A Struggling Mono Reflection

I realise that I have really only given one side of the equation and, as with all relationships, there is more to it...

We are now talking a lot about different options...
One is trial separation under one roof
One is trial separation under more than one roof
One is me getting counselling around the polyamorous relationship dynamics and seeing if I can fix my s***.


I feel like we kind of have separation under one roof, except we still sleep in the same bed and are still physically affectionate with each other, though our sex life is pretty non-existent, which primarily sits with me.


I am getting some counselling. I know that I am being very selfish, as going into this I suggested he get his sexual needs met outside of the relationship. But I had a perhaps unrealistic want that this would not be an emotional/relationship-style sexual relationship. I now understand that these emotional/romantic relationships are what he needs and I am struggling with it. At the same time, I feel he could be more active in fatherhood/coparenting. I have almost certainly created a space that pushed him out of this role... The more he was away, the more I did, the less he felt able to do, the more he was away... This could have been more a case of the less I let him do, the less he felt able to do, etc.

I guess our relationship dynamic is:

He has been living in an increasingly sexless marriage for a long time and has been very hurt by it.

I have tried in various ways (many unhealthy) to address this, but the reality is I no longer have a sex drive, and perhaps I never will.

He has always needed more time and space away from me and the relationship than I have wanted and needed. I came to accept that this is how he was and that I could live with his need and still feel enough. When we had children, I found this quite hard, and did not successfully bring this up with him, so the time away continued at the same level. The sex started to dwindle about this point and started to be raised as an issue.

Initially, the attempts to fix the sex were messages of 'you are not doing enough,' and I went into fix-it mode and tried to do more. At times I crossed boundaries that I wasn't okay with crossing in order to try and meet this need. He has then heard 'weak yeses' and felt guilt and shame and rejection that I am not really into it.

I guess in some ways, with the children, I poured a lot of energy into loving and raising them; he was away a fair bit, and I found it difficult to let go when he was here, so he felt more pushed out.

I can see why he is hurt, frustrated and feeling like his needs have been ignored, pushed down and unmet and now I don't want him to meet them elsewhere! I can see how selfish this is and I have a lot of work to do to acknowledge this and let him be and express how he wants to be.

I think the only fair thing to do is a trial separation where he does get to explore and be and learn and I put in some hard yards on myself. I am not sure if I have a skewed view on this. Perhaps I should give things 6 months, work on my s*** and see where we are without doing a trial separation?

I guess it is the logistics of it all that scares me... I don't think it is being on my own as I have some experience with that, so in some ways I m really grateful to him, as I know I can manage on my own to some degree. It is more what the 'rules' will be, what is reasonable and what is being selfish....I will talk with him about this of course, but I wonder something like...

He can explore sexually and romantically with whom he chooses
Sexual/romantic partners don't spend time here when the kids are here (I am thinking I might be being unreasonable here?)
We no longer share the bed, cuddles, kisses or romance - perhaps we get a short term rental or similar that we take turns in occupying?
We no longer have time as a 'couple' e.g., shared activities
We continue some family activities (not sure this is asking too much?)
We have no contact other than kid logistics for a period of time, and time is set aside for this purpose

I wouldn't say that these are things I want, but they are things I think I could manage.

I am okay with hearing what on here sounds unreasonable and okay with not getting everything on the list...I guess my non-negotiable is that he makes time and space for the kids.
 
Apologies, but I think I have a little more clarity...

I want a deep loving relationship with shared pressure, no pressure on sex and the flexibility for my partner to explore non 'relationship' sexual experiences and an equal co-parent. I know this probably doesn't exist.

He wants (as I understand it) a deep, connected sexual and emotional relationship with no baggage or stress, and me to come home to, feel safe with and continue a close physical and emotional connection with (though sexless). His hope is that he will go and learn all about sex and relationships and come back and fix us, and why wouldn't I try this? He has a point.
 
Hello navigatingnewwaters,

Your list of ways to set up a trial separation looks good -- and I do think you need a trial separation. You and your partner have come up against some hard incompatibilities. You will have to think about how you can move past that -- and about whether moving past it is even possible. Right now you are grating on each other's nerves.

Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 
I see you are really thinking about this and your role in everything. That is hugely important. But please recognize that he too plays a role in this dysfunction. You should each seek counseling to work on your shit and then come together in couple's counseling.

Sexual/romantic partners don't spend time here when the kids are here (I am thinking I might be being unreasonable here?)
Yes! Very reasonable rule. You may choose to relax this rule if he gets in a committed relationship that lasts more than a year, or whatever you decide.

