my wife and I

I received this comment on a post I did a few days ago.  In that post I talked about event drop, and how I was dealing with the double-dose I received recently.  Katie B didn’t really address my post, but the topic she wrote about has probably been on her mind for a while:

I love reading your blog. I have learned a great deal from it, yet, I cannot help but think that if I was your wife (or one of your daughters) I would find reading your blog incredibly painful (I know none of the above DO read your blog, but hypothetically). I am not saying this to be judgemental. I am, honestly, just trying to understand. Your greatest moments of happiness seem to come in the moments you are away from the family you have created. That strikes me as deeply problematic and perhaps one of the most terrifying (for me) prospects of poly. I couldn’t bear the thought of my partner being happier spending time with someone else. It would dystroy me. Your wife must be a very strong woman–much stronger than I. I think you would make me cry.

Another reader, a few weeks ago, also asked about my relationship with my wife, especially with regard to poly.  I’d posted a story, on our 17th anniversary, about how we met and how we became a couple.  Zach asked, “How and when did you decide to start seeing other people again?”

And I’m sure that there are even more of you who wonder about all this, even if you haven’t asked or said anything, so here goes.

We decided to open our relationship up about 3 years ago.  Since then, we’ve both been sexually active with other people.  We take a different approach to those relationships, she prefers a ‘friends-with-benefits’ methodology to my ‘other relationships’ approach.  We both hold to our agreement that we remain primary partners, that we are committed to our family and each other.  There have been times when our differing philosophies have caused some stress, but we’ve worked through them and, in doing so, increased our trust in each other.

And, although I’ve said it before, it clearly needs to be repeated:  I don’t write much about my wife here, on purpose, respecting her wishes.  We agreed that this blog would be my space to talk about the stuff she’s not all that interested in me sharing with her.  We aren’t one of those poly couples who sit down and do post-game analysis of our time spent with others.  That’s not to say we are completely silent, we let each other in on the important stuff.  We also share information about our other partner as we would any friends we have, as in, “Roxy was telling me about this cool thing-a-ma-jig” or “Walt is still having trouble with his ex-girlfriend”.  The people we have sex with are people we talk about to each other.  I’ve met all of the people she’s had relations with and she’s met all but one of mine.  We aren’t keeping secrets, these aren’t affairs, we aren’t cheating on each other.

Despite Katie B’s concerns and tears, my wife is not, in any way, a victim of my activities.  In fact, if she’d had her way, we’d have been an open relationship/poly couple from the beginning, 17 years ago.  At that point, I was still stinging from the end of my previous 10 year relationship and wasn’t nearly self-secure enough to share her with others.  In fact, it wasn’t until around the 14 year mark that I was in a position to revisit the idea of open marriage again.

My wife and I are a good team.  We’ve taken on many challenges, worked toward goals together and really take the idea of ‘partnership’ seriously.  We have a very good life because we’ve worked hard at it, together.  We have a lot in common in terms of how we were raised, our child rearing philosophy, politics and money management — important stuff when you choose to raise children and buy houses and plan retirement and all that.  We also love each other, have a lot of fun and rely on each other during tough times.  We understand each others’ strengths and weaknesses and work to make our relationship stronger with that knowledge.

One of our core beliefs has always been that we can’t depend on each other for all our needs.  We aren’t the same person, we have different interests and passions and styles.  I have my geek activities and friends.  She’s got a core group of friends from high school she still connects with when she can.   She doesn’t share my interest in BDSM, but knows it’s important to me.   This is one of the reasons an open relationship works for us.  If I didn’t have a way to explore this aspect of my sexuality, I’d be unhappy and it would be damaging to our relationship.

Since opening our relationship, we’ve communicated more openly and honestly.  I’ve come out of the depression I was in for years with regard to unmet needs.  She has the freedom to enjoy the company of whomever she finds attractive and interesting, knowing that it won’t cause me to fall apart.  I know damned well it doesn’t work for everyone, but polyamory works for us.

Katie B also expressed concern on behalf of my children, so let me address that now.  My wife and I are teaching our children about sex, relationships and life in an age appropriate way.  When the time comes, we will tell them about our relationship and the relationships we have with others.  Our daughters aren’t suffering because of our relationships outside the primary.   They get our love, support, encouragement and the material fruits of our labor.  Our 5th grader is extremely bright, empathetic and aware of diversity.  We are always looking for ways to introduce her to new concepts, or reinforce familiar ones about justice, activism, political awareness, community involvement and responsibility.  Pretty much the same as any involved parents, I suppose.

In conclusion, yes, I do have a lot of fun with Roxy, I love her very much and want to celebrate the time we have together. Often when we’re together, we don’t have to mind the day-to-day responsibilities that exhaust us normally.  It’s fun to have that escape time with her, and we make the most of every opportunity we get.  I also love my wife and children very much and I do write about and celebrate that love here as well.  Just because I make a big deal out of being with Roxy and talk about how much fun we have, that doesn’t mean I don’t have big fun and enjoyment and high points with my family.  Try not to be fooled into thinking that just because it’s not blogged about, it’s not happening.

So, Katie B, I’m sorry that reading my blog upsets you so much, but it seems to me you’re mostly projecting your fears and anxieties on my wife and children.  We’re really doing just fine, thank you.  That said, I’m always open to respectful and open minded questions, and that invitation is open to everyone.

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