Fibromyalgia, parenting, love and loss

Posts tagged ‘Marriage’

Is Monogamy Even Possible?

I’ve been in my head lately (well, as usual) thinking about the past-R’s cheating, my having no clue at the time and trying to understand it all now. Like I’ve said before, sometimes I think I’ve moved on and healed from his cheating, and then other times it bites me in the ass all over again and I’m left sad and confused and ultimately angry. One thing I’ve considered is watching him actually be with another woman. Crazy idea? Quite possibly. But stay with me, folks. I have thought and thought about his being with other women-tried to picture it in my head and wondered what he did with them. Was it garden variety, or was it full-out crazy and passionate? What expressions did he have on his face? Maybe I need to just see it all in real life rather than what I’ve made up in my head. Then I would have some inkling as to what went down four years ago during his infidelities.

These thoughts led me to ask him about it, and his response was “no way.” He thought it was a terrible idea; that it would damage us. He said he would not in any way be comfortable with it. As we talked, I asked about our being together with another couple at the same time. He hated that thought, too. R would not want to watch another man touch me-he’d want to rip his head off and shove it down his throat.
This discussion might ordinarily lead to an argument since it revolved around his past infidelities, but I’m happy to say that it did not. It became a little heated at one point, but was quickly defused. As the conversation went on, I asked if he could have both-the relationship we have now as well as permission to be with others if he wanted, would he? He asked “if we could have what we have now-a healthy, stable, happy life together?” I replied “yes.” He said “Well, that would be hard to turn down.” So, there it is. He admitted that he’d like to have his cake and eat it, too and I suspect that the majority of men would admit to that if they were being completely honest. He acknowledged that if he could be with other women, but not damage his life with me, he would do it. The fact that he wants to be with another (or others) hurts me, sure. However, I have to look at myself and wonder if I feel the same way? If I could basically be unrestricted in my love life without causing damage to R, would I? Maybe…

For the bulk of our relationship, I’ve said and firmly felt that I would not want to be with another man. R has always been enough. Then last year, I had the affair when our relationship was at it lowest and in my mind, doomed to fail. I saw that what I felt for the other man was separate from what I felt for R. One did not diminish the other. So, maybe we each could agree to be open without causing damage. These are all just ponderings, mind you. None of this is even likely to happen; I’m just wondering about it all. Do I want to be with someone who in his heart of hearts would like to be free to be with another? Should I stifle that need? If I am being entirely honest, I do not believe humans are naturally monogamous. We force ourselves to be for innumerable reasons, but that doesn’t mean we are monogamous creatures by nature. If you love someone, should you restrict them? How is that healthy?

Having said all this, I must admit that just casually being intimate with someone has never been my thing. If love isn’t there, I’m not interested in sleeping together. Men are different, though. They can separate more easily. I would think that being with someone, especially the same person over and over again, would create feelings, intimacy and open up the possibility of falling in love with that person. That would obviously be detrimental to our relationship. So-how does one have lovers but not fall in love?


Dealing with reality

It’s been three weeks since I found out about my boyfriend’s cheating.  He’s not just a boyfriend to me; we live together, have two children.  We’re a family and we’ve built this shared life.  I’m devastated.  There’s no other word for it.  I have my moments where I function and am okay.  I can even smile at times.  Then out of the blue, I’ll see an image in my head of him having sex with someone else, and I am filled with sadness and anger.  I just cannot wrap my mind around how he could have done that to me, given that he supposedly loved me so much at the time.

He has tried to explain where he was in his head years ago when the cheating happened.  He fell in love with me, but it was a relationship/commitment he was not ready for.  Rich is or was the wildest person with whom I had ever had a relationship.  His life was about running after pleasure, and I was coming from an ended marriage, motherhood, and the desire to have a close and monogamous relationship with him.  I loved him so deeply it literally hurt.  I could tell him anything; make myself completely vulnerable to him in a way I never had with any other man.  It was new and beautiful territory and I was captivated and afraid at the same time.  Rich and I worked together, but outside of work we saw each other sometimes every couple of weeks, sometimes more often, but never as often as I wanted.  I thought at the time that when he wasn’t with me, he was with his friends.  Now I know that some of the time, he was with other women.  Yes, plural.  He cheated on me throughout a two-year period, and he did so with a handful of women.  No, we weren’t living together then and the relationship certainly was not what I wanted, but he maintained at the time that he was being monogamous.  He told me “If I have those feelings for someone and am considering being with them, I’ll tell you because you deserve to know that.”  At first, I truly believed that he was being faithful.  Then when I was newly pregnant and he was now living with me, I discovered sexual emails with other (Craigslist) women.  He swore that it was an escape; that he had never met them in person.  I had my doubts, but believed him.  Still…in my gut I knew that at some point in our relationship, he had cheated.  It ate at me for years.  I looked at his email whenever I got the chance, searching desperately for clues.

