Help please.

helocrwman

New member
I just found this website last night. I never thought I would get the courage to actually post anything.

I guess I will go ahead and give the back story about what’s been going on in my life. I’m pretty new to the idea of a polyamorous marriage. I myself don’t feel like I need anyone besides my wife. We have been married for just over 6 years and have two kids together. I am very busy at work all day and at times don’t get to see my kids or my wife for months at a time.

Earlier this year, I learned that my wife had been talking to and engaging in sexual conversations with multiple men. At that time, we weren’t even talking about poly at all, so I got cheated on. I know poly isn’t supposed to be used to save or fix a marriage, but I looked into it and we talked about having an open marriage.

At first, my wife said absolutely not. She said at the time that she could never see herself being physical with anyone else. With much more discussion, we came up with some rules that I think are a different form of poly. Since she was needing more conversation than I could give her, because of work, we agreed she could talk to anyone she wanted and it could get as sexual as she wanted, minus full nudity, because I felt like that would lead to physicality. She said the physical aspect was fine in our relationship.

The other rules were: whenever I was around and in the same room, she couldn’t be openly having conversations with any of her partners. After getting cheated on, the trust I had for her was essentially gone. So I thought these rules would help build trust, because I could always ask to see what was being sent. I know it seems like I wanted to keep tabs on what was being said (which would be invasive), but initially I was trying to build trust so that in the future I wouldn’t have to check because I'd fully trust her.

After 3 months of being away for work, I came back and she finally got the courage to open up about how she was talking to one person. She said they'd been talking for a month, and it had gotten sexual, but she had been following the rules. I tried to believe her, but in the back of my mind I needed to check. She said they solely use Snapchat to talk, even though they had each other's phone numbers. She said he only had Snapchat, didn’t have any other social media like Facebook or Instagram.

One of our rules was that I could initially check to try and build trust, but with Snapchat I couldn’t look at anything being sent. That caused an argument. When I basically gave her an ultimatum, saying she needed to have all of their conversations on text, she pushed back with a “compromise,” saying she would start saving their messages to show me. After some reluctance, I said okay.

That was the first rule that was broken. Another rule she broke was that she was messaging him when I was sitting right next to her. When I asked her, she lied and said she wasn’t messaging him. That obviously led to another argument. But ultimately she is working on getting better about that.

She has said that at times she feels like we are just coparents and she relates more to him on an emotional level. I thought at first it was only because I was gone so long at times for work, but now I’ve learned that even when I’m home, she still doesn’t feel an emotional connection. We’ve discussed which one we thought was more important, emotional or physical connection. She said they are on the same level for her. I told her that for me it was the emotional connection that was stronger, because over time and as you get older that physical connection will fade away and all that is left is the emotional one.

I’m just afraid that I’m her primary partner, since we are married, but if she ever got the chance to meet this person face-to-face, she wouldn’t need me, especially if they had a strong physical connection on top of their emotional one. I also feel inadequate. How did she lose this emotional connection we had in a matter of months? She said it’s been an ongoing thing for her. But she never brought it up until I found out she was cheating.

She is a stay-at-home mom right now, but is looking for a job, since our kids will be in school soon.

Overall, I feel like I’m losing what we had, and it’s becoming only physical, which I fear is not enough for either of us. She is always saying that I should try and find someone as well, but I’ve told her that’s not where my head is at.

The latest news is that she did start saving her messages, right before they get deleted.

She sent this guy money. It was only a small amount, but with me being the only one with a job I felt super betrayed by this.

I feel like it is always just one thing after another.

Should I tell her I’m not comfortable? I mean, it’s only been a month for them. Well, I can only see and trust that it’s only been a month, because of them using Snapchat.

I’m new to this. I am just wondering if our rules are too many and too stringent. Should I be more open about things? I'm just a scared guy over here. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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sorry. Posted before done. And now considering another approach. I’m very muddled trying to follow the wall of text.
 
