How to Make it About Her...When it's not About Her?

Three

New member
The very LAST thing I'd want to convey is coming across like a narcissist. It's not all about me. This conversation should be more about a mutual understanding, and that she will be loved, cared for, and not abandoned! But, this isn't all about her. She has no interest in polyamory. She has no interest in sharing on an emotional level. Swinging - yes, that was fun - like a rollercoaster. It was get on, have fun, go home with your husband. But THIS...feelings, emotion, love - this is different. She seems incapable of sharing at that level because it comes across as threatening to her post-Catholic, monogamy infused surroundings that she was brought up on.

As for this chap, I am far more jaded about monogamy despite being raised in a loving, non-divorced, non-cheating (that I am aware of anyway) set of parents. It was Leave it to Beaver, only 30 years later. The divorce rate, the friends (and family) who have cheated on their spouses, the staying together for the kids - all that BS has opened my eyes to things like polyamory. But more than that, I feel this need to be in an emotional relationship with more than one. Why? No fawking idea - but it's there, and I can't ignore it. I'm 100% sure there is some deep-seeded psychology behind "why" that I probably could understand if given the tools. But for now, I just know that it's there.

All of that rambling aside, I'd like to talk with my wife about polyamory. I have read the various posts about the mechanics of this, and I think that I could have a gentle conversation about it. My question to you all is this: what do I say when she flat out rejects the idea? As mentioned earlier, I can't ignore it. On the flip side, I love my wife and have zero thoughts of considering divorce.
I'd appreciate your insight, wisdom, or advice.
Cheers!
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Three,

I see that divorce is not an option for you -- after all you love your wife. That being the case, when she rejects the idea of polyamory -- I mean completely rejects it, forever -- you are going to have to do it her way. The only alternative would be to practice polyamory in spite of her lack of consent -- and then what if she divorced you? I assume that's not an option either. So maybe the thing to say to her, is, "Look, this is about me ... I have this need. Is there any chance we could have a mono/poly marriage? You could remain mono, while I could be poly. Would that be an acceptable compromise?" Mono/poly marriages are not easy, but they can be done.

Hopefully that helps,
Kevin T.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
Hi Three, and welcome.

If you've been reading around, you've probably already found this link: https://medium.com/@PolyamorySchool/the-most-skipped-step-when-opening-a-relationship-f1f67abbbd49

But let's unpack further for it a sec.

So you've got a swinging background but you want to explore a more emotional connection with someone. You reckon your wife will not be down for that.

But first, are you imagining that you'll both have an emotional connection with another person, the same person? Or another couple, again the same couple? Or do you want to date separately? So you can find an emotional connection with someone but accept that your wife is mono and happy to just be with you? Or perhaps that if you date others, she might also want to date others without you? What model of polyamory are you really going for here?

Dating separately is generally more sustainable, and plenty of people are mono-poly in practice even if the theory is that both could date if they want to yet one person invests their time and money into different aspects of life - hobbies, sports, friendships that do not include romantic aspects. The other has their multiple romantic relationships. They still work together to make the marriage a deliberate and intimate relationship but the detangling (linked article) has ensured that each person is fulfilled outside of the marriage and not just within it.

So how to make it about her...? Ensure that you encourage her to foster activities that don't include you, whatever they are. Talk about growing as individuals as well as growing as a couple. Have separate spending money, open a new bank account each, in your individual names, so that each person can save up for whatever experience they wish separate of the other.

Do you actually have nights off from each other? Or has the post- Catholic monogamy still left the lingering sense that you have to be home every night? Maybe work on this before you even mention polyamory. Talk about being deliberate in your relationship rather than the default beliefs that society at large has moulded us into. Break the old relationship model and build a new one that emphasizes personal choice combined with cooperation. You could do this without centering polyamory, but just as a general healthy relationship practice.

Perhaps you already do all of this and it really is time to bring up polyamory. Could you start with watching something on YouTube or listening to a podcast? There are some really good ones out there. Talk about it in the abstract so there isn't an immediate sense of pressure or threat to mono values.

Speaking of values, talk about what your (plural) core values in a relationship are. Examine the origins of these and if they are values that are serving you. Let's be honest, if someone is threatened by non-monogamy, there's usually a security issue that's underlying it. Either earthly, e.g. Abandonment, or spiritually, e.g. Hellfire and damnation. Or both. And both stem from fear of loss of love, spouse's or god's. It sounds like you think you'll come up against this fear of loss perhaps in the form of, "but if you love someone else you won't love me anymore." And in truth, it's possible that in practice you will find that during New Relationship Energy (NRE) for another that your feelings for your wife end up taking a back seat. You're going to have to preempt this if you do move forward with polyamory!

So, only you know where you're really at in your relationship, and if you want to disclose your current level of engagement we might have some more tailored advice, but wherever you are, truly consider what is sustainable and what doesn't have to be.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
This conversation should be more about a mutual understanding, and that she will be loved, cared for, and not abandoned!

