So I've been an atheist for about six years now and it's only in the few weeks or so that I've come to realize how badly Christianity screwed me up in the relationship department. My husband was very polyamorous before we met, but went monogomous for me when we started our relationship. I know that sounds bad, but he's told me that he knew what he was getting into and was ok with it. That was in the last few weeks when I came to a better realization of where I was in the mental health department. Honestly, I never thought I was screwed up until recently. I, on the other hand, didn't know any other way than monogomy and had bought into the brainwashing that if you husband sleeps with other people, he doesn't love you anymore. Hell, I was told if he goes to a strip joint he doesn't love you anymore. Anyway, I had some mental health wrenching experiences regarding sex before I met my husband that made and continued to make my hang ups and insecurities that much worse. I no longer think this is healthy. I no longer think that my husband bringing up polyamory was him just trying to get more tail on the side. But I was so indoctrinated with the idea that sleeping with or having intimate emotional relationships with people other than him (or by him with people other than me) would permanently wreck our relationship, I am having a damnably hard time undoing this mindset. So I have some questions for the actively polyamorous community.
1. If you have a relationship with someone other than your spouse and it fullfills your emotional and physical needs, does that devalue your relationship with your spouse since you don't "need" them now, you can just go over to this other relationship and have needs met.
2. Is there any literature that would help to heal my brain in this department?
I am somewhat curious, and I think this is something I may very well try in the future, but I am scared to death (a red flag in and of itself) that I will have a reaction of overwelming jealousy even though I have no desire to react that way. I am completely ignorant of how to handle the jealousy dimension at this point. Is it based in some realistic need that I perceive as not being met? Is it just fear of losing my husband to a relationship with someone else? That second question doesn't sound right to me. I feel as if by the nature of polyamory, having a relationship with someone else doesn't nullify his relationship with me. So what am I scared of? I'm not even sure at this point. This is all very new to me as far as being a viable option and I don't want to rush into something I'm not ready for and I love my husband to death and don't want to do something I'm going to regret. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I'm probably not the best person to reply here, but, your photo looks like a Tuscaloosa "A", so I'm going for it:) I've only been on the ethical non-monogamy trail for a couple of years, and it's been a slow and, I would say, spiritual process with many difficult realizations and conversations. I'm having an easier time of it than my wife, however, and realizing that we all have our own ways of dealing with emotions as deeply-seeded within us as jealousy, and one way is often to simply not deal with it (which isn't always bad, though you do eventually have to deal with it at some level).
What I've come to believe (or realize that I probably have always believed) is that love is not a two-way street, it's a complex of interconnecting highways. The more we love, the more we can love, the struggle is always in the logistics. Sometimes we love someone quickly and painlessly, one night, fun, dancing, drunk perhaps and that's it, a nice memory and sometimes we find that we can't live without another person in our lives for a long time. A beautiful day for me was when I realized that I still loved all of my Xes, and that they are important to me, though, I told a few of them and that was a little awkward:)
Monogamy is a false promise at best if taken the way our society tells us to take it, that is, "we enter into a relationship with someone who completes us." I think that we as individuals are the only ones who complete us, and that there are many people in our lives who reflect the beauty of our own completion from themselves back to us, and these are the people that we are drawn. To tell ourselves that there is only one of those people is to deny that we are in love with ourselves first, and that fucks the whole system. And, if you want to mine back into your Christian upbringing, this notion is biblical, as Jesus was the biggest egomaniac to ever live, and with positive result, look at all the people who surrounded him with love:)
Jenny Block's book "Open" is a delightful and quick read, published two years ago. I've read a couple of others and you can surf the web for some. There are some great links to other websites on this website that are helpful too.
Happy surfing! And, as Woody Allen hears in "Manhattan," "relax, the worst that can happen is that you'll learn something about yourself."
I think that much jealousy is insecurity, fear of losing what you have or not getting what you feel is your due. You fear your husband won't need you anymore. But I think The Nerd hit the nail on the head with the replacement of "need" with "want" in the equation.
I think you point with clarity to the major questions involved not only in ethical non-monogamy, but at some point, in life.
monogamy can be a possessive thing, as can almost anything. I've been married 14 years and we are in the midst of trying to figure out how to be there for one another without either being possessive or, perhaps worse, being in one another's way when we need to grow. It's all quite tricky though, b/c we are humans and social creatures and we have a risk/rewards way of approaching life.
And certainly there are times when we need/want one another and the other isn't there. That happens without other partners involved (e.g. the other night, I was in one frame of mind and she the other and we couldn't be together, neither was there for the other. To me, that's as strong a condition as had one of us been out with someone else).
To me, the vulnerability is always worth the return. Putting myself into a situation where I don't know the outcome is something I try to do every day, as a philosophy. Why, then, would I not risk the things most important to me for the potential gain that they may prove all the more rewarding for having been open to what else they can be? Change occurs daily, and you and your husband are not the same people you were 5 years ago and won't be yet 5 days from now. The question, I guess, that one must ask themselves is whether you are more interested in having certain lines of stability that, regardless of other desires, you uphold, or whether you are interested in exploring potential other desires with the understanding that you are committed primarily to someone who will be your confidant through that vulnerability.
Ultimately, though, whatever you choose to engage in, you should feel good about it. Life isn't easy no matter how you slice it, so you may as well feel like you know where a few of your footsteps are going to land.
Great post and questions. First, your husband loves you a hell of a lot if he was poly before you met and still wanted to commit to him. At the same time, once poly, probably always poly. He probably has a strong desire for other relationships and there is nothing wrong with that if the two of you manage it together. Read my book Sex and God to get some perspective, but also read Tristan Taromino's book, Opening Up. Both will give you a new grounding. Working through this will leave you stronger and more mentally healthy and he will be more satisfied. I have been poly for 13 years after trying monogamy through two marriages for a total of 24 year. Poly has been the most llberating thing I have done, with the exception of declaring my atheism. My significant other is poly herself and I dare say, she would not stay with me if I tried to "tie her down" to monogamy. There is nothing wrong with monogamy, but it is NOT what most people practice in reality. Anyone who has divorced and remarried is not monogamous by the main definition - one mate for life.. By the religious definition, it is one sex partner for life. Both are totally unreasonable expectations. Men and women like variety. You would not eat nothing but carrots every meal, why would you want the same sex for a lifetime. It is good to see you asking these questions. I hope you find the answers and build an even better relationship with your husband. I will say that the reason I love my SO so much, is that she does not try to lock me into an exclusive relationship. We communicate and let each other know what is going on, but no one tries to impede or control the other. We have been together 6 years and I don't know why we could not be for the rest of our lives. It is a wonderful way to love and be loved. To love is to let go. If they stay, it is love, if they leave, wish them the best but don't try to coerce, that always backfires. Keep up the good work.