WOW! What a SNAFU! Part one.

atheist

New member
This is a bit of stream of consciousness writing to help me try to figure out where I am and how in the hell I got here in the first place.

Almost a year ago I started playing pool and throwing darts with a female friend on a fairly regular basis about once a week. It started out as a group of friends but as time wore on more and more it was just us shooting pool. Almost 6 months of shooting pool, and a month or so of my wife asking me if I was going out with my “girlfriend” on the weekend to tweak me, my wife basically informed me that, yes, I had indeed fallen in love with this other, married, woman. I tried to deny it, not wanting it to be true as I feared how something like that would damage the relationship with my wife, who I considered and referred to as my angel. I was also somewhat embarrassed that if it were true, I’d been *caught* at something that felt wrong to me and that I probably should have seen and if I were a “good husband” I’d have acted to end pool nights and keep from being in situations that would result in us getting even closer than we already were. That didn’t work, and in very short order I admitted that yes, I was in love with her. Immediate dilemma for me, what to do now; what do I do? Pool night comes around and again, it’s just us two at the pool hall. I told her I loved her and asked her how she felt. She needed a little time to think about it. That same evening after taking what felt like forever, she told me that she had also fallen in love with me. My wife knew, and our families were very close so in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, we both decided right then and there that her husband needed to be told about this as soon as she got home.

He didn’t take it well. He didn’t take it well at all. My lovely wife basically told us we were morons and should have kept it a secret since the only thing that could have happened by him knowing was that he’d be hurt, which isn’t good for anyone and is actually quite cruel to him. She had been in favor of us having an affair. Oh well, it was too late for that now. So we dealt with it as best we could. Over the next few days or maybe a week or so I learned the following.

My wife had a 4+ year long affair with my best friend, and she has had a one night stand with two other people. In the distant past she had sex a few times with the person who was my best friend at that time, and she was the person with whom another friend lost his virginity. My wife has been “in love” with yet a different person for over 20 years without my knowledge. Wow! I can either have a blow-up and demand that behavior of that sort end forever or we’re done, or I can blow-up and leave her for cheating on me, or I can “cope” and let the intellect win over the feelings of jealousy and betrayal. Two teenage children, a mortgage, and 22 years of marriage spent building a life where I had never felt neglected or unloved, the *best choice* seemed to be to “suck it up” and get on with life, and just deal with my self-proclaimed polyamorous wife, and let her continue to have her fun, so to speak. Not only that, in large part, apparently, because 22 years ago I had told her, and kept telling her every once in a while, “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”, she had a rationale that was basically unspoken permission to have affairs and/or trysts as much as she wanted, with the responsibility that I never learn about them. But now I was in love with someone in addition to my wife, and that didn’t diminish the love I felt for my wife, and it was a nice feeling to be loved by two women, so now I could probably empathize with wanting to sleep with other women (at least this one) without it affecting how I felt about my wife, like she said her trysts/affairs didn’t affect how she felt about me. Welcome to the world of polyamory.

Did I have any affairs during the 22 years of our marriage? I think I *might* have had a couple of one night stands within a couple of the first two to three years, but if so, I don’t remember them, but remembering back to the kind of person I was, I believe I probably did have a few. I did have one “affair” with a girl about 5-6 years into our marriage where I met her and had sex on 2 or three different occasions, and I had a one night stand about 8 years into our marriage, but my wife knew about that one beforehand, and while she said she’d rather I didn’t do anything with her, I did. Maybe because a couple of years prior to that I had an opportunity to sleep with an old high school girlfriend that I’d never had sex with before, I asked her about that and when she said she’d rather I not, I didn’t. I’m just not sure, but for the most part I had permission from my wife to sleep around if I wanted to while I was an over the road truck driver, and I took advantage of it, without her knowledge, only with that girl I mentioned having the very, very short lived affair with. I never specifically gave her permission, other than the rule that sent a double meaning; “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”.

