Complicated situation

CJM

New member
So I’ll be as brief about this as I can. I meet my now wife when I was 18. She was my first love although I’d had various none mono relationships previous to this. I have always told her I don’t believe in monogamy & that it’s something I have to work at. I have had attraction/small crushes on people over the years but managed to keep myself in check as I know monogamy is important to her & I love her very deeply.

About 2 years ago we went through a series of horrendous events which included me losing my mum. The person I loved most on the planet. 8 weeks later my son was born & suddenly I had to jump into parenthood rather than deal with my feelings.

Anyway fast forward a year and I started to develop what I thought was just a crush on another women. A very close friend. We have a lot in common & get on extremely well. I done everything I could to distance myself when I found my feelings where growing and tried to refocus myself back to my wife but this time I couldn’t do it. I didn’t tell my wife about my feelings which in hindsight I should have but being a idiot I was hoping it was just a crush and would disappear with time so there was no point in upsetting her when it would go away! 🤦🏻‍♀️

Unfortunately I was very wrong. And one day my friend came onto me. Admitted that she also had a “crush” on me too. & something in my head just went boom! And I lost all ability to stop myself. So we had a very brief (3- days) affair before I came clean and told my wife as I’m not good with lying or guilt for that matter again not something that comes naturally to me.

Obviously my wife was more than upset but I have made it very clear that I still very much love her. I never set out to hurt her I was just hurting myself & in a vulnerable place where I allowed myself to fall for this other person where normally I would of stopped it.

My wife has forgiven me for lying/cheating. However it’s more complicated than that as I’m in love with this women. Really in love with her. I’m also really in love with my wife. I have promised my wife I wouldn’t see her which I’ve stuck too but I feel as though my heart is fucking breaking.

I have communicated this to my wife on several occasions that I’m in love with this person and I’m in love with my wife.

I feel like I’m currently in hell and don’t know what to do. I’ve been with my wife 15 years! She is the air I breathe and the blood in my body! I would never leave her. However the thought of not having this other person in my life too is killing me. Am I just a cheat or completely fucked up? I feel I’m hurting my wife by saying I love this women but then I feel if I don’t express my feelings that would be lying! So devil and the deep blue!

Me and my wife are now going to therapy and it is helping but I still feel I’m missing this part of me. 😭😭😭
 

CJM

New member
I’d add that this other person is open to being in a poly relationship with me. She knows my wife is my primary partner and that I love her.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
To me this seems like the eventual crossroads so albeit shocking for your wife it’s not a complete surprise either.

Therapy is helping in what regard.?? Repair broken trust. Move the needle toward poly ? Or something else ?
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Welcome to the board. I'm so sorry you're torn. What you're going through is heartbreaking. (Please accept my sympathies on the loss of your mother, too.) The obvious fact is that humans are perfectly capable of deep emotions, romantic feelings, and sexual desire for more than one person at a time. It's an age-old conundrum. Monogamy is a social construct. It is an economic building block, the basis of civilization and capitalism. Unfortunately, it does not suit our emotions, hearts or hormones.

I am not sure how this will turn out with your wife and gf. You can go to therapy for personal help (hopefully your therapist is poly-friendly), but it should help you to read around this board about people in your boat, and also read some books about the general social aspects of polyamory which affect us all (I recommend in this order, but check Amazon and see what you think):

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray
Opening Up
More Than Two
The Ethical Slut (older and flawed but still helpful)
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your mother and that you had no space to grieve for her.

I imagine the birth of your child was welcome, but being parent to a newborn is it's own set of stress in regular times. Then compounded by mourning? I sympathize. And I mean the rest of this kindly, ok?

I never set out to hurt her I was just hurting myself & in a vulnerable place where I allowed myself to fall for this other person where normally I would of stopped it.

Know what? Speak your truth. And own your behavior.

You chose to get involved with the lady even though you knew it was cheating on current agreements and normally you would have stopped it. Was it a great choice?

No. But it happened. And it's part of a chain of not so great choices that seems to start here:

I have always told her I don’t believe in monogamy & that it’s something I have to work at. I have had attraction/small crushes on people over the years but managed to keep myself in check as I know monogamy is important to her & I love her very deeply.

How are you at loving YOU?

Did you promise your wife monogamy in your marriage vows? If you are NOT actually "relationship shape flexible" then that's you putting you in a box. And that is not a self honoring thing to do. You have to be able to say "I love you, but not even for you will I do stuff that hurts me or goes against my own values."

What were the consequences of hurting yourself like that? Years of dealing with crushes and letting them go, gradual frustration that culminated in mom grief, and newborn parenting stress and, and, and... it sounds like many years after stuffing a lot of things down, the box finally exploded.