We no longer share the bed, cuddles, kisses or romance - perhaps we get a short term rental or similar that we take turns in occupying?
We no longer have time as a 'couple' e.g., shared activities
I want a deep loving relationship with shared pressure, no pressure on sex and the flexibility for my partner to explore non 'relationship' sexual experiences and an equal co-parent
If you want a deep loving relationship then eliminating any couple time might prevent that from happening. Eliminating connection (emotional or physical, i.e., touching, kissing and couple-time dating) is usually a relationship killer. But I hear your need to disconnect enough so that him being with others doesn't hurt and you can happily support him.
He wants (as I understand it) a deep, connected sexual and emotional relationship with no baggage or stress and me to come home to, feel safe with and continue a close physical and emotional connection with (though sexless).
It does sound like you both want very different things, though.
His hope is that he will go and learn all about sex and relationships and come back and fix us, and why wouldn't I try this? He has a point.
He can hope all he wants, but the reality is he cannot fix your relationship by exploring this way. You two need to work together in therapy individually and as a couple to fix your relationship.

Him going out and exploring what he wants or needs is just that-- it's about him. Can people learn from experiences with others? Yes. Has anyone's relationship been healed and strengthened by one party exploring? I'd argue a big no in that. Usually, doing just that highlights the unseen problems in the relationship and it is further degraded.

I entered poly because of missing that physical connection. I did not want my marriage to end, and in many ways we did grow and became closer, still to this day, but our marriage ended because we both realized we weren't supposed to be together as a couple. We still live together and he still supports me financially, but we are now best friends and roommates. We have a great home life and amazing social lives apart from each other, and for us this worked. But there is no romantic relationship at all... no jealousy... no resentment... He lives his life and I live mine, happily supported by each other. Most situations don't work out like that... most can't.

If you cannot agree on what you want long term, you'll have a harder road to travel.
 
It's ultimately up to you two. But I think a trial separation for a year's lease under separate roofs could be best. And you talk to a counselor to help make your separation agreements and how you will be doing couple counseling during this time. Because if you could figure it out by yourselves you would have already. It's ok to need help making the separation agreements. It might even be a series of them -- X for the first 3 mos apart, Y for the next 3 mos, and so on.

Hopefully some time apart living your own lives while still coparenting will bring the clarity and perspective needed to make a call if both want to repair and reconcile or if this is best changing to a divorced coparenting family.

Galagirl
 
Happy to move it when you are ready.

Evie
(Moderator)
 
We had a really big talk today with some movement forward and perhaps some movement back.

I accept that I need to work on my feelings of insecurity and that if I do this, then things might be able to work out between us as a couple or as co-parenting friends. He is hurt and frustrated by what feels like a 180 by me of I am totally fine with everything to I am struggling with this and I bet it does feel like a betrayal and that I am going back on what we agreed to, though I do think we had different understandings of what we agreed to.


Part of the talk has been about the sexual mismatch and that is maybe what I want to try to process a bit with more outside support....I think there are 2 issues here but they are very much intertwined and related. One is lack of intimacy - we both identified this was something we wanted and could build on. I shared that I wanted it but that felt that the barriers to achieving it were on my shoulders and I felt validated with his response that this had indeed been put on my shoulders and was something we could 'workshop'. The second issue is sexual mismatch. He wanted to know what was on and off the table between us in terms of sex/levels of intimacy. I am going to pause here and just check in how much detail is okay to go into or if I need to be more vague on this forum (e.g is it okay to say on here that I am on board with x and x act or do I need to keep it more I explained what I am okay with and not okay with?)
 
A possible method of intimacy without sexual interaction.

Simply put, just shut up and look.

 
I linked an article, is it not showing up for you?

Try googling "eye gazing".
 
Yes, sorry for some reason I couldn't see this initially!

I will share this with Gee.

I would love to unpack an experience we had today as it is very typical of our dynamic and I really want to try to see through it to check myself and my roll/patterns that I can address.
 
OF course you're not feeling sexual. You're exhausted from doing all the parenting, probably all the housework? plus your husband sounds like an overgrown child needing all the attention on getting HIS needs met.

Sexual desire doesn't come out of nowhere, there's context. If he was a helpful coparent & life partner, if you weren't stuck at home all the time with a sick kid & no life, maybe you'd want to fuck him? Have you ever even had time & energy to explore if you are asexual, low drive, or just not sharing sex with the right partner? Otherwise, it's not crazy that you see sex as just more "work" for you to do. If you ever have time, read the book Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski

Why do you take the blame for EVERYTHING? The relationship might work if YOU'D do differently. Your lack of sexual feelings is because something's wrong with YOU, not that your life essence is being drained by all-work-no-self-care. YOU have to listen to his stories about all the fun he's having spending time with women who aren't raising his offspring. You seem like a people pleaser, which would have come from childhood neglect or abuse.

Forget seeing a poly shrink. Find someone who can help you sort out why you've decided to martyr yourself on behalf of your husband & child. YOUR needs, desires, etc. matter too. Good luck, hope your trial separation gives you some peace & clarity.
 