A few weeks ago, I decided to charge an old cell phone of his.  I had known where it was for months, but did nothing.  I prayed to God, asking him to please let me see the truth once and for all.  Ask and ye shall receive.  I charged the phone and saw texts with a women that were sexual.  I used my phone to text her, and she told me he had been to her house over two years ago (right before he moved in with me).  I confronted him, and he told me that he had been with others.  We had a huge fight, and the next day, he was remorseful.  We emailed back and forth (we communicate better that way, as he’s a writer) and he tried to explain himself.  He pleaded for forgiveness and asked me to see how much he has changed since we’ve lived together.  R swore it would never happen again, that given the person he has become and the nature of our relationship now, he never could do that again.  These emails and in-person talks have continued over the weeks.  We even spent the weekend with his folks, and his dad tried to help us hash it out.

The reality of the fact that we could lose each other has made us reach out to each other sexually over these few weeks, oddly enough.  Funny how infidelity reignited our passion.  So here we are, living in the same house, reaching out to each other and alternately I move away from him in my sad moments.  I believe he is different now; I’ve seen his growth over the nearly three years we’ve lived together.  He is the best father I could hope for to our children.  I love him in a way I’ve never loved any man, and I hope we can move past this and share a life.  I just don’t know how I’m going to forgive.  Can I?  That’s the question, I suppose.  Will I ever be able to look at him and not see images of him sleeping with another (many others)?  Will or should I ever trust him again?  What reason has he given me to trust him?  And does the fact that he’s matured and is faithful now mean that I should forgive the fact that he was immature and unfaithful then?

You know the song “Marry Me?”

I hear that song on the radio on a regular basis, and it brings tears to my eyes every time. Now, I’m not a big sap (most of the time), but there’s something about it that moves me. I think of the man I love, and I know that I will never hear him say those words to me. “Marry me.” So simple. It’s just two words, but those two words represent so much, don’t they? Hope. Love. Promise. Commitment. Family.

He is my family; I know that. We have been together for four years now, through more ups and downs that I can recall at 8 o’clock on this rather chilly Seattle morning. R has told me numerous times that marrying me would in no way deepen or change the love he already feels for me. To him, marriage really is just paperwork, and he’s never been a big fan of paperwork! There’s no need for this declaration in his world, and I understand that. The fact that he’s not exactly traditional is one of the things I love most about him.

So, why does that song bring me to tears every time? It’s because I know that the man I love most doesn’t want to marry me. He’ll never say those words or sing that song to me. We will never share that moment in time. We will never have that day of vows and hopes and promises made. I’ll never take his last name, and while I sometimes refer to him as my husband (and he refers to me as his wife), we will never legally be that to each other. There’s a certain sadness in that realization.

I’ve been married, and part of me doesn’t really want that again. There’s a side to it that’s too traditional, too practical, and thus lacking in romance. Add to that the fact that he has many things in his past to clean up which would affect me credit-wise if I did marry him, and it makes perfect sense to not want to marry him. The timing is all-wrong. Yet, at some point, those things will get cleaned up and worked out and still, his views will remain the same. And even then, I’m sure I will see both sides of the marriage coin. I’ll agree with him that it’s unnecessary; that we love each other as deeply as we can and so having paperwork to underscore it isn’t something we need. Then I will hear that song on the radio and the tears will flow and the sense of loss will come once again…

Musings Part Three

The events that happened in Musings Parts One and Two happened  four years ago.  Life is vastly different now, but to get to the “now” part, I need to finish the story.  Scott and I tried to rebuild our marriage after my affair ended.  I could see how much he cared for me and needed me.  He needed me too much, and always did.  He was adopted, and while his home life with his adoptive family was stable, there was a certain insecurity in him.  I understood it, having been raised by a mother who was also adopted.  He clung to me.  This is not to say that all adoptees move through the world this way, so please don’t be offended.  It’s just that with him, there was an obsessive need.  I was in the midst of it, so I was not able to see it objectively at the time.  If we argued, I couldn’t leave the room, cool off and have my space.  He would follow me.  I never really felt I had any measure of privacy.

So, days and weeks passed, and we resumed our normal routine.  We took a family vacation to the coast of Oregon, a much-favored spot of ours.  I felt horrible guilt for having hurt him, and I convinced myself that our being together was right.  I went to work every day and got along well enough with most of the folks in our small office.  There was one person there I didn’t know well, as he was fairly quiet.  He was bohemian in nature, and so was I, so I figured we would hit it off, but I was overwhelmed with all that had gone on in my life, so I never tried to get to know him better.  One day, I made some treat or other for everyone, and it had nuts in it.  I thought I remembered something about him having a nut allergy, so I sent him an email warning him not to eat it.  We chatted in person briefly, and then an email string about the wonders of Nutella happened, which he couldn’t try due to the fact that it contains nuts.  We shared thoughts on life in general, relationships, music and the friendship grew.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking “She just had an affair and is supposedly trying to work on her marriage, and now here comes another guy and another relationship.”  Well, you’re right but you’re also wrong.  I understand now that people come into our lives at various times for various reasons.  Getting to know R (my coworker) ultimately helped me admit the truth to myself as well as to those in my life.  Our conversations became intimate very quickly.  I don’t mean inappropriately intimate; I mean that we shared our deepest truths and ponderings.  It felt like a wonderful discovery that someone I could relate to so well worked in my small office and had the whole time!  He felt the same way.  He normally had not bothered to get to know his office-mates well (on a personal level) because he was so different than most and he assumed that those who surrounded him were far more conservative than he was.  I was married with children, and he logically assumed that I might not be someone to whom he could relate. 