Huge mess. Which you regret.

But time to clean up now. And HOW you clean up matters.

I think you could start speaking your truth now. People can make mistakes. But don't compound this one by making more new ones.

Be honest with wife. You can't do it like this any more. You are super sorry for hurting her, the lies, the cheating, but if you are going to come out the other side a better feeling person, a more authentic behaving you? You have to stop doing these behaviors and not just go get in some brand new box.

My wife has forgiven me for lying/cheating. However it’s more complicated than that as I’m in love with this women. Really in love with her. I’m also really in love with my wife.

Great. You love Lady and you love Wife.

Does the list include loving YOU?

I have promised my wife I wouldn’t see her which I’ve stuck too but I feel as though my heart is fucking breaking.

Won't see her EVER? Or won't see her while in therapy?

Either is fine, but you have to be clear of purpose on what you are doing here in therapy and not promise things you can't keep.

Sometimes the price of admission to moving on to open relationship is letting go of the game changing person you cheated with.

And honestly? Do you love the Lady? Or just the IDEA she represents -- the idea of living a more authentic life? Cuz sometimes poly people date and break up because it doesn't pan out. Make sure you aren't building her up in your mind to be more than she is. Yes, she was an eye opener/game changer. But it's possible it was a comet relationship, not one meant to last forever.

Slow your roll.

People might be
  • Monoamorous (capacity to love 1 sweetie) + monogamous (want a 1:1 relationship structure only)
  • Monoamorous (capacity to love 1 sweetie) + relationship shape flexible. Can do either monogamy or open/poly well
  • polyamorous (Capacity to love more than 1 sweetie) + relationship shape flexible. Can do either monogamy or open/poly well
  • polyamorous (Capacity to love more than 1 sweetie) + wants open/poly structures only.
I'm not gonna say it's IMPOSSIBLE, but it is very rare that a previously monogamous spouse wants to change to doing mono-poly or some other open/poly structure after a cheating affair that INCLUDES the person the spouse cheated with.

Then that cannot even happen if your spouse remains monogamous and doesn't want to negotiate anything open/poly.

In fact? It's BETTER if she is firm in therapy and tells you that. "Well, I'm sorry all this happened too. But no. I'm not gonna do open/poly. I love you a lot but not even for you am I gonna do stuff that hurts me or goes against my own values. I prefer monogamy."

You put yourself in the monogamy box in error years ago.

If she is monogamous? Her putting herself in an open/poly box now would also be in error.

If you both love each other? Start speaking your truths. Save the people, not the marriage. It's a piece of paper. It does not care.

Instead, save the people so you can continue in RIGHT RELATIONSHIP later on even if the piece of paper ends. Rather than bending all into pretzels.

If the loving thing to do is disband the marriage and change into a divorced coparenting family? Love each other through that instead. And then be loving coparents and decent exes.

Continue in a way that allows you both freedom.

You can then be free TO pursue whatever open/poly things you want to do CLEAN. (No more cheating on agreements because you learned to be firm and just not agree to things that do not suit you in the first place. You only make agreements that are actually keepable for you. No more boxes.)

She can be free FROM open/poly things she doesn't want.

Me and my wife are now going to therapy and it is helping but I still feel I’m missing this part of me.

I suggest you use therapy to help you with your various griefs. Which now sounds like it includes break up grief over the affair and anticipatory grief because this may mean disbanding the marriage too if wife is just not into open/poly.

Who we are in our teens, is NOT who we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s etc. It keeps on changing. Even without the poly, monogamous marriages who marry young? Don't automatically make it to a midlife marriage, or senior marriage because the people keep on changing. Sometimes they grow together in compatible directions. Sometimes they grow apart.

If you started your marriage by being "love blind" and climbing into a monogamy box that wasn't really you?

Hon, as kindly as I can? I'm telling you... stop climbing into boxes.

It's not helping you. Doesn't really help your wife any either. If she loves you, she won't want you doing that. If she loves herself, she won't want that either.

I imagine the feelings are really hard right now, but what initially seems like destruction? Well, all seeds have to break to let the plant out. All cocoons have to break to let the butterfly out.

Maybe you and wife can return to RIGHT RELATIONSHIP if you let the romantic and marriage part go? Transform into something else that maybe works out better. But you may actually RUIN your chances at that by making a mess now and by not being authentic you.

How many messes does it take for you to get around to being authentic you?

A healthy divorced family with coparents who care about each other and are respectful is WAY better than you climbing into a new box and just kicking the can further down the road. Or her going "Ok, I don't want this either but I'll take a turn in sitting in a box I don't really want called "open/poly" since you sat in a box you didn't want called "monogamy" for me. " Or some other new weirdness.

