I've felt poly for a long time. I finally built up the courage to open up to my wife (been married 10 years, together for 12 years), and the discussion was a complete disaster. I am in love with my wife and we've had a good marriage to date. I respect her enough not to cheat on her. I told her how I felt, and she got really angry. She thinks being poly is just an excuse for cheating, and she told me I "need to get over it". She thinks it's just a choice, but I told her it doesn't feel like a choice to me. It doesn't seem like something I can just turn off like a light switch. She wanted to know why she wasn't enough for me. She wanted to know what she had done to make me feel this way. I tried to explain that it didn't have anything to do with her, but she didn't understand that. She felt really threatened by the whole discussion, and she refused to even consider learning about why I feel this way. I'm not trying to convert her to being poly, but she's not even making an attempt to understand how I feel (to her I should just be able to turn off feeling like this). She said if I brought it up again, she would take the kids and leave me. So I'm a mixture of sad (I thought we had good communication), frustrated, and angry. I didn't really want to be backed into the "be mono with me or get a divorce" corner, especially only 2 minutes into the conversation.

So that's where I am at this point. There are a lot of threads on here where one spouse opens up to another, and there's support from the other spouse. This is not one of those situations.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:42 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 712

welcome, carguy.

I'm guessing this is recent? There also many threads on here where the conversation goes pretty much like yours.

I would say hang on, give it time. It may percolate in her head a bit and she may ask questions. Stay loving, let her know you're not planning on going against her (if, in fact, you're not).
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own...
Robert A. Heinlein

Me: female, bi, (formerly hinge of a vee)
with FirstBoyFriend (FBF)(moderately long-distance)
and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who now lives in a house far away-with stairs I can't climb)
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:44 AM
carguy carguy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 5

Originally Posted by NovemberRain View Post
welcome, carguy.

I'm guessing this is recent? There also many threads on here where the conversation goes pretty much like yours.

I would say hang on, give it time. It may percolate in her head a bit and she may ask questions. Stay loving, let her know you're not planning on going against her (if, in fact, you're not).
Yes, this is recent, and I won't cheat on her.
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:07 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
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Consider the fact that you just dropped a bomb in her lap. She did not sign on for this when she married you. You have now challenged her perceptions about her relationship with you and her definitions of love and commitment.

Be patient.

There are many people here who have been met with a similar wall to the one she has erected. Some couples take a year, or several years, to talk and work things through before any progress is made - whether that progress is acceptance or splitting up. It might be hard not to snap at her, but...

you have very likely broken her heart with this news, so proceed gently and with compassion, and try not to let yourself give in to impatience and frustration.
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia

Click here for a Solo Poly view on hierarchical relationships
Click here to find out why the Polyamorous Misanthrope is feeling disgusted.
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:41 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,467

Yes, the reaction that you got is typical. This wasn't what she signed up for, and it wasn't what you and she promised each other when you got married, so she is understandably very surprised, upset and shocked.

When you are in a so-called mono/poly situation like this it takes a TON of time, some very raw emotions and a lot of work on both sides to really make it work.

One of the major breakthroughs that we made (I am with a mono partner) was to recognise that we really just don't understand how the other person thinks about love and relationships. Not only that, but we probably never will understand it at the gut level.

Let me give you an example, if I may: I used to have an OSO who lived 4 hours drive away from me. I used to drive there once a month for the weekend. It was a fairly boring drive, so I would often use it to chat with both my S.O. (the mono person) and my O.S.O. - I made the comment to my S.O. that I missed her already, at which point she got very angry at me. When I asked her why, she said that I was obviously lying because if I really missed her, then I wouldn't go away for the weekend. I had no answer, because to me my statement was totally consistent with my actions.

Afterwards, I told her that - I told her that ideally I wouldn't have to spend this large chunk of time away from her in order to be with my OSO, but that was reality. She said that on a brain level she sort of understood it, but in her heart it just felt very, very wrong.

So the breakthrough was that we realised that we have to trust each other, and start to take a few things about how we each think on faith. That is very hard to do, and it still trips us up once in a while.

Sometimes a relationship needs to hit a crisis for it to change, for it to be shaken out of the rut it was in. Don't push hard, and don't do ANYTHING stupid, because while that might feel good at the time, it makes the process longer and even more painful for everyone (and I speak from DIRECT experience there!). Your statements to that effect are very encouraging.

