Seeking guidance

Hello! I haven't bothered to introduce myself before now and I hope that's ok!

I find myself in what I perceive to be a complicated situation I hope some of you can guide me through.

My wife and I have been together for ten years now. We have two kids and we are ultimately happy. My wife is a very feeling and emotional creature, and I personally think emotions are mostly for other people. It leaves a vacuum for my wife that I think she would abide in sorrow until death if I didn't address.

A few years ago we were in a car accident that left my wife in a pretty poor state, and we are working through the road of recovery. It has become increasingly clear that I simply do not possess the demeanor she needs for her recovery. I am more of the drill sergeant type when it comes to dealing with heavy adversity. I myself am legally blind, not related to the accident, and I simply expect perseverance from others without regard to their circumstances.

I have always know she had tendencies toward same-sex attraction, and in rare occasions she explored it during our relationship in fleeting ways. I firmly believe what she needs is a positive and supportive female persona that possesses the compassion I lack. I personally am spread so thin between our family needs, her care and my own limitations I myself will need serious therapy when I can finally sit back and breathe.

I finally worked up the courage to confront her about the suggestion that she find a female companion and she resist at the first suggestion, but came back to me just a short while later and eventually admitted she had longed for a solution without knowing how to articulate the problem.

Now I find myself in strange and unfamiliar territory. I want to help her feel comfortable and facilitate this process for her as much as possible, but I don't want to become the driving force or confuse the intent in my deliberation. A significant amount of her personal courage and confidence has been damaged by what has happened to her, and I fear she is going to struggle to make connections.

I am not sure if its even appropriate for me to help. This opening of the relationship isn't for me in a personal connection sense, that is what I want for her. That being said, any person who can help me return my wife to the happiness and satisfaction she deserves is equally as important to me as her. I understand that person will have needs and desires as an individual and I am willing to at least attempt what is necessary to keep them both happy.

I have been exploring around various groups, sites, and message boards and I just don't seem to find many scenarios that fit mine, am I crazy? Is there a variable here I am not considering? Where do I start? Why does this feel like "Pimp My Wife"?
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
I don't mean to be insensitive, but it sounds like you'd be looking for an emotional nurse for your fragile wife, not for a polyamorous female partner. It sounds rather Victorian, which is not meant derogatorily, but more as a descriptor. History is full of examples where hired female companionship was the norm for women in the monied classes, as men were simply not expected to be emotional partners. Hired or arranged female companions certainly can (and often did) develop mutual fondness and love, but make no mistake that the business arrangement you're proposing has fallen out of fashion and is likely to be hard for most modern women to understand or want. If you lived in any time prior to WWII, the kind of arranged affectionate companion you're looking for would be abundantly available. Certainly, you're not involving payment here, but the arranged nature of the proposal is the same as if you were.

I've always been fascinated by this concept, myself. So many pieces of literature, movies and especially British television series feature such relationships: Women who go live with some widowed aunt or frail aristocrat and become essentially a wife to the woman who's husband is either emotionally absent or dead. Female love relationships have rarely been seen as a threat to hetero and monogamous pairings. Female homosexuality was never illegal in many Western cultures, in stark comparison to the historically threatening perception of mutual male sexuality. Female love companions have often been accepted and as I said, actually embraced and arranged by those who could afford them. Today, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would go for an arranged relationship of any kind, but at one time they were quite the norm.
 
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Fascinating info, but I think you are confusing my desire to help my wife with her needs apart from a desire to fulfill those needs for her. I am not looking to "arrange" anything, but the assumption it led you to is exactly why I reached out for help in the first place.

What I want is to understand how I can be supportive of her, and facilitate her without doing exactly what you prescribe. My wife is not fragile, I am phenomenally callous and insensitive. As she put it to me "you are all the man I want, but I want something more".
 
I should add that in premise, what you suggest is not necessarily a bad thing, though as you mentioned a bit rare. At least what it provides I personally think may fit, but the point is I don't feel its for me to decide.

We actually discussed beforehand a particular friend who from a personality and drive perspective would be a perfect fit. But it happened to be someone I suspected she had a "crush" on. I was correct, and it led to the discussion of "maybe if we are just honest about that possibility to begin with, we can avoid problems down the road".

I hope it didn't sound as though I was dismissing your advice, I just feel maybe I am not conveying it properly.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Where's the fire? THIS is the BEST time to do Open Marriage? Smack in the middle of car accdient recovery? You don't find that odd?