I'm not going to reproduce my quotes and commentary from my original half-post. But please do try to edit and break up that wall of text into paragraphs for the readers.

Your wife cheated on you by sexting other men.

You insisted that you try a form of open marriage where she continues sexting men under rules imposed by you, which rules included the following:
(1) No physicality (does this mean any in-person meeting? Not touch? Or just no sexual contact?
(2) No "full nudity" (so images and video chat with partial nudity okay, but no head to toe naked?)
(3) No openly having conversations with other partners while you're in the room (I quibbled with the qualification "openly," but clearly from the story of her "breaking" the rule it just means just no texting them while you're in the room. I do want to know if that means you walking into a room necessarily and immediately ends any conversation she may be having. Like, how draconian was this supposed to be?)
(4) You get to read all of her messages with other men (or all of her messages with anyone?) until you are ready to trust her again (or was there an end date?).
(5) All messaging with partners has to happen on her regular messaging apps (which you have access to, or which preserve a record for you to review and audit), but this rule was changed by her (your scare-quotes) "compromise" to which you reluctantly agreed, allowing her to save all SnapChat messages to show to you.

She didn't do a good job of following these rules, but she's doing better. Presumably she wasn't as confused by what they meant as I was, and presumably she agreed to them freely.

Is this accurate so far? And can you clarify the ambiguities?

She has said that at times she feels like we coparent at times and she relates more to him on an emotional level. I thought at first it was only because I was gone so long at times for work but no I’ve learned that even when I’m home she still doesn’t feel an emotional connection. We’ve discussed which one we thought was more important and she said they are on the same level for her. For me I told her it’s the emotional connection that’s stronger because over time and as you get older that physical connection will fade away and all that is left is the emotional one.
So she is missing out on one of the equally important aspects of connection that she wants out of a relationship. And the one she says is missing is the one that you identify as more important in a marriage. Is that right? Do you think a relationship counselor could help you two explore that disconnect more, and determine if you're working toward the same goals for emotional connection in this marriage?

I’m just afraid that I’m the primary partner since we are married but if she ever got the chance to meet this person face to face she wouldn’t need me, especially if they have a strong physical connection on top of their emotional one.
She *could* go meet this person face to face ... you can't actually stop that with rules. You know that, right? Like, she cheated on previous rules (assuming monogamy was a rule of your marriage), and she hasn't done well with the "open marriage" rules. You may or may not be wrong about whether she would need you after meeting this person. But worrying about it isn't going to change that it's very likely to happen.

You might want to work on accepting that and deciding how you will handle it within yourself.

I also feel inadequate because how did she lose this emotional connection that we had only in a matter of months. She said it’s been an ongoing thing for her but never brought it up to me until I found out she was cheating.
You were unavailable physically, and she didn't confide in you. It's pretty common, but I'm not sure it's inadequacy. It's pretty easy for someone else to come in who isn't sharing the day to day coparenting and working long hours and weeks away -- and for that person to literally be more present. They aren't more adequate. They're just there at the time.

She is a stay at mom right now but is looking for a job since our kids will be in school soon.
Stay at home mom to littles is hard, and harder still when there isn't another adult around to talk to.

Overall I just feel like I’m losing what we do have and it’s strictly becoming only physical which I fear is not enough for either of us.
Well, at the point of finding out about the cheating, you didn't say "Let's try to preserve what we have" you said "Let's try something new." So yes. The previous marriage is no more. The new one, with some kind of open or poly (?) is being roughed out. Slow down and little and consider a lot and talk more about what you need out of it, and out of life, and whether what the two of you need can be built here. Maybe stop trying to tease it out of the ashes of the waning marriage and the (slightly wonky) framework of the new thing you've been trying. Maybe start from scratch. I love these things about our marriage. What do you love? I want these things for me, within and without of what we have, what about you?

She is always saying I should try and find someone as well but I’ve told her that’s not where my head is at.
Yup. She doesn't have to worry about your explorations. And you don't have to add that to your heap until you want to, if ever.

