Poly flip...marriage in trouble!

Manifestiny

New member
The last 6 months of my life have been paradigm shattering. The transition, in it's entirety, is the amalgamation of a variety of intense life happenings that is beyond the scope of this thread. I have posted before regarding my situation...but something happened to my account and all my posts were wiped. So apologies that i do not have the energy to completely reiterate my story...but instead i will try express an even more succinct summary.

I am a 34 yr old poly male, married 5 years, with 2 children. My wife went along with a poly marriage until recently when i expressed my love for my girlfriend...now my wife is undecided, leaning toward the mono side. My girlfriend is open and incredibly patient.

Things are a little complicated for us because we are going through difficult times financially and my wife is suffering from depression (and apparently has been for the last 7 years...of which i have only just found out about). I recently complied with a request from my wife to put my relationship on hold with my gf to seek marriage counselling. After a short time, my wife told me that it had been wrong of her to ask that of me, and that i could do whatever i needed to do. My wife is living away from me at this time, which is more a product of trying to get a house ready to sell and to provide a bit of space from each other to aid the healing process. I have begun to see my gf again...and although she was a little rocked by the game playing that seemed to be going on...has moved forward and is actively nurturing our relationship once again. My wife has pretty much shut me out completely...and regardless of both mine and my gf attempts to try and connect with her to establish boundaries...she just says that she can't do it at this time. When i try to broach the subject with my wife she essentially says that it's too painful to talk about because she is too focused on healing her own depression at this time. When she speaks to other people...apparently the story is that her depression is because of my poly. The consolation is that we have managed to ensure that the kids are happy and looked after throughout this whole process...but our marriage is looking and feeling very shaky for me.

The best way to share with you exactly WHY it is feeling shaky...is best summarised in the below post from GalaGirl...who has offered many great insights on this forum (thank you!):

ON MONO-POLY RELATIONSHIP COMPATIBILITY Pt 3: Bad Reaction of the Mono Partner Alienating Ethical Poly Person Sharing Vulnerablehttp://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=147310&postcount=8

I always wonder what sort of foundation the relationship/marriage has if just talk can blow it apart. And what the poly person is supposed to do. Pretend they don't have polywiring? Where do they go to express it? Are they happy knowing they are married to a mono partner who is supposed to love them who actually... only loves some of them -- the parts that are "acceptable" only? Is the mono partner happy knowing about this side of their poly person now? And knowing deep down that they wish they never knew it because they rather NOT love the whole person and now have to live knowing this darker side of themselves?

So this describes what i am going through. I guess it's extra confusing considering that originally, my wife was actually poly...and consented to me pursuing a relationship with my gf...and suddenly she flipped and changed her mind. Now she says she's not poly and she doesn't approve of my gf...even though my gf has been nothing but kind and caring toward my wife. I love my gf...she brings so much to my life. My wife is my wife, and the mother of my children, i will always love her and i am committed to working things out with her. But when my wife displays no attempt of wanting to work things out (unless they are practical things like scheduling, etc), tells me that she loves me but treats me coldly, and displays an overall sense of selfishness...i am no longer feeling loved by her.

Is this a case of my wife simply going through the throes of learning that she is not actually poly...and she is just trying to deal with jealousy? Or is something deeper going on here? When is enough enough?
 

BoringGuy

Banned
Well you know how they say around here. "this is her journey. You are on your own journey. You journied together for a while and now your journey together is ending.". Or however you want it. If you say the "j" word too many times it starts to lose it's meaning, like it's not even a word anymore.

Also, it sucks that your posts got erased in a spam sweep. Hate it when that happens.
 

Chewy

New member
Well, there is something deeper going on...she is dealing with depression that has been untreated for the better part of a decade.
 

Manifestiny

New member
Well, there is something deeper going on...she is dealing with depression that has been untreated for the better part of a decade.

Yes, that's right...i clearly stated this in my post. I also stated that, to others, she says that i am the cause of her depression. Can you please elaborate more clearly on what you are implying here? Are you suggesting this should be reason enough for me to forfeit my happiness?
 

