Polyamory/What to do?
I was hoping you could provide some insight and suggestions about my situation.
Recently, I discovered that my husband has been having an online romantic and emotional affair. He has seen and slept with her once. The affair has been going on for almost a year. I confronted my husband and he confessed. I expected him to say that he was in love with her and wanted to end our marriage. However, he said that he is in love with both of us and that each relationship provides something that he values. He wants us to figure out a way to make this work. He said this was not something he was searching for, it just developed and he doesn't want to lose it.
She is aware he is married and after I found out about them, she contacted me. She wrote that she knows he will never leave me for her and she accepts that. She apologized for what has been happening and never intended to hurt me. She wants to find a way to have this work for all of us.
We have been happily together for 12 years and there was not an indication that there was any trouble. Which he has pointed out to me and said if he wanted to leave he would have. I said if he doesn't want to end his affair then we should try an open marriage. He is strongly against that.
I have been going to therapy, and my therapist told me about polyamory. I have done some research on open marriages and polyamory but it is difficult to find anyone with life experience.
I know this is a very rocky start to polyamory and want to know if you have any suggestions if this is worth giving a shot as my husband and I do love each other very much. I love the life we have built together and don't want to lose that. Of course, I am still trying to figure out a way to deal with the hurt and pain he has caused and how to forgive him which is difficult to do while he continues this relationship with her.
Any insights as to how this could work and suggestions on what our next steps would be?
First, I want to express my sympathy. Cheating is not okay and I'm sorry it has happened to you. Also, I'm very pleased to hear that your therapist mentioned polyamory. Not many of them do.
Now, your situation is a common one, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I'll give you my personal thoughts, and you can do with them what you will.
I'll start with the thing that concerns me most, which is that your husband is "strongly against" an open marriage. This makes me wonder two things: 1) what is his conception of "open marriage" and 2) why is he opposed to it? He could have a very different idea of what "open marriage" means than you do, and he may be against that idea. There are many different iterations of polyamory, as it happens, and not all poly people are comfortable with all of them. On the other hand, it could be that your husband - like many people (mostly men, in my experience) - is simply not okay with sharing, even though he himself wants to play the field (even if with only one other). In other words, "I know this is what I'm doing, but I'm not okay with you doing it." That's not polyamory; that's your husband having a mistress. And if that's the case, then you're in a real pickle that will almost certainly end with a separation or you being miserable and resentful. This is your next step. Find out where he stands and see if you're TRULY okay with it. Only then can you move on to the second step, which is...
Determine how you and the other woman honestly feel about polyamory (in whatever form). If it's something you're both "willing" to do, in order to "make this work," well... that's only a bandage on the wound. A person is either polyamorous or isn't (though, to be fair, many are poly and don't know it, and some think they are, but aren't). It's not something one just "tries." Especially when you're trying because someone else wants you to.
Polyamory is NEVER easy. It's a complicated and difficult lifestyle that, when it works, is totally worth the effort. But you have to really work at it. You have to WANT it. And you actually have to be polyamorous, not just faking it for whatever reason.
I hope this is helpful and I look forward to hearing what happens.