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Thanks Love Bunny, we have both read Come As You Are and Coming together, worked with a sexologist and tried somatic counselling. I don't think I m asexual. I think it is maybe a combination of life pressures, a history of sexual pressure (which may have been perceived rather than real) menopause etc.

I am learning more about people pleasing and I think that I have got some of that and maybe a disorganised attachment style.
 
I guess this is straying more into relationship issues and away from polyamory. I will try to renavigate to this as I think it is worth exploring.

How do I explore my reasons for being mono? I am wondering if it is simply insecurity and 'programming' for me, or is it just how I am. I get polyamory as a concept and fully accept this concept. All of me wants this for other people and can see the possibilities for joy and connection. I do want this for my partner and I am really excited on the one hand for this to be his reality. I don't want more intimate relationships for me and I think that is okay. So why can't I reconcile my desire for him to be happy and free with staying in the relationship and enabling him to do so?
 
There's no reason why you can't be 100% supportive of polyamory, while still being monogamous yourself. Of course, monogamous programming is still quite strong, and even polyamorous people may feel guilt and shame over being polyamorous. It's hard to make a solid determination of how much that may be affecting you.
 
Honestly, there are relationship issues in polyamory, often literally more of them because there are morr actual relationshis. Issues in this dyad, issues in that dyad. Births, deaths and marriages. As experience in polyamory grows, the one thing we tend not worry about is our partners leaving us *for* someone else.

Of course there are exceptions. But that's really no different to any other (monogamous) relationship ending because the compatibility has diverged enough that people want different things.

In monogamy or polyamory, each couple needs to be able to work on issues together rather than hiding from them by deliberately seeking (more with) another partner.
 
I don't want more intimate relationships for me and I think that is okay.

Totally okay. Nothing wrong with that.

Nothing wrong with wanting monogamy, or preferring 1 partner or even 0 partners.

People who are poly also get saturated at whatever number of partners, including 0 partners.

So why can't I reconcile my desire for him to be happy and free with staying in the relationship and enabling him to do so?

Because both of you deserve happiness, and you don't sound especially happy in this relationship. It may be less about the mono-poly thing and more basic than that, like, you two aren't especially compatible anymore. Even before the poly thing, this wasn't especiallu happy sounding or compatible sounding for you.

Like, if your needs were being met in a relationship, you could be happy doing monogamy or doing mono-poly, but you aren't happy HERE with THIS partner because you are doing most of the work, with little help. With the people-pleasing thing, you also take responsibility for way more than your fair share, including the mental load. So you are putting all this pressure on yourself to "fix everything." Maybe even doing some self neglect.

You kinda sound like you are on the path to burning out, if not already burned out. :(

If you are going forward with a trial separation in separate homes, the shared agreements could be around finances, coparenting, family therapy for the kids. I suggest you have your own banking if you don't already have separate checking accounts.

Either one of you can date others as you please, just no messy people-- like dating each other's parents, boss, coworkers, best friend, etc. You could talk about that "messy people" list and who is on it. There are enough people to date in the world without going right for the ones that will make it weird and messy. You dating each other's parents is a prime example.

If you still plan to share sex together during the separation, have condoms and other safer sex practices, like regular labs, in place. Add a plan for accidental pregnancies, because adding more kids to the mix would NOT be a good idea right now.
I think it is maybe a combination of life pressures, a history of sexual pressure (which may have been perceived, rather than real), menopause etc.

What life pressures can be reduced? What history of sexual pressure? Other people or him? You might need a check-up on the menopause hormone shifts. They can be a doozy and mess up a lot of stuff.

GG
 
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What life pressures can be reduced? What history of sexual pressure? Other people or him? You might need a check up on the menopause hormone shifts. They can be a doozy and mess up a lot of stuff.

I am struggling to identify which life pressures can be reduced. I stripped back when my daughter first got sick.

Sexual pressure may have been perceived pressure, not real pressure.

Menopause-- I have trialled HRT, but not currently on anything.

I think that before the poly thing, I felt I got enough, though would have liked more support with kids. I don't think it is a case of being worried he will leave. He has reassured me on this and I believe his intent. I think it is maybe more that I am jealous that he can have this wonderful stress-free, deep relationship with someone else, but has not had the capacity to have that with me due to life stress, lack of sex, etc. I guess I was content to accept that was all he could offer, but I am discovering maybe that is all he can offer to me only, and so I am a bit hurt, maybe.

He has explained that is not what this is. And of course, new exciting relationships will look shiny and wonderful. And the whole idea of compersion is to be joyous and happy for this experience. So it may be just a case of me dealing with my jealousy, as I would not actually be losing anything.

Perhaps if we can work out the parental support a bit more, and he continues with his exploration, he might be able to be more 'present' here, as he will be happier and have more capacity to give to me because of it?
 
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