That first night was hell for me. Do you know – can you guess – how it feels to find out that you don’t know someone as well as you thought you did? We tabled the conversation, which started around 7:30pm, close to 3:00am. There were a lot of tears shed and my anger wanted to come to the front of the line but I knew that being angry wasn’t going to do anything toward dealing with this. In between handling parental duties and normal home stuff, we talked… and like we’d never talked to each other before. Secrets were revealed and to listen to how many women she’d slept with – and many right under my nose – wow; as much as it said a lot about her, it said even more about me because I never picked up on it, never questioned her when I thought something wasn’t quite right… and I believed whatever she told me. She was my wife – why would she lie to me and keep things from me?
The days went by in a blur; in that first week alone, I maybe got a total of ten hours of sleep as I continued to process everything I had been told while trying to figure out what to do about this and leaving her and our family wasn’t an option… but I also didn’t want her running around doing stuff that I didn’t know about and be worried about whether she was safe and, yeah, what she was doing whenever I couldn’t see her. I ran the gamut of emotions with myself and none of them felt good and the emotional strain was worse than anything I’d ever experienced.
We decided to open our marriage and it wasn’t that easy of a decision – but it was the only viable one. We spent days hashing this out and as we did so, I knew that I still loved and needed her in my life, that throwing it all away – and starting over with someone else – wasn’t going to work for me so, in my mind, I had no other choice than to “give her permission” because I also knew that I would rather know what she was doing and who she was doing it with rather to not know.
We came up with some rules – after we had an “argument” about equity: If she could do this, then I should be allowed to do it, too. She insisted that this was about her but I insisted that this was about us, our love, our relationship, our future as a couple and as a family. In my mind, we had to make this work and made it clear to her that what has already happened can’t be remedied but I wasn’t going to tolerate any “selfishness” on her part. I know she didn’t like it but saw that, like me, she had to accept the new conditions. The rules:
Take care of home first and this was non-negotiable. Husbandly and wifely duties – as well as the parental ones – had to be dealt with first and foremost and without exception. Next, well, this one was kinda simple: Don’t bring anything home that you’re not gonna accept responsibility for, from something icky and nasty to, um, finding out that you’re gonna be a parent again. That one was mostly on me since she couldn’t have any more children. Next was all about communication: If one of us has an outside encounter, it had to be talked about and in detail. To me, this was very important because as we talked, I got the sense that this wasn’t going to go as well for her as she was thinking, especially if/when she slept with other men. I had stressed this and told her that just talking about how good something happened was easy; the problems would be any time an encounter didn’t go well and now some damage control was in order.
This rule was also non-negotiable. We allowed that there might be times when a spontaneous situation would pop up and it wasn’t like we’d be able to call home and tell each other what was about to happen but that made full disclosure after the fact even more important. The communication part wasn’t just about whatever we might get into; the reason this whole thing became an epic fail was because we weren’t talking about everything that mattered and that could not be allowed to happen going forward – no more of one of us asking, “What’s wrong?” and the answer is, “Nothing.”
Next was not doing any “dirt” at home and mostly because of the children. However, we allowed that there would be times when they wouldn’t be at home so, okay, shit happens… but let’s try to not let that take place if at all possible.
One of the things we recognized about making these rules was the need for them to be changed except for the non-negotiable ones. We both understood that while we could control our own actions and certain situations, there are always exceptions that come up or something needs to be adjusted so the rule was if changes were needed, we had to sit down and talk about it.
Other than that, we both had a responsibility not only to each other and our family but to ourselves. We tossed around a bunch of other rules that, under further review, didn’t make sense – I don’t remember what they were exactly but they were pretty stupid. So with the rules put in place, there was nothing else to do but to see how this was gonna work… and I felt that at some point, this was going to bite one of us in the ass… and I wasn’t the one going to get bitten. I knew it like I knew the back of my hand; I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time with damage control because she wasn’t going to get everything she said she was looking for and the way she wanted it. I tried to tell her this, to warn her about this but she insisted that she could handle anything that might go sideways…
And I just didn’t believe her. Despite all the stuff I hadn’t known about her, this was something I did know and I was very worried… but we had to see if this was going to keep us together; it had to be proven that our love for each other was, indeed, strong enough to deal with whatever happened. I knew I had a whole lot of “growing up” to do; I mean, really – can you even begin to imagine your partner being with someone else, being pleasured and all that? I thought that hearing about all the stuff I didn’t know was bad but hearing about her “adventures” was even worse. She tried to tell me that, eh, she did whatever and she really didn’t enjoy it and I knew she was full of shit and called her out on it, reminding her that telling the truth was paramount. She’d tell me what she did, who she did it with and, importantly, how it made her feel and, my god, it was beyond painful and sometimes humiliating to hear her relive her moments with someone else.
