Non-monogamy only works as a relationship model if both partners are on-board. Otherwise, trying to open a previously monogamous relationship can be a slippery slope toward resentment.
In a popular post on the Relationship Advice subreddit, a woman asked for advice on her marriage. She wrote:
My husband [28M] and I [29F] have been together for 9 years, married for 7. We got a not so classic shotgun wedding to give ourselves better chances of receiving custody of his half sister [10F] when their mom suddenly passed away. Despite only being 20 and 21 years old, we did receive full legal custody over her absent father.
This information isn't super relevant to the current situation, but it really sets the tone of our relationship with the sacrifices we made together and the things we each had to give up personally to raise this beautiful little girl. We don't have any children together, but his sister is now 17 and moved in with an older, more financially privileged aunt last year.
Over the past year of this newfound alone time, I feel like we have flourished each personally and as a couple. We never fight, arguments are rare and we are pretty good at coming to understandings and apologizing when necessary. Basically, I feel we had a pretty healthy relationship. We each do little things for each other. I receive flowers no less than 10 times a year.
We go on little vacations together and are generally really good. I guess a bit of the spark was sputtering out for a while, but I feel like that's normal for a relationship as long as ours. Fast forward to this past October. My husband seems like he has been depressed, which is normal for this time of year because of the timing of losing both his mom and dad in different years around the same time.
The holidays are tough for him, so I get it and try to be there for him. He had previously planned a suicide attempt because of family issues before we met, so I take his mental health very seriously. He sits me down to have a serious conversation and starts it by saying he wants to open up our relationship. I felt my heart drop to my stomach but stayed silent and let him talk.
He doesn't go into why, just jumps right into rules and explains how he wants me to find someone first before he starts looking for someone himself. When I ask him why, he couldn't explain it and fumbled his words. I asked him if he already had someone in mind for himself, and of course he denies it. I couldn't help it, I definitely blew up. I was totally blindsided by this proposal.
I slept on the couch after my outburst, and he didn't even try to come after me to explain anything which kind of made me feel worse. I had never felt so unwanted in my life than in that moment. I have never given the impression that I was the kind of girl to be open to that kind of relationship. I will never judge anyone for wanting to live that kind of life, but it's just not for me.
He went to work the next day, but I had the day off and really thought about my situation. After crying for hours, I came to the realization that this was the end for our marriage. Even suggesting an open marriage was a deal breaker for me, I realized. While he was still at work, I moved all his stuff out of our bedroom into his sister's old room, technically a spare room now.
He comes home from work, ready to talk it out. After talking through more of why he wants this I've come to realize several things.
He is way kinkier than he lets on, and is disappointed with our bedroom life. He knows I'm not on the same level and doesn't want to push me past my boundaries to try things he knows I won't like. When I asked how he knows I won't like to try these new things, he explains they are an escalation of things he already knows I'm not down for but won't go into specifics.
He also is unhappy with how infrequently we have sex but has never really put an the effort to change anything regarding it. Just complained over and over and expected me to just be "ready" to do the deed any minute of the day.
He feels we have nothing in common now that his sister is gone. For context, he is more of the outdoorsy type whereas I like to stay inside and read or play video games. I do venture out once in a while to do things he likes together and do genuinely enjoy them myself when I go like kayaking and skiing. I do understand that it isn't as often as he would like, though.
Because we got married so young, there are a lot of things neither of us really got to experience or try (mostly s*xually). He is mourning the loss of his young 20s and never getting to sleep around and explore his k*nks.
Part of the rules he explained was that we wouldn't technically be sleeping around with whoever we wanted. He called it an open marriage but described it more as polyamory. Where we would each have a boyfriend or girlfriend of our own that we went on dates and did things together.
Someone we were each allowed to love and be with sexually. An emotional connection was pivotal for him, which broke my heart to pieces.
During our talk, I told him I would never be able to look at him the same. I would never be enough for him, and he was basically trying to get a pass for guilt free cheating in my eyes. I told him it sounded like he wanted to be with someone else without ever leaving the comfort of his marriage.
Knowing he could date around and not worrying if those relationships would fail because he could just come home to me. He tried denying these things, saying he wanted to explore himself s*xually but didn't want to lose me in the process. He tried getting me to agree to marriage counseling to talk about the open marriage concept.
I told him just proposing an open marriage was grounds for divorce for me, and I wasn't willing to go to a counselor for them to gang up on me to try to bully me into trying it. I know in reality that never would have happened, but emotions were high in the moment. Because I told him I could never see him the same and how badly this crushed any self confidence I may have had, he doubled down.