My wife is polyamorous in that she can love more than one person at a time, and she’s known this since before we got married. Hell, she almost talked me into a “group” arrangement early in our marriage, but I just couldn’t get rid of the jealousy, so I put the stop to it. Well, what I know is that I put the stop to the group arrangement, and I put a stop to this particular individual, but not my wife’s sleeping with other guys. Isn’t that a nice thought? Yeah, that was snarky, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and I was sleeping around on her several times during the time leading up to our engagement, which was short as we married soon afterward, so it’s also hypocritical, isn’t it? Okay, so my wife tells me about her various “encounters” with other guys. At the end of the first evening of her confessions she says to me that that’s all there was. Then there’s another night of further confessions, and that’s all there was. Finally, at least a third night, and that’s all there is, and this is, if memory serves me correctly, the night of the confession to the 4 year affair, or the confession of the 20 year love interest, but maybe both. I honestly don’t remember the order anymore. What I didn’t pay enough attention to, apparently, was that she was adamant about telling me that nobody had her heart like I did by telling me that at the front end of every tryst/love affair she made it blatantly obvious to her chosen partner that they’d NEVER supplant me in her heart and there was no way she’d allow them to ever consider her their primary love interest, and she demanded of them that she never become their primary love interest. Talk about quashing and muting the potential for unfettered, uncontrolled emotional bonding and growth; it’d be nigh impossible if that’s on the very front end of any “engagement”.

During this time of confession and getting “honest” with each other we’re also discussing my own first-hand knowledge and experience with honest to goodness love of more than one person. I’m very uncomfortable with it, and tell her on more than one occasion that for some reason, whether socialization or something else I can’t identify, I think I’d actually be more comfortable trying to hide the whole thing from her and just have had an affair. Good idea, bad idea, who knows? It’s probably a bad idea since we are supposedly being honest and totally up front about everything. I’m also learning that she believes lying, or preferably deflection and misdirection, is acceptable when the truth serves no good purpose and will result in hurt feelings, and when there’s no good result but it’s known that hurt feelings would be the result, the truth in that case is the equivalent to intentional and calculated harm to someone, and it’s not nice, nor is it acceptable to intentionally hurt someone when no good can come of it. Okay, I understand that. Does that mean the same rule applies at all times, even when dealing with one’s spouse in what is now a totally open, honest, up-front relationship? Why? Because that relationship isn’t worthy of the protection others are afforded by the “when is lying and/or misdirection okay”, rule? Or is the critical assumption that nothing will hurt because we’ll trust that it isn’t the intent to cause pain, or that somehow the pain is a good thing, or what? I don’t get it at all when it’s applied here? How much trust do you have for your spouse and how much do they trust you, and in what terms and to what degree under what circumstances?

cont'd in next post.
 

atheist

New member
Part 2

Honesty is NOT normal. Lying is a defense either for the other person or for the person telling the lie, and lies are therefore a form of emotional protection. Oddly enough, I can’t think of a more effective form of emotional protection in discourse than a lie told so well that it’s believed indefinitely or at least long enough so that when truth is discovered, it is no longer the painful experience it would have been at the time of the lie. There’s also something about being dishonest that just sits wrong with me, and I think people in general, that *typically* results in the lies being told only when no other truth, however diplomatic, will serve well enough as a form of protection for someone involved. I loathe lying, and can’t stand it when I catch myself telling one for any reason…though that hasn’t stopped me in the past for some reason. Maybe it’s just another sign I’m a mere mortal, or am I by definition, a liar, as far as civilized society is concerned? Honesty is so much preferable, and not being capable of shame or guilt would make total honesty much easier, wouldn’t it?

So, now back to the four of us; and it looks as if we’re going to make an attempt at a “quad”. Why not, he’s a good, close friend who I trust, I love my wife and I’m in love with his wife who loves me in addition to her husband who considers me a good, close friend. What a fucking disaster that turned out to be. He refuses to “share” his wife unless he’s watching her every move in terms of intimate moments, and he’s pretty sure that he’ll never be okay with the fact that his wife loves someone romantically in addition to himself. Well, okay, I’ve been there before so I understand jealousy, though I’m extremely not good with the fact that he was capable of having sexual relations with my wife, alone, as well as a threesome with his wife and mine, but incapable of a quid pro quo where I could have sexual relations with his wife, alone, or a threesome with them without his presence. Okay, I try a foursome, a threesome a couple of times, and I was so uncomfortable each time that the experience, for me was almost a total let down, the last time because he needed to see that I trusted him and his wife asked me to stay the night for that reason, primarily. MISTAKE! Oh well, that’s a different story altogether and what happened isn’t pertinent to what I’m writing <chuckle>.

