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  #61  
Old 05-23-2011, 05:52 AM
mcross80 mcross80 is offline
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Default Don't Give Up!

MT, I just read through your story looking for encouragement in my own journey which, strange as it may seem, feels very similar. I have felt like “I’ve just gone and ruined my marriage to a wonderful woman” and I am acquainted with this pain when you say, “It feels like we are drifting back into our pre-first-discussion behavior patterns, and I really don't want that to happen. Not only due to where I'd like our relationship to go, but also because I hated where it was.”

Since I dropped the polybomb on my wife at the beginning of this year, I have many times felt that things would end or I would end them. These times were followed by some deep soul searching and trying to make sense of things.

Here are some thoughts I’ve considered:
If you were born in the U.S. in the past 50 years (I was born in San Antonio, TX by the way ), odds are, your parents were in a monogamous relationship. Your friends, family and just about anyone you knew all had a steady cultural diet of monogamy. Alternative relationships did exist but this was not the norm. Anything not monogamy was marginalized and denigrated. From day one, we have been conditioned to believe that one man and one woman will live happily ever after. Of course this is not reality but as you may know, perception is reality (I say this sardonically) and people have a tendency to consciously or unconsciously subscribe to this reality.

Your desire for non-monogamy didn’t happen overnight. Your willingness to cast off the many years of adherence to apparent social norms was not unmotivated either. You have been a most active participant in your transformation.

For your spouse, this is most decidedly not the case. Overnight (a month ago), her world has been turned upside down. She is not motivated to consider a change to her world and I cannot imagine a reality in which she would (not this soon anyway).

As surely as I am troubled by my spouse’s reservations at my desire for a non-monogamous relationship, she must surely be as troubled at my desires for a non-monogamous relationship. It’s not easy to hear her say, “I don’t want non-monogamy.” It’s not easy for her to hear me say, “I want an additional long-term relationship.” Our acculturation has pitted us against each other.

We have both made it a goal of this exploration to grow stronger together. Her objections to my desires are then not a lack of commitment on her part but rather an expression of internal fear and pain. Understanding this has helped to move the conversation from “non-monogamy vs monogamy” (fight!) to the more palpable, “let’s learn to honestly talk with each other.”

You cannot turn off the way you are. You cannot change what you are. Those things are a given. However, you don’t have to give up yourself to strongly consider the 20 years of relationship you’ve built with the most wonderful person in the world (your spouse). She is worth your effort and your consideration. She is worth the fight; the fight to find common ground, the fight to grow in this together and the fight to demonstrate to her that you love her no matter what.
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  #62  
Old 05-23-2011, 06:07 AM
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All is not lost.

MT, this is still new and recent for her. Things won't change overnight. You are still going to therapy, correct? Use that time to express your frustration, see if the therapist can assist in explaining your views. Patience, patience.
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  #63  
Old 05-23-2011, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcross80 View Post
As surely as I am troubled by my spouse’s reservations at my desire for a non-monogamous relationship, she must surely be as troubled at my desires for a non-monogamous relationship. It’s not easy to hear her say, “I don’t want non-monogamy.” It’s not easy for her to hear me say, “I want an additional long-term relationship.” Our acculturation has pitted us against each other.

We have both made it a goal of this exploration to grow stronger together. Her objections to my desires are then not a lack of commitment on her part but rather an expression of internal fear and pain. Understanding this has helped to move the conversation from “non-monogamy vs monogamy” (fight!) to the more palpable, “let’s learn to honestly talk with each other.”

You cannot turn off the way you are. You cannot change what you are. Those things are a given. However, you don’t have to give up yourself to strongly consider the 20 years of relationship you’ve built with the most wonderful person in the world (your spouse). She is worth your effort and your consideration. She is worth the fight; the fight to find common ground, the fight to grow in this together and the fight to demonstrate to her that you love her no matter what.
Where I am lost is how to get from here to the next step? Everyone offers a lot of vague encouragement, but they're very short on specific "here is what we did."

