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Sunday, February 19, 2012

My quad has just become a triad! Help!

Question: My wife and I recently joined with another couple to form a MFMF quad. The two women are involved with each other lightly, along with being involved with both men. Things went well for a short time until I started to experience some jealousy. I initiated a conversation with my wife about slowing things down (she is falling deeply in love with the other guy) and things blew up. My wife is now staying with the other couple and nobody is talking to me! What should I do?

Answer from PP:
Your wife is deep in NRE (New Relationship Energy) so I'm not entirely surprised your conversation blew up. Most people in the middle of NRE seem to interpret anything negative or questioning of their new relationship as an attack and attribute it to jealousy, envy, or other negative drivers which they perceive as *your* problem, not theirs. Having a conversation with someone in the throes of NRE can be challenging to say the least. Referring to previous agreements can help, as can avoiding accusatory type statements. Focus on negotiating with your partner in a way that continues to support their new relationship.

As I see it you have two choices at this point; you can either support your spouse, or you can *drop a bomb* on things.

Dropping a bomb is the easiest to explain. Quite simply you would ask your wife to discontinue her involvement in what is now a triad. Being in NRE, she is probably going to explode (hence the bomb reference) and reject the idea entirely. This is probably the quickest way to end your marriage and even if it doesn't, you haven't worked through the issues you have avoided them.

Supporting your spouse is much more complicated and difficult. Probably the first thing to examine is why you feel left out? What you have done is each attempt to have a relationship with someone new. Hers worked, yours didn't. Although it sucks we all know it happens, right? So the real question becomes this; is it okay for your wife to have a relationship without you?
If you are practicing a more traditional form of polyamory the answer is probably Yes. Most people practicing a basic form of polyamory without unusual restrictions believe in the ability of each person to have multiple, independent relationships. Had your wife started a relationship with someone else by herself you probably wouldn't be feeling so left out. The problem here is that your relationship didn't work and you feel badly. You may even be feeling somewhat slighted by your spouse. After all, you started this quad together so if one of you can't be involved shouldn't you both walk away from things? Again, take a look at why you are feeling that way. Is it really fair to ask your spouse to limit her relationships to the success or failure of yours? Not a very poly perspective is it?
So how do you move forward?
My first suggestion would be to have another conversation with your spouse. This time let her know that you are supportive of her relationship even though you obviously cannot be a romantic part of it. If you are able and would like to remain friends with the other couple, let her know that. Explain that although you feel hurt, rejected, disappointed, and are in emotional hell, you recognize her right and desire to continue her involvement with the other couple and support her completely.
The next part can be a bit tricky. Let her know that while you support her, you also need to feel supported. The other couple may not be able or willing to provide you any support right now, but you rely on her, as your wife, to support you in times of need. Ask her to try and divide her time fairly between you and the triad. Suggest creating a calendar so you aren't surprised by time she wants to spend with the other couple. Communicate to her that what you are trying to accomplish is a negotiation that meets both your needs and your only goal is to continue having a beautiful relationship with her while supporting her new relationship with the other couple.

And finally, go get your own life. Being alone and dwelling on what you feel (right now) you have lost isn't going to help you at all. You tried to have a relationship and it didn't work. Move on. Reconnect with friends, get involved in your local poly community. Ask someone, anyone, out on a date. It doesn't have to be with the intent of creating a relationship but is simply a way to get you back on the horse and out of the house. You know that little nugget of jealousy down deep inside over what your wife has found? Take that and turn it into determination to find the same joy for yourself. If she can do it, you can too! And with your wife busy elsewhere, this is the perfect opportunity for you to start building your own relationships so you can have that same joy for yourself.

PP

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