Hello - not sure what I am hoping to achieve by being here - maybe just catharsis?

Arakiel

New member
HI, not sure what I'm thinking posting - I'm a 38 year old cis het male. In mono relationship for 20 years, married for 13 of those. 2 kids 10 and 5. Is this just the pathetic male "mid life crisis" that everyone knows about (I have basically been told that already by someone)?

I met my wife (A) when I was 18, we fell for each other, we stayed together through Uni, and got married, then had kids - the standard fairytale that we are all told by society is what we should aim for, and what will make us happy and fulfilled. I have always found myself developing feelings towards other people, but since I knew I loved A I always did what society tells us we should do - I didn't want to leave A, so if it seemed like anything might develop I cut off contact with the other person. I presumed this was normal (having never had any other relationship). I'm starting to think that maybe it isn't? I have never felt completely fulfilled, but again, I assumed this to be either the required compromise for a marriage to work, or, more likely, some kind of failure on my part.

I found out about the existence of polyamory/ENM about 2-3 years ago, when a mutual friend 'went public' as poly, sadly I cannot talk about my problems with them without putting them in an awkward position, as they are a friend to both of us. It was quite a realisation that anything outside of the standard script is an actual thing which can be done in an ethical way, which at least helps in that I know that having these feelings and wishes are not "wrong" per se. I can understand now that it is possible to have more than one loving relationship at the same time (which makes perfect sense, to use a simplistic metaphor, if you play football with one friend no one would ever suggest that it is wrong to go cycling with a different friend, or that once you have been cycling you can never play football again). I have thought about it since then, and it feels somehow "right" to me that there is no reason that a relationship or marriage should be entirely reliant on excluding others in the way the standard societal script tells us it has to be. I can envision both myself and A having relationships with other people - not instead of our relationship, but in addition to. I was worried that I was just being a typical arsehole man, wanting to "sow my wild oats" or "have my cake and eat it", but after a period of thinking this over, I am convinced that isn't it - the idea of my both my wife and I having fulfilling relationships along with the one that she has with me just makes sense.

Unfortunately, having known A for 20 years I am pretty sure that she would NEVER be able to accept anything other than monogamy - she would see even the suggestion as me saying "You aren't enough for me and I don't love you". She believes that relationships involve 2 people and all needs are fulfilled by the one partner - essentially that romantic/sexual love is a zero-sum proposition, all or nothing. If I even tried to talk to her about this I am sure that it would hurt her terribly, and ultimately destroy the relationship, hurting both her and the children. She is happy in the marriage, - surely it is wrong for me to be thinking about destroying that and hurting her through no fault of her own? And worse - what if I did raise it and she says yes just to avoid divorce? That would be a really horrible thing for me to do to her.

As I see it, there are only two possible outcomes, and neither of them is good, just one is bad for fewer people:

1. Walk away from 13 years of marriage, 20 years together and two kids in the hope of somehow "following my dreams" with no guarantee that the life I could make would be any better, and with all the complication of divorce, and leaving my wife to pick up as a 38 year old divorced woman with 2 kids and try to salvage her own life from a disaster not of her making.

2. Stay, and continue to lie to my wife by omission and accept that while I may not really be happy, I at least save her and the children from the pain of me destroying our marriage.

I feel utterly trapped. I love her and don't want to hurt her, but at the same time this is hurting me. At the end of the day, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, A doesn't deserve to be hurt as a result of my actions, and I have managed like this for 20 years, and so the right thing to do must for me to keep on as I am - at least this way my wife and kids don't get hurt as a result of something that is my fault. I also feel scared that if I don't do something, then one day I might cheat on her, either emotionally or physically - I might give in to something and then hurt even more people.

I suppose the question I really need to know the answer to is this - is this (poly) something I want, or something I am? If it's something I want then there is at least a chance that I can distract myself, forget about it? If not, if it's more of an innate thing, then I suppose I just know things are going to be harder. Maybe I just need to grow up and accept what is, rather than fantasise about what ifs, and how things might have been different?

If you have made it this far, thank you, and I am sorry for taking up your time and brainspace.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Welcome. I'm sorry you are struggling.

I'm not trying to be mean, ok? You seem to have some very rigid thinking going on here:

1. Walk away from 13 years of marriage, 20 years together and two kids in the hope of somehow "following my dreams" with no guarantee that the life I could make would be any better, and with all the complication of divorce, and leaving my wife to pick up as a 38 year old divorced woman with 2 kids and try to salvage her own life from a disaster not of her making.

2. Stay, and continue to lie to my wife by omission and accept that while I may not really be happy, I at least save her and the children from the pain of me destroying our marriage.

For instance, could be other things like...