He said if we go back into a relationship and pretend this never happened then he would end up cheating on me. For him, it was open marriage or nothing. I chose nothing. Divorce papers were filed exactly 1 week later. He was very hurt (angry) that I could jump right to divorce and kick him out of our bedroom so fast. But I refuse to be a second choice or have to fight for his attention.
I can't believe he is okay with the idea of another person being inside of me. He is willing to just give me up to explore his options? I can't believe I wasted so much of my time with him. Helping him heal his family and raise his sister; I feel completely used. Advice? Did I overreact? Should I have waited longer before filing for divorce?
Should I have just gone to marriage counseling, or was my gut instinct correct about the marriage being over? I still love and care about him, but my brain is screaming to be logical. We still live together while we are trying to figure out how to split everything but now he is being super toxic and petty, saying hurtful things and then begging for personal details about my life.
I need to get out of this house. How do I cope with these complicated feelings?
TLDR: My husband blindsided me with wanting an open marriage, so I moved him to our spare bedroom while he wasn't home and filed for divorce a week later.
If ‘I want to open our marriage’ hadn’t been a dealbreaker, his subsequent behaviour should be. He’s not sorry. He’s not willing to move the slightest bit from his position. And I wonder why his sister wanted to move out. Is she just greedy, or is there something else?
Oh, I didn't meant the sister being greedy, but the Aunt not offering support before, but you definitely bring another point.
For whatever reason, the aunt may not have been able to offer support earlier. Maybe she was in a bad marriage or worked abroad, etc.
OP jumped on to clarify a few things.
Their aunt actually normally resides several states away. She set up a temporary residence here to have a place to stay when she visits without having to stay in a hotel or bring her RV. Her husband is rich, rich, apparently but ive never met him myself.
She did help us with funds for their mother's funeral, but other than that, there was no real financial help from her nor any other family member. We were all alone. Of course the little sister has her own trauma and issues. Husband and I work a lot and didn't feel we were able to give her the time and attention she needed and this aunt is retired and had all the time and money in the world for her.
Littler sister actually asked if she could move in with their aunt, and we didn't feel it was a bad idea so we let her.
I think the 'discovered I was poly' thing can be a bit of a cop-out. It's not an immutable trait like being gay or straight. It's a relationship style and many people can enjoy different ones depending on circumstances, there's lots of social expectations and emotional stuff that goes into it, etc.
I know people often knee-jerk against poly in this sub and on Reddit in general - I have seen it work in real life but never when it's sprung on someone partway through a relationship. Which doesn't mean a relationship can't go naturally between the two. I think there's more of a spectrum than some people acknowledge as well.
In actuality, my husband is not a polyamorus person, or at least he claims he isn't. He told me he doesn't want that for future relationships at all, just with me so he can explore his k*nks without losing me or making me uncomfortable in the bedroom. I think that sentiment was nice maybe??? Idk, regardless proposing an open marriage is still a dealbreaker for me. So it doesn't really matter in the end anyway.
It happened to me just like this. Dude was already cheating and one of them threatened to tell me, so he said the same BS about opening the marriage, k*nks, and so on. Broke my heart after 12 years. Then the trickle truth happened when he realized I was done based on the suggestion alone.
OP GET STD TESTED IMMEDIATELY! Don’t wait- some STDs are symptomless but can cause permanent damage.
I never once thought that he had already slept with someone. We have both been cheated on in the past (really, in our teens but still) and have agreed that we are better than that and would never subject someone else to being cheated on. However, the more comments I get on this subject. It's making me really paranoid.
You can bet your a$$ I'm scheduling getting tested ASAP to make sure I'm clean. Our split has been pretty amicable in regards to evenly splitting assets and furniture. If I come back with an STD, that's proof he cheated before the open marriage talk. That would change EVERYTHING for me.
I'd record any and every interaction with him for your lawyer especially since he is now ab*sing you cuz he didn’t get his way.
I was starting to feel crazy. Every time we talked, he made it seem like I was a villain and making sh*t up. I started recording convos and playing them back. MAN is he gaslighting the hell out of me. I played one video for my best friend and she FLIPPED out.
I am asking this seriously. Is he gay? I do not think you are overreacting.
Close friends who know are also wondering the same. He HAS been spending a lot of time with his gay best friend since the split. I don't think he is gay. If he is anything, he is bi, but he would never admit it. 👀
Hello, all. I wanted to say thank you all for the support. As for the update, where do I even start? It has been over the required 90 days since initially filing for divorce before it can be deemed official. I am going to the courthouse tomorrow to file the remaining paperwork. We had an easy, uncontested divorce.