Manifestiny

New member
Well you know how they say around here. "this is her journey. You are on your own journey. You journied together for a while and now your journey together is ending.". Or however you want it. If you say the "j" word too many times it starts to lose it's meaning, like it's not even a word anymore.

Thanks for calling it how you see it. I appreciate your perspective. I am coming to realise that i have very few people around me that will really offer me undiluted truth...which i appreciate at this time.
 

Nox

New member
Yes, that's right...i clearly stated this in my post. I also stated that, to others, she says that i am the cause of her depression. Can you please elaborate more clearly on what you are implying here? Are you suggesting this should be reason enough for me to forfeit my happiness?

I don't think depression has an external cause. It might have external triggers. Is the therapist/doctor telling her that you're the cause?
 

Vixtoria

New member
Yes, that's right...i clearly stated this in my post. I also stated that, to others, she says that i am the cause of her depression. Can you please elaborate more clearly on what you are implying here? Are you suggesting this should be reason enough for me to forfeit my happiness?


Okay I gave this advice to someone else recently. Depression, anxiety, diassociative Disorder, all of those are problems. Admittedly. They CAN have an external source. For example, I was told that my brain chemistry was changed as a child because I was in an unsafe environment emotionally. However, that doesn't mean that now, as an adult, any time I get depressed or things get really hard for me it's someone else's fault.

No, it's not a reason to forfeit your happiness. Can you support and help her? Sure, if she lets you. If she's willing to work with you. When things get really hard, I'm just not able to function, my instinct is to cocoon. To just hide and be quiet and pull away. That's my instinct, but it's not the best way to handle things. I have had to learn to tell people around me and ask for help or explain what helps and what doesn't. If she is just cocooning and not letting you help you can ask, but really it's still up to her if she wants your help or not.

I suggest saying something like, "I know this is hard for you, and I want to help. I am asking for you to tell me when you need help, how I can help. If it's just a hug, holding you while you cry, or listening I am willing to do that, but I need you to let me help you. I can understand that you may want to deal with this alone, but I wanted to remind you that you don't have to."

A big hurdle we went through and BF is still learning is sometimes it makes it worse when someone just 'helps'. I know they mean well but it works better if they ask me if I need help or how they can help. Now if she really doesn't want to let you in to help then you can't force her. In the end, it's something she has to decide how to deal with or if she wants to. Oh! Also, reminding her that if you ask, "How can I help?" and she doesn't know, the answer of "I don't know." Is always valid! Offer a hug then.
 

Manifestiny

New member
I don't think depression has an external cause. It might have external triggers. Is the therapist/doctor telling her that you're the cause?

I certainly hope that the therapist/doctor is not telling her that...in the sense that they shouldn't be telling her that anything specific is the cause. More specifically...others have told me that my wife states to them that her depression is caused by me being polyamorous. She doesn't say this to my face...instead she just says that is going through her "own stuff"...that she loves me more than anything...but, in reality, treats me poorly.

BTW - thank you for your response! I appreciate your support. :)
 
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FullofLove1052

New member
I think I actually remember your story now. It is coming back to me.

In regards to your wife's depression, all you can do is try to be there and ask her what she honestly needs. Asking your girlfriend or letting her try to help may be a bad idea. She could very well be a trigger if your wife has abandonment issues or something that stems from childhood.

It seems like she was trying to work with you by acknowledging that she was wrong in asking you to put your relationship on hold. From my POV--and I am doped up on medicine--but it seems like you are talking about your girlfriend in this glowing manner, and your wife is like the grinch who stole Christmas. Her depression that is ages old is possibly threatening to curb your happiness. Do not fall into the grass is greener on the other side mold. I do not think you will because you are trying to save your marriage, so that is a great step.

Sometimes you have to try things to say without a doubt that it is just not for you. That was the case with my husband. He tried poly, and he soon realised that it was the absolute wrong path for him. Your wife may very well have done the same thing. That is her right.

I cannot say that she is experiencing jealousy. Your wife holds the key to the questions you seek. Is she displaying jealous tendencies? What was going on around the time that she suddenly changed? Were there signs there and you just missed them? Did she talk to mono minded friends or family and they convinced her that something was wrong with living that way? She has been depressed for 7 years, and that was missed, so that makes me wonder what else was missed?
 
