Marriage in trouble? Add more people! When that actually works.
This one ends with quite the surprise twist. One of Australia's largest newspapers (and maybe others in its chain) today is running an 1,800-word feature that seems like the classic poly snark: "Marriage in trouble? Add more people!"
And then it takes an unexpected turn. Which will be even more unexpected to the paper's mainstream readers.
It's a reminder that there's no piece of Poly Conventional Wisdom that some people, somewhere, aren't successfully breaking.
Here's are excerpts as a tl;dr:
My husband of 17 years survived cancer, then told me he wanted to open our relationship
By Jill Baker [pseudonym]
...His remission was a relief, but it was also a rebirth for him. He joined a gym, bought new clothes and started going out late with friends, without me. His libido went into overdrive; mine had stalled. I went from fearing I would lose my husband to cancer, to fearing I was losing something else....
Nine months into his remission, my husband asked to speak to me privately. ... We sat in a cafe by the river; it was a little cold to be outside but he wanted to smoke.
He held my hand. He told me he loved me. He told me he still loved having sex with me. And then he dropped the most extraordinary bombshell of all: he wanted to open our marriage and bring other lovers into it. Not just him but me as well. He quoted Dan Savage and told me about "monogamish" and polyamory.
I was surprised, and deeply hurt. Despite my shame, I cried openly in the cafe. ... In the following days, I moved like a sleepwalker. ... I'd find myself feeling ashamed, weeping and cursing my husband for proposing this absurd path. I thought about leaving him.
Despairing, I confronted him again and said: "Whoever she is, go and f--- her and come back to talk to me afterwards." He denied there was another woman. I suggested a trial separation. He said he didn't want that. Instead, he waited and was loving. He hugged me whenever he saw me. He asked how I was feeling....
...Weeks passed. I began to wonder. I was still angry at him but I began to remember my freedom before we settled down. It was a pretty audacious idea. What if? What might this open relationship look like?
I went to see a psychologist. I told her I was terrified of grief, of loss and being vulnerable. She gently suggested that there could be great strength in vulnerability too.
...I found a sex advice column in a newspaper about a couple opening their relationship and the therapist recommended a workshop-sex play party called Curiosity. ... Three months after our first difficult conversation, we attended our first session which gave us a safe place to explore, and it introduced us to an extraordinary group of people.
The key theme was the concept of communication, consent and feedback. It's such a simple formula and yet has such a powerful implication on relationships. For the first time, I began to wonder if I could ask for what I wanted, and be open enough to receive it. I felt empowered. And curious about where this might lead.
...Dating others was intoxicating. For a little while, there were so many opportunities, I found my ego and vanity appeased. We set up profiles on OK Cupid and linked them. We found a polyamorous meetups group and attended regular gatherings. We met people like us who were new at open relationships, and some who had been "poly" for years.
We made agreements with each other about dating and family commitments and what was acceptable in terms of nights out and who cooked dinner and took the kids to basketball training.
Jealousy rarely appeared. I don't know why. It seems like it ought to have. But I was so pleased that I was desired by interesting and lovely people, that I felt that my husband's pleasure seemed fair and balanced against my own. Also, I genuinely liked the women he dated.
...Our lovers sometimes stay the night. They have dinner with us, and bring cake and wine. My husband's lover brought me flowers when I had a bad day. My lover brought games to teach to the kids.
I reflect on how our lives have changed in the past year. I still love my husband, more than ever. The intensity is made stronger by the delirious energy of new loves.
...I've found my own vulnerability and it still terrifies me. It is also exhilarating. After my lover has left and I crawl into bed with my husband, he sleepily enfolds me into a spooning hug and I dream I have two loving men in my bed. My husband keeps me safe. I feel loved. The conversations continue.
The whole article (November 4, 2016).
P.S. Don't expect to hear from me in the next four days. I'll be flat out doing Get Out The Vote volunteering for the Democrats in New Hampshire.
Sympathetic? If you're not in a swing state or don't want to hit the streets, you can phone-bank from home, using your phone while watching your computer screen for instructions and to log your results. Start here: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/start/.
Labels: open marriage