My wife is not, I think, in a place to examine anything below "That's not what marriage IS!" Until we can get past that, there will be no movement.

nycindie, we need to get back and see the counselor, but she's not very warm on the idea. She wants me to talk with my parents (who themselves got divorced when I was quite young) instead. I think that would be a horrible idea, personally. All I'm going to get back is the very acculturation that mcross described.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:10 PM
ViableAlternative ViableAlternative is offline
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I keep seeing posts telling you that your wife might still change her mind, come around to your way of thinking....

I don't mean to rain on the parade, but you also need to recognize that your wife has EVERY RIGHT to want to have a monogamous relationship. When you were younger, when you married her, that's what you told her she was getting. That's what she wanted, and what she agreed to. That you were (in short) young and stupid is irrelevant. You have NO RIGHT to blame her, or villainize her, or think her inflexible and selfish for continuing to want and expect what she was promised.

Your wife's requirement that she have a monogamous relationship is PERFECTLY REASONABLE. You don't get to dictate that for her.

ON THE OTHER HAND! Your desire to pursue polyamory is also PERFECTLY REASONABLE. Your wife doesn't get to dictate that for you, either.

Your wife's requirement that you either be monogamous with her or cease to be in a relationship with her is totally rational and reasonable. It is 100% okay and right for her to choose for herself what kind of relationship model she wishes to have.

Your need for polyamory is equally okay. But what I find distressing is all of the discussion and your seeming requirement for her to change her position. She doesn't have to change, and you really need to accept that. She isn't forcing you into monogamy - she's telling you you can have a polyamorous relationship that doesn't involve her. From your posts, it seems and feels like you expect or require her to be in a polyamorous relationship. You really, really need to recognize that it is NOT your right to dictate HER relationship structure. Maybe you do and I'm just mis-interpretting; if so, I'm sorry. But it's still relevant and bears remembering and reminding yourself.

From her point of view, you made a commitment to her years ago, and it was a lie. Set aside the fact that you were lying to yourself too; that is not her fault and not her burden to bear. If I read things right, she moved across the country to be with you, and left behind friends and family and all she knew. Is that right? If so, then you also can't point and lay blame for her desire to move back, with the kid, if you opt to start a new life without her (as she has said, poyamory = without her). How can you expect her to remain friendless and without the support of her family if you guys divorce? If her reason for being there (to be with her husband) dissolves, do you expect her to remain in what she perceives as a loveless and toxic atmosphere with no one to help her? If that's where the "threat" to move the kid came from, then I think you need to seriously analyze your way of thinking and try to think outside of your own self a little bit more.

Gosh, re-reading that, it's all very harsh, and I AM very sorry for that, really. I know you're going through a very, very difficult time right now. The last thing you want is to get slapped in the face with words from a stranger on the internet. But I don't know how to sugarcoat any of it, and I really feel like it needed saying.

If it means anything, I do think you've done the right thing in discussing the truth with your wife. Ending the lie, to yourself AND to her, is the only way to rebuild ANYTHING - your love for yourself, for her, for the family you've built, for the life you want to have - this was undoubtedly the right move. Where you go from here is a damnably hard decision. If you choose to stay with your wife and remain monogamous, now you can rebuild a REAL relationship based on honesty and openness and trust, instead of self-shame and hiding and keep-it-to-yourself sorts of secrets. Or if you choose to pursue polyamorous relationships, you can do that with openness and honesty and trust. Just not with your wife involved, as she has said.

Bear in mind that nothing in life is certain. If you stay with your wife, maybe you can have friends that you admire and love as friends. Maybe one day your wife will be okay with polyamory. Maybe she'll never, ever be okay with it. Maybe you'll leave and try polyamory and find new loves, new passions, new desires. Or maybe you'll not find anyone who suits you who is also polyamorous - the dating scene is hard enough for monogamous single men; it must be even worse if you shrink the available pool of women to polyamorous only. There's a lot to think about, and you're not guaranteed anything no matter what you choose.... Such is life, I'm afraid.