So here’s how it plays out for the most part. For months after this, my girlfriend and I get some time alone every once in a while because pool night is something we considered untouchable. By this time, our chemistry and our desire causes us to throw caution to the wind, besides, I believe in the back of our minds we thought her husband was being entirely unfair, and we make-out almost every time we go out, whether it’s at the table in the pool hall just holding one another and kissing, or out in the car on the way back home where we can get in a little light petting. And during this period my wife has constantly been supportive of us making out whenever we can and even offers to stand guard and cover for us when we get brave enough to decide we’re willing to go farther than just making out, always telling us how she wishes we could spend more quality time together since we rarely get to spend quality alone time. She was also fairly adamant that the relationship between my girlfriend and me was strictly between us, and shouldn’t have any interference or be shaped or molded by outside influences such as herself or my girlfriend’s husband. I took her at her word at this, primarily because I don’t want any outside influences if I can help it, and besides, she’s got 20+ years experience at this polyamory and relationship building stuff, so I go with it.

Now we come to today. In the past, I’ve gone over to my girlfriend’s house without telling my wife first. I’ve talked to my girlfriend to find some sense of comfort when my wife is upset at me. I’ve gone over to talk to my girlfriend and it’s turned into a 3-4 hour make-out session. All of which hurt my wife’s feelings because I’m supposed to tell her what my plans are first so she’s never taken by surprise and I’m supposed to tell her about everything that happens, and I’m not supposed to use my girlfriend as comfort during the times when I just don’t want to deal with complications in my relationship with my wife. I’ve told my wife she’s the most important person in my life and taken time away from her to spend with my girlfriend who I still only see once a week or so. I’ve been “loving” in terms of touching my girlfriend in front of my wife without giving my wife equal treatment at the time, and still I feel like my wife is the most important person in my life, meaning, to me, that I do indeed love her more than I love my girlfriend. Perhaps, however, it’s not a question of love as much as it is comfort, happy contentment, and the knowledge that I’ve been able to talk to my wife about anything and everything over the past 20+ years and she has been there for me when I needed a rock, needed comfort, and even when I needed a good swift kick in the ass. I still feel my eyes lock on her every once in a while with tenderness and thankfulness and love and those times haven’t stopped. I don’t like to hurt her and I don’t mean to hurt her, but I do, every once in a while get carried away with what I’m hoping is the NRE of this 6 month old new love in my life. I question it myself sometimes though. Maybe I’m more in love with my girlfriend than my wife, but there’s a huge security blanket I’ve got with my marriage, and when that’s combined with the fact that my girlfriend isn’t willing to leave her husband, and he’s not good with her having any romantic feelings for anyone but him, I’m using my wife as a safety net.