The latest news is that she did start saving her messages at a super slow pace basically right before they get deleted
I don't understand the super slow pace before they get deleted part -- are you saying she's only barely following the rule? What's the point there?
but she sent this guy money. Sure it was only a small amount but with me being the only one with a job I felt super betrayed by this.
Okay, whoa. Your wife is a stay at home mom, so she *has* a full-time job. In fact, you're away from home more than the standard 40-hour week, so she has a super full-time overtime job. Her doing that enables you to work for the paycheck while having kids and a home taken care of *for free.*

If you haven't got your head around the fact that every dime you earn right now is equally hers, do that. I wouldn't lecture on that except you said you're the only one with a job. That's ... not conducive to building a marriage where people feel autonomous and fully vested. Once the kids and home needs are funded, you each should have money you can spend without answering to the other.

Now. She gave him money. And this is someone she hadn't met in real life? I agree, that's concerning. It wasn't a lot, and everyone gets to spend some money without answering for it. So it's less concerning, but you want to know if she being manipulated, or if this is the first in a series of increasing payments, or just what the heck is going on. Or do you know what the money was for? Do you feel betrayed because there was an agreement not to send money or gifts? Or do you mainly feel out of the loop, and worried about what's next?

Should I tell her I’m not comfortable? I mean it’s only been a month for them. Well I can only see and trust that’s it’s been a month because of them using Snapchat. I’m new to this and am just wondering if our rules are too much and too stringent? Should I be more open about things? Just a scared guy over here.
Yes, you should tell her you're not comfortable. And you should tell her in the humblest way that you were probably wrong to cajole her into trying this half-baked open marriage thing when you should have slowed down and worked on healing from the breach. Instead of pushing her to patch the hole in her life with sexy conversations with new partners, you realize now you might have asked her about what she wanted from marriage and, besides marriage, in her life right now.

Since you asked, the rules are ridiculous. You cannot control this situation, and they just sound controlling and punitive. You wouldn't be worrying about the rules if you'd addressed the cheating within the context of your marriage instead of jumping ahead with incomplete plans for a new structure that you had to talk her into. You need to go back to step one and address the cheating and the trust and the loss of connection. That is all a LOT harder to do when she is exploring polysextamy or whatever this is you've devised and nudged her into.

I think if you go to a counselor together, you can find out, in a neutral and organized way, whether wife is willing to put brakes on this exploration while you two process the trust and connection issues. You need to heal, and she needs to understand and process why she broke your marriage.

TL;dr Classic "marriage broken, add people" -- PLEASE read the frequently suggested material and please see someone to help you and wife salvage what connection you have. Maybe ENM or polyamory someday. After all that.

I sincerely wish you healing and better days.
 
I'm sorry you struggle.

If you can still edit your post to put some paragraph breaks, that might help you get more readers.

I'm going to repeat back what I understand. You correct me if I get it wrong, ok? Colors are mine.

We have been married for just over 6 years and have two kids together. I am very busy at work all day and at times don’t get to see my kids or my wife for months at a time.

That's rough on both of you. Do you both have enough FRIENDS to talk to? Are your social circles not just each other?

It sounds like you wife cheated on monogamous marriage agreements by sexting other men, and you learned about it earlier this year. Was she also deceiving the Dude? Does the Dude thinks she's single when she's really married?

I didn't read where you two went to see a marriage counselor to heal from the cheating. Instead, you suggested open/poly marriage. Why jump right to that? What is that supposed to prevent or fix?

Does that mean open on both sides and you get to flirt/chat/online date other people too? Even if you don't want to use the option, you do get it, right? It's not like it just doesn't exist for you?

It took some time and I know poly isn’t supposed to be used to save or fix a marriage but I looked and we talked about having an open marriage.

Seems like you know open/poly is not a "band-aid." Open/poly has a way of shining a light on all the cracks already there. "Relationship broken, add more people" is not a good idea.

