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So, much like last season I am late to the review game on Showtime’s Polyamory: Married and Dating, but I did want to cover it, so here we go.
As you remember, last season my criticism was pretty much what you’d expect of any review of any reality show, its lack of reality. That was the trend that poured from the poly community, and Showtime must have absorbed it all. The result was a season that dealt with some pretty serious issues if your household is going through them.
In season two we see the newly introduced triad experiencing some friction right out of the gate. We see a lot of lessons from this triad that I’ve written about before. Leigh Ann is feeling left out of the loop because life sometimes just isn’t cooperative with the schedules we’d like to keep. Instead of talking to her husband, Chris, and their girlfriend, Megan, about it she has an affair, which she tries to justify with the poor excuse that she feels she’s being neglected at home. We find out after some time that she has some resentment over how involved Megan is in their marriage and that she has felt this way since the beginning. The two remaining member of the triad are railroaded by this sudden revelation, as it had not been discussed in the entire three years of the relationship.
The lessons here are:
- Communication, communication, and even more communication. Before poly. During poly. Communicate.
- Cheating is always cheating. Own your behaviour, don’t excuse it.
- Never be poly or arrange your relationship just to make a partner happy. Talk about it and compromise, but don’t just let it happen, or it will most likely fall apart on you all later. There is no room in poly for conflict avoidance or placation.
The situation with the triad also brings up a few good points. What do you do if you’re deeply committed to one partner and the other decides it isn’t working? As a triad this is huge. Do you ask to continue with the other person outside of the triad? Do you risk your marriage trying not to lose either one? Do you agree to have the conflicted partner see others as well? Chris grapples with these questions as he tried to save his marriage and be true to Megan and her feelings, and neither of them seem to consider the place it puts him in as she fights for her relationship with him.
From last year’s pod we see a lot of new energy. There are new partners, but there is also new drama. Jen’s relationship with a man who can’t quite accept polyamory puts her in a rather awkward situation where she agrees not to even play with anyone new. I have made this request myself when I felt a need for some foundation building in a new relationship, but in this case it seems like he doesn’t want to try to embrace polyamory. This kind of attitude can be detrimental to a relationship, and unless the monogamous partner is at least willing to be open-minded about the poly partner’s lifestyle. Towards the end of the season Jen is already starting to feel the strain of the restrictions and emotional needs of the relationship. We see the exact opposite with Michael’s insistence that his new girlfriend be involved sexually with his wife. They are both unable to accept that she might not be interested or willing to be, and she makes a good point in asking that their relationship be focused on the two of them for a while not her interactions with his other lovers.
I do have to commend Showtime for how they portrayed Tahl’s experimentation with bisexuality and his budding relationship with Christian. We’re usually so inundated with homoeroticism on a very carnal level that we are barely presented with a real, emotional picture of how these interactions can go, especially when bisexuality is involved. We hardly ever see two masculine hetero-normative bi men represented showing tenderness and playfulness with each other. Kudos, Showtime!
In the end I got exactly what I asked for last season, a portrayal of the side of poly that was not of some Shangr-la existence. No, we got to see some of the human aspects of poly relationships. The catch? This is what opponents of polyamory want to see. These are the things that say “see? this is why this relationship model must fail”, because we most commonly associate things about which we are unsure or blatantly against with negative portrayals. My family grocery shopping is boring. My family constantly having our hands on each other is unrealistic. My family having issues to work through like any other relationship in the world is proof that polyamory is a sham. The moment we come out as poly we are examples. We are lessons. We are representatives, and anything we do, any way we act, and any mistakes we make are takes as typical. Season 2 brings up the most important lesson I have had to learn being poly. Just because the relationship falters or fails doesn’t mean that poly has failed. It just means those particular people needed to grow or move on from each other. If these people were having these issues as single people in the dating world there would not be a show about it.
Go now, live your reality,
All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family. At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there. I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle. I think the main question was which one I would pick and when. That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it. If anything they outed me to themselves.
I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it. I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry. No one asked. My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning. No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”. With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests. In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of. I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.
I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age. I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it. My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was. I never felt the need to have a “coming out”. I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable. Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else. That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival. He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad. He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.
Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”. Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day. My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist. In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received. Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.
A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media. I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona. I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live. This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.
This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone. I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye. I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time. I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.