I discovered something about myself: If she didn’t have a good time, I would be totally pissed that she didn’t. But, if she had a good time, I was strangely happy that she did. That gave me more stuff to think about on top of all the other stuff that continued to run through my mind. One thing had to be fixed, though: Whenever I’d have an encounter with someone, man, did she get pissed off while I obeyed the new rules and told her everything about it. I had asked her, “If I’m not getting pissed off with what you’re doing, does it make any damned sense for you to be pissed when I have a good time with someone else?”
She actually said, “You’re not having any fucked up situations!” And she was right – I wasn’t. One of the things we talked about was the greater potential for one or both of us to fall in love with someone else. I knew – and because she told me – that she was also looking for more emotional content, not that she wasn’t getting it from me but, as she said, “I need it from someone who isn’t you.” It took me some time to, first, not get bent out of shape about her saying this, then to understand what she meant by it. That led me to tell her that while she’s now gonna find all the sex she can handle, finding more emotional content might not happen the way she needed it to.
In the early going, it seemed that I was having “more fun” with this than she was and as our conversations bore out. For me, eh, it was just sex and, yes, I was having fun… and sometimes not because, you know, people just bring different things to the table. But I wasn’t worried about having “bad sex” as much as I was very worried about the impact any bad sex would have on her and it would break my heart to hear her tell me how someone had sex with her and it didn’t make her feel good. One other rule we had was that this openness could stop at any time – all one of us had to say was that we weren’t doing this anymore, explain why, and this would be over and done with.
And I’ll admit that I was just waiting for her to put a stop to this so I could look at her and say, “I told you so, didn’t I?” But even though there were moments when she had to admit that I was right about the motives of others, I had to give it to her: She was determined to do this and make it work for herself. One day, oh, maybe a year later, we were sitting and talking about the state of the relationship and it came to light that she had had more encounters than I had… a lot more. It wasn’t a problem but it was curious and I had asked her, “Have you found what you’re really looking for?”
She said that she hadn’t and that every time she thought she had, she was just a piece of ass for someone – and she didn’t like it one bit… but I had also warned her about this, too. I didn’t think this bothered her as much as realizing that in this, I had been right all along but, again, she was determined to keep going with this.
And I was still waiting for her to call it quits. I spent a lot of time comforting her in those times something didn’t go the way she expected or wanted; I’d point out where she went “wrong” in her decision making process and, importantly, kept trying to impress upon her that having such expectations were more of a problem; if you don’t expect anything, you can’t be disappointed by whatever doesn’t happen. I just don’t think she was able to not let her expectations run things for her.
I had my hands full with this and there were times when I’d find myself just sitting and questioning the decision to do things in this way. Don’t get me wrong – our lives were actually better because we agreed to do this and she was happy… most of the time but when she was unhappy, that just made things harder on me. I don’t recall any other time in my life where I spent so much time inside my own head and to the point where it would often distract me, like the one time I drove right through a red light because I had all of this heavily on my mind. Nothing bad happened but still – I had to get a strong grip on myself just the same.
And it just wasn’t easy. My mind would often slip back to “the way things are supposed to be” even though I’d learned a very hard lesson that the way things are supposed to be doesn’t mean shit when faced with the way things can be. Our marriage vows? Pretty much set us up to fail since those vows don’t make any room for something like this to happen. What eased my mind a lot of times was remembering something my mother told me the day I told her I was getting married: Your marriage is only going to be as good as the two of you are willing to make it. She had went on to say that if you two really love each other as much as you say you do, you will make being married to each other work – because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
We found a way to make it work… by trashing every rule in the book about being married and all that “keeping only unto yourselves” part. It still hurt me to the core to know that I wasn’t everything she could ever want and need and I felt like an idiot because I really thought I was everything she was ever gonna want and need… and I was wrong. I could have left her, forced a divorce on her but in an odd way, this was a matter of honor for me. As I previous said, I swore to her that short of doing something that would land me in jail, I would do everything in my power to make and keep her happy so for me to not go along with this open marriage thing would have been a major hit to my core beliefs and what it meant to me to be in love with someone. What had happened wasn’t fair to me but, okay, even if she wasn’t going to be “true and faithful” to me or herself, I had to be true and faithful to myself at this level.