It sounds like you made initial agreements for trying this out. How long was the trial period going to be?
  • we both agreed she could talk to anyone she wanted and it could get as sexual as she wanted minus full nudity (ok, fair enough.)
  • both agreed whenever you were around and in the same room she couldn’t be openly having a conversation with any of her partners. (ok, fair enough.)
  • both agreed for the first X months, you could look at the messages to be reassured she was sticking to agreements and not breaking trust again. This temp agreement would end on ____. (Wonky agreement. Did the other people consent to you peeking at their messages to wife or did they think it was private? Did either of you consider THEIR consent? Or not really? What stops her from playing the game to get past the checkpoint, and then doing whatever after that?)

You went away for 3 months of work and came back. In that time...

  • She finally got the courage to open up about her talking to one person. (good.)
  • She said they have been talking for a month now and it had gotten sexual but she had been following the rules. (ok)
  • You asked to see the messages as you both agreed. She didn't want to do that. After an argument she agreed to save some and show them then. (Not great... but this is a wonky agreement in the first place if not all parties consent. And it doesn't really build trust anyway.)
  • She lied about messaging him when you were right beside her. (Not great.)
  • She sent him money without running it by you. (Not great. Even if you are the only income, do you not have separate banking? Like joint for house and kids, your personal, her personal? Then even if she makes foolish choices, liking giving him money from her personal account, neither you nor the house is going without.)
She has said that at times she feels like we coparent at times and she relates more to him on an emotional level. I thought at first it was only because I was gone so long at times for work but no I’ve learned that even when I’m home she still doesn’t feel an emotional connection. We’ve discussed which one we thought was more important and she said they are on the same level for her. For me I told her it’s the emotional connection that’s stronger because over time and as you get older that physical connection will fade away and all that is left is the emotional one.

Is wife bored of being a SAHM when you are away a lot? Is this a healthy marriage? Are there still shared values, or are you realizing you have changed over time and value different things and are growing apart?

Is parting ways better? Would you actually see your kids more?

Will you be changing your job so you aren't away so much?

Maybe this helps you both assess if you read it together and can be super honest with each other. Pay attention to the last set of bullet points.


I’m just afraid that I’m the primary partner since we are married but if she ever got the chance to meet this person face to face she wouldn’t need me, especially if they have a strong physical connection on top of their emotional one. I also feel inadequate because how did she lose this emotional connection that we had only in a matter of months. She said it’s been an ongoing thing for her but never brought it up to me until I found out she was cheating. She is a stay at mom right now but is looking for a job since our kids will be in school soon.

Why didn't she ever bring it up before, this loss of emotional connection with you? How do you normally connect when you are away? Sexting, video calls, online dates, letters and care packages, or something else?

You seem scared she's fallen out of love with you, and that if she meets Dude in person, she will leave you for him.

Meanwhile I'm wondering... Dude is only on Snapchat and is getting money out of her. How many others does he milk like that? It's not like she knows him all that well. Have either of you considered that Dude might not be a nice guy and is just taking advantage of lonely hearts ladies? She's lonely/bored and ripe for the picking, from the sound of it. Not everyone you meet online is actually a nice person.

Have you talked honestly about the elephant in the room-- divorce, or are you both pussyfooting around it?

Overall I just feel like I’m losing what we do have and it’s strictly becoming only physical which I fear is not enough for either of us. She is always saying I should try and find someone as well but I’ve told her that’s not where my head is at.

You having another partner wouldn't solve THIS partner telling lies, behaving meh, and you two slowly losing your emotional connections to each other.

Will you two be seeing a marriage counselor, someone experienced in non-monogamy? It's ok to get someone to help you two have the conversations you need to have.

You might consider:


The latest news is that she did start saving her messages at a super slow pace basically right before they get deleted but she sent this guy money. Sure it was only a small amount but with me being the only one with a job I felt super betrayed by this.

Why feel betrayed? She does the bulk of the kids/home stuff, since you are gone a lot.

She doesn't have her own personal account so she can do her hobbies, see her friends, get lunch out, etc., from that? And you have yours?