There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true. I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation. I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”. I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo. I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers. If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth. This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.
I talk a lot about NRE and how to set your polyamory in motion. In fact, most books, blogs, and articles (oh my!)cluster around beginnings and how to get the ball rolling. Right now I’m going to flip the coin and talk about something we seem to avoid like a taboo: endings. Yes, I said it, endings. While we would all like to believe that once we’ve found partners who complete our circle and fulfill our needs we never have to worry about breakups. It is a fact of life that this is simply not true. For many reasons, sometimes perfectly good partnerships end. Not that I’m trying to jinx any of you, but here are some important things to remember when navigating a breakup like an adult.
If you’re like me and most of the successful poly people out there you probably have a pretty severe allergy to drama. Be that as it may, sometimes we forget that when things don’t quite turn out as we expected. It’s easy to get caught up in accusations and exaggerations, but honestly, mudslinging reflects poorly on everyone involved. You might feel justified in warning the world about your wounded perspective, but if it’s a true blight on the part of an ex partner most likely everyone else already knows about it. There’s no reason to resort to social slandering. Most circles within the poly community are rather small, and the likelihood of crossing paths with an ex or someone associated with an ex is pretty good. In some cases you may still have to attend the same events and meetings. Drama within these circles most likely ends with the one doing the loudest squawking alienating herself, as no one wants to sit next to a crying baby. This includes social media. The world has enough negativity without you blasting your latest libel where everyone has to read it. It’s attention seeking behaviour, and it’s ugly. Stop it!
That being said, not all breakups have to be ugly. Not all reason for breakups are negative. For example, maybe one partner is moving away. I for one can’t function well in a long distance relationship, so a partner relocating would most likely end our relationship. Instead of lamenting the ending support that partner in what was probably a tough decision to make. Don’t make it a more difficult situation emotionally, especially if she’s moving towards something positive. Let her be happy and excited about this new direction, and she will be more likely to be supportive as you process the change.
That brings me to my next point. All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy. Let me say that again. All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy. Partners, metamours, spouses, co-lovers, unicorns, children,everyone. As much as we try, and as much as we work through issues together, sometimes the truth persists that for one reason or another you cannot avoid detrimental unhappiness. I’m not talking about compromise; that’s a natural expectation of a relationship. I mean the kind of unhappiness that’s harmful, the kind that breeds resentment. There is no good reason for anyone to stay in a relationship that becomes something to be dreaded or burdensome. I have often told Hubby that it would hurt to lose him, but if he were miserable with me I’d hope he wouldn’t stay just because we have a legal and spiritual bond between us. If no compromise can be made, change is necessary. Knowing that he’s with me because he wants to be, not because he has to be is a wonderful feeling.
I believe wholeheartedly that everyone in my life is here for a reason. I might not know what that reason is, but I will damned well know when that reason has been satisfied. Some relationships are the same way. Not every partner I have is meant to be a long-term committed partner. Not every loving partnership is meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes a relationship serves as a wake-up call, a reminder, or an awakening. Sometimes I have a need that the relationship fulfills, a lesson to learn, or an experience I would not have had otherwise. Isn’t that what life is about? That being said, when that purpose is satisfied those relationships have a tendency to become stale, unstable, or even unhealthy. Being stubborn about holding on to these relationships generally leads to an unnecessarily explosive ending.
A few more things to consider before you unleash the drama llama…
The people you may or may not be dragging through the mud are people you once cherished, but they are also people who once represented you and your collective. These are people you’ve possibly defended and upheld. How you appear as a part of a relationship reflects on all people involved in that relationship, but the adverse is also true. Whether or not you are still involved with them, what good is it to further muddy the waters?
On the idea of children. I have had many friends who stayed in rotting relationships for the sake of children, both biological and non. In my opinion this is a disservice to both the adults and the children in this situation. Adults deserve to be in a situation that is healthy for them, and children deserve to be in a family structure that is happy and positive, and when that is not the case they often internalize it. This can cause deep and lifelong issues, especially if the adults in the situation just can’t get along. I am strongly convinced that children have a much more positive experience with happy, well-rounded, separated parental figures than with bitter, resentful, bitter ones who just shouldn’t live together.
