Helping Partner Live Thru Hard Part

Tri46guy

New member
I apologize for grammar/abbreviation.. typing this on a phone...
Asking for advice or probably more for empathy. *My wife and I have been together 25 great years and have just been starting to figure out this poly thing...we have played w swinging off and on for 10 years but that is easy nonmonogamy... We have that figured out and its no big deal. *But we have only been messing w poly for 2 yrs... my wife started dating someone 2 years ago and i had to go thru hell for a few months working w a poly friendly therapist... but by the time I figured out my shit enough for her to feel ok moving forward then the guy and his wife freaked out and pulled away and my wife tried again with a 2nd guy but that didnt work out... but for the last 8 months I have been cool w her going forrward and she has gotten offers but nothing has clicked... but weve been moving toward me starting to maybe date... its all been conscious and slwworking with the therapust... but now we are entering a phase where.i have been flirting w someone and she is going thru hell...

again weve been doing the work on our shit w a therapist for 2 years and going very slowly w careful joint decisions and lots of communication but still really hard... i hate seeing her go thru this. *She went to the poly group we have been going to last nite alone but came home in tears wondering why she ever thought this was a good idea because she feels panicked she will lose me. *That feels very very unlikely to me. *Ive been trying to provide tons of extra love, support, reassurance, listening... also willing to stop and turn back if she is sure... but i know thats not really what b either of us want. **But dont know what to do except go really slow and keep working w the therapist... seems like she needs to feel it and process it.

*But it does suck to see her in pain and makes me agree with her in wondering why we think this is worth it when you have to go thru a lot of pain to get there.... all the work over the last 2 years has done great things for us as individuals and as a couple... it has taught us better communication, made us aware of our shit and given us tools to work on it, shown us to really trust each other, given us a real sense of gratitude for each other, and developed our independance/autonomy more.... so lot of good stuff for us thru the work, but not yet good stuff from actual poly... and right now, shitty pain. Anyway, long note, but do you have any good advice or empathy to offer?
 
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Ravenscroft

Banned
I do like how you -- & your s/o by your description -- are somewhat self-aware.

The basic sad truth is that the first one to benefit from opening a relationship is often the one to freak out completely when it "gets really Real."

(I can only report by observation. Brief version: I discussed nonmonogamy with my first lover before we were sexual, & thereafter nobody I got close to was unaware of my convictions.)

A pattern has been repeatedly described in studies of swinging. The male (seeing himself as emotionally superior) coerces his wife/girlfriend into being his "beard" into swinging. As his "kid in a candystore" phase begins to wane, she finds reward in being desired. He decides it's not all that he expected & starts pressing for a return to the positional safety of monogamy. She says "no -- this is what YOU wanted, & here we are."

I've seen the identical scenario play out with couples in my social circle who wanted to leap into the sexual playland they imagined my life to be. Less commonly, the genders are reversed, & I've seen the same situation in MM & FF couples as well.

IMNSHO, you are already doing a LOT to help her out. That sounds like a great course to steer & I hope you continue.

But my gut feeling is that (1) she's projecting onto you her insecurities & feeling that YOU ought to have them "if you really love me," & (2) if you return to the (imaginary) safety of monogamy, she may well be the one to decide that you ought to try again... but with rules emplaced to protect both her own freedom AND her sense of emotional superiority over you.

My suggestion is to explore her need to be in control, & mutually examine her underlying insecurities & her sense of entitlement.

You dealt with your "hell" -- you're in an excellent position to help her do the same. If she cannot -- or WILL not -- then you have a choice to make.
 

Tri46guy

New member
Thanks Ravenscroft. Yeah for me the choice for me would absolutely be to stay with her, no question. Poly would add to my life, but I wouldnt want it at the cost of losing the great thing Ive had for 25 years. And we still wouldnt be mono - she would still want to visit swing and bdsm clubs. She is aware its her insecurities getting in the way and is hypercritical of herself for not being able to overcome them yet... anyway, im trying to not make any sudden moves in either direction and see if we can both hang in there for a few weeks of hell, long talks and therapy appointments and see where that gets us. Just wondering right now if its all worth it to try heading this direction... we have to unlearn a lot of shit and it sucks to see her in pain and try to sit with it with her... anyway, thx for listening.
 