None of this was easy in the beginning… but giving it all up was the worse thing we could have done. And our lives went on with this new thing in place but there was never a time when how we got to this place wasn’t bouncing around inside my head and most of the time, it didn’t make me feel good.
I’m sharing this moment in my life to send a message to all of those husbands, boyfriends, and fiances that there are some promises that, if made, should never be broken, like telling your lady that you love her and you’d do “anything” for her because if she comes to you with her need and desire for another woman, telling her that this is something you ain’t gonna do pretty much means you lied to her and you didn’t really mean what you said about loving her and wanting to take care of her needs… because she has a need that, as a man, you can’t do a damned thing about. I’m sharing this to let you know that I know what this feels like, what it makes you think – you just wanna get away from her and, yeah, even think about doing her some kind of harm and if you do, well, you’re an asshole of the highest order. To the bisexual women, I’m sharing this to illustrate that if you don’t stand your ground and ask for that which you need so you can be happy and more of a complete person, yeah – it might get you in trouble with your man – but the damage to yourself even much worse than him getting pissed off because you hit him with the truth: He’s what you want and need… but he’s not everything you want and need.
If you don’t stand up for yourself, who’s supposed to do it? I get it: You bring this to him and bad stuff could happen like he dumps you and you’d rather not want that to happen. I get it: If he starts that threesome shit, eh, maybe you’re feeling it, most likely you’re not; you’d like this better if he kept his nose out of it and not try to run your life when it comes to this. But understand that there are a lot of guys who feel they have to do this and because they’re afraid of a lot of things, like you leaving him for a woman, that he’s gonna feel inadequate and even angry that, again, he’s not all you need. Understand that, sure enough, he’s gonna “put his foot down” and forbid you to even think about this and you’d better not mention it again. And I know there are a lot of you who are gonna fold like a piece of paper and do as he’s ordered you to do because your own fear of loss is running wild and out of control.
I get it. Been there. Experienced it. Hated to learn the truth about someone I thought I knew very well. Loved her just the same. Unwilling to throw her away because I couldn’t adjust my thinking and, again, importantly, unwilling to go back on my word, promise and vow to make and keep her happy no matter what. This didn’t start out as being about me… but it was very much about me as well and I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to deal with not knowing she was out there doing whatever and any time I couldn’t lay eyes on her or otherwise didn’t know where she was. My trust in her was shattered but I knew that if we were going to stay together, I had to relearn how to trust her and trust that she was going to do the best thing for herself… and us.
And I still have to live with the fact that I screwed the pooch just as much as she did. I’m sharing this to, in a way, confirm that this is about as bad as anything can get in a relationship but to also send a message and an important one – and it comes in the form of a question: How do you keep your partner from cheating on you? The answer is to remove those things that allows cheating to come about… and some of the things that has to be done takes the rulebook on being in a relationship and throws it away… because you both have a responsibility to make your relationship as good as it can possibly be and no matter what gets in the way of this.
It’s about you… and it isn’t. Don’t get it into your head that she doesn’t love or need you but, yeah, she needs something you’re just not equipped to provide but, yeah, you could give it to her and because your love for her almost demands that you do. All that crap about what being married is supposed to be? It is crap; it’s someone else’s idea of what it means to be married and that idea just does not allow for things like this or, really, any other things one or both of you might find that you need to be a better version of yourself and, in turn, being a better husband. I’m sharing this to tell all of you that this ain’t even close to being easy; it will test the strength of your love for each other, invalidate everything you thought you knew about being in a relationship and, I think, importantly, will let you know just how grown up you are… and maybe that you’re not as grown up or open-minded as you believed yourself to be. Think you know all there is to know about your partner? I know that you don’t and I even know why you don’t and, basically, it’s because she afraid to tell you and she won’t because she’s pretty sure you’re gonna act like an asshole, get all insulted and try to make this about you.
I get it – that’s just really a normal reaction but I’ve shared this and I’m here today to tell you that if you love her and you want your relationship to stay intact, change the way you look at things and those changes will not be easy. If not, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re gonna find yourself living with a very miserable person – and that’s being nice about it. By denying her, she’s gonna change the way she looks at how, how she feels about you and none of it is going to be good. And do you really want to lose her and over something that is within your power to prevent?
Most people will not do a damned thing and let the relationship die… and you gotta ask yourselves if this really makes sense. I learned that it doesn’t.
KDaddy23 – Fellow Bisexual and Contributing Author