Last edited by ViableAlternative; 05-23-2011 at 08:20 PM.
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  #65  
Old 05-23-2011, 08:17 PM
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Your parents!! No, no, no, why get your parents involved? I would think she'd be more amenable to a professional. I think that, at some point, you will have to stand firm and say, "We have to talk about this in counseling. I will not involve my parents."

I hope there are more members here who have been in a similar place who will share with you how they went forward!

Just as much as she is adamant about what marriage is supposed to be, you are as adamant about what it can be. You already understand her side, because it's been taught to you all your life. But she is not making any effort to understand your side. I don't know how you can convince her to open her mind, but I think you might want to say that the therapy would be useful for more than just this issue - because obviously there were things you've wanted to share/talk about with her for a long time and couldn't. So, she should want to see if there are other deeper issues that need to be addressed. I don't know, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for you both.
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  #66  
Old 05-23-2011, 08:36 PM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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There's may be some good in what you say below, but there are also a number of erroneous assumptions, starting with the biggest one first:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViableAlternative View Post
From your posts, it seems and feels like you expect or require her to be in a polyamorous relationship.
I never wrote that and I never assumed it. I greatly desire it as an alternative to ending our marriage. I hope that it can come to pass--parting is extremely painful (and, I believe, unnecessary and wasteful).

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Originally Posted by ViableAlternative View Post
From her point of view, you made a commitment to her years ago, and it was a lie. *Set aside the fact that you were lying to yourself too; that is not her fault and not her burden to bear. *If I read things right, she moved across the country to be with you, and left behind friends and family and all she knew. *Is that right? *If so, then you also can't point and lay blame for her desire to move back, with the kid, if you opt to start a new life without her (as she has said, poyamory = without her).
I'm with you up until that last sentence. YES, I ABSOLUTELY WOULD LAY BLAME FOR TAKING MY CHILD AWAY. That would not only be horrible for me, but it would be devastating for him. It is mostly for him that I am unwilling to chuck it all without trying damned hard to make it all work out for all of us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViableAlternative View Post
*How can you expect her to remain friendless and without the support of her family if you guys divorce? *If her reason for being there (to be with her husband) dissolves, do you expect her to remain in what she perceives as a loveless and toxic atmosphere with no one to help her? *If that's where the "threat" to move the kid came from, then I think you need to seriously analyze your way of thinking and try to think outside of your own self a little bit more.
I think you need to stop making shit up and ascribing it to me. I do not expect her to remain friendless. If she wants to end our marriage (I certainly don't), then what I expect is for both of us to choose what's best for our son. That most emphatically does NOT mean moving him to the other side of the country from his father.

And, before you start making more shit up, this is not a one-way expectation on my part: why the hell do you think I've not said "fuck it" on my part, taken off my ring, and started living life as I wish it?

Deep breath, let's practice NVC: I get VERY PISSED OFF when people go off half-assed, put words in my mouth, and then proceed to argue against them.

OK, not so good on the NV part, but you get the idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViableAlternative View Post
Gosh, re-reading that, it's all very harsh, and I AM very sorry for that, really. *I know you're going through a very, very difficult time right now. *The last thing you want is to get slapped in the face with words from a stranger on the internet. *But I don't know how to sugarcoat any of it, and I really feel like it needed saying.
How very special for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViableAlternative View Post
If it means anything, I do think you've done the right thing in discussing the truth with your wife. *Ending the lie, to yourself AND to her, is the only way to rebuild ANYTHING - your love for yourself, for her, for the family you've built, for the life you want to have - this was undoubtedly the right move. *Where you go from here is a damnably hard decision. *If you choose to stay with your wife and remain monogamous, now you can rebuild a REAL relationship based on honesty and openness and trust, instead of self-shame and hiding and keep-it-to-yourself sorts of secrets.
That sounds like all roses and unicorns, but honestly, just how would that would be possible? I'm sick to death of platitudes and vague advice.

