I am a male and nearing 40. I want to ask the advice of anyone who has ever faced a hard decision over whether to forsake "poly-ness" for commitments to a non-poly partner. For 12 years of marriage, I've tried to deny my feelings, often deep and near-overwhelming, for others. During this time, I've never been seriously tempted to sleep with anyone unless I was in love with her. There were five such temptations, four of whom were not only willing, but asked. I was able to say "no (and thank you!)" to three...the fourth I said "no" to twice and failed to say "no" a third time. I had been as open as I possibly could with my wife about my feelings for each, and for her, and I told her what had happened after the only time that "no" became "yes." My wife and I love each other very much, and she held on and listened even when it tore her up inside. But she's made it obvious that she wants ours to remain a monogamous union. (In case you're wondering, "no-to-yes" is no longer in the picture, and that relationship was a near-disaster. In a poly-supportive culture, it wouldn't have been, but as all of us know, we don't live in one.) I'm sorry that my wife feels like my loving someone else is love stolen from her. Reading about polyamory has helped me to understand that if I used another relationship to avoid working on this one, it would be...thank you for that. But I've never been able to resign myself to acting as though I live in an emotional straightjacket when several people I love dearly have no one in their lives and talk about love and touch the way a starving person talks about food.
I don't know what the right thing to do is. I feel like part of me is dying.
No "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" replies, please. I love my wife as much as she loves me, and we have a young daughter who means more to me than all of this put together.
Any "your mileage may vary" words of wisdom, or similar experiences? Thank you for listening and thinking it over.
I believe that those who say that anyone must honor a commitment for the sake
of the children is crazy! This life is short and every moment so valuable
and special and we only have it once. We must live for ourselves, and yes,
we must take into consideration the others in our lives whom we affect,
however, the idea that once you say a thing, that is it, and that is all,
forever, is a prison sentence! No body in their right mind can ever be
honest and true if they are stuck in promises that other people hold over them,. and
they cannot in real loving terms expect that they can come to their loved one
and say, "My love I have grown and changed and life has presented me with
something new and unexpected, and now I need to tell you what I am today, who
I am, what I need, what I want and that I want to find a way to make us all
happy in these new terms." One must always be open to what the now is
offering and be open to who our partners are becoming and allow each other to
finds our selves in this wild
experience of life.
Our promises were made in a time when we believed that we were being very true and honest and we meant it, and yet, somewhere, deep within, was a knowledge that we were giving something of ourselves away, letting a part of ourselves go until....the day when the side of us came back up, and we had to acknowledge that there was something to talk about with our partner. We mean to be honest, but they do not agree, and we are faced with a difficult situation...Do we live for ourselves or do we live for others? I feel certain that we must communicate that our lives are our own and expect respect for that fact from our partners. Yes, we must tell them, when we are changing the rules, but we should really have the kind of honest and real relationships that support our exploration of our selves, and that will not attempt to stop us from becoming who we feel we must be in order to see the real true us. So, When your partner is trying to stop you....They are the one who needs to grow!
Peace and Love and Freedom in All Ways,
I understand your desire to stand by your commitment, so let me share my experience with it. I am a child of such parents, who decided it was for my, and my siblings benefit that they suppress and control and deny integral parts of themselves in order to remain together in their marriage. From this I learned very well how not to be myself, how to suppress my creativity, and how to sacrifice what was most important to my spiritual well being to the dictates of others. Above all else, children learn what they live.
My heart and spirit are also poly, and it has been a long road for me to be able to embrace this part of myself openly and experience it, as well as many other things. I am very blessed and grateful to have walked and learned from an extraordinary set of individuals that have been so loving and generous and understanding that I seem to be making my way along a wonderful path in life. many do not have the same opportunity.
Having said all this, I would like to propose that if you and your wife become more aware and accepting of yourselves and each others personal make up, and what your individual spiritual path is, your daughter will learn to accept, love, respect, and honor her own individuality, and that of others, wheather you stay married, or in the same home or not. Something that is far more valuable, in my honest opinion, than having people who aren't really there, in the home.
