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'My wife is upset that I'm finally flourishing in our open relationship.' UPDATED 3X

'My wife is upset that I'm finally flourishing in our open relationship.' UPDATED 3X

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Relationships are organisms, ever evolving and changing. If you don't check in and tend to them accordingly, they can grow in directions you don't find compatible.

"My wife is upset that I'm finally flourishing."

My (28M) wife, Ashley(30F) have been together for 4 years, married 3, and open for 2. We both found someone very early, Ashley was dating a married man in a stable poly relationship, and I got quite close to a grad student at a nearby college. Ashley and I were both high on NRE but managed to share that with each other and it was so intense and special.

After nine great months, my grad student got a job offer several hours away. Being slightly introverted I kind of withdrew into my shell and threw myself into the gym to take my mind off things. Less than two months after that Ashley's Meta got pregnant and her relationship started to wind down.

I had hoped we could take some time and maybe travel or just spend some romantic time together after both of our breakups but Ashley's plan was to chase that next NRE rush with someone new. But she wasn't matching with anyone that she could really connect with, she started seeing more people more often.

Then she scheduled a date with a new guy on Saturday night which had always been "our" date night, we argued and she ended up not going out with either of us that night. She insisted we change our date night to Thursday because Friday and Saturday were better for her other partners especially if they wanted to do an overnight.

All this caused me to spiral a bit and I was practically living at the gym, with no real enthusiasm for dating for a few months. The upside was I lost 35 pounds and really pumped my arms and upper body up.

One of my friends (Keith) from the gym talked me into working at one of his clubs on Friday and Saturday as a barback since they were crazy busy, it's a mixed crowd LGBTQ+ with a big dance floor and a drag show. By the third week, I was bartending and the MC had made teasing me and grabbing my a*s part of her act.

I started getting hit on which boosted my confidence and went from introverted to the other end of the scale. After about three months, I noticed Ashley making snide remarks about my working and staying out all night as I think she was a bit annoyed or jealous I was having such a good time. She was still getting dealt s$$tty cards from a stacked deck, as she put it.

Rarely getting more than 3-4 dates from any one guy before ending it or getting ghosted. Meanwhile, I am going to afterparties or hooking up and not getting home much before the sun comes up. Then came the big storm:

I knew I was going to hook up with a regular at the bar and not be home so I texted Ashley that I was having an overnight and would be home till the next morning, I get a lengthy text about how I ruined the mood on her date and ruined things and the next day had a big argument.

Ashley had told me she was doing an overnight on Friday, so after work, I invited a few people to the house. Ashley had a fight with her BF and came home early to find me in the hot tub with three women (two were lesbians but the picture didn't reflect that).

Ashley and her date decided they wanted to see the Drag show on Saturday. It was a packed house, we had three bachelorette parties in the house that were in rare form.

I was helping the barback clear empties from the tables, and the MC and one of the other Divas were giving me the business which only egged the bachelorette groups to get handsy as well. As busy as it was I never saw Ashley but Kevin did and saw her leave in a huff with a bewildered date in tow.

The day after she came to the club Ashley said we needed to close the relationship and work through some issues. We talked about a few of them, mostly me not being available on the weekends and not prioritizing our relationship. I had to remind her that she was the one who prompted us to move our date night from Saturday to Thursday to accommodate her boyfriends' schedules.

She brought up how hurt she was when she had a fight with one of her dates and came home early to find me in a hot tub full of women when she needed me to be there for her. I told her for once I was getting to enjoy the same freedom she had and if she was having issues then maybe she should take a step back and close her side while she got some individual counseling.

I haven't missed a Thursday date night with her, although she can spend a third of it on her phone with other guys and that's supposed to be okay and I brought up how she literally sends thirty texts to my one. Last night she brought it up again and I said if she wanted to close we could close, but it would be permanent.

No dating or online flirting, she would have to delete all her dating apps and Snapchat, all her phone numbers of past hookups, everything. I made it clear if we went down this path the next time she wanted to so much as have dinner with another man alone it would be as a single poly woman.

Obviously, she didn't like my idea and said it was unfair, and personally right now that isn't something I want either but I'm not going to just let her pour cold water over my side to appease whatever is going through her head right now.

TL;DR Wife wants to shut/slow things down after possible envy/jealousy issues.

The internet had strong opinions on this one.

sweetlittlecowgirl wrote:

Yikes. It sounds like neither of you has tended to your relationship with each other in quite some time. (Initially her, and now both of you). You both seem to be prioritizing random hookups before eachother when your priorities should be the other way around...eachother first, your dates second.

