Wife wants Open Marriage

amk

New member
Let me start by saying that I am here to educate myself and hopefully gain an understanding of what my wife is interested in and why she is.

I am a 33 year old male and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 12 years. Early this year (2012), she approached me and told me that she had feelings for a male coworker and that she needed to tell me about it. I was completely devestated. My entire world seemed to be crashing down.

Then, 4 months later, she told me that she wasn't happy, she didn't know why and wasn't sure she wanted to be married anymore. By this point, I was completely destroyed. My heart was broken and I didn't know what to do. She assured me that she would try to figure her feelings out before making any decisions.

The relationship was tenuous at best and I had to get myself into counseling. I was near suicidal. I have always been completely and utterly head-over-heels for my wife.

Now, last weekend, we were talking and she told me that she thinks she's figured out what she wants. She went on to explain that life is short and she wants to experience things with other men that aren't me. She told me she loves me more than anyone else, but that she didn't see love and sex as being the same thing. I did my best to be open-minded and listen without passing judgment. She told me that she is attracted to other men and she wants to have sex with them. She encouraged me to do the same, if I wanted. I asked if she would interested in being with other couples and she told me that she doesn't want me to be there at all.

Once again, I "tried" to be open-minded, but I was hurt. I feel a deep sadness that I am a failure in someway. The compulsive thoughts of "what's wrong with me" and "where did I go wrong" began and haven't stopped.

I started trying to imagine how I might react to her being with other men. When I imagined another man doing intimate things to my wife, I literally threw up. I'm completely disgusted by the idea of my wife with another man and I don't think I can move past it.

My fear is that my wife will be happy if I don't find a way to become "OK" with her desires and she will eventually just leave me despite her telling me that she won't. I am having a hard time understanding her desires because, personally, I have no desire to be with other women. I am a man, so I find other women attractive, but I don't want to sleep with them or wonder if I'm missing out.

I guess my question for those of you who are more experienced is: what can I do to help myself become less disgusted with the idea of my wife being with other men? How can I become a better partner for my wife?
 

PorcupineTree

New member
You are not alone

I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I was blindsided by my fiancée wanting to explore outside relationships (something she feels hardwired to do). I had very similar reaction as well, but my advice (about a week since the topic was raised) is continue what you are doing now.

Seek information. Read the stories people are telling here, and elsewhere. But most importantly, ask her what it is she wants. Try to keep in mind that it is about the pursuit of happiness. But not just hers, yours as well. Talk to her and figure out what can be a compromise that might keep you both in your comfort zone? And clearly let her know you need time to understand.

Talk, and slowly whittle away the fear. Ask her to help you understand.

I've found that during our talks about this, we've grown closer than we have in months. We are trying to figure this out safely, respectfully, and most importantly, together.

See it as a chance to bring a new level of transparency and honesty between you.

Clear your thoughts (I found that writing a letter over the length of a day focused my concerns and feelings immensely). And be sure to express them. Help her see your perspective. She has probably had months to think about these feelings, you have not. :-\

Progress and compromise, one step at a time.
 

amk

New member
PorcupineTree, I appreciate the post.

My wife and I have a pretty open line of communication. We've made it 12 years and it wasn't because everything was always a bed of roses.

The process I decided to follow is:

1. Chronicling all my feelings (negative and postive).
2. Finding non-judgmental support from someone outside the situation.
3. Working through my feelings, with my wife, so I can get a more objective view.
4. Making a decision about whether I can handle an Open Marriage.
5. Then, maintaining my marriage regardless of the decision I make.

The only problem is, I'm not sure how to accomplish all that, yet. Maybe someone can shed some "experience" on how to do that.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
Sounds like a fairly typical reaction for the circumstances.
I suggest reading through some of the personal blogs.
There's a LOT regarding how to deal with jealousy/fear/insecurity in my personal blog.
Also-search those words here and you will fins many posts and threads.


