Okay, now I’m off and running with something else near and dear to my heart: Being untraditional in a relationship. We’re all taught at some point in our lives that boys and girls fall in love, get married, have children, and that’s the way it is.
Which, of course, isn’t really the truth, something I learned the hard way ten years into my marriage. It was bad enough that the times of that day were hard; jobs were hard to come by and the stresses upon the family reflected that. I was married to a woman I dearly loved but who also tended to confuse me in certain ways, especially the day she told me that she didn’t love me any longer.
The kinda short version to this is that we wound up opening up our marriage. It was her thought and belief that I didn’t love her the way she needed to be loved, so she set out to find that love from other people despite my advising her against such a thing. Even shorter, she found out that I was right about the things I warned her about but it put us into a position a lot of married couples wouldn’t care to be in: Being able to go out and have sex with other people without reprisal – and as long as the rules were being obeyed.
Even in this, I’d have to say that it worked out better for me than it did her – but that’s not important at the moment. What’s more important is what we learned about ourselves and each other and how the decision to go with this changed us forever, for better and for worse.
One of the important things we learned was just because we could do this didn’t mean we always had to. For us, we saw it as a natural evolution of the couple who was created on a cold night in February 1971. After getting over the many rough spots, it was apparent to us that we were being what we were meant to be.
Did we kinda go buck wild doing this? Hell, yeah, we did, and a lot of it was just as educational as it was fun. But then we settled down to the point where just knowing we could do this – alone or together – was just as comforting as actually doing it.
A series of events took place years later that saw us add another person into our lives on a permanent basis – and it changed the way I look at traditional relationships forever. I was in what I now know is a polyamorous relationship and, at least in my own mind, it makes being monogamous seem silly if loving – and being loved – as much as possible makes sense to you.
You come to realize a few things about this. When you’re little, you’re taught to love everyone: Mom, dad, siblings, other relatives, and for you not do embrace this just ain’t right. Then you get older and the rules change: Family aside, you can only love one person at a time; to do otherwise is not only wrong but you’re just asking for trouble.
And I spent 15 years finding out that this just wasn’t the truth at all. When you find yourself in a situation where you essentially have two wives, you learn how to rewrite that book in a hurry. It all came to an inglorious end – and it had to, even if I’m the only one who thought and felt that way because you find out a lot of other things about being in such a relationship, the first being that if you’re going to do this, you have to either let go of the traditional ideas or severely modify them in order to make it work well. In the end, we lost that battle and that, too, changed my life forever – but not the way I feel about it.
What I do know is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that if I could do it again, I would without giving it a second thought. I found that I loved being loved the way my real wife and my “other” wife did. It was so different; often glorious, often a pain in my ass, and even though there were probably more hassles than not, it was a life I easily got used to.
Oh, and the sex was off the hook – but while that was a good reason to be in such a relationship, I found out quickly that there was much more to it than that. And I was okay with it. I was not only husband and father to my own family, but became “husband” and “father” to a whole new family. It was a tremendous responsibility but, in my way of thinking – or according to my ego, take your pick – it wasn’t undoable or impossible.
It certainly ain’t for the faint of heart or for those people who cannot step outside of their comfort zones. I reveled in it but, at the same time, took a great deal of criticism for it as well and while that – and the loss of some friendships – bothered me, the life I was living meant more to me than anyone who couldn’t understand it.
It wasn’t easy on any of us – but we made it work right up to the moment when I felt the relationship was dead and couldn’t be revived. When I walked away from it, I knew what I was giving up but after 15 years of constantly trying to keep everyone on track – and after I realized that they just didn’t care, then I stopped caring. I figured that if their own problems were more important than us staying together – and their own agendas weren’t in sync with mine, then if they felt it was okay for them to be like that, then I could, too, even though I knew the moment I made that decision, there would be no saving it and that I’d be throwing away 15 years of my life – and all because we could no longer agree on things.
And if I had to make that decision again, I would and I would hate it just as much as I hate the decision I had to make. Even though I’m now with a woman I love and she loves me, I came to realize that I feel empty, as if something’s missing – and I know what it is. I guess the good and bad part about this is that with the woman I’m with now, such things aren’t possible and I can accept that… even though I now know that I don’t like being monogamous again.