Sacrifice, whether conscious or circumstantial, is a natural part of any marriage.  In a poly setting it comes into play a little more often.  We sacrifice time, control, and experiences at times to ensure other partners’ needs are being met.  There are certain sacrifices that are more easily accepted than others.  For example, I don’t mind a Friday night alone while Hubby goes to a special event with his secondary.  I do mind if that Friday night happens to be my birthday (which hasn’t happened.  Calm down, it’s just an example.), but if there are mitigating circumstances that make her need more important it might be a sacrifice I’m called upon to make.

Sometimes we spouses feel like our sacrifices are more demanding or plentiful.  This could be a product of time or exposure, or more could be expected of us as life partners.  Either way, we do it for those we love.  Otherwise this lifestyle falls prey to resentment and grudges and cannot be viable.

The balance here is delicate and deserves occasional evaluation to ensure it still exists.  One must ask, “Is my spouse willing to make the same sacrifices? Why am I willing to do so, and is this a healthy choice for my life?”  I can’t tell you what the answers should be, but if I feel satisfied with my answers it helps me reaffirm my desire to love the way I have chosen to love.  If I do not feel satisfied with my answers it is time for a serious heart-to-heart with Hubby to ascertain the cause of my dissatisfaction.  Has there been a perceived slight or miscommunication?  Has some latent insecurity or issue been exhumed?  Is there an actual problem to address?  Unhealthy doesn’t equate to abusive or neglectful any more than the flu equates to a terminal illness.  It merely needs to be treated and expunged.

This brings me to an unusual condition in my experience, refusal to sacrifice.  When Hubby and Emmy went their separate ways I was admittedly relieved.  There had been events during their relationship that I felt were not only disrespectful but detrimental to my marriage.  When they decided to carry on a friendship I expressed some concern to Hubby.  I made it clear that I would not tolerate anything that threw our life back to the tumult in which it had been before, nor would she ever be a welcome fixture in my family.  As time passed it was obvious to me that they were once again becoming more romantically involved, and I resisted.  I simply wouldn’t have it.

My biggest problem was that I had never received an apology for the damage caused to my marriage.  We’ve since repaired it, but I felt that I deserved a simple “I’m sorry” from someone who had hurt me so profoundly, whether or not it was conscious or malicious.  I never did, so my feeling have not been laid to rest.  It felt like a slap in the face for him to ask me to let that go so he could be happy.  He assured me he had already told her that any further issues would not be tolerated and reminded me that the waters had been calm for quite some time.  It took a lot of soul-searching to accept that he was right.

Do I still feel like the decent thing to do would have been to apologize?  Of course I do, but I’ve accepted that that may never happen.  Would I rather Hubby’s relationships be with people with whom I can get along and socialize?  Ideally, yes.  Should the fact that none of these conditions have been met interfere with his happiness?  No, and that’s a hard truth to learn and accept.  At what point was I just being stubborn because I had been hurt?  At what point did it no longer matter where she and I were concerned with each other?  At what point did I need to I make the decision to sacrifice a little pride and comfort and move on so that he can have his experience?

That point comes the moment the balance is tipped.  That point came for us when any serious conversation we had about anything devolved into a fight about Emmy, when it made him resentful that nothing had been resolved even when we weren’t fighting, and when it made me feel wounded any time her name left his lips.  That point came violently with a hint of dishonesty, and we dissolved.  All the work we’d done since Emmy’s departure evaporated, and we were back to failing, only this time it wasn’t her doing.  It was mine.

In the end it was only peripherally about her to begin with.  It was more about us needing to finally purge, close that book, and move on.  We needed to restore our lives to the balance between feeling like all I was doing was sacrificing and asking him to sacrifice an entire relationship, a point we hit near the end when he gave up and offered to never see her again if only it would stop the fighting and make me happy.  I realized then that not only is the answer to my first question “yes, and then some“, but that he needed to play this one out without my interference or restrictions.

Will Emmy and I ever be friends?  Probably not.  Will I ever welcome her as a member of my household?  Doubtful.  Will these feeling change?  I guess anything is possible.  Does it really matter?  No.  I have to trust Hubby to make the right decisions for himself and for our family as he does me.  I have to remember that as long as there are no new issues Emmy has nothing to do with my marriage as it stands at this very moment.  I will continue to be mindful of the lessons this has taught me, but it will no longer occupy my thoughts.

Once the harmony was restored we were able to be Us again, and it was a wonderful feeling.  We’ve had an amazing few weeks since then, and every day we return more and more to the Us we’ve always been under the rippled surface of learning, loving, and living.  We are strong.  We are healthy.  We are love.  All is as it should be.

Go now, move on.