"Polyamory" is not the solution for "car accident recovery" or "mismatched emotional intimacy needs."

To me you sound like you are at risk for burn out or already burned out.

Let me repeat back what I understand in my own words so I know I get it how you mean it. I'm guessing on some of this and may guess wrong. But maybe it helps you sort your thoughts seeing it written this way.


PEOPLE
  • You
  • Wife
  • Kids
BASIC BACKGROUND
  • Married for 10 years.
  • You are legally blind.
  • Car accident a few years ago. Wife still in recovery. (Is she in therapy for this?)
PROBLEM 1: YOU HAVE A FULL PLATE

You normally cope with life "like a drill sargeant" and "get things done." Right now you are feeling overloaded and spread really thin right now. With wife still in recovery, you are responsible for
  • parenting/family needs
  • wife's care
  • work
  • your own limitations, tiredness, etc

You want to get therapy "when you catch a break" rather than making/taking the break.

Instead of making YOUR health care #1 priority and seeking a counselor for you or some help with the kids, house etc... (because one cannot pour from an empty cup)

You are distracted by wife open/poly marriage stuff which she hasn't even brought up very well on her own. You had to do some guessing or mind reader-ing. You are coming at it like "pre-emptive strike." But it also feels like "pimp my wife" and you also don't want to be the driving force of her poly dating.

PROBLEM 2: Wife wants more "emotion stuff" and it's not gonna come from you.
  • Wife is a very feeling and emotional creature. She likes doing lots of "emotion stuff."
  • You have your own basic emotions, but don't want to be doing a lot of "emotion stuff" processing
  • You wife is willing to go to her death not addressing this mismatch.
    • You don't like that she chooses that.
    • You feel obligated to solve it for her rather than letting her be responsible for bringing it up if it her choice leads to her feeling unhappy.

PROBLEM 3: THE ACTUAL POLY DATING STUFF

1) You guessed from her hinting around that she wants Open Marriage, gave her your blessing, and want HER to deal with finding new poly friends or people to poly date.

2) Initial Terms
  • You are willing to try if this helps restore wife to a happier self.
  • You are willing to respect Other Person and work something out even though you don't want to date Other Person yourself.
  • You don't want to poly date yourself in general. (Do you want to keep the option to change your mind on the table in case you do decide you want another partner of your own?)
  • This feels like "Pimp My Wife" if you have to be the driving force of it all. And your full plate is FULL, you don't want or need more "jobs."
  • You tried searching for help online but are not finding what you need to do this well. (Did you know there are poly friendly counselors? Would you and wife consider talking to one to help you prepare? )
3) You call yourself things like "callous and insensitive" when clearly you care about your wife very much and are sensitive to her. Maybe TOO sensitive because you seem to "carry" her a lot. Like "pre-solve" her problems for her, so you don't have to deal/listen to her emoting about them later.

Slow all this down back to this.

I think emotions are mostly for other people. It leaves a vacuum for my wife that I think she would abide in sorrow until death if I didn't address.

Well, so what? Why do YOU have to address it? If she's not happy making that choice, isn't it her job to bring up and change her mind and choose something else?

If you want to lighten the load on your plate? You are going to have to let some of your wife stuff BE HER STUFF and be her responsibilities to manage rather than you carrying her and everyone else like Superman. You don't have to be doing that.

If this is your way of going? Then no wonder you don't want to be listening to emotional stuff. You have too much practical stuff to be doing.

That may mean you getting more comfortable letting some things sit for a time and watching wife be uncomfortable figuring stuff out for herself so she grows skills.

I think at this point in time you could tell wife "Look, I'm willing to talk about an Open Marriage where you date to find a female companion. I'd like us both to finish accident recovery first. I want a therapist for my recovery help.

While I'm willing to try Open Marriage, I don't want to jump the gun underprepared and end up piling on MORE problems when there's problems and full plates here already. I want to enter Open Marriage healthy and not all wonky. I think we both need more education first and we both need to be in healthy shape. I don't want to date other people at this time, but if I change my mind later, I want that on the table.

We also have to talk about how this ends if it doesn't work out like we think. So I'm saying "Yes" to talking about it, but not jumping the gun on poly dating when there's so much stuff that has to happen first."

Now I find myself in strange and unfamiliar territory. I want to help her feel comfortable and facilitate this process for her as much as possible, but I don't want to become the driving force or confuse the intent in my deliberation. A significant amount of her personal courage and confidence has been damaged by what has happened to her, and I fear she is going to struggle to make connections.