With great love comes great responsibility. Open, public polyamory often makes examples of us whether it’s warranted or not. However we act and whatever we do becomes polyamory. It’s an unfair responsibility, but it is a responsibility nonetheless, and a caveat to the freedom we enjoy. For this very reason endings tend to become all about the polyamory, and this is a very easy trap for even those of us who live it to fall into. One bad breakup and suddenly someone “had a bad experience”. Just because in your eyes or the eyes of family and friends your relationship may have failed, it doesn’t mean that you or polyamory at large failed. It also doesn’t mean polyamory isn’t for you. It just means that relationship was no longer for you. It happens. Learn from it, grow from it, and move forward with a peaceful heart.
A peaceful heart. I’m going to say this as bluntly as possibly. Holding grudges is stupid. There you have it. Why are grudges stupid? For the same reason holding a hot barbecue briquette is stupid. Holding a grudge hurts no one but the person holding it. Hate, pride, and shortsightedness may temporarily hurt the people at whom you hurl them, but in the end you are the one stuck with the lasting scars. The only way to heal is to process it calmly and let it go. Admit that very few endings are one-sided. Admitting your part in the breakup is the first step. Take what you can from it, don’t try to carry all the blame or innocence, then toss it aside.
That last part is pretty important, too. The polar opposite of pretending we are infallible is to take all the responsibility for a breakup and let it fester. Guilt is quite a strong emotion, and it may lead you to reneging on the decision you made to move on. Some initiators feel they don’t deserve to mourn the loss of a relationship they ended. Some non-initiators feel the same way. This simply is not the case. Loss is loss. When someone chooses to give a baby up for adoption or put down a sick pet we don’t fault them for grieving. Why then shouldn’t it be the same for someone who ends a relationship that isn’t working? It shouldn’t. By the time we reach the end there is no reason to point fingers or lash out, and you cannot deny the other people involved their emotional right to feel the loss.
People? Yes, people, plural. In some cases you may break up with more than one partner, but even if you don’t there are generally other people affected by the breakup. Your partner’s other partners will feel the ripple effect of their grief, and you may have made some close bonds with them as metamours. I know if Hubby and A broke up I’d have some pretty strong feelings to work through. I’d want to support him, I’d want to help him process if I could, and I’d feel my own loss at the departure of a family member and the disruption of what has become a very comfortable routine for us. We are not isolated beings in polyamory. We are all connected like a spiderweb, and any break or movement in just a string on the web causes the whole structure to shift and change. Everyone in the web feels it.
Endings are just as much a part of life as new beginnings, and without one we cannot have the other. Instead of having a lifetime of bad breakups and negative feelings towards our exes there is a true peace at the core of anyone who can let all that go and truly be at peace with goodbyes. One of the highest levels of compersion is found in the ability to with someone well when the best thing for him is not with you. One of the purest forms of self acceptance and love is making decisions that truly enrich us on a psychological, emotional, and spiritual level. Oftentimes the decisions that are the hardest for us to make are ones we have already made in our hearts. Be honest with yourself, and listen to your intuition. You alone know what is right for you and when it has stopped being right. You owe yourself that level of communication and trust as much as you owe it to your partners.
“Polyamory probably saved my marriage.”
I have heard this statement made several times, and it always refers to something different. Sometimes it refers to a sense that things had gotten stale and polyamory put a fresh spin on the marriage. Sometimes it’s been sexual desires or orientations. Other times it’s been a deeper need to become closer through shared experiences. For me it’s been about lessons. I mentioned in a previous post that recently Hubby and I had some troubled waters. I strongly believe that we would not have come out of them unscathed as a monogamous couple, at least not as the monogamous couple we were. While the idea is emotionally unfathomable, realistically I don’t think we would have had the right tools to keep our marriage afloat.
Communication: While this one seems like it should encompass everything else, there are a few key lessons in communication that come from experience with polyamory. Most of us know how to identify communication, but many don’t know how to actually communicate. Good communication makes the difference between an electric mixer and a wooden spoon. Where good communication makes things smoother and easier to handle, bad communication often causes nothing but soreness and a mess. My apologies to anyone who likes to mix things by hand. To communicate freely requires that one eschew fear of being honest. Oftentimes when we bring up an uncomfortable topic we try to avoid confrontation and word things to sound more innocuous. Sometimes we even try to predict what the other person’s reaction will be and how to avoid it being negative. The truth is, sometimes we need a negative reaction. Sometimes Hubby needs to know things are not copacetic. We can’t fix a problem he doesn’t know exists. That being said, communicating dictates you be calm, concise, and factual with no emotional mudslinging or attacking. Everyone listens instead of plotting their next move, and everyone gets to talk. As long as this can be done in a mature manner, you’ve done it! You’re communicating!