We agreed on how to split things with pretty much everything, and he didn't even give me a hard time about taking our 2 cats that are quite attached to me (he was always the spare human). I bought a small home for myself and said 2 cats and moved a few days ago. I won't lie, this whole process was very tough for me emotionally. It was especially hard considering he was constantly hot and then cold.
He would jump from name calling and trying to control who came over to our house to finding reasons to call me on the phone all day and joking around with me like nothing was wrong. I feel like I have emotional whiplash from the last 3 months of living with him while looking for a new place to live. At one point, he came home to see me eating a meal I just cooked during a break from packing.
It was pretty disorganized, but I was in the middle of doing multiple things at the same time. He saw the mess and started yelling at me for it and throwing my things around the kitchen. Another day, he texted me asking me why I wasn't interested in where he had been spending his days off and later sheepishly asking if he would drop the open marriage demand, would I ever consider trying again.
Of course, I told him we were way past that, considering the multiple times he promised he would cheat on me if we didn't open the marriage. Also I did get STD tested and came back clean as a whistle. I don't think he was already cheating. But he is damned embarrassed about this whole thing.
He wants me to tell people he cheated on me when they ask why we are getting divorced instead of telling the truth of the matter. I'm still not sure what the correct course of action is for that. He was made aware in advance that after I moved and the divorce was finalized, I would be going no contact.
I did all the leg work to make this happen, including getting all divorce paperwork and 2023 taxes filed, separating all bills and bank accounts, hiding the address to my new home, blocked him on all social media and I will even be changing my phone number once everything is finalized. He feels that me going no contact is "vindictive."
No matter what he has said and done to hurt me, I still have a lot of love for this man. He doesn't deserve it, I know. But that is exactly why I need to go no contact. It's for my own peace and to maintain some semblance of self respect. I can't tell him that because I don't want to give him (or myself tbh) any false hope that we could work things out.
I have no plans to be with anyone else in the near or distant future. I just want to work on building my confidence and get in a healthier mindset. I haven't gotten to counseling yet like many have suggested. I was in survival mode for the last 3 months so I could get out of that hellish situation. Now that I'm in my new house and getting unpacked, I'm sure I will be able to relax enough to start feeling better soon.
And if I don't, I have every intention of seeking professional help. I have a huge support network between friends and family. Our shared friends were all on my side as well. Not that there is a true right or wrong in a situation like this, but one of his best friends telling him this was the biggest mistake of his life was incredibly validating.
The only thing I regret from my relationship with him is staying as long as I did despite all the red flags I ignored throughout the years. I went into detail on some of them in the comments of the original post. All I know is that I'm feeling a mix of relief and grief. I just need some time to allow myself to heal.
Out of our many conversations, he told me that 99% of open marriages fail because they were opened for failing marriages and that since we had a great relationship, we would have been fine.
I tried explaining to him that I learned (from some of you guys) that what he suggested was NOT an open marriage, but is was parallel polyamory and it was the most difficult form of polyamory to achieve. He didn't care and was only focused on convincing me to work it out with him. For me, there is nothing to work out. He wants to be with someone else and to fall in love again.
So I am giving him the freedom to do that but gracefully stepping back. As many have said, you don't get to have your cake and eat it too. There isn't much more to say on the matter. I said I was leaving, and I did it. Here's to hoping 2024 is my year!
I'm confused why you say he doesn't deserve no-contact. He torpedoed your marriage because he wants to f*ck other women. He's lucky you didn't go nuclear on him. Actions have consequences.
Oh, no. He totally deserves no contact. I meant he doesn't deserve the love I still have for him.
Regardless she does not need to negotiate with emotional terrorists. If she is really concerned she can always call the police for a wellness check and if deemed necessary he can get admitted for psych help.
I agree that his emotional well-being isn't my problem anymore. Like I said though, I still care about him and love him. That's not going to go away any time soon, unfortunately. We have mutual friends, and I am still in contact with his family. They are all keeping their eyes and ears open for anything unusual. I don't feel like he is in any danger of suicidal tendencies anymore, even with this major life change.
It doesn't hurt to extend a little bit of kindness even if he doesn't know it's me behind the scenes. Just because he was shitty to me at the end of our marriage doesn't mean I want his life to end.
I am so proud of you darling! The journey will be long but I think you will be alright. Props on you for going no contact. For me it was the best. I was able to heal and lose enough feeling to be able to grieve my love for the man. Cheer on your freedom!
If he asked you to tell people he cheated…then by all means, tell people he cheated.
First he asked to open the marriage and when I didn’t bite he just cheated on me.
Covers all your bases.
Hopefully, OP has greener relationship pastures ahead.