I don’t think I’m using my wife as a safety net or only as a safety net anyway. I feel like I love her more deeply than I love my new girlfriend simply because of the life we’ve built together and the trials, tribulations, joys and happiness we’ve shared. But my new girlfriend gets me light-headed, giddy, and punch-drunk and I feel altogether high and happy every time I see her and get the chance to just touch her hand. I don’t EVER remember that with anyone else in my past, including my wife. That’s not to say it wasn’t there, though my wife is convinced it wasn’t with her, but I don’t remember it at all so she’s probably right about it. It’s that feeling that I can’t hide, the light coming on in my eyes and my smile that gives me away to my wife and it cuts her to the bone, and that hurts me too. She’s convinced that I love my girlfriend more than her. Maybe I do, though I don’t think so. But I can’t reconcile the belief that I love my wife “more” than my girlfriend with the physical changes that take place when my girlfriend and I are with each other that I don’t get when I’m around my wife. I can’t deny the fact that there are times, and they’re getting more and more frequent, when I do think I’m more in love with my girlfriend. Hell, there are times when I’m even sure of it, and I have no idea why or how, but the reality of our situation, and the thought of what I’ve built with my wife and her with her husband jerks me back to reality.
:(
In general, I’m one confused, fucked-up, maybe even monogamous person who just happened to find the one female in 3 billion or so who I could love in addition to someone else. I don’t know what to do about any of this. But I do know this; the most important thing to me right now, at this moment, is to get my wife to not hurt the way she’s hurting right now, believing that she’s no longer the person I love most. How to do this is beyond me. Even now I’m sort of a little angry at my wife seeming to *push* me into this (even though I was a very willing participant), telling me this new relationship was just between us, and then being so devastated when things happen that lead her to believe, contrary to what I think is true, that she’s no longer the primary love of my life. It almost feels like I’ve walked into the perfect trap that was set up just for me, and nobody but a saint could have avoided, and I’ve never even come close to claiming sainthood. The other night she was looking through advice columns to try to find coping methods to her belief that she’s now secondary. I asked her if she’d posted her thoughts to the poly forums to get some input, and she broke down in tears saying she didn’t want strangers to know anything or see what happened to her since she felt ashamed that she was no longer my number one in her opinion. I’ve offered to completely shut off the romantic/physical involvement with my girlfriend and substantially limit any contact with her, but my wife says that’s no good because the feelings won’t change, and that’s what has hurt her so badly.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
Have you read any of the articles on www.xeromag.com about polyamory?
There are SEVERAL that popped into my mind while reading your thread.
I agree-what a mess!

The way you describe your feelings for your girlfriend-sounds like NRE to the T. It sounds nothing like love. You might research (so you can come up with what you define it as) what Love is then you could more easily compare........
:rolleyes:
 

redpepper

New member
Honesty is NOT normal. Lying is a defense either for the other person or for the person telling the lie, and lies are therefore a form of emotional protection. Oddly enough, I can’t think of a more effective form of emotional protection in discourse than a lie told so well that it’s believed indefinitely or at least long enough so that when truth is discovered, it is no longer the painful experience it would have been at the time of the lie.

Are you serious?!!! I would love to know a situation where a lie is not hurtful. It doesn't matter how long it has been held. To the point of believing it or not, it is still hurtful. Perhaps it isn't obvious, but it is there. I find that quite insulting actually. What the fuck it the point of me spending so much time an energy and living my life as honestly as I possibly can if I just have to believe the lies I tell in order to wait for a really long time so that they too sill believe them?!!!! I'm sorry this just makes me really angry :mad:

There’s also something about being dishonest that just sits wrong with me, and I think people in general, that *typically* results in the lies being told only when no other truth, however diplomatic, will serve well enough as a form of protection for someone involved. I loathe lying, and can’t stand it when I catch myself telling one for any reason…though that hasn’t stopped me in the past for some reason. Maybe it’s just another sign I’m a mere mortal, or am I by definition, a liar, as far as civilized society is concerned? Honesty is so much preferable, and not being capable of shame or guilt would make total honesty much easier, wouldn’t it?

"Not being capable of shame and guilt would make it easier to be honest!" What?!!!! I'm glad that you see value in not lying, but it sounds like you have a long way to go to be comfortable and a compassionate truth teller. Telling the truth is not easy, you are right, but it DOES come naturally if you practice it. Not only that it compounds on itself and amazing and wonderful things grow out of it. Amazing bonds and connections. Huge amounts of happiness, passion, self love, (I could go on!). Just as lies create huge craters of loneliness, self hate and loathing, disconnection, false relationships based on nothing but thin air, and a huge amount of pain for everyone.

I'm on to reading your entire thread now.... which I recognize btw ;) perhaps that will bring to light what the heck??? I hope so.:confused:
 

redpepper

New member
Did I have any affairs during the 22 years of our marriage? I think I *might* have had a couple of one night stands within a couple of the first two to three years, but if so, I don’t remember them, but remembering back to the kind of person I was, I believe I probably did have a few.

