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Old 11-05-2011, 06:28 AM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum and new to poly. I'm not sure anyone can give me much advice, I'm just trying to get my thoughts down so I can work through things.

Long background story short: My wife and I met at 16, married at 20, have been married for 21 years. Grew up fundamentalist Christians and continued full-on with that until about 6 years ago, now non-religious. Started swinging off and on about 4 years ago, always ensuring we had no emotional attachment.

So, seven months ago, we met a couple (married over 15 years) who were fairly new to swinging. Immediately, the chemistry between everyone was explosive. After a couple of months of seeing them very regularly, both sexually and in vanilla settings, we all realized and admitted it was more than just sexual--the connections were also intellectual and emotional. The other wife and I, and the other husband and my wife fell in love with each other, and everyone knew it and embraced it. Recently, my girlfriend decided she didn't like where things were going--namely, the other three of us were moving toward wanting less of a distinction between primary/secondary and more of treating each relationship on a more equal basis. She admittedly has jealousy and insecurity issues, which I tried working through with her, but she was never interested in actually doing so. She just couldn't handle the thought that her husband wanted to go there, and she felt like she was losing him.

Here is my problem, other than the fact that I am dealing with a broken heart of my own as well as my wife's. What we found in the other person was something we didn't get from each other--that's kind of the way it works, and what poly is about, right? The main problem is that through this process, my wife and I have come to realize that we never really have been very compatible. When we met, we were young, and our relationship was born out of a place where we were both unhealthy. Growing up with a religious background, once you're married, you're married, period. So we've spent virtually our entire lives shoring up something that really has been forced for the sake of marriage being "until death do us part". We do love each other, and in some ways, we are really good partners. We would both say that we love each other, but we are not IN love with each other, if that makes sense. The connections we had with our secondaries was so different than what we've experienced with each other, even way back in the beginning. We know that part of it is that the experience was new, fresh and exciting. But a huge part of it is that our secondaries truly just "got" us. A glance or a word could say what it takes sentences or paragraphs to say between the primary relationships. And they saw deep into our souls and could feel who we fundamentally are as people, and vice versa.

Our eyes have been opened to something we've not thought possible. We both know that we can never be to each other what the secondaries were, no matter how hard we try. Even if we did try, we would have to lose some of ourselves in order to be something we aren't. So we're not sure where we are headed. We're trying to figure out if what we have is enough to keep us going. If not, we are both of the opinion that life is too short to be with someone who doesn't fill a certain amount of fundamental desires. And our desires have changed based on what our eyes have been opened to. Regardless of what happens, we know we will always be connected, be friends and love each other. We're just kind of lost right now as to where to go. Again, I don't know if anyone can provide much help, as it's really something we have to work out, something we're both comfortable with. It helps to get it down into semi-cogent thoughts. Any input or perspective is very much appreciate.
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Old 11-05-2011, 12:13 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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Hey, UP. I'm sorry to hear that your quad hit the rocks. :/ That sort of arrangement can be very hard to sustain, since there are so many complex relationships involved. Still, maybe after a little space and time to think things over, one or more of the cross-marriage pairs could hook back up in the secondary roles again, if that's what the other woman needs to feel safe in her marriage. A secondary type relationship can be perfectly satisfying, there's no reason that being in love means you have to be life partners to find your connection fulfilling and enriching.

As for your marriage, well, I certainly can't say what's best. Still, I see no reason you two should have to split per se. If you both are comfortable with a more companionate versus passionate relationship, why not continue the partnership while dating others? On the other hand, there may be no reason *not* to amicably dissolve the marriage.

Good luck either way!
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:22 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
As for your marriage, well, I certainly can't say what's best. Still, I see no reason you two should have to split per se. If you both are comfortable with a more companionate versus passionate relationship, why not continue the partnership while dating others? On the other hand, there may be no reason *not* to amicably dissolve the marriage.
I'm new to poly myself, but one of the things I find most appealing about it is that it encourages (or requires) me to take each relationship on its own terms, to see it clearly for what it is and not to expect (or demand) more.