Love is simply shared. It doesn't have to be "proven." It doesn't mean "sacrifice" or doing self harm.

Even if she offered to do some box sitting, I hope you have the sense to tell her "No, thanks. I did that, it sucks. I love you and I don't want you hurting yourself like that. Me hurting me was bad enough. No more weirdness."

If the clock on this marriage has run out? It has run out.

FORCING things? Going through the motions? That kind of thing leads to fighting and making resentments and then what?

Took the long way around doing extra bonus pain just to end up back at square one. When taking your fences clean in the first place would have been better and given you a better shot at a better post divorce life. When the choices all stink? Pick the one that stinks LESS.

So.

Good for you. Coming clean. Going to therapy. Have some faith -- the confidence that doing things in good character will yield the best outcome even when you cannot see how.

I think speaking your truth in therapy is keeping in good character. Box stuffing again? Not so much.

Work with the therapist honestly. Work with them to assess if you and wife are actually compatible for marriage any more. If the answer turns up "No, we want different things now. We have grown in different directions." Work with therapist to come to terms with that in a healthy way.

Assess where this is now.

Peacefully let go if it has to be divorce, and do not turn a divorce into a doom circus. Maybe continue the couple therapy to help get you through to the other side and stabilize post divorce, coparenting life if that is appropriate. Or change to individual therapists. Or family therapy if child is gonna need divorce support. You all have to figure out the details.

But a good parting on the marriage (if it has to be that), can help lead to a better shot at peaceful, post divorced family life.

You are parents. Neither of you needs a sucky ex. And child doesn't need sucky ex parents ruining their birthdays, graduations, their own wedding, etc casting ugh shadows on THEIR life. If kid grows up and has to divorce too? Better you teach and model healthy ways of doing it than doom circus.

I hope over time you arrive at peace and can live your life more authentically and not all pretzeled up.

I encourage you to lean IN and have the honest conversations you need to be having with your wife in therapy.

Speak your truth. If even at a whisper.

Galagirl
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello CJM,

I think you should sit down with your wife, and say, "I think I am polyamorous. Could we talk about that?" Then schedule a day and time for talking about it. Perhaps let your wife choose the day and time. And when that day and time comes, only talk about it for about an hour. So that the two of you don't get overwhelmed. Then choose a day and time when the two of you will talk about it again. This would actually be in addition to your sessions with the therapist, but you should share with your therapist about what comes out of those talks as well. The point is, you need to explain to your wife that you are not just having affairs, you are truly in need of switching from monogamy to polyamory. This may mean a mono/poly relationship between you and your wife, if your wife wants to stay mono. Or, like GalaGirl said, it could mean a (hopefully amicable) divorce. That's okay too.

I hope you and your wife are able to work things out.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

CJM

New member
To me this seems like the eventual crossroads so albeit shocking for your wife it’s not a complete surprise either.

Therapy is helping in what regard.?? Repair broken trust. Move the needle toward poly ? Or something else ?
I guess to repair broken trust and so me & her can communicate better about her feelings and mine. She says she understands I love this other women but then also says that if I love her, why can’t I simply get over this women.

My wife has repeatedly told me that I either choose her or this women but she won’t be poly or anything else other than mono. Which I understand and I don’t wish to hurt her more than I already have.

I just feel torn apart. I love my wife deeply. I can’t imagine my life, my home or my family without her by my side. At the same time this women I’m also in love with fills this emotional gaping hole that was left when my mother died. My wife seems to think it’s a sexual thing but it’s not just sex, I have a very deep connection with her.

I genuinely don’t know what to do. I can’t leave my wife. It would break me. My wife also won’t divorce me! She told me this as strongly as she told me she won’t be poly. I guess if she meet someone else that may then change but the thought of her being someone else’s wife kills me too!

I don’t know if I can stop loving this other women or stop myself wanting her. I was fairly miserable before this all occurred due to my mother dying, unresolved grief and the strains of being a new parent. But actually now feels worse!
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
I don't know if this is a comfort, but with time and distance you can fall out of love with someone, with this other woman. Give yourself those two things. Cut off contact and start to heal.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
My wife has repeatedly told me that I either choose her or this women but she won’t be poly or anything else other than mono.

I genuinely don’t know what to do. I can’t leave my wife. It would break me. My wife also won’t divorce me! She told me this as strongly as she told me she won’t be poly. I guess if she meet someone else that may then change but the thought of her being someone else’s wife kills me too!

You seem to have built yourself into the perfect, ultimate torture chamber.

Since you've left yourself no options of any kind, I'm not really sure what anyone could offer you in the way of advice.