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BoringGuy

Banned
Thanks for calling it how you see it. I appreciate your perspective. I am coming to realise that i have very few people around me that will really offer me undiluted truth...which i appreciate at this time.

I wish i could say something original to you instead, but i like i like to remind folks, no one is as unique as they would like to think they are, and that also applies to me.
 

Manifestiny

New member
Thank you for your support Vixtoria.

Okay I gave this advice to someone else recently. Depression, anxiety, diassociative Disorder, all of those are problems. Admittedly. They CAN have an external source. For example, I was told that my brain chemistry was changed as a child because I was in an unsafe environment emotionally. However, that doesn't mean that now, as an adult, any time I get depressed or things get really hard for me it's someone else's fault.

I hear you. I have a background in mental health...and i have been well aware of depressive symptoms that my wife has displayed throughout our entire relationship. I suspect it has been seeded well before i came along...but it has become more noticeable since our children became little people, and post-partum blues & separation anxiety became activated. I have this feeling deep down that my poly has become, more than anything, a reason for her to stay depressed.

No, it's not a reason to forfeit your happiness. Can you support and help her? Sure, if she lets you. If she's willing to work with you. When things get really hard, I'm just not able to function, my instinct is to cocoon. To just hide and be quiet and pull away.

I have been doing everything i can to support her for several years. I am now in a position where i feel that i have tried to support her so much that i have actually forfeited my happiness..and now resentment is starting to build. But at the end of the day...she cannot...or perhaps will not...tell me what she needs. So yes, she does hide herself away...which gives me nothing to work with.

I have certainly tried modifying my language to ensure that she knows that i am here for her. It has gone on for months. As i stated in my original post...how do i know when enough is enough? Do i have to break down? Or get super close to that point? Because i think i'm getting close.

Thank you!
 

Vixtoria

New member
I wish I had an answer to that question, when is enough enough. To be honest, it's one that DH and I have voiced many times. While we have been able to work through things and get to a better place, we often look back and think that there were times when we shouldn't have. When for our own health we should have separated at the very least. It's a hard question.

The only think I can say for sure is don't let it build to where it's resentment for you and a surprise to her. Let her know that you are trying to be supportive but in the end, other people can not make you healthy or happy. You have to decide to do that for yourself, take the steps you need to. That you want to help her and are willing to, but you simply can not hold on forever, and neither can she.

She needs to decide to get the help. I had a therapist once tell me that "We do what we can to function even if it's not healthy, until we find some way healthier." I've found the problems come when people decide to not find a healthier way. It's hard, I don't think other people can understand it. It's like every day wading through water while everyone else is walking on land. It's feeling and seeing everything through a fog that for some reason surrounds only your brain. It's biking at a resistance at least three levels stronger than everyone else. So yes, some days you just want to stop, you want to give up and you want to just sink and let yourself go because it's too much work. No matter how great a support system, what drug cocktail you are on, some days it's not enough. So yeah she'll have bad days, but it's up to HER to decide to do the work and take advantage of the support system she has. Remind her of that. As calmly and nicely as you can. Because as much as people who love her are willing to take that burden and do that work for her, they can't. She has to.

Let her know, I hate to say it but give it a time frame. Tell her that she has to show she wants the help and to work with you. You can hold on if you see that there's hope but if there isn't, if there's no movement, it's not fair to either of you.
 

Manifestiny

New member
Huge gratitude for your thoughtful response FullofLove1052.

Asking your girlfriend or letting her try to help may be a bad idea. She could very well be a trigger if your wife has abandonment issues or something that stems from childhood.

Yes, we have worked that out now. It has got to the point where my wife has totally offended my gf...and now it will take much work if we hope to build toward balance. After my wife deactivated the on hold request...we began discussing the possibility of us all having a group discussion to establish some boundaries. As a prelude...it was agreed that my wife and gf should re-establish their dyadic connection first...which included my gf being honest about how my wife's behaviour actually made her feel. Sufficed to say that didn't go down well...and my wife took it as an attack...and decided to completely pull the pin on any potential for group boundary setting.

It seems like she was trying to work with you by acknowledging that she was wrong in asking you to put your relationship on hold.