Morethantwo.com has GREAT info.
Also the seven levels of intimacy ( not about poly) is VERY helpful in managing relationship communication.
Loving More by Deborah Anapol (aboit poly) is excellent for a newbie who isnt poly oriented.
 

amk

New member
After some crippling fears got written down on paper, I started to feel better about things. I plan to lay everything I'm feeling out to my wife and create a dialogue. That said, I know there are certainly pitfalls involved here, since my wife and I are in different places.

I would welcome advice on how to talk about my fears with her without making her feel bad. I am trying to be non-judgmental and open-minded, but I'm having a hard time.

I want to be the best partner I can, but I'm feeling jealous and hurt. I don't want that to get in the way of good communication about what each of us wants and expects. Help?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I don't know if anything there will resonate with you -- esp the "pitfalls" one.

http://www.practicalpolyamory.com/downloadabledocuments.html

Here are more:

http://www.morethantwo.com/
http://www.serolynne.com/polyamory.htm
http://openingup.net/resources/free-downloads-from-opening-up/

You could learn about open models.


If polyamory is NOT how you are wired inside, it is NOT a failing or you being "less than" somehow or "not enough" some how. You have the right to have your own desires and your own preferences in how your romantic relationship come in. There is NOTHING wrong with monoamory.

YOU decide what your core values are.

But if after reading and learning and reality testing your core values you come to find that "Yup. I'm wired for monoamory. And my preferences is a CLOSED monogamous romantic relationship" inside you? Stick with your core values then!

I guess my question for those of you who are more experienced is: what can I do to help myself become less disgusted with the idea of my wife being with other men?

If it is not for you, it is not for you.

How can I become a better partner for my wife?

Listen to her side. Tell your side honestly.

  • Thank her for coming to you honestly with her crush things, and her Shared Vulnerable. That was probably scary to do.
  • Ask her for time to digest things -- would she be willing to do that?
  • Ask her for time with a counselor if needed -- would she be willing to do that?
  • Ask her for what her suggestions are if after thinking you come to find you cannot be a willing participant with open marriage. Is she thinking it is best for BOTH of your LONG TERM health to split up and be friends then? Even if it means SHORT TERM suckage of navigating a split?

You can read more of my thoughts in my blog thread on mono-poly. It's mostly the first few pages.

Bottom line -- Entering into something that you are not really WILLING to do for your own self, and you do it from a fear of "losing her" -- that's not going TOWARD your happiness. That's running away from things. Face the fears, and do the best choice thing for BOTH your long term health.

All relationships come with a clock attached. Even "til death do us part" is an ending. So... choose what is ending here. Even if you decide to Open, the Closed Marriage portion is ending. The relationship is evolving to a new shape. That's nothing new. Once you were BF & GF. That ended. It changed to a marriage.

So remember to BREATHE deep. Assess what you have here, where your willingness lies, her willingness lies, and come up with the best plan for BOTH you LONG TERM HEALTH. As you both face this next checkpoint in the relationship and decide where it will evolve to next.

Even if that means navigating an amicable split.
  • So she has space to find her romantic happiness.
  • So you have space to find your romantic happiness.
  • While preserving the space for you both to maintain the existing friendship.

The feelings may be hard to feel.

But you guys are in charge of how you choose to behave in response to those feelings.

Namaste,

Galagirl
 
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amk

New member
Galagirl, you have given me a lot to think about and talk about. One thing you said that seems to be a mistake I am making is sacrificing my own happiness to give her a greater measure of it, which I have no doubt is foolish and unsustainable.

I need to accept where I am and talk about where she is. Fortunately, she isn't pressuring me or holding me to a timetable. I find solace there. She is my best friend and I can't imagine what my life would be without her.

Thank-you for everything you posted, I will meditate on this, do some reading and take my time doing both.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
She is my best friend and I can't imagine what my life would be without her.

That is the point. If you guys are best friends, you DON'T have to be without each other's friendship even as other things shift/change in other areas of your lives.

You guys could choose how you want to behave as you navigate this (the present) and you guys could choose how you to want to behave toward each other later (the future) -- out of respect for what you shared before (the past).

Remember to BREATHE, and be calm as you both discern for yourselves what is next in store for you.

Hang in there!