"Oh, now you can be honest with each other." FUCK NO, I CAN'T! The response I got from this most recent discussion was, "Well, maybe we should just throw in the towel." SHE DOESN'T WANT TO HEAR IT. SHE WANTS THE PRETENSE SHE HAD BEFORE.
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  #67  
Old 05-23-2011, 09:17 PM
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Where I am lost is how to get from here to the next step? Everyone offers a lot of vague encouragement, but they're very short on specific "here is what we did."
There is LOTS of places on this board where people have described what they did, not any one the same. No one can give you absolute specifics as what worked for one couple likely won't work for you.

Quote:
My wife is not, I think, in a place to examine anything below "That's not what marriage IS!" Until we can get past that, there will be no movement.
Very true. This may not even be helpful, but I would suggest each of you should take a few days to a week and make a list of what you think "marriage IS" and "marriage is NOT" and WHY ("Because it's always been that way" is not an acceptable answer). At the end of the week make a list of the items you agree on, then discuss the WHYs (might be different) and then look at the stuff you don't agree on. This might give each of you a better understanding of each other without one person immediately putting up defensive walls and stops listening.

Quote:
nycindie, we need to get back and see the counselor, but she's not very warm on the idea. She wants me to talk with my parents (who themselves got divorced when I was quite young) instead. I think that would be a horrible idea, personally.
That she is reluctant to go back to the counselor tells me that you guys have bigger issues in your marriage than your need to be poly. My husband and I have been in counceling for 10 months, granted we are only going once a month now, but you can't hope to actually fix a marriage in only 6 weeks (or what ever limited time frame someone else determines).

LEAVE THE PARENTS OUT OF IT! Your marriage issues are none of their Fing business.

Side Note: You may want to talk with an attorney on how to prevent her from even taking one step out of state with your kid, if thing go south. If it was me, I would be scared that I would come home one day to find then already gone.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:07 AM
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Lots of anger on this post! No one can tell you what the magic trick is to do, but can only offer their opinion and advice.
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  #69  
Old 05-24-2011, 12:07 AM
Snowbunting Snowbunting is offline
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MT, I completely sympathize with what you're experiencing. I've been going through a process that's very similar to the process that you've been going through. In my case, my husband and I ultimately decided to separate, so maybe our two situations will end up having very different outcomes. In any case, my husband (I'll call him "P") and I were recently just about where you and your wife seem to be, and we did move beyond that point, so I thought I'd mention a few things that helped us move forward.

First, we listened to some podcasts and talked about them. Dan Savage was a huge help here - P began by listening to his recent interview with Terry Gross, and then listened to several episodes of the "Savage Love" podcast. We also listened to a couple of "Sex is Fun" podcasts (although if you think about doing this, I'd recommend screening them first - I definitely didn't want P to listen to just any "Sex is Fun" podcast, because I didn't want to alienate him by introducing him to something that might seem a bit too non-vanilla to him). In any case, I imagine that there are other helpful podcasts out there as well, podcasts that can provide good material for discussion.

P and I also read some things, e.g., the last two chapters of Open Marriage by George and Nena O'Neill. This book was originally published in 1972, and is outdated in many ways, but the last two chapters gave us some very helpful material for discussion. (A quick note: I did not present this reading material to P by saying something like "this is what I want our marriage to be like"; I just presented it as something we could read together and talk about. There were specific parts of those two chapters that I brought up in conversation - just as ideas to discuss - and those conversations were quite helpful.)

One more quick comment in connection with the above point about reading: I think that it would have been wonderful for P to have explored this forum, but somehow, that hasn't happened yet. I hope that it does.

Another helpful factor: my husband met and talked with the members of a polyamorous family - a triad raising a lovely, very happy daughter. He ended up really liking each parent and recognizing that there's nothing unnatural or unhealthy about their situation - he could see that they are simply three intelligent, kind, caring people who adore their daughter and love one another very much. I think that this experience helped to stretch P's ideas about what marriage can look like.