I humbly acknowledge that this was the case at the time. Of course, just because she has said that it was wrong...doesn't mean she can automatically be comfortable with it...which i also acknowledge.

Sometimes you have to try things to say without a doubt that it is just not for you. That was the case with my husband. He tried poly, and he soon realised that it was the absolute wrong path for him. Your wife may very well have done the same thing. That is her right.

I totally agree!

I cannot say that she is experiencing jealousy. Your wife holds the key to the questions you seek. Is she displaying jealous tendencies?

She has told me explicitly that she experiences jealousy. I can only hope that if she loves me the way she says...that she is working on compersion...but i am not seeing any signs of it.

What was going on around the time that she suddenly changed? Were there signs there and you just missed them? Did she talk to mono minded friends or family and they convinced her that something was wrong with living that way? She has been depressed for 7 years, and that was missed, so that makes me wonder what else was missed?

She has always been very dramatic. She has often said things and then reneged on them. When i ask her, she says the real catalyst was when i came home and told her about my first kiss with my gf...my wife said that was the moment that she felt completely "left out" of the relationship. I can see in hindsight that because most of our other poly experiences have been shared sexual encounters...that this was different. However we had discussed exploring separate relationships many times (she tried to explore a few of her own that didn't eventuate)...and she had consented to every step along the way up until that point. And it wasn't as if it was overnight...i had been developing the relationship with my gf for around 8 months. The reality is that in that time...i discovered that i truly love my gf...and when that was declared to my wife...she freaked out...and then did a 180 on everything. I did what my wife asked and put my relationship with my gf on hold. It hurt my heart...a lot. The whole exercise was actually really traumatic for us all.
 
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Manifestiny

New member
Let her know, I hate to say it but give it a time frame. Tell her that she has to show she wants the help and to work with you. You can hold on if you see that there's hope but if there isn't, if there's no movement, it's not fair to either of you.

I guess that's what i'm going through. I don't feel much hope anymore...not when i'm being shut out like i am. And, bottom line...it is really affecting me. So how long do i wait? Until i crack and ask for a divorce? Or do i get to that point and then wait another couple of weeks? Or months? Or is it simply until i don't think i can take it anymore?

<3
 

BoringGuy

Banned
I am on the ipod so i'm not quoting.

You said your wife was "working on compersion" or something like that. I want to explain that compersion is not something you can " achieve" or "accomplish". It's something you feel, not something you think. Being intellectually aware that your partner is happy with someone else and being ok with that is not the same as "having compersion". The feeling of compersion (compersion compersion compersion compersion compersion there it doesn't sound like a word anymore) is something that hits you out of nowhere and does not require rational thought or a process of convincing onself that it is the right thing to feel. I've never heard of anyone "accomplishing" or "achieving" jealousy, or deciding to intellectually be jealous. In fact, people are always talking about jealousy as something you can't avoid feeling, but you can choose how to deal with that feeling. They are actually the same feeling, but jealousy is the unpleasant side of the feeling and compersion is the pleasant side. Bad cop / good cop.

Compersion is also not the same thing as being turned on by hearing or watching your partner have sex with someone else. That's voyeurism and has nothing to do with whether or not a person is poly or poly-friendly.

Just wanted to put that out there. I sure hope i don't get yelled at or berated for thinking i'm right about this.
 
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Nox

New member
BG, I think you're right, but there are barriers to fully experiencing compersion too. You can both feel joy at your partners good fortune while being jealous that it's not with you. The trick is overcoming the latter so you're only left with the good feelings.
 

Vixtoria

New member
That is where the language gets in the way. I dont' know about others, but we have tried to realize there is a difference between jealous and envy. I can be envious of someone else's good fortune without wanting to take it from them. Jealousy typically seems, to us at least, to be that not only are you unhappy that they have something you don't, but you don't want them to have it.

Granted other people might think the opposite but we found it important to know the difference and so have gone with those definitions.

So we go with the idea that you can have compersion and still be envious. Jealousy though, seems to be able to push out any compersion you might feel.
 
