My wife of 12 years recently said that she wants to pursue a poly-amorous lifestyle – i.e. a desire for multiple concurrent relationships.
We’ve been in a monogamous union, except for her brief affair nine years ago.
It left me with distrust and resentment that took years to move beyond.
There’d been other indications that she’d not be satisfied with one partner, but I chose to continue a life together with her.
I’m now grappling with my emotional maturity. Although I wish for her to be happy, I don't have any desire for multiple relationships.
I’m unsure whether I can live with the likely resultant jealousy and loneliness involved if I stay in my marriage.
But that doesn't give me any right to stand in her way if that lifestyle leads to her fulfillment.
She says she wants me to be her primary partner (we have two children, ages 17 and 12), with freedom to come and go with these other satellite partners she wants to cultivate.
I want to be open-minded and accepting of her decisions, but my thoughts return to earlier trauma when there was another person involved in our marriage.
Unsure Primary Partner
Despite my anticipating a rush of readers’ feedback emails explaining the benefits of multiple-partner relationships, I’m cutting to the chase regarding your personal dilemma with it.
Past jealousy and anticipated new “trauma” make it clear: Polyamory is not for you.
Your wife’s desire in that direction is part of who she is and how she wants to live. That’s her reality, not a judgment.
But your feelings cannot be labelled as “emotional immaturity.”
Your maturity means knowing who you are, what you can accept for yourself, and choosing to live accordingly.
If you need to think this through more, go for counselling – individually and together, too.
But I’m betting the final answer for you is obvious: You want, and are only comfortable with, sharing love and intimacy with one person who loves you and wants that same kind of relationship with you.
I grew up in a rural community with my grandparents, aunts and uncles nearby. Between ages four to six, I was sexually molested by a male relative.
I’d honestly forgotten it until my 30's when I developed severe migraine headaches and night terrors.
With a supportive husband and long-term counselling, I’ve long since come to terms with it.
My older sister and a cousin confirmed this happened to all of us.
I moved away at 18. My husband and I have since retired and moved back.
My relative whose father was the offender (now deceased), and I, have renewed our relationship.
There appears to be no knowledge of the father’s behaviour.
Should I say something or continue to keep this family secret?
Ugly Buried Secret
If ever there was a time to “out” a sex abuser, especially those depraved enough to assault innocent children, it’s now.
So YES, even with a deceased sex criminal, if there’s any chance the information would help other past victims, you should reveal the truth.
There may be other family members and neighbours still struggling with a similar past from his sexual assaults and need to learn they’re not alone.
YES, too, if back in that childhood environment, you’re experiencing renewed inner pain.
However, if there’s only this person’s son left, who’d possibly be devastated by the story, and if it’d destroy your relationship with him, you have equal right to close the door on this sad history.
FEEDBACK Regarding a woman’s estrangement from her twin sister after years of deliberately competing for boyfriends (March 23):
Reader – “I’m estranged from my twin and have been part of a support group with other twins from around the world.
“There are many twins who have troubled, toxic, or estranged relationships with their twin and who suffer from stigma and shame.
“Common stereotypes about twin relationships are a source of distress, and it's VERY important to find a therapist who’s knowledgeable about the unique attachment issues of multiples.
“I invite the letter-writer to join our closed Facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/AdultTwins/
“I also recommend that she read Dr. Barbara Klein's articles on the subject. She’s at the forefront of research and is an identical twin herself.
“The writer is not alone.”
Ellie - Barbara Klein, Ph.D., Ed.D., is a U.S. author and psychologist who has done extensive research on the development of twin identity.
Tip of the day:
Polyamory is a defined lifestyle choice which works for some people, not for others.