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Old 01-02-2011, 01:43 PM
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erithacus erithacus is offline
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Hi everyone,

first of all: may 2011 bring you many happy memories and few sad ones.

I'd like to share my story with you. I'm currently in a situation where I feel like I'm slowly falling apart - and my relationship with it.

My wife and I have been together for almost three years and we have been married for almost a year now. About six months ago, she got reacquainted with an old friend of hers, J, whom she hadn't seen for a few years. My wife and J have always felt some connection and this was still very much alive. I like and respect J and we became friends quite quickly. Seeing how my wife responded to J, I encouraged them to spend some time together, as friends. So far, everyone was happy and benefiting from the new friendships. There were some negative feelings on my part, which are caused by my insecurity and triggered by J and my wife being very close physically, but this was not something I couldn't handle.

J, who is also married, and his wife, are both polyamorous. My wife and I, being new to the term, started reading up on it. At some point, J asked me if he could call my wife his "girlfriend". I agreed to this, being still in the friendship-mindset, but in retrospect I didn't really know what the implications were. After this, the situation progressed very quickly from a friendship into a (sexual) relationship.

That has been a rough ride. My insecurity started acting up. We established some boundaries (no intimacy you need condoms for). That made the situation tolerable for me. It was very clear I had to do some serious work on my insecurity issues. At the same time I had to accept the fact that my wife is polyamorous. That was not something we had talked about at all before this all started happening.

The thing I needed most was time. Time to work on myself, time to accept and digest all these events. However, my wife felt held back by this. She says she never wanted to push my boundaries (and I believe her) but it was clear she didn't like them. It came up in discussion frequently, often accompanied by the statement that they would like to go further, and if I had any idea when I would be able to set boundaries that were less strict. It was also very clear that they had a hard time not to cross them. After about two months, I decided to drop all boundaries because of this.

This resulted in spectacular drama. I really couldn't cope with the mental image of my wife having sex with another man. This wasn't improved by the fact that our sex life has been almost nonexistent last year. So, after two weeks without boundaries but with much drama, we set new ones. Temporarily (for two weeks). They would do nothing sexual at all.

That didn't work very well either. My wife felt like I was controlling her life, that I didn't allow her to be herself. She said she wanted to feel free to do what she wants. I could see that the feeling of being controlled hurt her very much and started bringing back memories of traumatic events of her past. This did her no good, so I capitulated. I offered her that again, there would be no boundaries, and I would just have to cope.

This is pretty much the status quo right now.

The big problem is that I have some unresolved childhood issues that manifest themselves very intensely at times. These issues revolve around insecurity and feeling abandoned. Right now, I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I think I would be able to work with this whole new thing of my wife being polyamorous, if only I didn't have these old issues cropping up and turning me in to an emotionally unstable mess. On the other hand, it's very hard to work on these issues, because they are triggered so very often and I don't feel that I have a secure and stable basis to work from. I've asked my wife to go slow with this, to give me time, but then she feels controlled and not herself, which causes _her_ to go off the deep end emotionally.

What my wife and I do have is really beautiful and when we're together (emotionally) we are both happy. We love each other dearly. But more and more I fear that the pain I feel is too intense and too frequent and that I cannot start helping myself without ending this marriage first.

Thank you for listening. I'd appreciate anything you might care to share.

robin
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:07 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Hey Robin,

I feel for you - truly. It seems you are really doing a stand-up job in working on this - and yourself. You lay right out there that you have some 'issues' of your own that need work - as most of us do. But it's hard not to get sucked into the "problem" and lose focus on that.

Keep the focus !

It's kind of like going for a drive way out in the country, blowing a tire, and having no spare. All the childhood fears of wolves and bears come roaring back. But focusing on the animals that are only in your imagination at this point and NOT focusing on what you are going to do to get out of the problem means you attract what you fear most - eventually.

Keep moving. Keep focused.
Fight predators WHEN they appear - not before. Chances are the most you will run into are squirrels.

GS
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:20 PM
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hello robin, welcome to the forum. There are many ways to do poly and it is really individual. For me however and what I suggest to others is that they go at the pace of the one struggling the most. I understand that your wife feels held back so working out the pace is your best bet. Maybe this means she only has a date with this man once a week and spends two dates with you. Maybe it means that the three of you spend time together so that you can get used to his presence in your life. I don't know what would work for you, but negotiating boundaries is huge in poly. That has been my experience anyway.