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FullofLove1052

New member
I am sure you are weary, worn out, and likely tired of dealing with all the ins and the outs. At some point you loved your wife. You loved her enough during the dating stage to propose to her. You loved her enough during the engagement stage to actually marry her. If she has had issues through all those phases, then you must have loved her enough to not let that deter you. You are weathering a storm right now, and you need all the support you can get, too. Are you seeking outside support in the form of counselling yourself? Either that or a support group? Do you have a friend or relative you can confide in? I do not mean your girlfriend either. The thing you do not want is your marital drama to start overshadowing and clouding the happiness in your relationship, too. Then, you really will feel resentment.

Your wife needs help and support, but you cannot force her to get it. Is she on medicines to help with her depression? You can try to offer support in other ways. You might have to do things like court her again and make her feel special to let her know that you are there and actually interested in what is going on with her. You mentioned that she has separation anxiety regarding your children getting older and not being so dependent on her. That separation is a killer. I know because I am experiencing the first bout of it, and the time has not even come, yet. In her mind, it is probably not just being left out of the relationship, it is not knowing what her role is or her purpose is anymore. That means confidence and self-esteem could be lacking. Does she work outside of the home? Does she have hobbies to keep her busy, or are your children her entire world? Before she was the mother to children who needed her much more and a husband who only loved her. Now, she has children who need her less and a husband who loves another woman and has another relationship. Sprinkle years worth of depression, a shaky marriage, a husband who is clearly tired, and it is the makings of a train wreck.

During this eight month period, were you consistently talking and communicating about what adding a new person to your lives would mean for each of you? What was the consent actually for if it was not for developing a relationship? Is there anyway you can her what she was consenting, too? Was she banking on you not falling in love and just having sex with someone else? Her failed attempts could be indicative of the fact that she was not really into looking for love. If she flipped over you telling her that you were in love with her, that tells me that she never fathomed it would go beyond anything the physical. Sex is different. I can go have random, drunken sex with somebody who means nothing and walk away, but when I open my heart to someone else, that is different. That person will be part of my life, part of my husband's life, part of my children's lives, and a part of my world. The approach and the conversations to that would be different.

Has she ever said what she is jealous of? What is it that you need from your wife? How are you approaching her with these needs? Are you keeping your other relationship out of it when you mention what you need from her? Focus on you and her. "I need to feel loved, and when you shut me out, I feel distant and like you are not interested in what I have to say." "I need to know that you are committed to saving our marriage and that you actually care because I cannot care enough for the both of us." "I need to know what you need from me, and I am not mind reader, so I have no starting point. Would you be willing to help me and let me be there for you like you have done for me in that past?" Keep everything else out of it. Has she ever said what she needs from you to be comfortable and at least content? (Outside of ending the relationship and being mono.) I know that is hard with depression, but even people with depression have high days and low days.

I cannot put a time limit on it for you. If her doctors are not helping, then perhaps she needs a new one who is equipped to deal with the issues and to help her. Have you attended any of the counselling appointments with her to hear what she says? Has the therapist asked that you join her?
 

Nox

New member
That is where the language gets in the way. I dont' know about others, but we have tried to realize there is a difference between jealous and envy. I can be envious of someone else's good fortune without wanting to take it from them. Jealousy typically seems, to us at least, to be that not only are you unhappy that they have something you don't, but you don't want them to have it.

Granted other people might think the opposite but we found it important to know the difference and so have gone with those definitions.

So we go with the idea that you can have compersion and still be envious. Jealousy though, seems to be able to push out any compersion you might feel.

Not necessarily. Say I'm in a relationship with Susie. She's making out with Ted.

I can be happy for Susie, but jealous of Ted. I don't want Ted to have Susie.

But I do agree with what you're saying just of the partner and language.
 

Vixtoria

New member
Not necessarily. Say I'm in a relationship with Susie. She's making out with Ted.

I can be happy for Susie, but jealous of Ted. I don't want Ted to have Susie.

But I do agree with what you're saying just of the partner and language.

That's my point and why we use Envy instead of Jealousy. Jealousy has already gotten a bad rap and given negative connotations. Envy of Ted is more along the lines of "Wish I was making out with Susie" or even "Wish I had someone to make out with."

Jealousy is more the type of "Ugh, why are they making out? S/he should be making out with me!"
 
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