GG
 

nycindie

Active member
So many people come here and ask, "How can I say such-and-such to my partner?" -- not realizing that they already figured it out. The such-and-such is usually perfectly valid to express directly to someone:
I want to be the best partner I can, but I'm feeling jealous and hurt. I don't want that to get in the way of good communication about what each of us wants and expects. Help?

"Honey, I want to be the best partner I can be, but I'm feeling jealous and hurt. I don't want that to get in the way of good communication about what each of us wants and expects. Will you help me?"​
Nothing wrong with saying just that!

I would advise that you also ask her to be patient and give you the space you need to absorb all this and work through it.
 

RaspberrySurprise

New member
Hi Amk

I don't really have any advice but I just wanted to say that I think you are dealing with this in a very mature and sensitive way. You obviously love your wife very much and I hope it works out for both of you.

Ann
 

amk

New member
Reveal

The talk:

Last night, after taking a few days to basically write down every single concern and feeling (2 pages, typed) I have- both positive and negative -about opening our marriage, I asked my wife to sit down and talk.

Because I knew she has been feeling guilty for all the heartache I've been experiencing, I started by explaining that all the feelings/concerns I wrote vary in degrees depending on a lot of different factors. I asked her not to react, but just to listen.

As she read, she started with the negatives and I found that we shared several of the fears and insecurities that I had recorded. She made her way through, commenting here and there about what she thought and pointing out things she felt were false (things I shouldn't be fearful of).

The positives were probably best for last; it changed the tone of the discussion to a much more objective perspective for both of us. My wife seemed to understand that despite my fears, I was trying to understand her, even if I'm not ready to fully embrace polyamory. That seemed to be very meaningful to her.

I asked her what her intentions were for the near future and she told me she would not be moving forward with anyone until I was 100% comfortable and agreed to it. She said I was the most important person in her life and she would never want to lose me. Hearing this for the first time in over a year was probably the single most grounding thing I've ever experienced. It certainly diminished the fears I've been having. She also told me she would understand if I couldn't agree to polyamory and that she wouldn't leave me for that decision. This erased the pressure I've been feeling and I feel much more free.

I hope in the coming weeks and months to read as much as possible on this site and others and to create a dialogue with those of you who have experienced something similar. I'm trying to keep and open mind and understand what polyamory is and how it can be for a couple like us. I know many of the posts seem to imply that you are either poly or your not. Trying new things is interesting to me, but I still have reservations- I've been monogamous for almost 13 years.

Has anyone in a monogamous relationship had polyamory suggested by a spouse and eventually decided it was for them, too? What was the journey like?
 

DsmEvolution

New member
Amk, i've been following you post and feel that I have something to finally contribute.

As to your question;

Has anyone in a monogamous relationship had polyamory suggested by a spouse and eventually decided it was for them, too? What was the journey like?

My partner and I were monogamous for the first 10 years of our relationship (minus the one time I cheated on him). We had decided that after 10 years, we were ready to try bringing a third in to our bedroom. I could tell that for the last several years, he wanted to try being more open, but I was so afraid to do it after I had cheated. Then just before the beginning of last summer, we finally had a chance to experience something with other people. We ended up spending a couple days with another male couple and then, the flood gates were open after that.

Went spent about another 6 months only sharing experiences together which was fun and I got to see sides of him that I didn't realize I would find as exciting and amazing. After 6 months, we decided to start our solo experiences. It was a very rocky first couple of months and took a LOT more communication in those few months than we ever did in the 10 years leading up, but we survived it.

After a while, i've started to see his interactions with other men as not being a threat to us and our relationship, and that's opened me up to enjoying my interactions with other men.

I think the key thing to keep in mind is that your wife's and my partner's feelings for others do not diminish their feelings for us. From what you've said here, it sounds like she still loves you VERY MUCH and she's being very honest and respectful of your feelings and is willing to do this on your terms and time table. Sounds like you're a very lucky man.

This relationship style is not for everyone and it may not be for you after all, but I certainly do applaud your willingness to learn about it and find ways to integrate it in to your ideals, it shows how much you love her.

Keep your head up! This seems to be a great community of people here and can be a wonderful support center for you in this journey!
 

nycindie

Active member
I'm trying to keep and open mind and understand what polyamory is and how it can be for a couple like us. I know many of the posts seem to imply that you are either poly or your not.

