“The point for me is to create relationships based on deeper and more real notions of trust. So that love becomes defined not by sexual exclusivity, but by actual respect, concern, commitment to act with kind intentions, accountability for our actions, and a desire for mutual growth.” ― Dean Spade
My wife put down her coffee and regarded me with worried eyes.
“Can we talk?”
Usually, this phrase accompanies some kind of earth-shattering revelation that means a reorganization of priorities and more than a little crisis management. Immediately, I tensed up and leaned back into my chair, bracing myself for what is to come. The marriage that my wife and I have is amazing, we couldn’t be stronger as two people, it’s the rest of the world we have to dance around.
“I was thinking.”, she started.
My eyebrow went up. “I thought I smelled something burning…”
She smiled. “Remember that conversation we had a while ago about opening up our marriage?”
I nodded. “I do.”
She took a deep breath. “I think it might be time to do that.”
Though I had off, it was about to be very long and busy day.
Let me rewind, because I’m sure a few people are like, “Well, this marriage is over.”
Just FYI, the above conversation took place about three months ago.
Growing up, I saw the way my parents related to each other. They had their problems, like any other marriage, but they clearly loved each other. They’ve since divorced, but the love is still there in some form or another. In my opinion, they’re quite simply too different to spend this point in their lives together without immense quantities of compromise. This is no judgment, it quite simply is what it is, and at this point in their lives, compromise is not something my family is known for. We are hard-headed South Jersey Italians, it’s quite simply not in our blood.
I had a tendency to grow away from that mode of thinking, to be a bit more thoughtful, a bit more fleshy and a bit more sensual than the majority of my Catholic-valued family. If I had any kind of stubbornness, it was towards the backdated values I learned from my family, I’m not saying they were wrong, they just didn’t feel right to me. So, for the majority of my 20’s, I was a very polyamorous man. When I got married, my wife didn’t want to be that way. She simply wanted to be monogamous and that was the end of it.
Her upbringing was simply strict, her mother and father were domineering and unwilling to allow their daughter to experience life. For example, my wife has not had the following experiences (which will be rectified before the end of this year), she has not gone to a concert nor has she has not gone on a roller coaster. (Kumba, here we come…) This is only the TIP of the iceberg.
When I came along, I kind of showed her a world she didn’t really know about. I was her first sexual partner and my ex-girlfriend and I were her first semi-poly relationship. Her sexuality has since snowballed from there. (Just as a side-note to the puritans among you, no, the poly vibe or relationship had nothing to do with the dissolution of my previous relationship.)
Since then, she hasn’t really shown much interest in males, though the occasional male does catch her eye. She is in love with females, which is kind of cool, because we have something else in common. She had a few female relationships that never quite made it to the physical level, but this only really solidified the fact that there was a part of her that wanted to be in a poly-type relationship. I didn’t push, I simply let it be. If it happened, awesome. If it didn’t it wasn’t anything I wanted to jeopardize my marriage over. My wife wanted to be monogamous, and I agreed that I would give all that up for her. For a while we went about our marriage, working on ourselves and cementing our already rock-solid relationship. The realm of non-monogamy became an occasional backdrop topic of conversation.
And lots of sex.
When she started doing research into swinging, non-monogamy and things like that, I didn’t really think anything of it. Of course, I wanted to be poly again, but I never pushed it. It was simply a “we’ll get there, if or when we get there” type issue that I wasn’t interested in breaking my relationship over.
The other day, after a long discussion about what we both wanted out of our lives, she had made the decision that we were going to dive head-first into the poly-lifestyle. Some of her reasoning was that she can’t get everything that she needs from any one person, especially since I can’t be both male AND female.
The road map for our journey is quite simple. Local groups to mingle and connect, a club around the area known as “Eyz Wide Shut”, and quite simply being open to having lovers outside of our marriage, either together or separate. None of these roads will be traveled at the same time, and not all at once either.
Again, it’s “we’ll get there, if or when we get there”. My wife is the type that dips her toe into the pool before slowly immersing herself in the shallow end. It’s one of the things I love about her. However, on this little journey, she has taken the lead, which is very unlike her. I’m usually the one who makes the majority of the decisions about our family’s collective life, so to have her take the lead on this issue is a breath of fresh air.
Now, there are obviously certain tripwires along this little path that we will have to navigate. For one, jealousy.
Jealousy is something I can’t really relate to, as I’ve never felt it enough to give any kind of power to it. Jealousy has always felt to me like possession. I usually tell my wife, “Jealousy implies possession, possession implies ownership.” I don’t own my wife. I don’t possess my wife. My wife, should she find someone whose company she prefers over mine, I would be happy for her and wouldn’t begrudge her if she wanted to spend time with them over me. I simply don’t work that way.
Granted like any other couple, we have rules. (No sleeping over, unless absolutely necessary, our family comes first, etc;) Because of the fact that I’m kind of the veteran of this particular war, the rules will mostly apply for her benefit and not mine. I’m comfortable with just about anything, but until she gets into the “swing” of things (heh), it will be primarily about her comfort.
Also, I gave her an escape clause. If, at any time she wants to pull the plug on the poly-thing, all she has to do is tell me, and it’s finished. We will go back to our lives and deal with the fallout.
Why am I choosing to write about it? Well, first, I’ve never been in this kind of relationship with such a solid relationship that I feel the need to document it. Second, I write about my life. It’s kind of what I do. Third, I want other perspectives on this topic. And finally, for those who could be considering the poly-thing for themselves, they have one more example of a journey that could possibly give them some perspective.
My marriage has always been amazing. Turns out it’s also going to get very interesting very quickly. =)