OP responded:

Respectfully, she was the one to move our date night to a weeknight and then spend Friday and Saturday chasing new partners, often spending overnights leaving me home most of the weekend. I still made an effort to plan date nights as best I could which was hard considering we both have to get up early Friday to go to work.

We were still intimate a couple of times a week. But I took the club job partially to fill the time I was left at home alone and when I started having fun doing it she wanted to shut it down.

_ghostpiss wrote:

"She started it" isn't the justification you think it is.

OP responded:

So are you saying I should have just sucked it up and wallowed at home alone while she dated all weekend? We had a pretty balanced routine that was fulfilling before she started her speed-dating antics or was that somehow my fault too? And I was pretty vocal at the time I was unhappy with things but that all got pushed aside.

merryclitmas480 wrote:

I would not agree to close up but it might be a good idea to get into couples counseling or at least take stock of where each of your needs can be tended to. Can she stop making unnecessary remarks about a hobby (gym) that’s improving your life and wellbeing?

Can you move your regular date night to accommodate the shift in what works best for everyone? Can she be an adult and use her words to tell you when she needs support instead of expecting that all of your available free time belongs to her by default and being upset when you’re already occupied?

Can you put aside more specific time for just the two of you or implement scheduled check-ins? Can you avoid mixing your “extracurricular” activities so as not to run into triggering (but otherwise harmless) situations?

OP responded:

"Can she stop making unnecessary remarks about a hobby (gym) that’s improving your life and wellbeing?"

She had no problem with the gym, it was working at the club part time and the attention I was getting there.

"Can you move your regular date night to accommodate the shift in what works best for everyone?"

She moved our date night from Saturday to Thursday for her benefit, definitely not for mine.

Puzzleheaded-Kale635 wrote:

Absolutely agree with this advice. The wife sounds incredibly co-dependent on not only OP, but all her relationships. She doesn't sound like she's able to self-regulate or self-sooth at all, and is infringing on OPs time with others at all times. OP, on the other hand, sounds like he's incredibly checked out of the relationship.

All the attention and good feelings he's getting from outside the relationship have left him unwilling to do the hard work of maintaining a romantic relationship. I agree that closing up is not the right choice. OP will resent it, and the wife won't be equipped with the right set of skills to re-engage in ENM once (if) the relationship is back on track.

Slowing down on all fronts for both isn't a bad idea though. Set aside the time for each other. It doesn't sound like they're poly, but they are spending less time and effort than a poly person would on a relationship they want to foster. That's a recipe for disaster.

OP responded:

"OP, on the other hand, sounds like he's incredibly checked out of the relationship. All the attention and good feelings he's getting from outside the relationship have left him unwilling to do the hard work of maintaining a romantic relationship."

I wanted to slow down and take time to heal when we lost our first partners but Ashley has been hell-bent on finding a replacement ever since. I have enjoyed all the attention lately I guess since I was starved of it for what seemed like a long time. And I'm not going to let Ashley flip the open/closed switch whenever she has issues, I had to deal with my feelings pretty much on my own without much grace from her.

I'm not checked out of our relationship but I am not willing to set everything on fire without her making a tangible effort to change her behavior. I won't go back to the dark place I was in before.

Two weeks later, OP shared an update.

So a couple of weeks ago, my wife Ashley, asked to close our relationship and work on some issues. Which I refused since I was just starting to really enjoy it after being left behind as it were, you can read my previous post for context if needed.

Another thing she wanted was for me to stop working part-time tending bar at an LGTBQ+ club after she and a date of hers came in and she saw the attention I was getting there. Last Thursday was our scheduled date night where she again asked me to pause, reconnect, and work through some issues.

Friday and Saturday had lately been the nights I worked at the club while she went out with other partners and was often gone overnight leaving me alone for most of the weekend. This last weekend she spent both Friday and Saturday nights sitting alone at the end of the bar where I worked, I had a date already planned for Friday after work but on Saturday we left together and had breakfast before going home.

All this week her phone has been silent and I have only seen her texting a couple of times. All three times we have been intimate this week she has been the one to initiate it, which is the total opposite of the last 9 months. We had a long talk and she wants to make Saturday our official date night again in addition to keeping Thursday night as well.

