Perspective

I had written recently about the possibility that I’d regret cutting ties with my friends back in Maine when Ex-Husband and I divorced.

It’s timely that this week Ex-Husband shot me a Facebook request, and I accepted.

It’s been quite an eye opening experience. I was thinking there’d be some residual feelings that would be stirred reading his updates, interacting with him. After all, we were together over 10 years. But nothing.

Working on the book, I’ve spent a lot of time recently immersed in journals and essays that I wrote in 2009, when we were first opening up our marriage.

First off, I am floored as I’m working on the book and recounting the story of everything that happened as I opened my former marriage by just how much was actually going on when it felt like at the time practically nothing at all was going on.  At the time, I was so focused on the limitations there were – i.e., things like how slowly my  relationship(s) were developing, how frustrated I was by online dating, how the best matches always seemed quite far away, whether this person or that person would open up to me physically/sexually or say “I love you” – and even more so for  Ex-Husband’s love life, as he took rejection so hard and took it quite personally that it found him so long to find partners.  Despite realizing their value at the time, I was having countless marvelous little experiences, some funny, some sad, some somewhere in between.

But even more surprising is how much I used to love him. As I step back into my emotional space of 2009, it’s incredible to think that I got to where I would leave him in 2011 (or technically that I got to the point where I told him I had gotten a separate checking account and wasn’t giving him any more money and he left).  At one point, I loved the man, with the full force of my heart. I was completely devoted to him.

I think I was trying to love enough for both of us, but it only got us so far.

I’ve been sending out friend invites to some of the friends I’d turned from during the divorce, trying to stave off criticisms that I knew at that time I surely could not bear, seeing what comes of it.

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3 Comments

  1. Do you feel that opening your relationship was the demise of your marriage? I ask. My partner and I have recently opened up ours. At first it was going to be that we could each explore relationships outside one another. However, it kind of freaked her out so now we are back to the status quo, with the openness to the third party. However, again, we are so different that finding someone we both find appealing is a challenge. Just feeling stuck again I guess.

    1. It’s interesting because in a way, yes, it did cause my marriage to end but for reasons that I never anticipated.

      What basically happened is he and I had a very close relationship (and unbeknownst to me, quite co-dependent in hindsight), and after being monogamous for 8 years, I could not make a decision without considering his opinion and usually deferred to his preferences, mostly because he didn’t do well with disappointment, and I loved him and wanted to do everything I could for him. I was kind of a martyr, really. I’d go completely out of my way to do things to make him happy, even if they made me miserable because I’d rather be miserable than see him hurt.

      It was even that way when we first started dating other people, when we were a package deal. We were in a triad with another woman. She and I ended up being incompatible, but after a few months, she and he wanted to date, and I gave them my okay to have a relationship without me. I spent a lot of time alone, made some friends, one of which eventually blossomed into something extra, and I went on to have a string of “more than friends” (what I started calling a “friend plus” like “friends with benefits” but not actually having sex, somewhere in between) and then a few full-on relationships. I tried less than my ex-husband but met with more success because a) I’m female, and they seem to have the upper hand in polyamorous circles, to be more sought after than males and b) I’m bisexual (or pan/omnisexual), and he’s straight.

      When we dated on our own, I couldn’t do that anymore, deferring to his wants, beliefs, preferences, etc. He’d cut me loose. I had so much time on my own, had to make decisions about things, had to think for myself in a way that I hadn’t done in YEARS.

      Over time, I became less and less emotionally dependent on him and realized how bad and dysfunctional our relationship was, just the pure basic facts of things – i.e., he hadn’t worked in 4 years, spent tremendous amounts of money, had substance abuse issues, was verbally abusive and frequently insulted me, had promised to seek counseling with me over my concerns regarding all of the aforementioned but was still refusing to actually GO 6 months after his initial promise – and I entered therapy on my own and decided I wanted to separate.

      I had become very isolated for a number of reasons. When we first met when I was 19 years old, I was 6 months out of an inpatient program for substance abuse (very challenging and hurtful that he’d go on to develop similar issues of his own in this regard but refused help), and I’d lost a great number of my friends because I had to cut ties with people who were at all linked with the drug scene, trying to minimize temptation and ensure I’d stay clean. The rest had moved out of state to find work after high school or college, so pretty much all of my friends were his.

      They say abuse works best in isolation (also why many abusers will actively try to isolate their targets), and the fact that I made so many connections, friends, lovers, and otherwise, through exploring polyamory is ultimately what gave me the insight to leave that marriage.

      So I guess what I should say is that the marriage was troubled before we opened it, and it was opening it that made me realize how troubled it actually was, so in a way, it did cause the demise of my marriage, but it was really for the best.

  2. I should add as an aside, that when I agreed with opening our marriage, I took the attitude that we either had a strong, awesome relationship that would stand the challenges before us and be better for it or that the relationship wasn’t as good as I thought it was if it could be torn apart or ruined so easily and that I’d rather know then than 20 or 30 years down the road.

    Taking the leap, I knew there was a possibility that it’d end the relationship, and that was a risk I had to be comfortable with. I had to accept the worst case scenario before signing on.

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