A Period Of Massive Readjustment

In my first post to this group I described my current situation - I've been living with my female partner for 16 years and she has recently started a relationship with a woman - this is being done in my knowledge and with my consent. I described the process by which we had come to decide that this arrangement was OK for us. Whilst I abide by everything I said in that post - I do think that this is the best arrangement for us and it has made our love stronger as a result - I won't pretend that coming to this decision or that living with it is always easy.

I'm going to describe some of the issues which we've had to face, both because its useful for me to do this, but also in the hope that other people will realise that they are not alone when facing similar issues. If you’re just starting down a similar track, it might be useful to know some of the things that I’ve had to deal with whilst coming to terms with this change.

I know this looks like a huge list of pain, but I want to re-iterate – we’re doing fine, and most days are pretty good – but it’s not all plain-sailing, so here are some of the things you may have to face…

Uncertainty about future - I think this is the hardest one to deal with. I think we both saw our future together fairly clearly mapped out. We have three kids, are in a loving relationship, had talked about being together forever, and suddenly the boat has been rocked like never before. What will this new relationship do to our partnership – in a month, in three months, when the kids are grown up? Is this another ‘forever’ relationship – will I have to share my partner’s love with someone else for the rest of my life. The answer? Who knows – we’ve agreed that, for now, we just take things one day at a time. It’s clear that my partner still loves me, still fancies me, still enjoys sex with me. She’s not leaving me or the kids, so for now we just have to live with the uncertainty. Once you accept that, it becomes OK.

Another uncertainty was not knowing exactly what I was agreeing to. Although we’d set certain ground rules about the relationship, these were mostly to do with the practicalities of making this work when we have three young children. We never set rules (as some couples do) about not getting ‘emotionally involved’ or falling in love. I didn’t know whether I was agreeing to a ‘friends with benefits’/****-buddy type relationship or a more serious ‘my new lesbian girlfriend’ type relationship. Turns out it’s the latter, and I should have known from the start that this is what it was going to be because my partner is not really a casual sex kind of girl, and she really likes her new friend. Is this a problem for me now? No, but I had to get used to things in stages. First was the ‘My girlfriend is ******* someone else (and still ***** me)’ acceptance – that was enough to deal with before I could even think about the ‘My girlfriend is in love with someone else (and still loves me)’ acceptance. It’s not as hard as I thought to let go of that one – it really is possible to love more than one person at the same time – we do it with our kids and our close friends all the time. And the fact that she’s ******* someone else – well that only hurts if you let it – you can decide which things in life you get upset about, and I can’t get upset about the fact that my partner is happy and having fun. Having given my consent, the only option is to accept that it’s happening and be OK with it.

No matter how honest and trusting and loving you are with each other, your Ego can still take a pretty big beating when this happens to your relationship. When your partner tells you they need to go and **** someone else, or spend time with someone else, there’s always going to be a part of you that thinks ‘I am no longer enough for her’. No matter how many times she tells me that she still loves me, fancies me, lusts after me, wants to be with me, that it’s not really about me at all, and no matter how much I believe her (because I do), it still takes a lot of effort not to reflect this negatively on myself. I work at this every day, and I need very regular reassurance from my partner to help with this. Luckily, she’s happy to give this to me, so we’re doing OK.

Another big Ego dampener is the whole ‘Am I just the biggest mug in the world?’ question. Society in general has a pretty low opinion of cuckolds, and infidelity, so it’s difficult not to buy into the whole ‘How could you agree for this to happen / What kind of man are you?’ question. There aren’t many positive role models out there for this kind of relationship, so it’s difficult not to judge yourself by the common yardstick. Whilst I generally think that this is a very brave and loving course that we are taking, not many people would see it that way, and there are some people who would definitely judge me as well as my partner for choosing this path, or would see me as being taken for a fool.

This brings me on to another point. Not being able to tell many people about this is hard. This is, after all, the most significant thing that’s happened to either of us since our first child was born, and we have only told a couple of friends about it. Of those friends, a couple have not handled it very well at all, so we’re reluctant to tell anyone else right now. So what should in some ways be a celebration of something new and exciting has become something that we have to be secretive about. We’re not lying to anyone, but we are holding back from telling even close friends this most important bit of news. It would be good to be able to talk to someone other than my partner and my counsellor about this. It’ll come, but for now we just have to rely on each other and the wisdom of the blogs!