Dedication: It has always been my belief that one contributing factor to our nation’s divorce rate is how easy it is to give up. There have been moments when we may have thrown in the towel had we not been married and committed to those vows. If in the end we agree that we’ve done everything we could to fix our problems I will fully accept that, but until then I will keep trying to make our marriage stronger and healthier. Many people in relationships act as if a difference in opinion or beliefs is an automatic sign that the relationship is doomed. No one is perfect, and nothing that lasts a lifetime is polished in a day. The marriages that last are the one that are constantly maintained by people who don’t avoid or repress their problems. Instead they work through them one at a time to nurture their bond and grow as a couple.
One Step at a Time: Think of a math equation. Looking at all the different functions in the equation all at once can seem daunting, but if you break it down into smaller, easier to handle parts you can focus on one function at a time. Quite often when a relationship experiences an obstacle it seems insurmountable because it’s never made up of just one issue. Usually by the time a marriage is in serious jeopardy the root cause is an amalgamation of smaller issues. Trying to work on them all at once can be overwhelming and will only cause more frustration and friction. Prioritizing and processing one problem at a time and accepting that there will be setbacks can help the healing process to not become such a burden that a couple gives up. Poly teaches us to deal with one thing at a time as it pertains to each situation. Just as no two partners are alike, no two problems are alike. Still, no member of our family is alone when problems do arise. Working on them together makes anything possible if we take it one step at a time.
Letting it Go: Once a problem is discussed and resolved it needs to be let go, not just until the next fight, not just until you’re feeling a little neglected and need some attention, but let go for good. There is nothing as detrimental to a relationship that’s trying to heal like bringing up old baggage that doesn’t serve the issue at hand. Poly teaches us to deal with any possible situation then let it go, because there is no room in healthy non-monogamy for extra baggage.
Perspective: Sometimes the way we see things is not how others see them, and either way may be a skewed version of the truth. Polyamory has taught me not to use phrases like “you did X” but instead say things like “it seemed to me like you did XYZ”. Blame solves nothing, and it makes you look foolish and out of control. Instead, calmly recounting the situation from your perspective can help the other person understand why there was an emotional response, and understanding is the beginning of both of you processing.
Avoiding Scapegoats or Insults: Blaming solves nothing, but playing dirty makes things worse. These issues are between you and your partner, not other partners, kids, or other mitigating factors. Accept that they didn’t cause the problems you’re having, the two of you did, even if your partner’s behaviour was based on these other things. I had this realization not too long ago when A told me it seemed like I was mad at her. Even to her it seemed like I was blaming her when really my real anger was towards how Hubby was treating the situation or acting because of something in their relationship. While it all may have exacerbated our issues, it wasn’t their relationship that was responsible for it, it was his behaviour and my reaction to that behaviour that was.
Emotional Independence: Polyamory has taught not only to be responsible for my emotions but also to handle them as much as I can on my own. There was a time when both of us where extremely needy and co-dependent on each other. Opening our marriage and branching out forced us to be aware of that co-dependency and to become more self-reliant. I now feel that I don’t need to run to Hubby every time I feel emotional. This puts less stress on him and allows him to be more self-reliant as well. It also means he’s available when I really need the support instead of being burnt out or overburdened already. Because of this emotional independence I have been able to trust both of our emotions and have faith that he’s with me because he loves me, not because he needs something from me emotionally. It has also given me the confidence to voice my emotional needs and know when I just can’t process certain things on my own. When working through problems in a marriage this is all integral. I feel less desperate for that emotional support, therefore I can be more articulate about real needs. I feel less burnt out and more willing to be supportive when he has real needs. Without emotional independence neither of us can be honest with ourselves or each other about emotional issues. Without it neither of us can grow as an individual.