How can you not know you had an affair....? :confused:

I’m very uncomfortable with it, and tell her on more than one occasion that for some reason, whether socialization or something else I can’t identify, I think I’d actually be more comfortable trying to hide the whole thing from her and just have had an affair. Good idea, bad idea, who knows? It’s probably a bad idea since we are supposedly being honest and totally up front about everything. I’m also learning that she believes lying, or preferably deflection and misdirection, is acceptable when the truth serves no good purpose and will result in hurt feelings, and when there’s no good result but it’s known that hurt feelings would be the result, the truth in that case is the equivalent to intentional and calculated harm to someone, and it’s not nice, nor is it acceptable to intentionally hurt someone when no good can come of it. Okay, I understand that. Does that mean the same rule applies at all times, even when dealing with one’s spouse in what is now a totally open, honest, up-front relationship? Why? Because that relationship isn’t worthy of the protection others are afforded by the “when is lying and/or misdirection okay”, rule? Or is the critical assumption that nothing will hurt because we’ll trust that it isn’t the intent to cause pain, or that somehow the pain is a good thing, or what? I don’t get it at all when it’s applied here? How much trust do you have for your spouse and how much do they trust you, and in what terms and to what degree under what circumstances?

lying and misdirection are never okay in my book. And are certainly NOT a rule... yes the pain of the truth is a good thing, because you move into it, experience it and then find ways to move out of it. you trust your partner entirely to speak with compassion, love, respect, and with words that don't harm, but make one reflect and be interested in working on whatever it is that needs working on.

I think that 22 years of lies and deceit is a very tough thing to get through and it won't happen over night. The first thing is for your wife to deprogram herself to believe that lying to you has been a good thing in your marriage. Just resigning yourself to being treated that way and treating others that way is a cop out. Of course you can go right ahead if you think that their is really nothing better for you in life, but I am hear to tell you that there is and you can have it if you work towards it.

Maybe I’m more in love with my girlfriend than my wife, but there’s a huge security blanket I’ve got with my marriage...I’m using my wife as a safety net

Ah, there we go... this is where the complacency comes from perhaps... it sounds like it's just easier to take and use each other, than wonder why you are not as attracted to your wife any more or actually work on achieving an improved marriage. I would suggest that the fact that you and her have been lying to one another for years would indicate your lack of bond and connection. This new love is fresh and a clean slate. It's easy to love her, because things are in the open... its a pure love and uncluttered by deceit.

why would this woman want to leave her husband and go to a man that lies and is used to lying? It isn't attractive and a good foundation to a relationship.

having read to the end it seems that you are experiencing NRE and just have to breath and laugh at yourself a little for it. Nothing seems right when you are experiencing NRE. It's like being high or drunk. There is a chemical imbalance that dies down with time...

I do continue to suggest that in order to help make your wife feel more comfortable, that you work on some of these MAJOR issues that you have created in your marriage. If you intend to stay in your comfort zone than at least have the where with all to work on making it MORE comfortable.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
How can you not know you had an affair....?

RP-I had the same question. I didn't write it-because I just couldn't wrap my MIND around it.
There were a number of those moments. I figured if I just waited maybe more information would clear up some confusion? :confused:
 

atheist

New member
How can I not know whether or not I had an affair way back then? I used the wrong word. I did NOT have any affairs way back then, but I don't remember whether or not I had any "one night stands"...how I could forget them, if I did, which I *think* I probably did, your guess is as good as mine.

I'm still struggling with the whole "honesty" issue. Is there such a thing as "sharing too much", or is that part of what would be required for "total honesty and transparency? Isn't NOT telling something to someone for reasons of either shame or fearing it would hurt their feelings a form of lying, a lie of omission? If you don't "fess up" to something that you haven't been directly asked about, is it a lie, or is it only a lie if you if you've been asked a direct question. To respond with "it's none of your business", or, "I don't think it's any of your business", may be true, but isn't it still a "lie of omission" since you are keeping information hidden for whatever reason?

I have been accused of sharing way too much when asked questions, in large part because I never respond with "it's none of your business". For example, if my parents had ever asked me if I was sleeping around on my wife, I KNOW what they'd be asking was if I'd had any affairs or one night stands. While I don't believe it's really their business, I'd have responded with something along the lines of, "why do you ask and *if* I were, does that mean you think you need to involve yourself somehow into my marriage to "fix" what you believe for whatever reason is "broken""? My response is a deflection and is NOT an honest answer to their question. Does that mean it's a lie? Does that make the reply dishonest because I'm avoiding answering it truthfully? Where do you draw lines when it comes to "truthfulness"?