I’ve really had to question the validity and wisdom of my own decision. I have a tendency to put other people's wellbeing and happiness before my own, so am I just playing this out again, or is this genuinely a heartfelt and loving decision. Making this decision has really made me question my own motivation. Is this just my usual self-sacrificing martyrdom again? And is there a part of me that finds it sexy to have a lesbian girlfriend, and is going along with this in the hope that I get a piece of the action? Whilst I do fantasise about that, I really don’t think it motivated my decision, and I felt quite a sense of relief when I realised that that was not going to be happening.

The relationship has introduced me to something I’ve never experienced before – suspicion about my partner’s motives. Although she has behaved in a very trustworthy manner throughout this, telling me what’s going on all the time, both before and after they started sleeping together, I now find myself questioning her reasons for doing certain things. When she suggests that I take the boys to see my parents for a night and for her to stay here with our youngest, even though we’d talked about this being a good idea before, I find myself wondering if she’s doing this to engineer some time with her new GF. This is ridiculous because she does not have to engineer time with her GF, and the fact that they spend time together is no secret. Luckily we can talk about this ****, but I don’t like my suspicious new mind.

As well as my Ego, my libido has taken a hit as well. We’re doing pretty well on the whole, but there are times when I worry that I’ll stop wanting sex, won’t be able to focus during sex because I’m thinking about them together, or worried that my partner will be getting enough sex without me (or that the sex she’s having elsewhere is so new and exciting) that she won’t make the effort with me (and it IS an effort when you have three young children). Once again, the saviour here is open and honest communication. Because my partner knows what is going on for me, she is making sure to give me and my libido lots of special attention – we’re making sure that we carve out special time for each other (over and above the extra talking time we’ve been needing recently) and things are working out fine. There are still days when I worry about this, but generally sex has been better recently than ever before, because we’re both making more of an effort.

There is of course, a sense of ‘unfairness’ about the current situation. Not just sexually (how would she feel if I was ******* someone else a couple of times a week) but also in terms of the additional amount of childcare I have to do when she’s not here. One night a week on my own may not be a lot, but it’s still one night a week where I’m putting the kids to bed in the knowledge that she’s getting laid and getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep! I think I just have to wear this one and get used to it. Plenty of couples have to endure much worse due to work travel or caring for parents, and one night a week ain’t much given how much childcare my partner does while I’m at work. The nights without her are lonely though. As for the ‘One rule for her and one rule for me’, I’m not interested in having a relationship, or sex, with someone else, so there’s no need to dwell on that too much. If I was interested, we’d have to talk about it.

I’ve found my partner’s mobile phone to have become a real source of annoyance. Whilst I’m quite OK with the general principle that my partner and her girlfriend will talk to each other and text each other, it can be intrusive at times. If I can handle them *******, I should be able to handle them texting, right? Well, sometimes the frequency of texting can make me jealous that they have something new and exciting and secret going on that I can’t offer to my partner, and it can feel like it is a bit too ‘in my face’. There have been a couple of times when we’ve managed to carve out some special time for ourselves and it’s been interrupted by a number of two-way text conversations. I’m pretty good about not texting or phoning my partner when they are together, but I suppose it’s easy for me because I get to see my partner every day. We’ve talked about this and my partner was very understanding – we’re going to set a few more ground rules. Texting or phoning is fine, but there are going to be times which we’ll make ‘phone free’.

We talked the other day about the possibility of my partner going to a gay club with her new lover. It was initially my suggestion (after she told me that her lover was out with friends at the local gay club that night). I think it’s a really good idea, and would be another way of my partner celebrating her new found love and her allowing herself to be herself. But the thought really made me jealous for many reasons. We’ve talked about it, and I still think she should do this sometime soon, but I know I’ll find it difficult when she does.

Some events have proved trigger points. Birthdays, Christmas, times when we would normally be doing certain things together and we are now having to think about and accommodate another person. This is our first year of doing this, so I hope we’ve learned some lessons and that things will get easier as time goes by.

So, there we have it – my potted list of things which have made this more difficult than I anticipated when we first agreed that this should happen. I count myself luck to have such an amazing relationship with my wonderful partner that we are able to face all of the issues I’ve listed above, and more besides, and still be gentle and honest and loving with each other. I know that we are doing the right thing, and I know that my partner is feeling a wholeness that she has not felt before.

I’ll try and balance this list soon with another post describing the things which have helped. I hope that some of this is also useful to people in our situation.

souladventurer souladventurer
46-50, M
Jan 6, 2013