If a marriage is a pledge of love, then you both owe it to yourselves to experience all that means, including the uncomfortable side of growing within oneself beyond the hurt, intollerance, denial, and fear, to come to a place of unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance of your own spirits, and the spirit you each have chosen for a partner. Therefore deepening the and strengthening that pledge by action. Then adjust the partnership to facilitate the needs of all the individuals from an inclusive perspective, instead of an exclusive one.
The universe is filled with infinite possibility, and we are the magick that manifests the opportunity to make our dreams come true.
Dear Mr. Davidson-
I am a wife of a man who says he wants to live a poly life. We have major problems with in our relationship including very different recolections of past coversations. The one of late was me saying I felt going outside of the marriage would kill the marriage because of communication and trust issues. He now is in love with someone else and me. He has lied about seeing her, I called the hotel and spoke with her (first time I had ever heard her voice). I feel that if we had no children I would be living a poly life, unfortunately had I not become pregnant when I did we would not be married. I LOVE HIM!!! What do I do??
I have decided that because my daughters are use to daddy working out of the area and being home every weekend divorce would not in any way change the schedule; but I dont want divorce. The solution for now is, stay married, seek couples thearpy, have a post nup agreement, have a relationship contract, have a relationship but live seperate lives. He has her, I have me, we will wear our rings when together, and for now no additional persons meet the children under any circumstances. When we are happy and successful at this, or know what we are doing atleast a little, then we can renegotiate additionals meeting the kids.
Our relationship will never be the same. but hopefully trying this will give us a new, different, and hopefully beter relationship. I asked all of the poly couples I know (unfortunately none have kids, one is due any day now) what they would do about pre-exsisting children. All said the addition does not meet the kids, if one of the kids is old enough to sense something is different. If the change to poly happens before the kids, the additions are good/best friends the child excepts the life style and is happy.
My concern first is for the psychological effect on my children (4 -1), speaking as a wife, there are not a lot of women who would change to a poly life out there. We are shunned by our peirs and society much worse then men. When a man has an affair or chooses to be poly (in ca.), society says he is a smuck, then leaves him alone. A women who has an affair or chooses to be poly, is loose, a slut, shunned by the majority of women, and in constent fear of loosing her children. We walk down the street, hearing comments. My friend was once called a 'devil's twat (cunt)'while we walked into a restaraunt. She now does not wear her ring in public, and for the stranger who asks, she says that she is seperated. She only goes into detail with those she is comfortable with, or planning to be a friend too. They are still very much in love, and their relationship I feel has been more successful than mine. Something to think about.
Thank you for lettting me talk your ear off. Good luck to you. Remember this, I have many happy mentally healthy friends whos parents are divorced. If your wife can not accept what is truely in your heart, your child will be just fine with two very active parents who just happen to be like the majority of parents, divorced. Marriage is the minority these days, thats scary.
Tobi Lynn Schneider, wife and mother
Parker, I am involved with a man who wants to "wander" as he says and
when I first met and began speaking with him two years ago we talked about
having an "open relationship." I must ask if your wife was EVER willing. Is
her monogamous stance something that she came to or something that has always
To give you an idea of what she may be feeling and some suggestions of ways you can alleviate the possible tensions or insecurities you may have, I will share my "evolution." I prided myself on being "open-minded" but put to the test a few times, three menage a trois I tried with seperate people on seperate occasions all went sour. I now realize that I contributed greatly to the souring process by being ambigious, witholding intimacy while being fluidly sensual. I always doubted the "other woman's" hidden agenda even when I had invited her into the bed. I tried to control the situation and when it became evident that sparks were flying between them sperate from me I felt insecure and jealous.
Ultimately, I began to think that I may not be as plyamorous as I originaly thought or wanted to be. Fortunately, the man that I met two years ago is very loving and supportive and he has stood by me through my rocky evolution process. He has denied himself for my sake and has put a suspended two year hold on all "secondary affairs." I repect him and appreciate what he's done for me. But I also understand that I accepted him orifginally for who he was and I KNEW what he wanted. Let your wife KNOW what you want and give her a chance to accept or reject it. My SO has been totally honest with me about how he feels and has offered to accept monogamy if that is what I need. But he has not lied and said he would be happy with it; I know it would recquire his commiting a self sacrifice. In essence it would kill a part of him and I love him too much to let that happen. Let your wife know what it would do to you mentally and emotionally to deny your true feelings.