She said she had pulled all her dating profiles down and deleted Snapchat, basically closing her side of the relationship down. Her only ask has been for me to not work Saturdays so we could spend the entire day together. I told her I could do that but I needed to give Kevin time to find a replacement for me at the club.

We are spending this afternoon with her family and lunch tomorrow with mine for Thanksgiving. Ashley has a new individual therapist she will start seeing next week and wants an extra session with our couple's counselor for the next couple of months. She hopes but hasn't pressed that I will close my side as well but I haven't made up my mind yet, I guess I will wait and see for now.

The internet was very invested in the update.

Hayek_School wrote:

Ashley is simply used to getting what she wants, when she wants. Even if it takes pressing OP by showing up to his part time job. Strategic, since this job is what got him back in the game and having fun. When she sufficiently blocks OP from whats working for him, the game will change, again. Clear manipulation tactics, OP.

Won't be long before she wants you to quit that job, outright. That will mark the completion of her plan. She will wait a bit and magically be ready to get back out there. From reading OP's well thought out posts, its pretty clear he understands what I laid out above.

While ENM isn't easy and certainly is a give and take by all parties involved, once certain patterns become apparent the side constantly laying down needs to stand back up. Can't imagine how he felt those 9 months, let alone how little she cared.

OP responded:

"Even if it takes pressing OP by showing up to his part time job."

Ashley's reasoning for spending time at the club was to 1.) Spend more time with me. and 2.) Shows she wasn't spending time out with her other partners. and 3.) And be there when I get off work.

"Won't be long before she wants you to quit that job, outright. That will mark the completion of her plan. She will wait a bit and magically be ready to get back out there."

Originally she did want me to quit, but has backed off a bit for now.

Part of the reason I resisted closing revolved around the fact when my resources dried up she could flip and want to be open again, and I would have a harder time reopening than she would.

hellasforev responded:

The right move for you is to close down your side of the relationship over the course of 9 months or so. Tell Ashley that it takes your more time to rev up and more time to rev down.Tell her if she wants to move to close, you expect her to remain closed for the 9 months. As a kind of prepayment on the closure. If she can do that then you should proceed to close the relationship.

I doubt she can though. She’s just messing with you. Once you close on your end, she’ll wait till she finds someone attractive to have NRE with ask to reopen again. Another move for you would be to get a post-nup now.

So that the divorce element is clear once she asks to reopen again. Basically there is no way in hell she won’t be looking for strange again in the near future…so you should use the leverage you have now to figure out what’s best for you.

thechuckles79 wrote:

I'm seeing this more and more lately. Wives/gfs opening up and after months of it all being one-sided and the man taking that time to control jealousies, envy, and insecurities. He brings his A game and starts dating and the SO who hasn't done ANY of the emotional work can't handle.

It really isn't fair because the guy spent his time coping, dealing, and growing; and she refuses to do any of that. It's really unhealthy that they choose this together but can't stick it out together.

I'm picking on the female half here because the recent rash of post-Covid openings having the bill due, but it happens in reverse too. Johnny wants to date Ashley at work, then she leaves and his shy wife Sarah starts dating remarkably charming, fit men and he just can't.

SlapDashUser wrote:

If we take your story at face value, I agree with you in that closing down the open relationship is unfair to you. However, the middle ground of slowing things down, of spending more time together, of the actions you state above, seems perfectly reasonable. Support her, go to therapy, slow down, but find a balance between your needs and hers.

Five months later, OP shared another update.

My wife, Ashley, frustrated with her dating pool and envious of my overdue success wanted to temporarily close to work on our relationship which had suffered, largely due to her neglect. I refused to close unless it was permanent but said I would meet her halfway.

I agreed to quit working Saturday nights at a bar and make Saturday night our date night once again, she was the one who moved our date night to Thursday because Friday and Saturday worked best when she was dating.

She did shut her side down and deleted all her apps and profiles. So we started going to couples therapy every other week and in the weeks in between she was seeing her personal therapist. I was able to get her to understand and take the blame for how I suffered and we worked through a lot of our issues.

Our therapist had us work on what we each wanted going forward and devise a plan to manage our expectations. Some of the rules were made to manage NRE and respect each other. These were not boundaries that could be pushed but rules that had serious consequences. Either close permanently or separate pending divorce proceedings.

Thursday and Saturday were our date nights. No phone calls or texts with other partners. On nights we were home together there would be no texts after 7 PM.

Each of us was allowed two dates per week with other partners.

No phones are allowed in the bedroom.

No hosting partners at our house.

All partners will be informed of these rules and be expected to honor them.

