It has been long about a year since the husband and I opened our marriage. We've come a long way. I suppose I'll start this by summarizing our journey over the last year.
We started out with talking and reading. We read books and talked about them. We talked about who we wanted to sleep with and how we might handle that. We talked about things we had held back on telling the other for fear of jealousy. For example, my husband admitted to multiple crushes on many women that he's had throughout our relationship. I admitted to having feelings for a close male friend. We became closer in many ways during this time and it gave us confidence in the strength of our relationship going forward.
The turning point from hypothetical to action for me came after meeting a large group of local poly folk. After realizing that there are people who make this work and that they are not crazy, it became a real possibility for me. We continued to negotiate and eventually put up the profiles on OkCupid.
Then things started to get really exciting. We kind of lost ourselves in it for a while. We told a lot of people what we were up to, carefully choosing the ones that we knew would be open minded. We lost a friend who couldn't handle the idea. Most of our friends were supportive. We started to meet people and get excited. He was encouraging me to sleep with someone and move things forward.
Then I met my boyfriend. Of course, he didn't become my boyfriend for a few more months, but we slept together on the second date and the NRE behavior started after the first. We texted in a ridiculous flurry. We flirted and got to know each other. I wasn't out to find a relationship. I wanted to be a slut! Silly me, falling for the first new penis I see in 7 years. There was still some other dating going on, but it became a little too time consuming for me to continue to seek out new partners. Eventually, we put the title on things and I settled into having two relationships.
Meanwhile, the husband has not had the same happy experience that I have had. He also lost a friend, one of few long term male friends that he had and someone he enjoyed working on creative endeavors with. He went into the dating world wanting to find a girlfriend. He ended up a slut, nearly quadrupling his lifetime sex partners in the first year of being open! This has been fun for him, but not ideal. The emotional impact of casual sex and dating has been costly. I can now admit that I was so caught up in the positive impact on my life that I overlooked a lot of the negative impact on my husband. I made mistakes. Then I got pregnant. Finally! After 2 years of trying to conceive and starting to think it wasn't going to happen, there was a really dark line in the window that usually remained empty despite my staring and wishing. Unfortunately, the pregnancy appeared at time my husband was attempting to renegotiate the terms of our marriage, including being poly and starting a family. Things got rough between us. Things got nasty. We talked about ending our marriage. On several occasions we told the other to leave or threatened to leave. I haven't been completely forthcoming with a lot of this ugliness here as it was extremely difficult and I had no idea how things were going to turn out. I didn't want my marriage to end and the embarrassment of "new poly problems" was an extra stress we didn't need.
Finally, when things had gotten so bad that I didn't think we could save them, we sought out counseling. I had low expectations for it's effectiveness. I feared my husband wouldn't go. I feared he wouldn't like the counselor. I feared that things were just over and there was no way back from our hurt feelings and pain. I thought we were broken. I thought he was broken. I was wrong. After one session, things improved between us. They were certainly not perfect, but our house was not the war zone it once was. I stopped making plans for a future as a single mom and I started focusing on fixing our marriage. After just 4 sessions with our marriage counselor, we have new tools that we didn't know we needed. We still have a long way to go. We are still learning how to be together under new terms. We still have the impending huge life change of having a baby and all the doubts and fears that come with that, but we are also happy to be around each other. We enjoy each others company again. We are more accepting of the other's flaws and better able to resolve conflict. I love my husband, deeply and truly, and I'm so glad we're fixing things.
By the way, throughout all of this, my boyfriend has been pretty darn awesome. He has been nothing but supportive. He has given me a shoulder to cry on and evenings of respite when my home was not a comfortable place. He has maintained his commitment to me despite my life becoming a bit of a mess. He gave me a place of comfort and security during a difficult time without it being a threat to my marriage. He's been tolerant of my moments of insecurity in the new relationship. He's a good friend and a good lover. I'm fortunate to have him in my life. Finding someone with a shared sexual chemistry is difficulty enough. Finding that person after a month of OkC dating and having them be not crazy and an awesome person... what are the odds? My experience with poly could have been much different without him. I love him and I feel good about loving him.
And while I'm being all sappy and appreciative of men that I love in my life, I also need to mention my father. My dad knows about the open relationship. Intellectually, he gets it, but knows that it would never work for him in his current marriage. My dad's relationship history includes 2 divorces, lots of cheating and being cheated on, and lots of general ugliness leading up to his current marriage of 10 years. I went to him when I was desperate and scared and crying at work and I didn't think my marriage was able to be saved or maybe even worth being saved. He told me not to give up yet. He encouraged the route of counseling. He acknowledged that things may not work out, but he gave me the strength I needed to make the saving throw when I was ready to throw in the towel. On several occasions he helped me to see things from my husband's point of view in a way I hadn't been able to see on my own. My dad's experience in failed relationships helped to save mine. His acceptance of our chosen lifestyle allowed him to advise me without assumptions clouding his judgment.
So, how do I feel about becoming poly after a year? Grateful, more than anything. I'm grateful to have the kind of partner that would even allow the possibility of an open relationship. I'm grateful to have had good experiences with the poly world. I'm grateful that we were able to find the resources for help when we needed it. I'm grateful that we're going forward in our lives. I feel like my life is richer with poly as a part of it. With the impending kid, I'm glad that we will have adult distractions available to us. Despite the stress it added, I don't regret becoming poly. I still feel like it's worth working for and I'll continue to work for it. That said, stay tuned for a follow up post detailing what I've learned after one year.