I’ve been married for quite a while now. I am happily married. It was one of the smartest things that I’ve ever done. My life is quantifiably better now than it was before. I can’t imagine my life without her, and without our relationship.
But I made a compromise when I got married. I decided that I would be monogamous.
I had been in a triad before, although I didn’t have the words to describe what it was at the time. Even though it was a flaming wreck, and our communication was horrible at best, it was the happiest I had ever been in a relationship to that point. I knew on some instinctual level that the relationship dynamic was right, even if the people involved weren’t. I wanted more of that, but didn’t have a good way to talk about it or conceptualize it.
It took me a year to decide that I was actually serious about giving that kind of relationship another try. I was in a crappy relationship that I really wanted to get out of, but I was staying in it because inertia is a powerful force. I told myself that my next relationship wouldn’t have me bound up under monogamous rules. That I would try for a triad again, or at least have a conversation about it, and an understanding that monogamy wasn’t for me.
But then I met my wife. I knew that she was someone that I wanted in my life. She was so much of what I was looking for in a partner. We were ideally suited for each other. Except in one area. Except for the monogamy.
I wish I could say that I pulled myself together and had a real conversation about monogamy. I wish I could tell you that I brought it up as something we could negotiate, or even as something I wanted to do again. But she had told me that she tried open relationships before, and that kind of thing wasn’t for her at all, especially when it came to us. There was too much to risk, she said. She wanted it to just be us.
Instead of talking about how I felt, I told myself that this was worth the sacrifice. I wanted to be with her, and this was the way that I would be able to do that. She was very clear. Without saying a word, I accept this sacrifice and got married.
I was very good at being monogamous, at least from a practical standpoint. I never cheated on her. I am proud of that in the same way an elementary school kid is proud of a perfect attendance record. I am proud because I had stuffed myself into this monogamous box, and goddamn it I kept my promises. Even when my promises felt like they were in the way of my happiness.
What I did have really close friends with strong emotional connections, which she found off-putting and vaguely threatening. She joked that I was “playing boyfriend” for one of my close woman friends, which in retrospect was not that far off. Whenever I traveled alone to see my friends or my family, I felt like I was putting myself back into storage every time I came home. I had this vague sense that I wanted more out of my life, but wasn’t sure how to go about creating that for myself.
My wife knew that I was miserable. I was not very good at hiding that. I am very emotive, and while I wasn’t sure of the reason I was so depressed, I was able to talk about it. I started going to therapy, and talked through what I thought was wrong. I started to unpack the triad, and evaluate what that was to me. My therapist was very patient with me, waiting for me to come up with my own answers. Maybe she was even a little too patient.
My wife brought up opening our relationship, during one of the more rocky points in our relationship. Believe it or not, I was the one that was hesitant. I was worried about what her reaction would be, once we were out of the theoretical and into the actual reality of poly. I was worried about inviting this element into our lives, how it would work, how it would change us. I had become so used to the box that I was afraid to step out of it.
But I also knew that it was something I needed. Something that I had longed for without ever putting the name to it. It was the something that needed to change, to unstick us from where we were stuck.
It hasn’t been easy (and there have certainly been times where it has been downright gut-wrenching), but I am glad that we changed. I feel like my identity matches the way that I live, like I have somehow become more “me” now. Being poly again allowed me the opportunity to miss my wife, and appreciate the moments that we have together now.
And there are those other relationships that I have now. Ones that I hold dear, that fill me with joy, that make me a happier person. My wife and I work better together because we are happier people in general. We have joy to share with each other.
We are better. I am better. This is better.