We spent about six weeks rebuilding our relationship and trust. I had one person I was seeing but she was still closed for the most part. A month ago, in one of our sessions, she asked if I was comfortable with her seeing people again and I said I was okay as long as she followed what we had talked about.

She started talking to Fred, and they went out a couple of times and had s*x on the second date, no overnights yet and they have both been good about texting per our agreements. Last week Ashley said a friend of hers was going to be in town on Saturday and she wanted to have dinner with him. I asked if that was how she wanted to spend date night and she said just this once.

She said he was just a friend and was only in town for the day so I said sure why not. Fast forward to Saturday, she is getting ready, getting dressed up really nice for just a friend. She came out of the bedroom and I got up and grabbed my jacket and keys and asked if she was ready to go.

She asked what I was doing and I said we're going to have dinner with your friend tonight, right? She said that wasn't exactly the plan. I apologized and said that's what I thought she meant about having dinner with him on our date night and suggested she text him and tell him it would be three for dinner.

After more discussion, she did send him a text that she would be unable to make it for dinner. We ended up getting a pizza delivered and talking most of the night. Sunday morning we slept in and she woke up like nothing had happened and rolled over on top of me.

This week the subject hasn't come up and she has been pretty loving. Monday we have couple's therapy where I'm sure one of us is going to bring it up. Hopefully, it's just a small bump in the road as we have been better together than we have been in a long time. This Saturday we are celebrating my promotion and I am surprising her with a trip overseas.

Commenters had plenty to say in response.

samlowen wrote:

I find it odd that you would try to join a dinner that you were not invited to. Reading that felt like you were intentionally looking to provoke her or ruin her evening. I can appreciate being upset if you two had plans she was breaking to be with the friend. As written, it didn't look like you two had plans that night other than it was a date night.

In my household there is a standing date night but one of us still has to ask the other out, make plans, etc. This didn’t read that way to me, like you two didn’t have a specific date already happening. I could be wrong. Maybe you left that part out about actually having plans with her that evening.

OP responded:

"I asked if that was how she wanted to spend date night and she said just this once. She said he was just a friend and was only in town for the day so I said sure why not." We have gone on double dates on date night before and I asked it this way on purpose.

If he was just a friend, why wouldn't I want to meet him? And why would she be upset? Either way, I'm not going to let her slip into old habits of breaking our agreements again. I gave her the option to go if she really wanted to but she knew that would mean breaking our agreement and she called it off.

Justadudefromnz wrote:

Ha!! Seems to me based on her cancelling the day after finding out you were going to that she obviously intended this date night with a friend to be way more than that. I suspect you think that too. Otherwise why cancel it? If my hunch is right then that brings up trust issues doesn’t it. I think you definitely need to explore this “friendly” date night further at you next counselling session together!! Good luck.

Rhine1906 wrote:

The only thing I would suggest here is more direct communication. I don’t think you’re wrong and I don’t think you’re 100% in the clear. You’re doing a great job being firm in your rules, I’m just suggesting you say it up front!

And she’s far from off the hook because she should have directly told you she intended to meet him solo. She tried to skirt around agreements and you put your foot down

OP responded:

I didn't come straight out and tell her no, not on our date night because I knew she would sulk and try to wear me down like she used to do. And as she got closer to leaving it was clear my hunch about what she had planned was correct. If I had let her go she would know that I would cave whenever she wanted to bend a rule.

The last few months we have had zero issues and it has been nice. I have been thinking about quitting the bar gig altogether, it was never about the money and more of a social outlet. So when I saw her old patterns starting to reemerge I wanted to slam the door on it, once and for all. Was it a blindside, yes.

But it gave her zero time to manipulate me.

We had all week to talk about it and she finally came clean, he was not an old friend, just someone she had been talking to online for a couple of weeks.

Elderberry_Hamster3 wrote:

"We had all week to talk about it and she finally came clean, he was not an old friend, just someone she had been talking to online for a couple of weeks."

So what are you going to do? She's obviously not only trying to bend your agreements in her favour, but she has no qualms about blatantly lying to you. Do you still think this is gonna work?

OP responded:

It's frustrating for sure. And we will address it in therapy next week. Things have been so much better lately and were looking so promising before this episode. I feel like she is trying to change but it's not like a light switch she can use to change all her behavior all at once. I would like to get past this but I admit my patience has been stretched to the breaking point.