I'd be concerned Dude is using her, which is separate from how she spends. If she spends her personal money on silly things, isn't that her choice? She CAN spend her personal money on silly things.

DH and I have an agreement that neither says boo about the other's personal account. This extends to our college students. So I say nothing when he buys video games and model planes, he says nothing when I spend my money on Starbucks and massages, we say nothing when the kids buy anime and manga stuff. We don't all have to like each other's things. We all have to respect that personal accts are personal.

Should I tell her I’m not comfortable? I mean it’s only been a month for them. Well I can only see and trust that’s it’s been a month because of them using Snapchat. I’m new to this and am just wondering if our rules are too much and too stringent? Should I be more open about things? Just a scared guy over here.

I think you could be honest and tell her you are not comfortable with this, and that you want to see a couples counselor together, with a goal of healing from the cheating and transitioning to open/poly in a better way than this. And if that cannot be met, then set a goal of a peaceful parting, knowing you tried all the things.

I imagine this is hard to feel, but the actions are straightforward.

Trading cheating for wonky open or wonky poly, rather than going to a counselor to deal with things head on is not a great idea. It's like going the long way around just to wind up in the same starting square of, "This is messed up. What will we do?"

And then instead of ONE thing to deal with -- the cheating, now it is many things -- the original cheating, the wonky open/poly, Dude maybe being a user, extra hurt feelings and damages from taking the long way around, etc.

Pump the brakes on this. Set up counseling. NO meeting Dude in person at this time, and no naked video calls, cuz who knows whether Dude is recording?

Separate the finances, if you haven't already. Even if you transition well into open/poly, dates can come out of your personal accts, not the joint one-- your dates from yours, her dates from hers. When you date each other you split or take turns treating.

Do your fair share of the parenting and chores at home.

When she gets her new job, she can do her fair share of helping to "feed" all the accounts.

I'm sorry you feel scared. Speak your truth anyway.

Galagirl
 
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Hello helocrwman,

It sounds like your wife is really struggling to abide by the rules, and you are really struggling to trust her. Another problem is that she is not feeling emotionally connected to you. You are worried about being replaced. You feel inadequate. She has cheated on you and as a result, your self-esteem has taken a ding.

Tell her you're not comfortable. She should not be sending this guy money, when you are the only one with a job. It's one thing after another with her. You need to say that to her. Be honest with her. Don't try to hide your feelings. You don't know if you can trust her. And maybe the rules do need to be modified. The only way to find out is to ask her.

I hope you can work through this difficult stuff.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 
You need to get another job. Your wife is basically a single parent. Many of us would feel emotionally disconnected from someone who is away for months at a time.

And her money is her money. She should have money she can spend on whatever or whoever she likes. She's at home raising your kids while you're away for months living the lifestyle of a working bachelor. How selfish of you to raise the point that only you work? Not surprising since you're never around to provide childcare and it's all left to her.

I'm surprised she hasn't left you. What kind of relationship is this? I think when it comes time for marriage and kids, those away for months jobs need to be given up. It's a new life with family responsibility now. Just earning money to send home is not very helpful.
 
I suspect OP might be military or film industry or on oil rigs or something else that commonly sends people away for extended projects. It's something that those who stay home adapt to, even though it's not ideal with young kids, but needs must.

And as such, I 100% agree that she should have her own discretionary spending account and no, that doesn't mean kids clothes or household groceries, but money that is for whatever she wishes. And if she wishes to spend some of that on sending some money to another person, that's okay too.

I agree that there should be some agreements around being engrossed in flirtatious conversation on her phone while sitting on the couch with you. I understand that this is just too uncomfortable for you and it should be a matter of courtesy that she removes herself to another room for those conversations, and at the times where she has agreed to be fully present with you that her phone goes away.

But that also means that you might need to recognise that just because you are home and sitting on the couch together, it doesn't mean that you will be fully present with each other. It's not a date night, it's just another evening relaxing after a day of kids. She'll have her own routines when you're away, and she has the right to keep them when you are home.