I suggest that you look at some threads in the sitckies on the foundations of poly, the lessons we have learned and get an idea of how to proceed. You can do a tag search for "foundations" and "lessons" to find some good stuff. There really no need for all or nothing. A balance can be created so that you can catch up and she can feel she has some control. It seems in poly and relationships in general, that they don't survive if one person dictates what happens.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erithacus View Post
But more and more I fear that the pain I feel is too intense and too frequent and that I cannot start helping myself without ending this marriage first.

Thank you for listening. I'd appreciate anything you might care to share.

robin
Perhaps this is the course you should take. The saying is, if you love something set it free. If it comes back to you...you know the rest. Maybe you need to set yourself free and see what happens. Will you come back to her? You're not going to have a conventional relationship so why hold on to that aspect if it makes you unhealthy.

Just a quick thought
Take care
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:58 PM
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Things I have learned about being poly are: your marriage needs to be solid. You need to have a good understanding of yourself as well, and a strong ego.

Since you feel so very insecure and have abandonment issues, poly is not going to work for you if you don't feel secure in your wife's love and presence remaining constant.

Since you 2 stopped having sex only 2 years into your relationship, I'd hazard a guess your marriage isn't all that solid... what's getting in the way of your having a frequent, healthy, experimental sex life?
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:16 PM
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erithacus erithacus is offline
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Thank you all for reading and responding.

Our sex life has slowly diminished by my wife having severe back trouble for several months, which turned out to be a hernia. More or less at the same time she was working through some very emotional issues dealing with sexual abuse in her childhood. There was nothing wrong between us, at least not that I have been aware of. But now I feel left out, because I have given her all the time she needed to deal with her issues, and now she started having a sex life with someone which is not me. That hurts. And it doesn't make me a more secure or attractive person, I can see that.

RP, that's good advice, yes (but exactly the thing that hasn't happened). My wife has always argued vehemently against having multiple relationships, casual sex with others, or anything else outside the realm of monogamy. Now we have gone from a monogamous marriage to a full V, where she sort of demands the right to be with her boyfriend twice a week, sleep over and have sex. This all in about four months.

I know I am partly responsible for this. In the beginning, I have encouraged her to develop a friendship with her now-bf. But things progressed. She has repeatedly said she needed to be closer with him, or else she would feel controlled by me. I have, several times, said things were okay, and we would move the boundaries a great deal. She now accuses me of coming back on my word (which I do, that's true.) However, I have also have said on many occasions that things were going too fast, that I didn't feel happy or comfortable, that I needed more time. And these things haven't been heard or at least they haven't been acted upon. Not to mention the emotional upheaval, bouts of crying, arguments, which I suspect have only driven her towards her boyfriend more. Once, after a particular emotional crisis, I tried setting a strict boundary (no sexual intimacy for two weeks) but that turned out to be not acceptable nor possible for her, because she felt I was controlling her life. So I (again) didn't stand up for myself, capitulated fully, and said she could do whatever she wanted and that I would just have to cope. That was the only boundary (e.g. no boundary) she accepted at that time. I have much to learn in that respect.

So, in the end, I really feel all her attention has been focused on her relationship with her bf. And that is also the predator I have some deeply rooted issues with. Not a good combo. It still happens that almost every discussion we have revolves around her being able to see her bf. Even our therapist has seen that. It's not: 'How much time do we need to address the issues we have in our marriage', no, it is 'how much time do you need before I can have my relationship with J the way I want it'.

Maybe this is the way NRE affects her, maybe she is being selfish, maybe I am not as big a person as I would like to be. I don't know, it's all very complicated..
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:43 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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....................
So, in the end, I really feel all her attention has been focused on her relationship with her bf. And that is also the predator I have some deeply rooted issues with. Not a good combo. It still happens that almost every discussion we have revolves around her being able to see her bf. Even our therapist has seen that. It's not: 'How much time do we need to address the issues we have in our marriage', no, it is 'how much time do you need before I can have my relationship with J the way I want it'.

