Thursday, 16 October 2014

Navigating our Open Marriage

I'm starting out by saying we're not actually involved in a real open marriage as I see it defined in articles I read on the internet.  In most of those relationships, polyamory seems to be the norm:  the partners of the marriage have intimate relationships with other people, within agreed boundaries, and also with each other.

Husband and I have a different arrangement.  We don't have any sexual intimacy between us, but we are free to see other people. We have set up rules about that, in a kind of contract to make sure we understand boundaries.  I don't think that I want to continue within the marriage as it has been, so I'm not really trying to find a way back to him for us to find togetherness.  I'm more thinking that husband and I are a really good team and have spent nearly two decades building our family, our business, our rental property portfolio. We're building a house together that will house my dad and his mom along with ourselves and our 3 sons. And we're friends.

After 20 years together, surely just a 'sexual' separation will be OK?  Are marriages built primarily on the sexual contract between two people?  If that fizzles over time, should everything the couple have built together be ripped apart?  Should we end up being fragmented within our family and economically just because we're not 'feeling it' any more?  I think not.  I really think that, so long as we can achieve a level of comfort in living together and raising our children together, that we can pull it off.

Sounds great on paper. And I've been known in the past to live in the theoretical aspect of things rather than facing the actual, on the ground practical realities.

I went first. I had had a long-standing crush on John, my company's MD, which was reciprocated.  Once hubby and I had set up the agreement between us, I launched into that wonderfully passionate and beautiful relationship that I have blogged about before.  And then it all fell apart dismally and I'm still recovering from that blow.

Husband was miserable about it.  One of the agreements we had would be that I would have Wednesdays out (for sleepovers), and would be away on alternate weekends.  But one of the precious things about our family that I didn't want to compromise was 'morning snuggles' with my boys.  Ever since they were born, we've had the ritual of them snuggling with me in bed in the mornings, catching up on where we're at, or just snoozing together.  So in this agreement, I would stay at John's on Wednesday night, but sneak in back home at 5.15 on Thursday mornings in time to warm up my bed for snuggles. Also, that would make the boys feel more normal.  Husband hated this.  He first banned me form coming home - he didn't want to see me in the morning after a night with John, and preferred for me to come home at the end of Thursday after work.  It was just too sore.  I first complied, and then realised that actually I found it too disruptive for the kids, so I pushed back and said I will come, but for the children's sake, not mine, and that we both had to suck it up.  He agreed.  So I spent months exhausting myself by waking up waaay too early in the morning to make things OK for the boys.

Now Husband is involved with 'Teri'. She's an old friend of mine, and of all the girls my husband could have chosen, I'm so glad he's chosen her.  She's lovely. And is making him very happy.  And she would also be a great influence on my boys if we ever get to the point of including her in the inner family.  But while I really approve of, and 'bless' the relationship, I still find myself really struggling with it.  It's crazy: they have created a joint hobby, cycling, and head off happily most weekends to play together.  I just struggle with that - no idea why yet.  I have no yearning to cycle, and no yearning to have my husband back.  Yet it still upsets me. What HAS freaked me out has been him coming home at the end of a day out with her, SMELLING of her. Perfume. Sex. UGH.  it FREAKS me out completely. But I haven't yet found the words to even say that. I'm just sitting with it, uncomfortably, wondering what the protocol should be under such a circumstance.  Yuck!

So this is just the first part of my blogging story about how we navigate this relationship.  I'm not going to bullshit or whitewash this in any way.  I know it was my idea.  And I DO believe in the premise behind it. But I have to confess that 1 year in, we are a loooong way away from making it an idyllic way of living.... let's see how it pans out!

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