I think you have to obey your personal limitations first. And you giving your consent and willingness to talk it out? That's plenty.

Some of the stuff has to be HER STUFF and not yours. Like working on her personal courage, her confidence, and her dating skills. That's not stuff YOU can do FOR her.

I am not sure if its even appropriate for me to help. This opening of the relationship isn't for me in a personal connection sense, that is what I want for her. That being said, any person who can help me return my wife to the happiness and satisfaction she deserves is equally as important to me as her. I understand that person will have needs and desires as an individual and I am willing to at least attempt what is necessary to keep them both happy.

You sound willing to try.

But why is the Other Person going to help you fix your wife's happiness? You don't think SHE is responsible for creating her own happiness and satisfaction with her life through her choices?

Is your wife suffering from depression?

Are you propping her up too much?

I have been exploring around various groups, sites, and message boards and I just don't seem to find many scenarios that fit mine, am I crazy? Is there a variable here I am not considering? Where do I start? Why does this feel like "Pimp My Wife"?

You are not crazy.

I do suggest SLOWING DOWN and focus on you finding therapy so YOUR accident recovery can get underway and give time for wife to complete hers.

Point blank? I wouldn't date either of you because neither is healthy right now. Wife putting herself out there right now for poly dating would be premature, in my opinion. Some couples take years to talk things out before actually moving on to an Open Marriage.

Do the work of detangling.

Do some reading.





If your wife is overleaning on you? You have to exercise firm personal boundaries.
  • Some stuff is going to be HER STUFF and only her stuff. Her responsibilites.
  • Some stuff is YOUR STUFF and only your stuff. Your responsibilities.
  • Some of the stuff is OUR STUFF where you and wife share the responsibilities.
  • Some of the stuff is NOT OURS where it doesn't even belong on her, your or "our" plate. Though other relatives and people might try to fob it off on all of you.

And think about how this might end if you do open that Pandora's Box.

Including down to everyone single. It does not always go to "back to original couple and that other person."

You can be supportive of wife wanting to date to find a female companion and be willing to participate in an Open Marriage. But YOU PERSONALLY don't have to be doing all of wife's work for her. It's on you to state what you are and are not up for. What you are willing to do and what you are NOT willing to do.

Galagirl
 
@GalaGirl wow, lots to unpack there, thank you.

I am in a rush to understand something new and unfamiliar, but I see no need to rush into action of any sort.

The accident was almost three years ago now, and all forms of guided treatment have ended. At this point she is supposed to work towards restoring the passions and activities of her pre-accident self, alongside a healthy dose of careful physical activity. The therapy team she worked with is still available as needed for consulting, but we have just relocated to another state so the search is on for a local therapist who can be more present, but right now there is no glaring need to be seen.

Although there is absolutely a significant level of co-dependence now, it wasn't always that way. There was a significant period following my own diagnosis where our current roles were 100% reversed.

Ultimately I think you addressed my primary concern well, even if it isnt the answer I want to hear. It is probably best that I let her make this journey on her own, or until such time as it must involve me.
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
Hi and welcome, Half Man.

I can understand that you seem to feel your lack of emotional response, "lack of affect," as a psychologist would describe it, is hampering your ability to show sufficient support to your wife as she heals and progresses in life. Is that right? She has had both physical and psychological counseling, but that can only do so much. You think she needs emotional support from a female friend, or even a female lover.

If you are less able to show emotions than the usual person, or even the usual male, being in favor of self sufficiency, you are not able to be fully present for your wife, in all ways. Are you perhaps on the autism spectrum? Many people think of Mr Spock as somewhat autistic.

At any rate, we all need friends. We can't expect our spouses to be "everything" for us. Friends are great. Maybe you think just because your wife is also sexually or romantically attracted to females, you'd even be fine with a friendship (or more than one friendship) also going to that depth. But maybe she just needs good platonic friends.

Consider also that there are men out there who are not of the "drill sergeant" variety, who also are in touch with their depth of emotion, able to show it, and to listen and reflect the emotions of others. Would you also be fine to Opening your marriage and consenting to your wife getting into a deep romantic/sexual relationship with a guy, if that kind of guy came along? She says you're all the man she wants, but some men are more emotional than you seem to think you are.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello HalfManMostlyVulcan,

I might be wrong, but I get the impression that your wife is struggling to overcome the psychological damage done to her by the car accident, and that you are struggling to do your part to help her heal from that accident. And maybe you are hoping that a female friend/lover could help your wife in ways (emotional ways) that you are unable to do. In essence, this friend/lover would be your wife's next step on the road to recovery from the accident. However, your wife has been damaged by that accident in a way that makes her unable to take that next step. She does not have the necessary courage/confidence to make connections. And maybe you feel like it is up to you to bridge that gap for her, if she can't bridge it for herself. At this point, you are walking a fine line between helping her enough, and helping her too much.

