What would you do if your spouse fell in love with someone you couldn’t stand?  Think about this carefully for a moment.  I don’t mean a situation where this new partner has done something detrimental or disrespectful.  What if you just didn’t like her?
A common practice for “primary” couples in polyamory is veto power.  Hubby and I do not have a veto agreement, and I go back and forth on whether or not I am in favour of them, as I can see both sides of that coin.  I believe it is up to each couple to decide if having veto power will help or hinder their relationship.
To risk a cliché, with great power comes great responsibility.  Even entertaining the idea of having a veto allowance shows great trust that it won’t be abused.  Can I trust my partner to only use it in the case of an extreme and genuine conflict?  What constitutes “an extreme and genuine conflict”?  You see, I have seen this scenario go both ways, and in the hands of someone who abuses it, veto power is extremely detrimental.
I have mentioned before that it isn’t the obligation of Hubby’s partners to like me.  We don’t have to be friends, we just have to be civil and friendly for his sake.  It helps if we’re friends, but by no means is this always the case.  Unless I’m being blatantly disrespected I give Hubby his space and time to sort out his new relationship.  It may mean less socialization or a less than ideal energy to our family than he’d like, but that’s his call.  If he asks my opinion I will give it, but I will never tell him not to see someone unless it becomes harmful to our marriage.  In the case of any new relationships his emotions matter first.  I’m not the one dating this other person, he is, so I won’t interfere unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary.
Here’s an example.  Hubby dated a girl for a short time a while back.  She was nice enough at first.  We even got along.  Somewhere along the line she started creating conflict by turning things I said against me to him in an attempt to make me fit the Jealous Batshit Crazy Wife role.  The first time he approached me about it I warned him to be careful.  I didn’t tell him not to see her, but I did warn him that I would not continue to speak to someone who would use my own words against me.  Simple.  In the end she did what most drama fairies do; she broke up with him using me as a scapegoat.  I am no stranger to the “I just can’t take how this is obviously affecting her” blame game, and let me tell you, girls, how played out it is by now.
To toss another cliché in the basket, variety is the spice of life.  Sometimes, however, those spices don’t blend well, resulting in an awful taste.  One of the beautiful things about polyamory is variety.  I love that my partners are unique.  It makes my life interesting.  Sometimes it is that variety that causes a little head butting among them, but most of the time it’s the things they have in common.  Occasionally when one pouts about the other I have to stop them and remind them that none of us is perfect.  “We can discuss his dirty socks on the couch once you’ve handled your tendency to leave dirty dishes on the coffee table.”  Remember, small issues with each other are not reasons to veto someone.  Accept that this is someone your partner loves and move on.
In many cases veto power is held in place as a status reminder and a way to hold control.  Sometimes that’s ok.  I recently read an excellent article on Couple Privilege by Franklin Veaux, and while I agreed with it for the most part I also believe that privilege does not always hold the negative connotation we’ve given it lately.  Sometimes, especially very early on in an open relationship, both members of a couple need a reminder that amidst the NRE and exciting new experiences there is still a committed couple that needs attention as well.  It’s an extremely popular trend in the poly community right now to knock a married couples spiritual bond to one another as “just a legal agreement”, because it’s passe to hold that bonded couple in any other esteem than just another couple in the mix or to believe in spirituality as a valid reason for anything.  The flip side of that coin is that sometimes that control is abused or used to ignore feelings of insecurity or jealousy.  In this case you may see patterns and repeated use of the veto, which greatly limits the potential and growth of the relationship and the experiences of each partner.  This happens with any power of decision we give any partner, but again, giving power is a sign of trust and faith.
So why have veto power if it’s not something one can use at will?  Because this is someone you love, and you want him to be happy.  The veto should be used in situations where one partner, the marriage, or the family may be put in danger.  Aha! There it is.  Not perceived danger, real danger.  Patterns of sexual of physical abuse, disregard for sexual or physical safety, lying, and manipulation are all examples of cases in which I think a veto is acceptable, especially if the partner involved is unable to realize what’s happening.  I encountered this with an ex-girlfriend when a new partner convinced her she was being abused and manipulated.  I never told her not to see him, but I warned her that this was not a healthy relationship for her.  In the end we all went our separate ways.  If that was where she was going to be happy I had to let her go, but I had to try to show her what was really happening and how unhealthy it was for her.  This is where veto power is challenged.  If we’d agreed to have veto power I could have told her not to see him, but it would have bred resentment.  I believe she would have left anyway.   We only have the authority our partners give us, no matter what we call it.
         Like I said before, Hubby and I do not have veto power in our arrangement.  Why? For one thing, I have never heard my husband told he couldn’t do something when it didn’t incite him to do it just for spite.  For another thing, we don’t need it.  If one of us has a serious concern we talk about it.  Recently Hubby felt some concern for my safety with a new interest.  After discussing it I couldn’t blame him for how I felt even if I didn’t agree.  He didn’t ask me to never see this person.  He simply asked that I not see him alone until they had been better acquainted.  At first it felt like a power play, but I couldn’t argue something that was set in place for my well being no matter how much I felt he was overreacting.  I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same for him.  Did I feel bad? Of course I did.  It felt a little unfair and drastic to me, but I had to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Would I get that same consideration from him?  I hope I never have to find out.
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