Finally, we talked and talked and talked (although we did take breaks too!), and all of this communication was very helpful in moving us forward and keeping us from getting stuck for too long. One point that I kept emphasizing is that the problem is not that I want to sleep with other people and/or add sexual excitement to my life. Rather, what I ache for is a certain "architecture of love" (for lack of a better phrase) in my life: the possibility of multiple close, loving connections with straight men (I'm straight myself) that may or may not include certain kinds of physical components (physical components that would be acceptable to everyone involved, including P, of course). During our conversations, I used lots of metaphors, e.g., a sun-loving plant that's been growing in a shady place, an organism that hasn't been getting all of the proper nutrients, etc. (I admit, these metaphors are a bit lame - maybe, if you use metaphors, you can think of better ones!). Anyway, the important thing here is that I emphasized that I'm constitutionally the sort of person who is incomplete without certain kinds of loving relationships (rather than a person who simply has a certain kind of sexual appetite). And of course, in all of this talking, I tried to listen to P as much as possible and to be a receptive, charitable audience. I tried to see things from his point of view insofar as I could, and I tried to make sure that I was always taking his well-being into account. (I hope that I succeeded, at least to some extent, here. In any case, I almost didn't mention this point about listening, because it sounds like you've been doing that very well.)

All of these factors (podcasts, the O'Neills, experiences, conversations) helped P to see that a healthy, fulfilling marriage can differ from the common paradigm of a union between two (and only two) completely monogamous people. Sadly, in the end, P and I don't fit - I'm poly and want very much to live in a situation in which at least a little bit of poly behavior is possible, and P is mono and wants to be married to someone else who is mono (though, of course, I'm definitely not suggesting that any couple that fits this description should separate). In any case, through all of the podcasts, experiences, conversations, etc., we did develop understanding, recognition, and acceptance of the (different) conditions under which each of us is most likely to flourish. And we've affirmed our love and respect for one another again and again. We seem to have arrived at a place that's at least peaceful, even though I'm still experiencing a lot of pain and grief in connection with our impending separation.

There's one more suggestion I want to make before signing off: might it be helpful to go, with some regularity, to a counselor/therapist on your own? Of course, I don't know whether this would be helpful for you, but I can say that it sure has been helpful for me. The psychologist I've been seeing has given me many very helpful insights. He has also been a concrete, physically-present person who is a kind of coach-and-cheerleader-wrapped-into-one, and that has been both helpful and comforting.

Well MT, I hope that there's something above that's useful. I'm not at all sure that P and I went about things in the best or most skillful way (indeed, there are lots of people in our lives who view our separation as a massive failure, and I can think of a number of specific mistakes that I made along the way). But we did move past the stuck point that you describe, so I thought I'd share some of the specific experiences that helped us do that.

All the best to you - from my perspective, it's clear that you're trying very hard to do what's most loving and compassionate for everyone in your family. I wish all of you the very best.

Last edited by Snowbunting; 05-24-2011 at 01:05 AM.
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  #70  
Old 05-24-2011, 02:12 AM
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Hi MT, take a breath my friend, its only been a short while and while you are at likely at your wits end, the struggle has just begun. Remember this is all new and time changes thing, drastically some times. Keep breathing and talking, being honest and compassionate at the same time.

Allow her as much time as she needs but keep insisting that this is who you are if this is what you believe yourself to be. Then wait and be patient... have places for her to search for answers lined up, like here, and have books ready for the two of you to read.

If this is to be your future then you will need to invest in it. You can't go and take out a line of credit on poly, you have to save up for what you want. It's not instant and all will be revealed.

The biggest advice I have is to be compassionate... empathy breeds empathy and it is more likely she will come around to having empathy for you if you do for her.

I started on this journey 17 years ago... This has how it has worked for me in my life. I lost a partner along the way, my ex-wife, but all was for the better, I believed in fate and that I don't have control of the future as far as others are concerned, I just trusted that all would be revealed and it was...
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