What Worked Before: Marriages sometimes fall into a comfort, and resentment can build when the NRE starts to fade. When issues arise this is the first thing that gets flung between partners. “We never do XYZ anymore!” My first question is always, “why not?”. I have found that polyamory has kept us fresh and inspired. We have found new ways to keep our lives exciting, and we hold on to the memories and traditions that still serve us. The truth is that what worked before may not work now. This can include little things like mutual hobbies and weekly rituals to big things like relationship style and family dynamic. You may not do those things anymore because those people are no longer who you are as individuals. That couple may not be the couple you are now. That marriage has grown and evolved just as the two of you have done. Nostalgia can be a great reminder of where we come from, but it can also be a great road block to moving forward. We hold on to thing that once felt good forgetting that as we change we can and should find new things that make us feel good, too. Whether it’s changing how you date others or changing how you eat dinner together, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate. Polyamory has taught me to constantly re-evaluate our needs, my needs, and the needs of our family as a whole. If there is not growth and movement a stagnant marriage cannot thrive.
I’ll say it one more time… “Polyamory saved my marriage,” and possibly my life, or at least the quality of my life. I’ve used these tools with friends, coworkers, children, and clients. I feel enriched and empowered, and confident that I can tackle anything. Having my husband and our family on board helps, too, of course.
Dating in a poly relationship can sometimes be a little tricky to navigate, not just because of the boundaries and agreements of your own relationship but those of the people you intend to date. Non-monogamy comes in all shapes and sizes, and you can have great chemistry with someone, but if they’re style doesn’t compliment yours there may be some disappointment.
Today I’m going to talk about “The Package Deal”. This generally means a couple who dates, plays, interacts as a couple. They may be looking for a third, another couple, or any other grouping of new partners, but they come as a set. Hence, “The Package Deal”. Let me start by saying that I’m not putting down any style that works for you. Sometimes we get so comfortable in our ways that we forget that others are also entitled to develop their own relationship styles. Hubby and I tried “The Package Deal” once, and while it wasn’t for us I admire anyone who can make it work. To me it’s one of the more complicated forms of non-monogamy, but that doesn’t make it impossible or a thing to be avoided.
At the beginning of our poly journey Hubby and I dated as a couple until our second triad when our girlfriend decided she wasn’t actually bi. Our choices at that point were to either end things with her completely and break up what was a strong bond between them or open our marriage completely and date as individuals. It was a scary move when we decided on the latter choice, but one that was ultimately the best one for us. Since then we have had points where we’ve dated the same person, but as two individuals not as a couple.
So, what are some of the pros and cons of “The Package Deal?”
Logistically, “The Package Deal” takes more consideration when it comes to time management. On one hand it means less time away from one’s existing partner, since dates and time spent with the new partner are spent together. This does mean, however, that there are more schedules to try to coordinate. Time is something we’ve discussed before at great lengths and can be a deal breaker or mitigating factor in all types of poly situations.
In this particular form of non-monogamy there is no “blind-eye”. While you don’t have to wonder what your partner is up to with others you also can’t avoid it when you’ve got a front row seat for the action. You must be completely, totally, 100% secure in your partnership or there will be drama. This is great for anyone who tends to think the worst about things he can’t see or experience first hand. It’s perfect for anyone who gets excited by the idea of her partner with someone else but not so much for someone who is shy or prefers more intimate one-on-one interaction. “The Package Deal” is not a way to avoid jealousy or have control over a given situation. No matter what form of non-monogamy you practice these issues will come to a head and you will have to deal with them. End of story.
“The Package Deal” requires a little more patience than most forms of non-monogamy to find the right fit. Think about how long it took to find your existing partner. Think about how many times it just didn’t feel right or the chemistry just wasn’t there. It’s hard enough sometimes when just two people are involved. Now that you’ve added another person and his dislikes and preferences in a partner you increase the variables that need to match for a healthy relationship to form. This may mean compromising a little. We’ve all heard of the “unicorn”. This is where we start the quest for the unicorn. If your standards are too rigid or your expectations are too high you may never find a partner that suits your needs. You may also find someone who fits one persons needs but not the other, especially when factoring in sexual orientation or BDSM dynamic roles. “The Package Deal” demands that you have at least similar taste and needs from someone new. This is an enormous shoe for that one person to fill. The flip side of this is that if you find someone who fits the bill and they have chemistry with both partners the resulting unit is generally extremely solid.