In this light, if I put myself in your situation, the person to whom I am married does not have to be all things to me. There's a lot to be said for a practical partnership based on long years of shared experience and shared struggle, even if other things seem to be lacking.

It's even possible that, once you set aside the impossible demands of conventional monogamy, you and your wife be able to strengthen the friendship and affection between you, that you'll be able to work through the differences between you by facing them more honestly, without that tug of inner panic that you're departing from "the program", that is, from conventional expectations.

(In my case, my wife and I are really, scarily compatible. Even so, our recent choice to become poly has transformed and intensified our relationship. Years of resentment and worry fell away at once, and we were able to talk to each other more openly and honestly than ever before. Our friendship, our partnership, is more solid as a result.)

I'm not saying this will happen in your case. I just thought it might help you to know that it can happen.
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:53 PM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
Hey, UP. I'm sorry to hear that your quad hit the rocks. :/ That sort of arrangement can be very hard to sustain, since there are so many complex relationships involved. Still, maybe after a little space and time to think things over, one or more of the cross-marriage pairs could hook back up in the secondary roles again, if that's what the other woman needs to feel safe in her marriage. A secondary type relationship can be perfectly satisfying, there's no reason that being in love means you have to be life partners to find your connection fulfilling and enriching.

As for your marriage, well, I certainly can't say what's best. Still, I see no reason you two should have to split per se. If you both are comfortable with a more companionate versus passionate relationship, why not continue the partnership while dating others? On the other hand, there may be no reason *not* to amicably dissolve the marriage.

Good luck either way!
Thanks for the words AnnabelMore. The way I originally worded it probably gave an inaccurate picture. None of us were necessarily looking to move things to life partner status--it was more subtle things like just going out on separate dates every once in a while, etc. At one point near the end, my girlfriend told me she wasn't even sure she's made for non-monogamy. And I understand very few people are. I told her we need to explore if that is indeed the case, and if it is, why it is and whether it needs to remain that way. In the end, she wasn't willing to delve into it. Jealousy and insecurity are strange beasts in that they're self-perpetuating.

And you make some very good points about our marriage. This is exactly what we're trying to figure out. It's all a very new, very weird landscape for us and we're trying to find our bearings.
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Old 11-05-2011, 04:06 PM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
I'm new to poly myself, but one of the things I find most appealing about it is that it encourages (or requires) me to take each relationship on its own terms, to see it clearly for what it is and not to expect (or demand) more.

In this light, if I put myself in your situation, the person to whom I am married does not have to be all things to me. There's a lot to be said for a practical partnership based on long years of shared experience and shared struggle, even if other things seem to be lacking.

It's even possible that, once you set aside the impossible demands of conventional monogamy, you and your wife be able to strengthen the friendship and affection between you, that you'll be able to work through the differences between you by facing them more honestly, without that tug of inner panic that you're departing from "the program", that is, from conventional expectations.

(In my case, my wife and I are really, scarily compatible. Even so, our recent choice to become poly has transformed and intensified our relationship. Years of resentment and worry fell away at once, and we were able to talk to each other more openly and honestly than ever before. Our friendship, our partnership, is more solid as a result.)

I'm not saying this will happen in your case. I just thought it might help you to know that it can happen.
Great perspective hyperskeptic, thank you. The main reason we're not sure where things will end up is because we're both being honest about where we are, what we have and don't have, and what we want and don't want, without demanding the other person be all of that. The realization of how things really are, after 25 years of being together, is what has us sideways. The really nice part about all of this is that we are both 100% open with our feelings--we can be brutally honest, yet it doesn't feel brutal to the other person.

And I couldn't agree more with the fact that there is a lot to be said for a practical partnership, because as I said initially, in some ways we are very good partners and we do love each other. Even though we both do understand and willingly accept that one person can't be everything to another person, it's hard to get past the idea that a marriage should be more than a mere practical partnership. If the marriage stays intact, it may end up being that from a practical standpoint the marriage would be primary but it would be secondary from an emotional standpoint. We're not sure if we're up for that. But we're not sure we aren't either. This is where time, examination and communication come into play. Thanks again for your input.
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