Pandora's Box

In all honesty, I'm not sure how (or if) I should go about writing this.  We both know, however, that the way I process information and feelings...the entire through my pen.  Thus, I am going to attempt to do that with this immensely complex mess of thoughts in my head.

Right now, there is a lump of emotion sitting right beneath my rib cage.  It is a swirling mass I can feel as if it were a real physical object.  That mass began to build the night that you introduced me to the correspondence you had opened with another woman.

It was not that you were in contact with her that planted the seed in my abdomen; it was that you did so without my knowledge.  It felt a child who goes somewhere without permission and plans to either apologize for it later, if the parent is angry, or smile about, if the parent does not acknowledge it or does not care.  In no way am I accusing you of infidelity here.  You have done this before...contacted someone and then released the correspondence after the fact.  And then I reacted the same way.  I assumed wrongly that you understood I preferred to avoid that pattern of events.

I went along with it, both then, and now.  I read the correspondence at your urging, because once you had established it, you wanted to share it with me (to absolve yourself?).  No, I am being unfair.  In all reality, you most probably contacted her, not really knowing if she would respond, not really knowing if it would even be worth sharing with me (as I tend to be less than interested unless business has begun that requires my attention or involvement--I have established that norm in our have simply obliged it).

I read the exchange.  I even contacted her myself, at her (and your) request, trying to be open-minded and accepting.  After all, many things in life begin in apprehension and end in elation.  As we both know, change is not something I do well or easily, and with this at the forefront of my mind, I jumped in (tentatively) with both feet...before really testing the water, meaning that I tried to not think about how I felt about it.  I wanted to simply experience the moment without analyzing it, knowing that I might be able to better gauge my true feelings about it that way.

Immediately, you inquired as to my feelings, before I had even processed them myself; and without letting those feelings sink in, so I could roll in them for awhile, marinate, really get to the core of them, I found myself prematurely trying to make a decision on a dime.  No good decision is made this way.

I do not want to blame you for this.  I need to improve at kindly and efficiently telling you to wait until I am ready, for your impatience sometimes hampers my ability to prepare for things in the way most healthy for my nature.

When I am unsure about something, my first reaction is to wait.  If I am rushed to decide before I am ready, the option I will most likely choose is avoidance, out of safety for all concerned.

With that in mind, slowing down, this is what I know so far (excuse the "stream-of-consciousness" style of writing).

I am uncomfortable with the way this situation came about; we need to create a better mechanism for this in the future.  Your constant search for interesting sexual experiences is your hobby, not mine, but when you find something that you want to pursue, I need to know about it before you contact them.

I am jealous; I can honestly identify this emotion, but I cannot realistically quell it, regardless of how much we talk about it or how much you assure me; it isn't an issue of insecurity or of a lack of trust, no matter how much psychologists, or you, might try to convince me it is.  I trust you and am secure with my place in our marriage.  Just because I am secure, doesn't mean I want to share my place.  Not wanting to share my place is not evidence of insecurity or mistrust, it is evidence of my understanding of how a marriage works.  If I had wanted to share you with the world, that would have been established before we married (if we did at all).  Some people perfectly fine with the arrangement.  Others (like me) are not.  It does not make them (or me) uptight, possessive, or jealous, simply because we chose a particular type of relationship.

I love you, and respect your need for friendship and your need for physical contact from others.  I can accept (and have accepted) your needs for opposite-gender friendship and deal properly with my own jealousy in that arena.  On the other hand, I am not certain I can accept your needs for physical contact from single, unattached "friends".  This is new territory for me...for us.  We've been involved with other couples, which is different, because there is always the understanding that everyone "belongs" to someone else.  There is less possibility of anyone claiming what is not theirs.  Besides..."friendship" with an opposite-gender person is not the same as "friendship with benefits".  And those "benefits" can, and often do, become the highlight, if not the focus, of the "friendship".

I do not want you to try and make it easier for me to accept another woman as your lover by trying to make her my friend or lover.  And I will not give up my time with you so that you can be with her.  If our schedules are such that it allows you to be with her when I am not available, that is fine (I say this, intellectually speaking, as I do not really know how that will affect me until we try it).  And if I decide to accept your having a lover outside of our relationship, I know that I will have full access to your correspondence with her, but I will not want to discuss that correspondence or know about what you have done with her, unless I explicitly ask.  I know that it feels more honest and open to have everyone on board and involved; it serves to make you feel better about it if I see it all and am a part of it all.  I do not want to see it all or be a part of it all.  In fact, I may find that it is easier to ignore it completely.

Even though my needs for friendship are the same as yours, my needs for physical contact from others are not.  I do not wish to deny you.

This is a Pandora's Box.  It cannot, now, be closed or ignored.  It will forever be lying beneath the surface if we do not face its implications.

As I see it, this is an experiment.  It could completely blow up in our faces.  And yes, it could weaken my security.  It does have the ability to weaken our marriage.  I want to be honest about that.  But, if you do not try it, it still has the ability to weaken our marriage as it will indefinitely be the elephant in the room...the thing that I denied of you...

Would it be lovely if I did not care either way what you did with your personal time? Possibly.  But that is not the reality of most relationships.  I did not sign on for an open marriage.  It does not mean that I cannot adapt to one.

The best that I can offer is reluctant compromise.