3) I tell her more of what's going on inside me so we can share more emotional/mental intimacy and I can be understood and appreciated as authentic me. She becomes willing to hear these things without taking it personally so things are more "Open enough" for me and I don't have to go around bottled up and trapped feeling or like I'm living some fake life. I don't see anyone else so it's still "Closed enough" for her because I love her and want to be with her.

4) End the marriage. Not because I love divorce or pain, but because I decide some new things. That it's not fair for me to be taking up my monogamous wife's "sweetie" spot when I'm not what she wants. This gives her a chance to find someone more compatible rather than cheating her out of that experience. I go figure out polydating on my own.

I remain part of the family, just change shape to "divorced family." I coparent in a healthy way and strive to be a decent ex-spouse so the children can see what healthy divorce looks like in case it ever happens to them when they are adults. Or... healthy poly if any of them turn out that way.

I feel utterly trapped. I love her and don't want to hurt her, but at the same time this is hurting me.

So why is it ok to hurt you? And keep you trapped?

Are you not able to say to people "I love you a whole lot. But not even for you will I do stuff that hurts me?"

I suppose the question I really need to know the answer to is this - is this (poly) something I want, or something I am?

That is only something you can answer.

And it could be BOTH -- something you are AND want.

Contemplating change is hard, esp when you aren't sure that "giving everything up" that you have now is worth "going off into the unknown."

But remember you aren't giving up your family.

You would be giving up a marriage where you feel trapped.
  • You fix that by being more authentic and honest with your wife inside the marraige. (I don't know if this post helps you from my blog thread.
  • And if that is not enough, you fix that by gently letting the marriage go with as amicable and peaceful a break up possible, since you still have to coparent with her and you do love her.
No matter what you decide about the marriage part?

You are still going to be part of the family. Just "divorced family." Which is no different to me than "step-parent/remarried" family, "Adopted family", "LGBTQ family", "multi-racial family" and so on. Families just come in a lot of shapes And yes, some of them are "Divorced family."

Galagirl
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Greetings Arakiel,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.

Based on what I have read of your writings so far, my vote would be that poly is something you are -- not just something you want. You seem to have strong feelings about it, even if your feelings about not hurting your family are even stronger. When poly is something you are, you are likely to hurt people no matter which way you go. If you tried to talk about it with your wife, you would hurt her. If you bottled it up, you would hurt yourself, and there is the risk that you might eventually cheat on your wife, which would hurt her as well. So I don't see any easy solutions for you. Most likely you will end up at least talking to your wife about it, which won't be easy for either of you. She'll say, "No," which will hurt you, or she'll say, "Yes," for the wrong reasons. Or at least those are the two outcomes you'd anticipate. I hope Polyamory.com will help you sort out this dilemma, but ultimately the decisions must be made by you.

Good luck and hang in there,
Sincerely,
Kevin T., "official greeter"

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Welcome aboard!
 

Arakiel

New member
Hey,

Thanks for taking time out to reply to me, it means a lot just to have someone 'listen' as it were. Apologies if my rambling stream of consciousness is hard to follow, or if I miss things. I have thought so much on this over so long, but thinking won't change anything.

Galagirl - thank you for your insight, I suppose that my thinking does seem very rigid on this, but knowing my wife, I am 100% sure that she couldn't accept the idea of me even considering poly feelings - she would see it simply as me not loving her "enough", as for her, love is an all or nothing thing. It would either end things, or lead to her not trusting me to not act on my feelings.

Ending the marriage just isn't an option, firstly, I know from her talking about friends marriages ending that she would see it as me running away and abandoning my commitment to her and the children - I would, after all, definitely be to blame. It would never be amicable.

Also we would both struggle financially to maintain 2 seperate households, and that would hurt the kids. I am trapped as much by my responsibility to them as by anything else.

You ask why it is OK for me to hurt - well, because this is MY fault that I am in this position - someone ends up hurt, but I can limit it to just me. I willingly got married, had kids - I now just have to face up to the responsibilities that come with that - life isn't about being happy, unless you can do that without hurting others, it's about doing what you have to do. Having thought more and more, I just need to try to put all this out of my mind, put my head down and get on with living my life within the restrictions of the choices I made.

I wish you all happiness

A
 

Arakiel

New member
I really wish I felt that I could *come clean* as it were, as I hate this lying by omission, but if I reveal the truth I feel so scared that I will just hurt so many people.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I really wish I felt that I could *come clean* as it were, as I hate this lying by omission, but if I reveal the truth I feel so scared that I will just hurt so many people.

If that is your wish? Then I think you could become more willing to speak your truth and align your behavior to this goal.

Why aren't you honest in the first place? Wife doesn't make marriage a safe space to be in? Is she in the habit of lashing out? Is that why you are so fearful?