In my experience “The Package Deal” can either bring a couple closer together or tear them apart. In some cases sharing those experiences and loving someone together can strengthen the bond between existing partners and foster a larger sense of community. In others it can pull out latent insecurities, competitiveness, and fears. I have heard everything from “I love the look you give me when you’re with her” to “you never make those sounds for me!”. As with any form of non-monogamy you can handle the latter case with open, honest, non-confrontational communication and the desire for balance. There is also the chance that one person will get very attached and the other won’t or one will fall in love and the other will actually dislike the new partner. In a situation where emotions are already running high this can cause a lot of internal processing and damage control if not handled carefully on all sides. We can’t control or predict every scenario or our emotional responses to them, and the “Package Deal” can make that reality exponentially intense.
“The Package Deal” can be a good gate to independent dating or it can be a permanent state of non-monogamy. I believe it really helped me and Hubby feel things out and decide how we really felt as opposed to over-analyzing or over-intellectualizing them. It left no room to hide reactions or surprise emotions, and while it may have caused some severe growing pains it also taught us some harsh but necessary lessons about communication, compersion, and sacrifice. It forced us to step out of our comfort zone as a couple and build trust that we would conduct ourselves appropriately outside of the one another’s presence. This was a huge turning point for our marriage and one we’ve built on in the years since then.
I would never advise against “The Package Deal”, but I would suggest that you keep in mind that relationships are not solid state objects. They are constantly changing and growing, as are the needs and desires of each person in those relationships. I would strongly recommend that once you find a comfort zone in this lifestyle you revisit your opinion on “The Package Deal”. Decide if it’s still what you need as a couple and as individuals, and repeat as often as necessary. What works for you now may not work for you down the road, and you must always be prepared to at least discuss the possibility of change.
So, there’s this guy…
Doesn’t every good story start with “so, there’s this guy”?
In any case, there’s this guy, and we meet at a bar. I ditch the excruciatingly dull date I’m on, and I bring home a guy from a bar, which is something that, at the precipice of 30 years old, I have never done before. Another item on some kind of unwritten Bucket List I didn’t know existed.
This guy has a very black and white perspective on life and how the world turns. He not so much questions my beliefs but preaches his opinion on them like a sermon to save me from a life of ridiculous spirituality and ill-advised relationship decisions. On the former I stand firm, and there is no doubt in my mind that my faith is unshakable. He seems frustrated that I won’t try to prove my beliefs, but it is not my responsibility to convince him of their validity or sciency data. On the latter, however, I waver and bend a little. I am unsure. I unearth old doubts and question my faith in myself and the choices I have made over the last decade. When it comes to believing in myself I am weak. Things that were once true seem less so. Things that made my love and my marriage healthy and good for me begin to seem detrimental and lacking. Hubby and I no longer seem like the strong, loving partnership we once were.
This guy dangles in front of me all the things I’ve wanted in life, but as with most things worth having, it all comes with a price that until recently I have not been willing to even consider. More questions. Would I be willing to give up one big piece of who I am now to have a shot at goals I’ve been vying for my entire life? In the last few years I have resigned myself to a limited path. I have chalked up a lot of my dreams and aspirations to bad decisions or believing those things just weren’t meant for me. Hubby supports me where he can, but more and more reality sets in, and when our goals are in direct conflict mine fall away. He is always more driven, always a better opportunist, and almost always has more backing and resources. This is just how it’s always been.
I see myself now at a crossroads where it is integral that I have no doubt in the direction in which I choose to continue my journey. This is something I’m unprepared for, and it’s a self-portrait I cannot begin to paint. Can I adapt my current path or must I make a complete break and risk being lost? This is a question I am unprepared to answer, but how long can I wait for life to make it for me before all the doors close around me?
The big question here is not whether or not I leave but whether or not we can fix the rift that’s grown between us. It has not gone unnoticed, but I don’t think either of us has been aware of how big it’s gotten. If we can we will be the solid couple we once were. If not, it will swallow one or both of us, and we are each too beautiful and unique to be unhappy. This guy is not my future, but he has prompted me to think about what I want my future to look like and how I can make that happen. My hope is that a clear idea of just how deep and wide this rift in my marriage is can help us begin to fill it in with healing and love.
And here we are now. We have faced the end of our story and refused to accept it. Instead we have once more rewritten our future together. We still stumble occasionally, but we now have a better understanding of and commitment to this marriage and the promises we’ve made to each other. The Death card dealt here was not for a finite ending but for a razing and rebuilding, and we are building something strong and wonderful together.