Maybe this is the way NRE affects her, maybe she is being selfish, maybe I am not as big a person as I would like to be. I don't know, it's all very complicated..
I think you need to just be honest - if possible in a non-confrontational way.
I think she is acting selfishly, but may not be aware of the extent of it.
So ask ........"what about US ??" "Where do 'we' and 'I' in general fit into this. " "I want you to be happy and help you get what you need (if possible) but what about ME" ? "This can't be all one sided."

It's a legitimate question.

How much is NRE, how much is about this new found confidence she may be feeling, you never know. But it's only fair to remind her - and everyone - that it's cruel to just go wild and not realize or acknowledge the effects your actions can have. That's NOT building a better model !

Try to remind her to take time - and a deep breath - and look at the big picture. If she refuses, or is incapable, well.............that's important information in itself. Then draw your own conclusions and act accordingly.

Please keep us posted.

GS
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:07 PM
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erithacus erithacus is offline
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Hi GS,

currently I have sort of hijacked the situation by stating that if she does not put her relationship with J on hold, I want us to live in separate places for a while. She has agreed to not seeing him for three weeks. That gives us some time to figure things out.

We're now trying to get clear what our needs and wants are. I think it'll be very useful to compare those and see whether or not they are compatible. For both of us it's hard to figure out what we actually need and want, and to specify that clearly. I mean, she has already told me that she wants to have sex with J and that it might become a need eventually, but if "eventually" turns out to mean "in two weeks" I think we're through quite quickly.

Thanks for reading. Sharing helps, even though it's probably a very mixed up story on the receiving end

robin
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:05 PM
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.......
That didn't work very well either. My wife felt like I was controlling her life, that I didn't allow her to be herself. She said she wanted to feel free to do what she wants. I could see that the feeling of being controlled hurt her very much and started bringing back memories of traumatic events of her past. This did her no good, so I capitulated.......

The big problem is that I have some unresolved childhood issues that manifest themselves very intensely at times. These issues revolve around insecurity and feeling abandoned. Right now, I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I think I would be able to work with this whole new thing of my wife being polyamorous, if only I didn't have these old issues cropping up and turning me in to an emotionally unstable mess. On the other hand, it's very hard to work on these issues, because they are triggered so very often and I don't feel that I have a secure and stable basis to work from. I've asked my wife to go slow with this, to give me time, but then she feels controlled and not herself, which causes _her_ to go off the deep end emotionally......
robin
I think you BOTH have some more healing work to do before you become involved in a healthy polyamorous relationship(s)! I've worked with many sexual abuse survivors who feel like any boundaries or limits set are "controlling" after so many years of them feeling powerless over what happens in their lives. It's almost at the exact opposite end of the continuum of "Power/Control-Personal Empowerment-Powerlessness". It's still a "re-active" response to life. The same is true for many individuals healing from abandonment issues.

Both sexual abuse issues and issues of abandonment tend to fall in the psychological realm of the development of "Autonomy and Intimacy". Health and healing is a balance of being comfortable with Autonomy (feeling capable, confident and secure with one's "Self") and Intimacy (feeling capable, confident and secure in connecting with an "Other(s)"). You might want to ask your therapist about some of this if it hasn't already been discussed. I wish you both well in what can be a challenging healing journey.

Last edited by dragonflysky; 01-08-2011 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:57 PM
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To me when someone doesn't respect the needs of a partner, have integrity and compassion or isn't communicating effectively, then it is essentially cheating with everyone knowing.

There are foundations to build on in poly that really do work. Check out the thread on poly foundations and lessons learned (in the stickies)... many people have put input there and none of it has been that a person has the right and had super success in just doing whatever they want at the expense of another. There are some people who practice poly who do whatever and tell partners that they just have to deal with the ramification of their actions because they are free and have the right to do as they will... that is fine, but when a relationship starts out monogamously and turns into poly I have not known this to work with high success rates.

The two of you made a mono commitment to each other. You are still in that and transitioning out of it... it should go at your pace and if she is wise and still wants you as a partner, she will do so and be happy to give you the time, space and conversations that you need.... this leads me to wonder if she really does want to be in a relationship with you. What are your goals, are they common to each other, do you value the same thing, are you willing to build a foundation with each other or does she want to be a single poly person from now on...? you have lots to talk about in three weeks. I hope she uses the time and doesn't spend it pining for the bf she is not hanging out with... that could be a real possibility in terms of what happens in the next three weeks..
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