Jul 242011
 

Recently on OkCupid a very unlikely candidate messaged me and he eventually started questioning me on topics surrounding open marriage; apparently I was the first he’d run into on OKC who admitted to being in an open relationship. I suspect he wasn’t looking very hard.

I’m very interested in trying open relationships for a change. In the past I would fall in love quickly, spend too much money, make too many compromises, and then watch things fall apart for reasons that were beyond my control. I always thought that the open relationship lifestyle (if you want to call it that) was more natural and more honest than the sort of till-death-do-us-part mentality I had. I haven’t meet many people who are living this way, what can you tell me about it? How do you handle being married and seeing other people? Why be married at all?

My answer to him was:

You might want to do some reading research on the differences between polyamorous relationships and open relationships.

You can still have that “til-death-do-us-part” mentality and to a big degree my husband and I do. What we DID remove from our vows though was “forsaking all others” (it was a tiny ceremony and I re-wrote the traditional wedding vows in a way that subtly reflected our lifestyle and lack of religion whilst being showy and emotional enough that the parents never noticed what was missing). Many people DO want what’s called a “primary partner”. Someone to share your home and potential children with (if children is something you might want), a rock to always have around……but with the ability to explore other relationships. People in the non-monogamy camp firmly believe that no one person can be one other person’s “everything”. After all, your platonic friends to a degree provide something that your primary partner might not, so why not a lover?

It’s not easy. Unless you are mostly devoid of jealousy and have perfected (or are trying really, really hard to perfect) the ability to maintain compersion for your other partners’ joy in their other loves, as well as all parties having the self-control not to completely drown in their “new relationship energy” at the expense of their primary relationship. 99% of people are not that perfect. So that’s why I say it’s not easy. It has perks and benefits, yes.

Why be married at all? As I said before, just because I want to have the ability to lust and love others doesn’t mean I don’t still want a primary partner to lean on and raise a home with. As for the institution of marriage itself – it’s more the legal and common necessity than anything else. At one point yes, the romantic side of us wanted to be married for the sake of marriage, to wear the rings and say “husband” and “wife” but this was when we were younger. Currently I personally don’t feel the need for legal marriage to fortify our relationship, I don’t worry that if we weren’t married we’d be any less committed to each other. My husband and I have been serious since 1998, but only got married a couple years ago (we had been waiting until we were able to afford a decent wedding, the wedding I’d planned and dreamed about, not to mention a proper length honeymoon) solely because he really needed to be put on my health insurance as I was the one working and had really good insurance. So it was a tiny ceremony with just our parents and felt more like a “green card wedding” than what I’d always dreamed of. But, oh well. Beyond the health insurance issue is all other sorts of legal benefits, very adult and boring matters such as taxes and wills and etc.

May 142010
 

It’s no secret that I don’t possess “normal” brain chemistry. If you want to label it, the best label is ADD-Inattentive with a side-order of fibromyalgia (body disease but also affects the brain and can act like ADD) and an occassional helping of some other as-yet-unnamed disorder. I’m not easy to treat with meds. I’m a puzzle and doctors don’t usually want to spend the time on me. I’m not responsive or overly responsive to many meds, thanks to the fibromyalgia. And so, since brain chemistry affects sex drive, mine is like a rollercoaster.

But my husband….he’s also got a dopamine-deficiency disorder. Which exact label, we’re not sure. His acts different than mine and gets treated differently from mine. He’s more susceptible to outside sources affecting his chemistry levels….from food/sugar/caffeine to emotional stresses and lack of sleep.

It’s not easy being a couple. I think he has more patience than me, because I’m losing mine. Back in December he had a big ole upswing and was better than he’d been in years. Our relationship was great, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to rely on him for husbandly duties like coming with me to visit my mother. And sex. It was more often, and better. But then a month or two later, his shitty job and his difficult programming class started to get the better of him. And it’s gone downhill. Everything.

I’m walking on eggshells. Silently losing patience and, for brief moments, respect. But then I remember that he can’t control his brain chemistry any more than I can. But then I have moments of “But *I* work and *I* go out shopping and *I* do XYZ…..why can’t HE??” and the cycle starts all over again. And the health of us individually is failing, but also the health of our relationship. I can’t even recall when we last had sex; it might be a month or two months, I’m not sure any more. We spend our evenings in different rooms of the house. He babbles on about hockey because it’s one of very few outside sources that stimulate his adrenaline and dopamine in a good way. He babbles and I tune out because as much as I want to care about something he likes, I just can’t care about hockey, lol.

I get advice but it doesn’t help because only he and I can figure us out and what to do for us. Nothing can be forced or wrenched into place. It’s true, I’m losing my patience with him and the state of things. But I’m only human…right? It doesn’t make me feel any better though about losing my temper and patience and blowing up. It doesn’t make me miss “us” any less.

If you’ve gone through this, how did you come out the other side in tact?