Just get over it I guess?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
You know how some people do "in bed" when they open a fortune cookie?

I suggest you start adding "at this time."

Then this...

She says she understands I love this other women but then also says that if I love her, why can’t I simply get over this women.

becomes this.

She says she understands I love this other women but then also says that if I love her, why can’t I simply get over this women AT THIS TIME

And is that reasonable when this JUST happened? YES. It's ok for your wife not to understand at this time.

And is it ok that you don't know at this time? YES. You have no answers right now.

Because this is a big spaghetti tangle and you need some time to UNTANGLE with the therapist first.

I genuinely don’t know what to do AT THIS TIME.

That's ok. That's what therapist is for. To support and help.

I can’t leave my wife. AT THIS TIME It would break me. AT THIS TIME.

So don't go anywhere. Who says you have to right now?

My wife also won’t divorce me! AT THIS TIME.
Ok. That's where she's at.

It actually only takes one person to go file for divorce at City hall and get the process moving. But don't put cart before horse.

Neither one has to make major decisions while distressed.

She told me this as strongly as she told me she won’t be poly.

Ok. Accept her limit. She doesn't want poly.

Nothing has to change this minute. House is not on fire.

I guess if she meet someone else that may then change but the thought of her being someone else’s wife kills me too!

Well, how about not thinking at at this time? Cuz she won't divorce you. So her being someone else's wife is not an issue right now.

You have limited energy right now and the thoughts are spinning around in circles from the sound of it.

So... how about not wasting energy on the more "out there" thoughts?

I just feel torn apart. I love my wife deeply. I can’t imagine my life, my home or my family without her by my side AT THIS TIME.

If you got together at 18? You never got to live adult life on your own. So of course it is hard to imagine at this time.

That's ok.

I don’t know if I can stop loving this other women or stop myself wanting her AT THIS TIME

That's ok too. You don't turn love on and off like a faucet.

I'm sure you still love your mom even though she's passed.

I still love my exes. Though I'm not involved with them. But it's a lot easier now from THIS place in time years later then a few days after the break up.

Can you date this woman CLEAN right now? No, you cannot AT THIS TIME. It would just change from cheating behind wife's back to cheating out in the open because wife does not want to do open/poly.

So.... you could hit the pause button, and clean up what you need to clean up at home first.

Then see what you see later. You do not have to do ALL THE THINGS at once.

I was fairly miserable before this all occurred due to my mother dying, unresolved grief and the strains of being a new parent. But actually now feels worse!

I know. I'm sorry that right now? All feels horrible.

When this area of your life is all "up in the air" and upsetting, maintain your other routines for sleep, work, chores, rest, etc. So some things can be stable.

Do you best one day, one hour at a time.

And know your "normal healthy best" is different than your "grief best." A person with a broken leg doesn't sign up to do marathons.

You are heart sick. Is it reasonable to feel awful right now in this kind of a situation? After a huge stressor and then the whoosh of brain chemicals and things going on in side your body? And worries on your mind? YES.

This JUST happened. You don't have to instantly get over it.

Give yourself the gift of time. Run the dishwasher twice if you need to.

There are important things to do and talk about, but none of it sounds like urgent like "Help! House is on fire!" They can happen OVER TIME.

Stop. Just be still. Catch your breath.

It might be to your benefit to just sit with it a while, NOT rush to start doing new things, and work with your therapist. That can be the one new thing and that can be enough AT THIS TIME.

I'm actually impressed you both lined one up so fast.

You are doing what you can. Breathe. One thing, one moment at a time.

Galagirl
 
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SlowPoly

Member
Save the people, not the marriage. It's a piece of paper. It does not care.
GG, I haven’t been on for a while, and I don’t remember you using this specific phrasing, but it is *perfect.* I am going to start using it, and want to attribute it properly. Yours? Or someone almost as smart as you?

Also, you have the best resources and give amazing advice.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If it works for you feel free to use. No need to attribute.

I think it's just general. People say "save the marriage" a lot. I didn't make that up. When I say "save the people" I mean move toward "right relationship." Sometimes that means fixing whatever to get along better. Sometimes that means dissolving a union to get a long better or at least not pile on more harm.

The people actually involved have to figure out what might be best for their personal situation.

CJM, I hope you slow down some, breathe, and slowly start to figure things out with wife in therapy.

GL!

Galagirl
 
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breathemusic

Active member
If you haven't completely cut contact with this person, then you need to. You need to be in your own individual therapy for several major reasons: 1) processing the grief of losing your mother, 2) processing the grief of losing this person you fell in love with, and 3) figuring out whether you can truly commit to monogamy for the rest of your life or if this episode of cheating is indicative of the fact that you'll never be happy with monogamy.
 
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