Can I ask, has she started an account yet on OKCupid? That might be a first step for her along the road to independence. OKCupid is an active and popular dating site that is also poly-friendly. She could use it to make new friends, and possibly to set up dates with one or more women. Not that you would be completely uninvolved, but just that she would be able to feel that she could rely on herself in procuring the help that she needs on this next step toward recovery. She has always had tendencies toward same-sex attraction; now she could explore those tendencies in a more in-depth way. Your role would be to be her advisor and confidant, you would not be directly involved in the process. You could encourage her, without taking over for her. You are not crazy, you are just trying to help your wife, like any good husband would do.

I hope this thread is helping you so far.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
@Magdlyn You certainly aren't the first to ask, its likely, the last time I was tested was nearly twenty years ago and the results were "inconclusive".

Your assessment is accurate, she is essentially at "maximum medical improvement" to use a horrible insurance company term. At this point she needs more than anything to feel "normal" again.

Without taking serious time to consider it I am only comfortable with the thought of her spending time with another man in the context of trying to be accepting. That aside I proposed the possibility to her during a conversation about boundaries and expectations and she gave a resounding "Ew. No." Given my own position I let it be at that. It may have been a knee jerk reaction, it may have been genuine.

I have been trying for the last year or possibly longer to work on simply platonic friendships. Since we met she had always used the trope "I dont get along with other girls", when it obviously isn't true. I'm overly analytical if you havent yet noticed, and eventually I began to identify behavior that I would relate to teenage and young adult dating. She just seemed to value and focus on those relationships more, but also agonize and over and struggle with them.

When I put together the pieces the possibility that she was struggling with gender attraction confusion, it seemed sort of obvious. However the veracity that she took the idea and began conversations about desires and boundaries, etc., caught me off guard I must admit.

@kdt26417 I appreciate the consideration and confidence booster. As you and many others have said, its probably best I let her find her own way to figure this out and just try my best to be supportive without trying to be proactive.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Thanks for more info. You def have a lot going on -- all the above PLUS a recent move and trying to rebuild her medical team at the new location. It is a lot!

Some couples take years to discuss Open Marriage. It's ok to take your time here. There's no fire. Could certainly talk and read individually or apart. Maybe attend some online poly education things.

You have told wife you are willing to try and consider going there if this is something she wants to do. I think you could clarify that you don't want to do Open Marriage all wonky or this very minute -- some other stuff has to happen first. Like you wanting to do your own healing from accident with a therapist. Maybe get the home routines and home help in a better space where you are not so overloaded with tasks. You need time to figure out what you are and are not up for, if you do go there.

Wife herself sounds like she has some personal work to be doing first too:

1) Finish her own accident recovery which includes
  • Boosting her personal courage and confidence
  • Improving her social skills so she can better make connections, friends, etc.
  • Work towards restoring the passions and activities of her pre-accident self
  • Careful physical activity/exercise

2) Coming to better terms with her same sex attraction

There is some "our stuff" too.

1) Returning to balance partnership -- It's been dependent/codependent during illness. Well, part of illness recovery is going to be returning to balance then.

You both have to address "our stuff."

You cannot do her personal work for her.

And she cannot do your stuff for you. On your end, while you sound willing to consider? You have to figure out if you are actually ABLE to do poly. Do you have the skills? Can you share her time and attention without wigging out? What about maintaining personal boundaries?

Maybe you are ok with her poly dating eventually but you don't want to be hearing every deep detail of how her other relationship unfolds, or if there's problems over there, or "feelings stuff" and all that. (a personal boundary) Can wife respect that limit? And air out whatever to a counselor, friends, the other partner?

Because if not, instead of getting LESS emotion stuff coming your way, here comes lots more. You may not enjoy that. Some hinges do gush. You are not obligated to be her relationship coach.

I think sometimes married people assume that because they get along for 1:1 marriage they will just "automatically" get along for Open Marriage. When actually they may discover might or they might not. It's not a given.

Galagirl
 
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