Polyamory is a good way to be deliberate and intentional about the quality time you spend together.

As for making and keeping rules in general, if one person makes them and the other person is not really keeping them, then they aren't serving their purpose and should be revisited with the intention of finding things that can be agreed upon.

The rules around you reading the conversations is intrusive and I'm not surprised she's reluctant to keep to that. It's also an invasion of the other person's privacy. Your concerns around nudity seem paternal... you don't need to protect her, she's a grown adult with presumably enough competency to manage a household singlehandedly when you are away.

You have either agreed to an open marriage or you haven't. If you have, then she has the right to conduct her other relationships without your oversight. I understand you're scared, but if you try to exert too much control, your fears are more likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Extend her your trust again, and create an environment where she can come to you if she wishes, or needs, to share more information, but please don't demand it with rules around reading messages or what can be in those messages. Trust her judgement in picking good people (unless you really don't believe you're a good person so she's picked badly before...). Yes, she might discover in a few months that her conversations partner(s) is not actually a person she enjoys anymore, but then she can extract herself from that relationship/conversation. Sure, someone might actually turn into a real jerk, but you can be a lot more supportive in healthy ways rather than controlling the way one might check a 13 year old's socials for signs of internet predators. Again, your wife is a grown up. Treat her as such. Be the friend she can turn to if things do start going wonky with another guy, and rather than the "I told you so" or trying to immediately fix it, ask her what she needs from you. Perhaps it is simply a sounding board so she can sort through her own thoughts.

To change tack again (I'm on my phone and this is tricky to write) you mentioned you're afraid of things changing, that things reduce to purely physical between you and her. Perhaps you are feeling some level of displacement already. A way to address this, as I've mentioned before, is to be intentional with your quality time together. Plan real dates, ones that foster conversation, and fun, and experiences together. I know that can be tricky with young children, but some of those conversations and experiences can be family based ones. Build memories together, make home a joyous place for all.

These early stages of polyamory can be a hell of an adjustment, but eventually a new normal settles in and the fears go away.
 
I suspect OP might be military or film industry or on oil rigs or something else that commonly sends people away for extended projects. It's something that those who stay home adapt to, even though it's not ideal with young kids, but needs must.
Do they though?

Do those who stay home "adapt"?

Is it a "need"?

I think men feel that they must remain in their non-child friendly career because being in the military or whatever is this huge part of their identity and life goals. I think having kids means that you let go of some of your dreams. Women seem to get this more often than men.

Maybe having this type of job while choosing to have kids is kind of selfish choice. If you want to be in that field, maybe you forego parenting while you are.

FWIW, I see just as many women enable men in this line of thinking. They also believe that expecting him to have a more home-based job as he becomes a father is totally unreasonable. I mean... will he even be a man any more?! Sometimes they like the money that comes with that kind of job and feel that they need it to provide a lifestyle that reflects wealth.

At the same time, those same women are overwhelmed with their workload. Often (not in OP'S case), they're working a full-time job too. Their relationships are not happy ones. Infidelity is common (like in OP's case). Yet they don't see that they're part of enabling the idea this man needs this job where he is absent from family life for long stretches.
 
Yeah, I think it must be incredibly difficult to be in a marriage with a person who is away for literal months at a time. If he is a musician on tour, and she's a fan, maybe she enjoys knowing he's playing for fans. There is reflected glory. If he's in the military, she might come from a long line of military wives, who has father, grandfather, brothers, uncles all military and so this just seems normal. I know that can still get real depressing though, and lead to unhealthy coping skills for the wife, like abusing substances, or an addiction to food, or, in this case, semi-cheating.

I hope the OP comes back with an update.

As some of us know, modern polyamory supposedly got its start in WW2 when some soldiers going into battle asked their buddies to be backup husbands for their wives, in case they didn't make it out alive. But on the other hand, the military looks at adultery very sternly. I think its cause for discharge. Some people do practice ethical or non-ethical non-monogamy and take the risk, anyway.
 
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