Furthermore let her know that she is first and foremost in your heart. One thing that has helped J and I is that we discussed our views of what being with others did for us and it seems to be an opportunity to recharge our proverbial batteries for each other. We already have a high level of verbal and emotional intimacy, something that was not initially easy for me. He was patient and persistent with his efforts to encourage me to question my motives, my ambiguity, my fears, and inhibitions. What I have discovered beneath all that is that I am perpetuating restrictions on my self that I am not comfortable with and my efforts to "reign him in" were an effort to have comraderie in my repressive state. I was numbly comfortable in that state. It felt "normal" and normal must be good because it worked for every one around me, or so I thought. What I have discovered is that most everyone I know has "cheated" at some point in their life, be they male or female.
Those that havent have developed unusually repressive coping strategies and some even cultivate freakish and frighetning tendencies. All considered the concept of being in a relationship where we can both be honest about our feelings for each other and other people is wonderful. I KNOW I can trust him. If he wants someone he tells me and if I'm not comfortable we talk about it and try to discover ways that I can get comfortable with it or he can let it go and pursue something else. We have to both be considerate of the other person's needs and also be honest in communicating what we want even if we're not sure how the other will recieve the information. Your wife may be comforted to know that she comes first and that she may veto certain situations if they seem counterproductive to your primary relationship (given that she is eventually open-minded enough to not veto everything due to social conditioning, insecurities, etc.)
You also have to understand that the primary relationship must be strong and grounded foremost. The additions can not be measures of healing the primary relationship or filling in the gaps. If there are problems in the relationship with your wife, she may see your desire for others as a means of eventually leaving her or as a way for you to avoid taking responsibilty for giving back to the relationship as much as she feels she's putting into it. Just talk about it and let her know that you need tobe true to yourself because if you're not its destructive to not only you but to her and the relationship as well, because resentment and denial are not positive energies to put into a relationship.
I am poly, but I also believe very strongly in the bond of marriage and
commitment. If you had known this about yourself before you got
married, you would have solved your problem. But now, you have chosen
to exchange vows with a woman who does not share your view. You have
children and that makes this more complicated. For the sake of the
children and for your wife's sake, you must honor your commitment. This
means sacrificing your own feelings for other people. I realize it's
easy enough to give this advice and quite another thing to take it. But
I feel that since you made this promise to a very special woman, and you
have children who will grow up, learning by your example, you have no
choice. Since you still love your wife and your life with her is good
in every other respect, I feel that you should honor her and the promise
you made all that time ago. If you choose to stay with your wife, you
have to honor your commitment. If you decide that you must live your
poly life, you are honorbound to set your wife free, to find someone who
can fulfill her wishes. She married you under certain pretenses and you
are not fulfilling your obligation, that is to love and cherish her
above all others. I understand that you love her, but if you truly
loved her, you would want what is best for her. Either you behave in
the manner in which you promised through your wedding vows, or you give
her space to find someone who can provide her with the kind of life she
needs and deserves. Either way, it is asking a big sacrifice from you.
Please, be a mature, loving and fair enough individual to make a wise
and benificial decision for everyone involved. Your choice to marry a
monogomous woman is now showing its consequences. You can not remain
married to her and indulge in your own lifestyle at the same time, it is
just not fair to her or your children.
There is nothing wrong with living a poly lifestyle, even when there are children involved, but it must be agreed upon by all individuals. As I said before, you made a promise and you have broken it. Your children need to learn that a promise and an obligation are not to be taken lightly. You don't want them to grow up thinking it is ok to go back on a promise just because you feel like it, and you also don't want your children to develop the idea that marriage is something you can do with anybody because if it goes wrong, you can just divorce. Marriage is a special commitment, not to be taken lightly. It is a pledge to love and honor someone for the rest of your life. It is a promise to care for someone and for he/she to care for you, to share your life and to provide comfort and support both to each other and to any children of the union. I hope I have given you something to think about. For the well-being of your children and the wife you profess to still love, please make a wise decision that will reflect your love and devotion to your family. Either remain with them and honor your promise, or set them free to find someone who will share their life the way they need to be happy.
Practicing Polyamorist and advocate for strong, loving families