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Hi, Tri46guy [what rhyming! "Hi, Tri95guy" might have been overkill:D] and welcome!

To come clean upfront: As a fan of poly and not a fan of swinging (for me, though I accept that "different strokes for different folks"), I'm glad to see that you're trying to make the switch, and I'm sorry that it's causing your wife pain.

I considered writing "I'm sorry that it caused you pain and is now causing your wife pain", but on second thoughts, I decided that no, I'm not sorry that you went through that pain. The past is past, you're not in THAT pain [envy/jealousy/fear of losing her?] anymore. And your past pain makes it easier for you to understand what she's going through now... and help her through it.

So, I'm sorry that you're both going through pain now, and hope swift healing for both of you. But, better than swift: complete.
i hate seeing her go thru this. *She went to the poly group we have been going to last nite alone but came home in tears wondering why she ever thought this was a good idea because she feels panicked she will lose me. *That feels very very unlikely to me.
[...]
But it does suck to see her in pain and makes me agree with her in wondering why we think this is worth it when you have to go thru a lot of pain to get there....
Some of your questions and doubts you answer yourself:
all the work over the last 2 years has done great things for us as individuals and as a couple... it has taught us better communication, made us aware of our shit and given us tools to work on it, shown us to really trust each other, given us a real sense of gratitude for each other, and developed our independance/autonomy more...
This is reflected in the 3rd line of my signature... which I stole ;) off another member's signature. Feel free to add it to yours. :eek:

Also: click on the poem title in the 4th line of my signature, scroll down to that poem on the page that appears, and share it with your wife. Assure her that you're not about to
[...] leave [her] for
Some love you think more “real”
but that the rest of the poem holds true. Doesn't it? (Those lines in context should hold true as well, but there's no reason that it should come to that: reassure her of that... as you already are doing. :))

ALSO! Advise her to join this forum, to share her feelings with others, to ask for advice and reassurance. It's great that you've found a local poly group, but

a) sometimes it's easier to be completely open when you can hide behind anonymity. "We are never so truly ourselves than when we are wearing a mask." I haven't got that quote 100% correctly and I wish I knew where I got it from (some book on child education, probably by Ivan Illich). I Googled it with speech marks and got 0 results. Without speech marks you get a whole passle of pages telling you to take off your masks. Well, yeah (healthy advice)... but not always!

b) unless your poly group runs a 24/7 hotline, this forum is more often "open for business".

You may [100% communication] or may not [see a), above: you might each benefit from a private place to vent and express doubts that you don't want the other worrying about, especially if they're molehills that the other might make mountains out of] want to show her this thread and invite her to add comments here. Up to you.

All the best! Keep communicating (principally with her... but also here, whenever you want.)

Happy healing!
 

Tri46guy

New member
I considered writing "I'm sorry that it caused you pain and is now causing your wife pain", but on second thoughts, I decided that no, I'm not sorry that you went through that pain. The past is past, you're not in THAT pain [envy/jealousy/fear of losing her?] anymore. And your past pain makes it easier for you to understand what she's going through now... and help her through it.
!
Yeah I am totally glad I went thru that pain before because it does help me be supportive and understanding. Its also validating and comforting to hear her say the same exact things I said and feel and fear the same things I did. Her fear shows me how much she doesnt want to lose me. Its also comforting to hear myself say many of the same things she said on this side of it about it not feeling like a big threat or a big risk.

In some sick way I really want to be feeling challeged again by her starting up with someone so I can literally share her pain and because I want to test how much Ive actually grown or learned. I really want to see if I would have as hard of a time or if it would be easier this time around...

Anyway, I agree, I dont regret having gone through the sleepless nights and moments of panic myself. But i it sucked at the time.
 
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