But what are you asking her to consider doing? And does it stretch her further than she can go? If so... does it matter that you promise you will keep on loving her, caring for her, and not abandon her... if she herself has to stray too far away from her core values? She has to love herself, care for herself. You have to take care of you in similar fashion.

And sometimes that means one person or the other having the courage to say

"I love you a lot. But no. Not even for you will I do stuff or remain in stuff that hurts me or go do stuff I just have no interest in."

She has no interest in polyamory. She has no interest in sharing on an emotional level. Swinging - yes, that was fun - like a rollercoaster. It was get on, have fun, go home with your husband.

Well, she might be up for sharing group sex together with you and whoever else. It's a one off, nothing long lasting. But that doesn't automatically mean she wants to share a long lasting romantic partner with you like both polydating the same person.

Or even dealing with just you having a long term partner.

Maybe she finds one off encounters fun enough and easier to hide from nosy family and friends. Is that the main objection? Not wanting to have to deal with being "out" as poly if people become regular parts of your life or hers?

Or is that she wants to retain romantic exclusiveness with you? Something else?

If YOU are the one wanting another romantic partner... why would SHE have to share anything with them at that level? Or be involved in any of that? Do you both have to be doing the same kind of non-monogamy? Have to date the same person?

Are you both ok with open/poly or does it HAVE to match? Like both doing only open? Or both doing only poly? What kind of open model are you actually envisioning?

She seems incapable of sharing at that level because it comes across as threatening to her post-Catholic, monogamy infused surroundings that she was brought up on.

That's her stuff to deal with. She may or may not want to unpack all that or deal with any of it. If she is mostly monogamish and only does once in a while swinging? She can leave all that on the shelf and not do anything about it. It's ignorable in the short term.

Maybe not so ignorable in a more long lasting poly relationship. Is that the objection? She doesn't want her main life to be polyamory? She wants her main life to be monogamy and then once in a great while some forays into swing?

My question to you all is this: what do I say when she flat out rejects the idea?

Well, could thank her for being honest.

Could also ask clarifying questions. What ABOUT the idea is troublesome for her? She may or may not be able to articulate.

Have you done the free worksheets from the Opening Up Book?

Wayback Machine
Self Evaluation <-- this one might guide the conversation you seem to want to have with her

Wayback Machine
Creating Authentic Relationships

Wayback Machine
Reflecting on Change

Wayback Machine
Open Relationship Checklist

Could also ask various other things.
  • Could ask if this is a hard limit like "No, never" or a soft limit like "No, not right now. Could change over time."
  • Could ask if she could be ok in a mixed marriage where it's open for her and poly for you.
  • Could ask if she has other suggestions.

If she does not consent to practice open/poly together? Or mono/poly? Does not want to remain in your network if you want to try poly?

Hard as it may feel you get to make a choice.

You thank her for being honest and up front. You accept her "No, thanks. Not for me." This is where she stands.

Then you assess where YOU stand.

1) You give up the want to try poly entirely.

2) Wait and see if she changes her mind later.

3) Find some kind of middle ground where it stays "Closed Enough" for her like you don't poly date people. But becomes "More Open" for you so you can at least TALK about your poly thoughts and feelings with her and not go around bottled up.

4) You don't want to wait. So you move on to do it without her, which might mean changing your mind about a divorce.

5) Something else I cannot think of right now.

You arrive at that mutual understanding place where you each know what the other person wants and can/cannot deal with. And then you figure out if you can still be compatible enough to keep going together or not.

Galagirl
 
Last edited:

Three

New member
Thank you all! Fantastic responses and some excellent suggestions. I have some more thinking to do based on your replies before I move anything forward. And, apparently there is quite a bit of reading I can do (thank you GalaGirl) as well.
So far, this seems like a great community. Thanks again!
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Glad to hear we've been helpful so far.
 

Kjl3694

New member
The bottom line is this isn’t about her, it’s about you. Your not coming to this because you were thinking, I know what my wife would really enjoy… The thing is everyone has those feelings of wanting more, crushes, hot new sex, getting to know new people intimately. You choose marriage however many years ago and now you need to decide if you want to continue the sacrifices needed to maintain that marriage. If these were her words, “She has no interest in sharing on an emotional level. Swinging - yes, that was fun - like a rollercoaster. It was get on, have fun, go home with your husband. But THIS...feelings, emotion, love - this is different. She seems incapable of sharing at that level because it comes across as threatening to her post-Catholic, monogamy infused surroundings that she was brought up on.” then you have your answer, and if this is how you think about her choice then I’d suggest it is indeed you who needs some introspection. She is not less enlightened because she does not want a poly marriage. That’s your wife you’re talking about, the person you love, stop and think for a minute about how judgmental of her you are being. You willingly and with full knowledge entered into a contract with her. She is not your adversary, she is not keeping you from fulfilling your “needs” She is simply expecting you to abide by your word. If you don’t want to do that anymore then that’s cool, you can leave. But asking over and over until you get the answer you want is one of the most damaging things you can do to another person, it’s coercion. I’m certain eventually you will wear her down, you’ll get what you want. I gave in. I can’t leave, we are not divorce money having people, and we have kids that I won’t risk. I’ve been home alone with my kids all weekend, we’ve had a good time it’s been fine but inside I am dying. I am sad and angry and hurt and I want to throttle him for this midlife crisis bullshit. The very idea that someone can claim to love someone and simultaneously put them through this is more than I can wrap my head around.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
Hi again Three