So be gentle, be patient, but don't "give in" if this is important to your growth as a person. Learn as much as you can, try to work out which poly configuration is a "bottom line" for you, which are "nice-to-haves" and which you don't want. Be ready with those answers if and when she asks, and for goodness' sake, be consistent. Nothing will destroy any trust built up if you are perceived to keep changing your mind about what you want (and I speak from DIRECT experience there! ).

If loving more than one is a must-have for you, and if she is not willing to accept it, then this may mean the end of your marriage, but it may also be the start of some growth of your relationship beyond where either of you ever imagined.

You have a hard road ahead of you and I wish you safe travels.

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:14 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Yelm, Washington
Posts: 13,493

Hi carguy,
Welcome to our forum.

CielDuMatin made some excellent points ... well everyone so far did, but he's kind of been where you are, and had a lot of good stuff to tell you about it.

I think right now your only viable move is to say nothing more to your wife about polyamory, not for a long time, perhaps a year? After that, if she hasn't brought it up yet, you have a choice to make:
  1. Bring it up again, and risk losing (the kids and) your marriage ...
  2. Wait longer and longer, continually hoping that she'll bring it up ... or
  3. Remain silent about it indefinitely, resigning yourself to live monogamously (even though you're inherently polyamorous).
What you have to do here is weigh the importance of your marriage against the importance of polyamory. Is bringing it up again, ever, worth risking your marriage? She did threaten to end it all if you brought it up again. She might not make good on that threat, but who knows?

You have to have some sympathy for her, as, like CielDuMatin said, this isn't what she signed up for. She probably never heard of polyamory before, and she probably never thought about it. So you sprang something on her that seemed very new to her, even if it didn't seem new to you. Having sympathy for her position is probably going to be vital to any chance you might have of her changing her mind about it.

In case she brings it up again (or if you bring it up eventually), you can direct her to Franklin Veaux's website ... or you can direct her to this site ... or both. In the meantime, there's no harm in you learning whatever you can about polyamory. Just realize that you learning about it isn't going to lead to your wife becoming more open-minded about it. She has to make that choice on her own. And if she does (ever) make that choice, it probably won't be soon. She needs a lot of time.

"I finally built up the courage to open up to my wife, and the discussion was a complete disaster."
Well don't think of it as a complete disaster. She didn't divorce you right on the spot. True, the discussion didn't go at all like you'd hoped it would, but you have to count your blessings in a tough situation like this. Like nycindie said, the news probably broke your wife's heart. And yet she still wants to try to stay with you.

I hope you'll take some consolation in the friends you meet on Polyamory.com. We'll do whatever we can to help.

With regards,
Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:42 AM
Bach Bach is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 12

I'm sorry for your situation. I have been in something similar for the last few weeks.

I will tell you that my wife looked at the posts and forums and found them even more overwhelming. Since they run the full spectrum of poly experiences she had no idea what it was I was looking for. Some posts saying that Poly / Mono could never work, or that it was likely I would fall in love and make her secondary or leave her really made things worse.

You've gotten wonderful advice above from people much farther into this than you or I that I wish I had seen. To make sure you understand and can eventually explain what it is you need and want.

I have been across the board, trying to explain things and it caused more harm. I was so excited about finally accepting being Poly I didn't think about what it really would mean for her.

Good luck to you and yours.
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:08 PM
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nouryia nouryia is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 206
Default Give her time..

Your wife likely reacted poorly out of fear and hurt. All she likely got out of your conversation was that she's not good enough for you anymore. Be compassionate and patient with her. As you said, you've felt poly for a LONG time and you've been thinking and contemplating this a while...but she has not. Took my husband and I a while to wrap our heads around trying this and even longer to make it work semi smoothly.

Reassure her you love her and wait a while before bringing it up again. She needs time to process this. Directing her to poly websites and this board where she can look for information on the topic is a good idea and might help open up communication. She might come around, she might not... I wish you luck Carguy.
I tried being reasonable. I didn't like it. ~Clint Eastwood~
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:24 AM
carguy carguy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 5

Thanks, everyone, for your advice and support. I will be patient.

Bach, I read your intro, and it looks like our situations are very similar. I wish you luck!
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:27 AM
carguy carguy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 5

Back when I came out to my wife, I told her I might go to a therapist to help sort out how to deal with feeling poly, but being married to a mono person who wanted a mono spouse. So I did start going to a therapist, which I guess gave me enough credibility in my wife's eyes that I wanted to make our current marriage work.

So we had our first somewhat civil conversation about how I feel (far less raw emotion talking and more thought put into what was said). She still doesn't understand why I feel like I do, but she's trying to understand how I feel. Which is a far better improvement over last time.

Baby steps...
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