GRRR...out of time for now. I'll be back later for more.

I'll leave you with this for your viewing pleasure... http://abstrusegoose.com/99
 
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Ariakas

Bosun
How can I not know whether or not I had an affair way back then? I used the wrong word. I did NOT have any affairs way back then, but I don't remember whether or not I had any "one night stands"...how I could forget them, if I did, which I *think* I probably did, your guess is as good as mine.

Must have been awesome :) <sarc>

I'm still struggling with the whole "honesty" issue. Is there such a thing as "sharing too much", or is that part of what would be required for "total honesty and transparency? Isn't NOT telling something to someone for reasons of either shame or fearing it would hurt their feelings a form of lying, a lie of omission? If you don't "fess up" to something that you haven't been directly asked about, is it a lie, or is it only a lie if you if you've been asked a direct question. To respond with "it's none of your business", or, "I don't think it's any of your business", may be true, but isn't it still a "lie of omission" since you are keeping information hidden for whatever reason?

With honesty, you need to understand your audience. Imo you don't walk around sharing everything. That said certain people deserve the chance at full disclosure. My wife gets the full shebang, if she is done or doesn't want to hear something she tells me. Maybe at some point she will flip the script and not want to hear about dates or flirting. But that would need to be discussed as we are used to full disclosure. You might want to figure out the hard fast rules in your relationship about how open you want to be.

Dates or potential dates or lovers...I am as open as I need to be with discretion. E, our ex, does not want it known she was with us. She is worried if we ever break up, that she will be blamed. So I keep that secret. I do let peolpe know about this other person and past partners. I am as open as I am comfortable without ever lying. If it is something deeply person I will simply not tell them. There are things in my history which people don't need to know unless they want to stick around for a while.

I'll leave you with this for your viewing pleasure... http://abstrusegoose.com/99

haha...since this is about communication and trust, I would have simply told Pengrah the first one. She would appreciate it. And then go to the football game with me :)
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Hi Atheist,

I'm a little late discovering this thread so I hope it's still "live".

I have to say that I think the way this whole situation has unfolded is neither uncommon nor as disastrous as it may sound/appear at first glance.

I don’t know what to do about any of this. But I do know this; the most important thing to me right now, at this moment, is to get my wife to not hurt the way she’s hurting right now, believing that she’s no longer the person I love most.

In reality, I have a feeling you and your wife are actually in a much better position than many when the discovery of poly comes around. In a way, you (especially she) have been living it somewhat successfully for 22 (?) years. You seem happy together. Whatever is in the past is exactly that - in the past.

The first thing that's important for your wife to grasp is that "love" is NOT a competition ! There isn't a scoreboard. The [more than] / [less than] constructs belongs in the realm of mathematics :)
The ironic thing is - she already knows this ! She's been living it !
Love isn't a competition - it's just DIFFERENT between different individuals ! Maybe you just need to remind her of what she already knows ?
And it's different at different times and phases. The love between you and your wife is mature, strong, seasoned. Like fine wine. At this point with your girlfriend it's new, untested, exciting - AND confusing :)
No bigger or smaller - just different.
Make sense ?

she didn’t want strangers to know anything or see what happened to her since she felt ashamed that she was no longer my number one in her opinion. I’ve offered to completely shut off the romantic/physical involvement with my girlfriend and substantially limit any contact with her, but my wife says that’s no good because the feelings won’t change, and that’s what has hurt her so badly.

Ashamed ? She should be ashamed of being ashamed !
But again we say there's no number anything. The connection between different individuals is always unique and special. And what you've built together over all these years can never be superseded or replaced by anyone else. It's just not how life is !

To both>>>>>> take a deep breath ! It's really ok. A NEW phase in your wonderful relationship. Travel it together !
And please tell her to feel free to jump in here, places like this, read, contribute, feel comfortable. In truth, I suspect she has her own little vial of wisdom that many could benefit from !

Hang in there and please keep us posted !

GS
 
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