Poly by accident

new@this

New member
My husband and I have been married for 37 years. We currently live abroad, where we have a fun, dynamic social life and entertain a lot of expats.

We discovered by accident that a couple we knew had an open marriage, but not poly per se, and we were curious to learn more about it. The four of us jumped right in! We spent a lot of time at our home swapping, vacationing together and separately over the last 12 months.

I travel a lot for work and sometimes my spouse would spend prolonged periods living in our home together with the other woman while her husband was also away. This has led to issues within our marriage, whenever I was away, and especially when I returned, where I felt I had to 'Lady Macbeth' our home.

One key commitment we made was not to share and confide individually with the other couple and to respect each other's marriages. I suspected something was going on, as some issues were starting to bubble up and I had an uneasy gut feeling. I spoke, frequently asking my husband, and he kept denying, until I uncovered that my suspicions were true. I did this by having a chat with the 4 of us. Needless to say, I am gutted and hurt as I had frequently checked with my husband if he were indeed sharing our private matters.

I'm looking for guidance on how to navigate this challenging period before our marriage completely disintegrates.
 
I'm sorry you struggle. It sounds hard. I'm not entirely clear on what is happening, though. I'll repeat back what I understand in my own words. You correct me if I get parts wrong. (For ease of writing, I'm making up generic fruit names. I'm happy to change to whatever you want if you like something else better.)

You and Apple (your husband) jumped into swinging with Banana (the other husband) and Cherry (the other wife). You weren't super-educated about it, but curious. The shared agreements were:
  • No sharing and confiding your feelings with the other people about your own self. (Does this mean not sharing romance, not developing feelings? Was this supposed to be sex only?)
  • Respect each other's marriages. Do not share too much information about the (you + Apple) marriage with Banana or Cherry. Say, "No, thanks," if either of them overshares about their marriage with you.
This has led to issues within our marriage, whenever I was away, and especially when I returned, where I felt I had to 'Lady Macbeth' our home.

What does that mean? Your home no longer felt like your home because Apple and Cherry were hanging out there all the time? They didn't clean up after their dates? Something else?

I suspected something was going on, as some issues were starting to bubble up and I had an uneasy gut feeling. I spoke frequently, asking my husband. He kept denying until I uncovered that my suspicions were true. I did this by having a chat with the 4 of us. Needless to say, I am gutted and hurt, as I frequently checked with my husband if he were indeed sharing our private matters. I'm looking for guidance on how to navigate this challenging period, before our marriage completely disintegrates.

I am going to guess. (I might guess wrong.) It kind of sounds like Apple and Cherry fell in love, but since that would be breaking the "sex only" agreement, Apple didn't want to admit it when you asked, from fear of a break-up with you or with Cherry. Is that what happened?

Was Apple also oversharing details of the (Apple + you) marriage with Cherry or Banana? Who does he normally share with, trusted friends, family? You just didn't want him sharing with the new dating partner or metamour?

Sharing sex sometimes can lead to falling in love (not always, but sometimes). Going in without talking about that seems naive. I get you feel hurt, and I get Apple wasn't totally honest. But if you all are going to try to repair and move forward, people have to start being radically honest with themselves and each other.

To me, there is no "poly by accident." People make choices, either good ones or not-so-good ones.

Your consent to do things or not belongs to you. You aren't obligated to change to polyamory just because Apple fell in love with Cherry (if that is what happened here). You have to consent to participate in that. Right now, I'd call this "up in the air" and uncertain.

Sometimes people fall into doing "poly under duress," because they don't want to think about pumping the brakes with a trial separation; or they are scared of a break-up; or the loved one is begging or carrying on, and they struggle watching them do that, and "give in," not because they actually want to practice polyamory, but because they want the partner to stop the begging/carrying on behaviors.

I don't suggest doing any of that.

So, I'm going to ask:
  • Do you even want to practice polyamory, or was swinging as far as you wanted to go?
  • Could you live in an open/poly situation, where it is swinging on your side and poly on his? Would Apple limit it to poly-dating Cherry only, or would he also like to poly date other new partners? Even if you don't want to, you could ensure you can poly date too. Then it would be YOUR choice not to use the option, and not like you don't get it at all.
  • Would you do a trial (for a determined period) before making the final call that poly is not for you? Apple could keep going with the poly thing even if you decided to bow out.
  • What is your desired outcome, apart from avoiding a divorce? When would a divorce be healthy and appropriate?
You do not have to answer here. But I encourage you to do your soul searching.

You also don't have to say where you live here, but you could search for a counselor in your area who is experienced with non-monogamy to help you untangle all these things. You could try:


Internet people might be able to help with 1 or 2 things, but when it's a big pile of things, I think talking to a professional might be best.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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Hello new@this,

I take it your husband has been sharing, with the other woman, your private matters with him. He has tried to deny it, and your marriage with him is in trouble. Correct me if I have been reading you wrong. I think you somehow have to rescue your marriage before it is too late. A marriage counselor may help, especially if you can find one who is friendly to poly. Don't wait, get that counselor right away. The clock is ticking on your marriage.

Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 
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