She is also aware that I talked with an attorney last November when things got really bad. And that she was weeks if not days from being served. She found out when my check for his retainer cleared the bank and she googled him and found out his specialty.

Five weeks later, OP shared another update.

I had high hopes but I have to admit most of you were right. Things were looking up and we, at least I, were happy, and things looked like we had moved past all the drama. But her lies kept piling up, even telling little lies that didn't mean anything. Last Sunday, Ashley said she was going shopping with her Mom and would be home around 5 PM.

About thirty minutes after she left I heard her watch dinging away in the bedroom, she had left it on the charger by the bed. I called her to tell her she had left her watch and to pick up bread for dinner on her way home, but she didn't pick up, which isn't unusual when she is driving. So I called her Mom and when I told her to tell my wife when she got there she seemed surprised.

I chatted with her for a while and discovered they had no shopping plans. Now I check the text messages that had been coming in on her watch. The one that stood out was from a guy named Alan, whom I didn't know, saying he was running an errand and was going to be a little late. I was composing a lengthy text message when Ashley called me back, she said her Mom had forgotten the shopping trip.

I stopped her and said since Alan was running late she should come back home so we could talk. There were a few seconds of silence before she said she would be right there. When she got home I told her I had had it with all the lies and gaslighting. I told her to pack an overnight bag and to just spend the night with Alan as I needed some space to process what I needed to do next.

She apologized for lying and said we needed to talk this out now and not let it fester and get any worse. I told her I was going for a ride to clear my head, but it would be better if she wasn't here when I got back. I was gone for a couple of hours, during which she sent several texts, when I got home she was still there so I packed a bag and left again without saying much. I got a hotel room and muted my phone.

Monday morning I got to work early and made some calls, I was able to see an attorney that afternoon to discuss options for a divorce. I gave him the go-ahead to get started on the paperwork and have her served. I sent Ashley a text asking her to come home straight after work because we needed to have a serious conversation.

I was direct and told her I had seen an attorney and started divorce proceedings, that I was done with the lies, and felt this was my only option. She didn't take it well and all week has been hot and cold, playing every card she has trying to get me to change my mind. I canceled our couple's therapy session Wednesday night, useless at this point.

Thursday morning she was served and the reality set in and she cried all night. I called Keith and asked him if he had an open spot on Saturday night at the bar and told him what had happened. He was sorry to hear about my marriage but excited to have me working on Saturday nights again. They made a big deal Friday night at the club about it and I was touched by all the support and love from my bar family.

I told Ashley I would help her find an apartment and get her moved ASAP. I talked to my landlord and he is willing to let me make an offer on the house we have been renting. I want the divorce to be as amicable as possible but I don't want her in my life anymore. There will be times when our friends bring us into contact and I don't want it to be weird but I want to keep her at arms length.

Commenters had a lot to say in response.

lovelicks69 wrote:

Definitely gaslighting there reading through the history. You know you made the right choice and you clearly tried everything to avoid that outcome, she clearly did not.

OP responded:

Should have thrown in the towel months ago, just glad to finally be out from underneath this smothering relationship. So many friends tonight have congratulated me for moving on and have opened their hearts to me. It's like a hundred doors have been opened up before me for the first time.. Freedom - a Yang worship word.

matchamagpie wrote:

All of this just sounded so friggin' exhausting. Who has time to deal with a clusterf#ck of relationships like this?

Terpsichorean_Wombat responded:

Seriously! When he wrote that their rules included no more than two outside dates per week - in addition to their two dates with each other, and his bar job, and her roving eye and random extra meet-ups and overnights - I was like, "Who the hell has the energy for this?"

bayleysgals1996 wrote:

You know, I think I might be monogamous if for no other reason than I don’t have the organization skills to keep all this straight.

Gwynasyn wrote:

I'm with the commenters who were telling him that while he was not the cause of the relationship issues, he sure wasn't helping it. I don't really blame him per se, because it sounds like she was just completely unreasonable, inflexible, and unwilling to communicate or compromise in good faith. But at that point in time, what is the point in staying married?

You're both so distrustful and resentful of each other, seemingly don't want to spend any time with each other except apparently when you have no other option, and just want to go out meeting and partying with other people. What's the point? You can just break up and be single and do all that without the festering resentment and toxic relationship breaking down over months if not years.

OP may not be an AH, but he sure was slow to come to that realization and pull the plug. I have no damn idea what the hell his wife thought she was getting out of staying married to him if she was going to handle the relationship like that.

Sources: Reddit
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