We sit at the kitchen table together. Newspaper, coffee and good company. What more could I want? I’ve often rewound this moment back in my mind. Why hadn’t I noticed anything about her?
“I have to tell you something,” she said, and I could tell right from her face that something was going on.
“I love you, but I’m also in love with someone else,” she said without hesitation. I don’t want to lose you. Never. I felt my throat dry and waited for the ‘but’ that would undoubtedly come.
“But I want to do something with this. We’ve both never had another one before. “Can’t we open our relationship? I don’t know what I expected, but certainly not whether we could open our relationship.
That night I was staring at the ceiling and my thoughts were spinning in circles. What am I doing wrong? Who does this guy think he is? I don’t want to share my wife at all!
I felt like I had failed enormously. I wanted nothing more than to prove that I’m a better guy than him, but at the same time I had a tendency to distance myself from him.
Like it was already too late.
I was angry, too, and I felt like I was on the block. Madam falls in love, doesn’t want to lose her husband, so she wants two. She needed my cooperation. What does she think?
What did I want? I didn’t want to open our relationship, but I was afraid of losing her if I said no. I couldn’t let go of the feeling that I was falling short.
I ended up uninvited in a roller coaster of emotions. In the period that followed I went through different feelings.
Feelings of horror.
The idea that my wife was in the arms of another guy was indigestible to me. Even a little dirty. After she told me she was in love, I noticed that I physically distanced myself from her. As if she had somehow already been tainted by that other guy.
Feelings of fear.
I imagined I’d lose her if I refused. What would it be like to continue on my own? I imagined how I would look for another woman. But also fear because I felt somewhere that I had to consider changing with her. To compensate for the loss she felt.
Could I change? Actually, I wouldn’t let her.
Feelings of jealousy.
God, I was jealous of him. That my wife had been seduced by him. What did he have that I didn’t? Apparently he struck a chord with her that I didn’t touch enough myself. After so many years, how could I compete with a fierce crush? My self-confidence quickly dropped to unprecedented depths.
Feelings of curiosity.
Okay, I had to admit to myself that my curiosity had been aroused. I’d been in love too. Secretly. I was too angry with my wife to admit it. Let alone tell her that there was a woman right now that I actually really liked.
In my mind, I made representations. What would it be like with that woman? In my wildest fantasy I was no different from most men and I would like a whole bunch of mistresses. If I was honest.
Feelings of uncertainty.
Could I, uh, hit on another woman? I wouldn’t know how to do that. My wife was the first and only one since high school. I was a real rookie. A rookie in his 40s.
Feelings of revenge.
She can get it! What she can do, I can do better. I wanted to make her pay for it. Make her feel what I felt. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I didn’t know I had this in me.
Talk, talk and talk again
We didn’t talk about anything else. My wife reassured me a little. She really didn’t want to lose me. She felt terribly guilty.
They feel guilty? I found it hard to believe. I mostly felt fooled. Bashed. And she wanted me to understand her? Who was the victim here?
I didn’t give her any credit. I thought it was fine that she felt guilty. Just fine.
Live your life now.
She tried to get through to me in other ways. She asked me how I would look back on my life when we were eighty. We’re alive now. Wouldn’t we at least once have experienced someone else too? Didn’t we miss something in our lives? If we wanted something, we had to do it now. Now we’re still pretty young. Somehow that was the deciding factor. She was right.
Not long after that, we made a decision together to open up our relationship. In a few weeks, I had my first date. While I had my first date, my wife went to see her seducer.
I turned out to be a great decorator and I experienced my first kiss outside the door.
Our relationship was open.
The opening of our relationship has ushered in another phase in our development. Not just fun and exciting. Also a lot of deep conversations and quarrels. Fights that were mainly motivated by the fear of losing the other person. Did she or did she not have more fun with him than with me?
We’ve gone through deep valleys. Together. We have helped and supported each other and found our deepest pains, fears and childishness. An open relationship is working hard alone and togehter to make it work for both of us.
Now that I can look back on this special and fierce time, I know I needed three mistresses first to boost my self-confidence. To be able to forgive my wife for the most part and to get rid of my anger. To make me feel like a guy again.
We’ve been together for over a quarter of a century now. We are used to it and love each other more than ever. Sometimes we still quarrel but then we recognize pretty quickly what went wrong and we can quickly make up for it.
Our relationship has deepened and now I can say I’m glad she introduced me. I’m also proud of her because she didn’t choose the easiest way. And because she chose me, even though it was hard for me to see it that way at first.
Our open relationship has much more to do with ourselves than with the others who complete our relationship. We now understand much better how we interact with each other and how our relationship actually works. We have grown and I feel deep love for the woman who trusts me.
7 Years after writing this column
We are now 10 years later. I have had many girlfriends. At first this felt amazing. Free. But after a few years I longed for more stability. A steady girlfriend, just as my wife had a steady boyfriend. After 5,5 years this happened.
Half a year later the boyfriend of my wife died. They had been together for 6 years. The roles were now reversed. I was the one with a steady girlfriend and even had a lot of ex-girlfriends I remained in touch with. She had nobody. But instead of being there for her I turned against her. It had taken years to find a steady girlfriend and now I should risk giving this up? Even being there a month for her, as she asked, didn’t feel right, it felt unfair to my new girlfriend. Unethical. Why should our troubles become her burden. It made me angry. It felt as if everything always had to be on the terms of my wife.
Now fast forward, five years later, my girlfriend broke up with me. She always wanted to have a monogamous relationship and now she found someone who wants this too. This breakup hurts more than the other ones. Five years is a long time. It also made me realize how lonely my wife must have felt when her love died. My wife is there for me, and to be honest this is both nice and painful at the same time. Because she deserved this also back then.
We’re good now. This actually started 1,5 years ago. Talking about what an open relationship has meant for us, has brought us closer. I realize the open relationship has been hard for my wife. My overall view is positive. Hers isn’t. This time she is the one who is seeking courage to continue. And she is. We will continue again. I know now how difficult it is to take care of more than one partner, but I’m quite confident, this time I will succeed. I know my pitfalls. The one thing I needed to learn was to speak up. Not only to my wife, but also to my girlfriends. In an open relationship we are in this together. Everybody needs to be on the same page here.
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