Well, keep on reading - there is quite a diversity of opinion. Some people believe in that "wiring" idea, that one is either poly or not, while others don't. I look at polyamory as simply a structure for relationships, and a practice. As human beings, we have a wide array of choices in front of us, as to how we want to live our lives. We change and evolve and learn new ways of being throughout our lives, and it's just a matter of seeing what fits with who we are and what makes us happy and fulfilled.

Some people who say they are "wired poly" still have all kinds of difficulty and drama making it work, while others who say they just fell into it or decided to try it out are enormously successful and satisfied with it.

Some people look at poly as mostly a way to have more sex partners, while others find themselves in a conundrum of having fallen in love with more than one person, and still others decide it is right for them in order to expand the love in their life.

There are so many ways one can wind up "here" and so many reasons why it can or cannot work for any particular person. It all depends on what you put into it, and it sounds like you and your wife are both kind, thoughtful, loving people who are willing to explore slowly and not rush into anything. That is a great first step!
 

amk

New member
two steps back

So, after all the positive things that happened last night, I feel like I really lost it with my wife tonight. The cumulative stresses of what my wife told me, combined with a severely strained relationship with my mother currently produced a vulnerable and irrational series of thoughts that came out in verbal obsession about everything that's going on.

Not a very attractive quality, i know. My wife demonstrated some patience, but then she just lost it on me and told me to "suck it up". I wasn't ready to hear that kind of "tough love" from her and I broke down. Of course, she was frustrated with me and offered little in the way of comfort.

This is so damn hard. I wish I had someone to talk with and I feel very alone in all this. I feel like I'm failing at trying to be understanding. I think I could handle any other kind of adversity, but seem to lack the strength to face my best friend's callous attitude right now.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
Just breathe.
We all have those moments.
Maca was in your shoes.
He has since found he's poly. He's my DH. Feelfree to pm him.
Or me.

Hugs
 

Love2Bake

New member
You sound so broken. Its sad. I want you to please remember one thing. It really does not matter how good of a friend/lover/spouse you are, this isn't about you. Your wife will desire additional partners because that's just how her brain works. I know it feels impossible but at least try not to take this personally.

What seems devistating at first often ends up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Maybe you'llne look back on this one day as being a turning point in your life. One you're evermore grateful for. Best wishes, OP!! : D
 

Daysleeper

New member
You've received some great advice here already regarding opening your marriage and managing your feelings. My concern is a little different. It sounds as though you and your wife have had a difficult year.

It's possible your wife's desire to be with other men has caused the problems in your marriage, but it is also possible that it has not. Are you so focused on this information that you are overlooking other issues? Think back to when you and your wife were at your roughest patch in the last year. Did your wife talk about being unhappy with finances, inlaws, family status, loneliness or something else? Were her concerns addressed and resolved? Were your concerns addressed and resolved? Or are these other issues just in the background now?

Since your wife is willing to wait awhile, I might put some energy into resolving preexisting issues rather than focusing completely on this one. Even if you both decide that non monogamy sounds wonderful and perfect for you as individuals and as a couple, there will be rough spots in the beginning. Working through other issues as a couple will strengthen your relationship, give you a greater sense of security and restore trust, making the transition easier.

If you think other issues are causing significant dissatisfaction in your relationship, I'd tell your wife you don't want to lose focus on those things, that you want to try to work on these things while you learn about and consider opening your marriage. If you think opening the marriage is the only serious conflict between you, please disregard this message.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
Hi and welcome,

Is your wife a member here yet ? If not I'd suggest that first.

If she cares about this working out with the marriage intacted there is plenty of this she needs to learn as well. This isn't going to be you doing all the learning and changing.....or sucking it up.

Plenty of threads and advice for her to read.

You might want to start thinking in term of deal breakers and work backwards.

Good luck D
 

snowmelt

New member
but then she just lost it on me and told me to "suck it up". I wasn't ready to hear that kind of "tough love" from her and I broke down. Of course, she was frustrated with me and offered little in the way of comfort.
I'm going to give you my own version of tough love. I'm going to give you the facts. The relationship you had with your wife before she told you she is poly is over - period. You cannot get that relationship back.