If you cannot be your true self around this spouse and don't feel safe there... Isn't that the bigger problem rather than the poly feelings?

I am 100% sure that she couldn't accept the idea of me even considering poly feelings - she would see it simply as me not loving her "enough", as for her, love is an all or nothing thing. It would either end things, or lead to her not trusting me to not act on my feelings.

So she basically doesn't want an honest spouse who can be authentic around her?

And if that is true.... THIS is the kind of spouse you want for yourself?

I don't know her. I cannot tell if your fears/worries are taking over, if you are selling her short, or if you know her best in real life and this is really how she reacts/responds to things -- acting out at you and being mean.

I do see that you are really scared people will be hurt and it will end in divorce in the worst case scenario.

Could remember that other divorced people do manage it though. They do what they have to do. They manage being coparents, and meeting all their family commitments and responsibilities even after a divorce. They don't "run away." They face the tough parts and get through it. That is behavior you could do -- keep being responsible even if the marriage part has to end.

I don't know what kind of deadbeats her friends married, but that doesn't have to be you. You enduring being "trapped" in your own marriage because her friends married irresponsible people makes no sense.

You cannot control how wife responds or reacts. Her behavior choices are up to her. If she has a tantrum, acts out, and wants to have a less than amicable divorce? Then the one lashing out and hurting people is her, not you. Could seek marriage counseling to help. Or part ways if it doesn't help.

People in monogamous marriages are not DEAD. They notice beautiful people in the world and experience crushes from time to time. It is HUMAN to do that, not a failing or "lack of love" for the spouse.

The traditional marriage vow usually runs along the lines of "Do you take this person to be your wife/husband, to live together in (holy) matrimony, to love them, to honor them, to comfort them, and to keep them in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, til death do you part?"

The traditional marriage promise is not to gouge out your eyes! Part of it is to forsake all others -- not pursue or date other people. It doesn't mean you can't appreciate beauty in the world. People feel whatever they feel. They don't control feelings bubbling up. They DO control their behavior choices. It's ok to think the cashier or bank teller is cute and... leave it there and NOT date them!

If you are struggling with burdens inside and have decided not to share that with spouse? That's fine. Don't have to share everything. It's ok to have some privacy.

If your wife is not a good person to talk to at this time? You could share these thoughts with a poly friendly counselor if you wanted to.


But if you are doing lies of omission or saying you are fine when she asks and you really aren't? I don't think that honors anyone. Doesn't honor you. Nor her. And if she decides to act out at you and throw a tantrum because you decided to be share honestly what's on your mind? She's not honoring nor comforting you in a time of struggle.

It may be that you decide you have grown in different directions and can't be married any more. Spiritual death has come to this marriage so it is time to part. But I like to think you could manage to arrive at this decision without excessive hurting on either side.

If divorces are ugly because the STBX spouse is all mean and vindictive or whatever? To me it just kinda underlines WHY those divorces are necessary. Who wants to be married to a mean and foul tempered person for the rest of their life?

I don't know why you think it is ok to hurt you, but I think you could stop doing that. Give yourself some time and space to think.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get the one. You have to figure out how you want to be living yours.

You have to figure out what quality of marriage you want to help build/participate in. And which types of marriage you want to skip/not participate in.

Galagirl
 
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Magdlyn

Well-known member
I got divorced when I was 52 years old, after 30+ years of being with my college sweetheart and 3 kids.

I did decrease my own financial stability. My ex makes a good living. Once our divorce was finalized, I got some years of alimony (so I got 1/3 of his income instead of the 1/2 I'd have had married) but when he turned 65 (and I was 63), my alimony ended. I've been making my own way. It's OK. It was worth it. My integrity and happiness was more important than money.

We can't expect to not grow and change from age 18 on. Someone who was enough for us as a teenager may no longer be enough at age 40, 50 or 60. We may live until we're 90. Do we just give up at 40 and live half our lives unhappy, sucking it up to avoid the scandal and temporary discomfort of divorce?

I was always polyamorous, even though I didn't have a word for it. My ex always denied he found others attractive or alluring, so I always felt like the "bad" one. It wasn't until we had some counseling after 20 years together (and it wasn't our first counseling) that he admitted he also found other women attractive and desirable! He'd been lying to "set a good example," letting me believe I was the evil one and he was the good one.

By the time he admitted that, it was too little, too late. We separated and divorced and I found a polyamorous partner almost right away! She and I are both free to admit to attractions and crushes, and to date others as we please. I love her more than I ever loved my husband, because I know she truly, unconditionally loves me as my true self, not as the younger woman who felt she had to try and hide her true nature.
 
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