I'm glad Kjl3694 commented to give you the perspective of a wife possibly in a similar position to your lady. She mentions that her husband is out for the weekend, which I'm suspecting would be much less of an issue if he was off fishing with the guys (or whatever, so long as it was anything but nurturing a second romantic relationship). But he's spending the weekend with a girlfriend. And no matter how much of an individual person she is, to Kjl, she'll only ever be his mid-life crisis. That's not her "fault" - it's just what the outcome of opening a relationship that shouldn't have been opened was.

Take the lesson from this - if your missus is not fully on board then she will suffer every time you're out with another woman. Kjl doesn't indicate what she has been offered in return, if anything. But be sure that if your wife does agree to a mono-poly relationship shape that she gets weekends away, too, even if it's not with another partner.

And if she says yes to a poly-poly relationship and chooses to date someone completely separately to you, including another bloke, you better be ready to feel like you're in Kjl's shoes when she's found someone and you're striking out on finding that extra someone.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Kjl3694, I'm glad you shared that POV. Though I'm also sorry you are struggling and now feel like you are dying inside. That's very painful. I agree that "wearing people down" like that is NOT loving behavior. To me that isn't obtaining a "joyful consent yes." It's more like someone being railroaded or bullied into it.

I hope over time you are able to change your situation so you aren't dying on the inside whether it's reconciling with spouse or pursuing a traditional divorce or online wevorce or whatever else it needs to be so your well being can improve and you no longer feel like you are dying on the inside. (A of mine used wevorce on his second divorce and he said it was better than traditional for him.)

Three, I know you don't want to divorce because you love your spouse... but if you are not asking her what she thinks about poly in general, or if she'd ever consider it in general... but asking her about changing the "marriage deal" in a big way RIGHT NOW?

Your spouse does NOT have to agree to sign up for some "new poly deal." And if that's what she ends up saying? She wants none of it? You have to be prepared to deal with your disappointment hearing that.

I think a spouse who doesn't want to do any poly and a spouse who really does? They have become incompatible over time. They need to be able to come to terms with that. And if needed, be able to part ways peacefully.

I think peaceful divorce could always be an option. Not because because can't be committed to marriage. But because relationships need to be healthy.

Sometimes that means conscious detangling/decoupling first. Which sometimes means waiting to save up for the divorce to be able to part ways decently. Holding off on dating anyone new. Like square up the old stuff before starting up new stuff. Especially if coparenting is going to be in the mix of post-divorce life.

If a spouse has clearly said "No, thanks. Not for me" and then the other one just does it anyway like plunging on ahead -- that's not loving behavior to me. It's mean. If agreements weren't renegotiated it's just cheating on agreements out in the open.

I don't think any "I love you" words are going to sound authentic in conditions like that. If the talk says one thing but the actions is doing less than loving behavior? That kind of "I love you" will ring hollow.

Galagirl
 
Last edited:

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
In my opinion, no woman should be made to feel stuck in an unhealthy relationship because of finances. Granted, in our long-standing patriarchal culture, women were (are) possessions of their husbands, and were (in some places, are) wholly dependent on them to live. Even if she somehow had money of her own, or a family who would accept her back, she was damaged goods and considered unmarriageable. She risked hunger, homelessness and death, and her children would probably go down with her, as well.

In this day and age, no woman should feel she is being forced to live with a man who has insisted she "agree" to polyamory, under duress, just to be able to eat and have a roof over her head, for herself and her children. I'm from an older generation, I was born in 1955. I was married for 30 years and decided to divorce my husband. I couldn't imagine life without his paycheck combined with my own much more meager one. But I did it anyway, and it worked out! I got a better job, a better life, surrounded by better people, friends and lovers who understood me and loved me fully for who I am. I became 1000% more fulfilled as a human being.

Now, I am polyamorous, so that wasn't the reason for our split. But we had a long-term established relationship, a house, 3 kids, pets, all that. Yet, I still needed, ultimately, for my own health, to get out.
 

JaneQSmythe

Well-known member
3) Find some kind of middle ground where it stays "Closed Enough" for her like you don't poly date people. But becomes "More Open" for you so you can at least TALK about your poly thoughts and feelings with her and not go around bottled up.
I always love your advice GG but just wanted to point out:. The compromise can make many shapes. MrS is much more comfortable if I DON'T talk about my poly thoughts and feelings, he finds it exhausting, he would rather just hear my conclusions and discuss those objectively, just having me informing him if I am going to be somewhere with someone. He doesn't want to spend a lot of "thinking energy" on relationship shit that doesn't involve him directly - a therapist might be a better vent for feelings for some folx.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Sure. That's another way to go.

The couple in questions has to figure out what "compromise" looks like in their situation.

Or if there is no compromise -- it leads to compromising core values and it's just bending into pretzels too much.

GG
 
Top