Neither you nor your wife know where your relationship with each other is going. Accept that for now.

"Suck it up" is an ultimatum that tells you to give her what she wants "or else". She said that in a moment of anger, so it is the way she really feels. The "or else" is usually losing something. You already lost something - the relationship you used to have with her.

The only question you need to ask yourself (not her) is what works for you. Does it work for you to be married to a woman who gets initimate with other men, if there is the opportunity for you to be intimate with other women? If your answer is yes, that does not make you a good, more valuable person. It is just the way you are. If your answer is no, that does not make you a bad, less valuable person. It is just the way you are. Place no value judgements on your answer. When you find your answer, accept it with your heart open.

Your job is to stand up, take a deep breath and reevaluate your life until you find your own answer to that question. You are asking yourself this question. You are not asking your wife this question. This question is all about you.

Reevaluating your life is a task that will require your direct attention, and a lot of inner strength. Feeling sorry for yourself will make reevaluating your life harder.

Your wife has given you a very focused opportunity to reevaluate your life. Do not pretend you can give her what she wants (poly) and everything will go back to the way it was. It will not. You are now moving in a new direction that either includes an intimate relationship with her or does not. If you leave that direction entirely up to her by focusing your attention on what you are no longer getting from her and how bad you feel about it, you will have a more difficult time moving forward with your own life.

Decide for yourself how you want to move forward. Daysleeper gave you some very good advice, but you will not be able to use it if you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself. Dingedheart suggested bringing your wife to this board with her own account. This board has a lot of good people who can give her the benefit of their thoughts and experience.

Stand up, take a deep breath, acknowledge the mono relationship you had with your wife is over. Ask yourself how you want to move forward, and if that moving forward includes an intimate relationship with her or not. It does not have to. If you want a mono relationship and she wants poly, then the intimate part or your relationship with her needs to stop.

Do not make the mistake of placing yourself in a poly relationship with her just to please her and try to "preserve" the marriage, if you do not truly want it. Doing something that does not work for you just to please someone else never works. If you try that, your marriage will fall apart anyway. It will fall harder when it does fall than it would have otherwise, and will be more painful for both you and your wife. It's time for you to be strong enough to begin the process of looking at your own life so you can decide how you want to live, given the options you have.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Look, you both have a lot to digest here. That is understandable. If you guys could do it and solve it on your own, there wouldn't be this struggle. That is understandable.

If you have come to find you have nobody to turn to and you have cultivated no other close friendships to share your joys and burdens with in Life -- perhaps that's telling you something here. Your wife is not your best friend from among many friends. Your wife is your best friend from being the ONLY friend.

That is a hard burden on both -- you have no other support system when the fit hits the shan. She has to be your everything even when she herself is not at her best.

What if the issue were not poly? What if she were in the hospital with a stroke? Where would you go for support in that hard time? Why can't you go there in THIS hard time? Sometimes the spouse is NOT the guy. Or rather, not the ONLY guy.

How about accepting that you are each too close to the issue for comfort, you both are under burden right now, and both are better off seeking a third party person like a counselor? Minister? Who do you guys normally see for big stuff processing? Either to talk to independently of each other, as a couple, or BOTH? Loads shared are lighter.

She's got to process her own stuff, not process hers AND guide you through yours. Her reaching a limit that day on that verbal spew? That doesn't mean she's abandoning you. But I could see her saying "suck it up" like "sheesh! I'm dealing with hard things here too! Everyone put their own oxygen mask on first! Stop acting out at me! I hurt too! Suck up your own part of coping! Everyone cope!"

You both could be emotionally flooded.
http://portlandrelationshipinstitute.com/Artcl__Emotional_Floodin.html

If that happens, don't metaphorically pee INWARD on each other in the relationship and escalate tension. Pee OUTWARD to de-escalate tensions and lower the volume/stress. To others who can help and support in appropriate ways.

How are your conflict resolution skills with wife? Strong? Weak?

Galagirl
 
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