R had been in a relationship for a brief time with someone else-an unhappily married woman.  They were still involved when he and I began our conversations.  He had been married before and had no children of his own, although he did help his ex raise her child from the time he was a baby.  His lifestyle was very free.  He spent his free time playing music, writing, playing sports with his friends and partying.  R is bright and inquisitive, with long curly hair that he wears in a ponytail most of the time.  When I allowed myself to truly “see” him (I was no longer obsessed with and consumed by my relationship with “the other man”) I saw how attractive I found R physically as well as intellectually.  Tolerance is in short supply in this world, and R was someone you could say anything to without fear of shocking him!  He represented the part of myself I had long stifled in my pursuit of being the perfect wife and mother.  What a nice change of pace it was so talk with someone other than my husband on a deeper level about life.  Texting was relatively new then, and R was the first person to send me a text.  We talked on the phone while I grocery shopped once, and of course I knew Scott wouldn’t be happy with this new relationship.  As the weeks passed, I felt more and more drawn to R.   I had to admit to myself that my feeling these feelings for someone so soon after my relationship with the other man ended meant that I needed to give serious thought to ending my marriage.  When I was with the other man, I thought he was my one true love.  The fact that I was falling for someone else surprised me greatly.  I’m not a flighty person, believe it or not.  Fidelity was something I always took seriously.  That may not sound like the case given my relationships with the two other men who were not my husband, but for 15 years, I had been physically faithful to my husband.  Monogamy was something I was proud of, especially given the fact that it was extremely difficult for me since I was not physically attracted to my husband during our entire marriage.

I developed my nerve and approached Scott about my thoughts on ending the marriage on more than one occasion, but he always blew it off and acted like everything would be fine.  Finally, I brought it up again and he seemed more willing to face reality.  He point-blank asked if I wanted to end it, and I said yes.  I didn’t love him.  I wanted more out of a relationship; I needed that emotional and physical intimacy that I now knew I could experience in this life.  We agreed to split up, and it was pretty amicable for quite some time.  A month or so later, I moved into an apartment and we agreed to share custody of our children.  They were saddened by the break-up, but Scott and I getting along better than most divorcing couples made the transition somewhat easier on them.  My news of breaking up with Scott made R nervous, of course.  He was not exactly in the right place in his life to commit to a relationship.  I didn’t end my marriage for him, though.  Yes, he was a big part of it, but mostly he just helped me see what was there all along.  Scott and I needed each other when we got together, and for the most part, our relationship was wonderful.  It ran its course, however.  It was time to let it go.  R helped me do that.  We saw each other sometimes only once every two weeks outside of work, and then a month or so into our coupling and while I was still living with Scott, R had an auto accident that nearly killed him.  He was more than a little reckless, and he drove while drunk and drove his car into a ditch.  No one else was involved, fortunately.  After he was released from the hospital, I went to his house that night and we made love for the first time.

My feelings for R grew deeper not just by the day, but by the moment.  I found an apartment and moved out, and  I loved being on my own with my kids in the apartment.  I felt a true sense of independence for the first time in my life.  So, I don’t feel I needed R in a codependent way.  I craved his presence and his touch.  I’d paved the way for this new life, and I was finally free in every way to pursue this great love.  I think it was only natural to want him around.  We were in different head spaces, however.  He lived an hour or so away, so it was certainly harder to get together.  I saw him at work, but it was not the same as seeing him privately.  R was very guarded, and did not want folks at work to know much about his personal life.  He that if others knew he and I had a relationship outside of work, this would affect his work relationships.  I understood his point of view, but didn’t like it.  I was finally able to live authentically, so hiding a relationship that meant so much just felt wrong.  I’m nothing if not professional, so I never would have acted inappropriately at work or flaunted the relationship in any way.  I just did not want it to be a deep dark secret.  R told me he loved me.  Funny how in all the time I was involved with the other man, he never once said those words.  R said them easily, and I believed him.  He wasn’t the kind of person to say things carelessly.  In fact, he was nothing but careful in our relationship.  I wanted things to move quicker, always quicker.  The feelings were so strong I saw no point in moving slowly!  R was cautious.  We still saw each other outside of work only sporadically.  He told me he would not see anyone else, and I tried to have faith in that.  Even though we weren’t together as often as I wanted, we were monogamous.

What I didn’t realize back then was the deep insecurity I had.  Some of it stemmed from childhood, and some of it was because of the ended affair with the other man.  I had placed him on such a pedestal for so long, and so to be discarded the way that I was by him had scarred me deeply.  If I could be so wrong about him, then what else was I wrong about?  What other long-held beliefs were flawed?  This insecurity became more and more rooted due to R’s cautious nature.  In my mind, the fact that he didn’t fully and quickly commit to me meant that he didn’t love me as I loved him.  If he knew he loved me, why didn’t he want to see me more often and be a real couple?  How could once every two weeks be enough for him?  The rest of the story I’ll save for another day…

Musings Part Two