Friday, February 24, 2012

Is Compromise Possible?

I know that people make many compromises in a marriage. It's how you get along with someone else and how you can manage to live together happily for decades.  Of course, there are some things on which people can't or won't compromise.  We all have those issues. Sometimes they change as we grow and age and sometimes they don't.

I find myself in a situation with Hubby where compromise may not be possible.

First, let me say that we have agreed that we are staying together no matter what. Divorce is not an option. We love each other, and our children, and we are committed to making the marriage work.  We get along very well.  We enjoy each other's company. Our relationship is very good, except for this pesky sex issue.

He wants us to re-commit to only having sex with each other.  Even though we both have done our share of straying outside the marriage for sex recently, he wants that to stop now.

I want to continue to have the freedom to have sex outside the marriage.  I'm totally fine with him having sex with other women if that's what he would like to do. If not, I'm okay with that, too. But I want it all to be out in the open.  No more lying.

This is kind of where things are at right now, but not because we have agreed.  It's kind of the default situation until we reach agreement. I'll admit though, that I have cut way back on my prowling out of respect for him until we reach agreement, and when he asks about it, I tell the truth.

I guess it sort of feels like a compromise to me because I'm doing much less prowling than I'd like.  Of course, Hubby doesn't see it that way. To him, screwing JJ once a month or once a week is all the same.

We're in the negotiation stage now.  We have been here for a while, but our positions haven't been as clearly defined as they are now.

Is compromise possible in this situation?


27 comments:

Nicholas said...

A good compromise leaves both parties in a situation where they each give a little and each take a little. Both parties should be satisified with the outcome, but also should feel like they gave more than they wish they had given.

If one party "compromises" and gives in completely and really does not want to, that is not a compromise. That is trying to appease the other person, and will not work in the long run.

In your situation, if husband agrees to be in a completely open relationship, that is not a compromise. That is giving you what you want, sacrificially. Will that work for him in the long run? Not unless he has a true change of heart. If not, it will led to problems.

If you agree to be completely monogamous, then that is not compromise, that is giving in, sacrificially. Unless you have a total change of heart, then that is not workable in the long run either.

Maintaining the status quo is not a compromise either. You can continue to be with JJ on occassion, which feels like a compromise to you, but not to your husband. That is delaying a hard decision for a future time.

You need to find a workable solution that is acceptable to both of you, if you want to stay together. If you do not, one party will feel disrespected, and likely harbor hard feelings, and will lead to relationship difficulties. If you reach some sort of agreement, then that head off those problems. I cannot tell you what that solution is.

I can tell you compromise is not possible unless both parties are willing to give and take a little.

Michael said...

It would be extremely difficult to add to Nicholas' very considered advice ... so I won't even try. He's nailed the problem and the difficult means (if possible) to resolution to the core. I wish you the best of luck with this.

Mike

Kat said...

Thank you, Nicholas for your very thoughtful reply. I agree with everything you wrote, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed when I read, "I cannot tell you what that solution is." But that was the original question, wasn't it? Is a compromise possible?

Michael - Thank you for your encouragement. I definitely appreciate it. :-)

Ponyboy said...

I can't really offer much, cause I have never been in a situation like this.

All I know is that compromise is subjective and what one person thinks is a compromise, the other may not.

With his desire for monogomy and your desire for an open marriage, compromise seems hard to achieve right now, since both obviously don't work well together.

I hope you two can find a workable solution.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that at one point your hubby needed to supplement but now he doesn't. Something must have fundamentally changed on his end, whereas you are still wanting the situation you had before. ( except not secret) Did he really change? I think when you figure that out, you have your answer.

Cara Janes said...

Rest assured, I have your answer. You might not like it, but it's the right thing to do. Ready? Okay, here goes.
You must lie to him and respect him enough NOT to get caught. Obviously, you can't give up JJ, so you need to keep seeing him, but you also need to be very careful so as not to have hubby suspect. I know you hate to lie to him, but you have to. It's the right thing to do. You have to tell him that he means the world to you and you'd do anything to make him happy, even if it means giving up JJ. Tell him that he means more to you than anything else in the entire world (while holding him and looking longingly into his puppy dog eyes) and know that by telling him this, you're giving him the best gift you can. What he does't know will NOT hurt him, so just make sure he doesn't find out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the gorgeous, and obviously intelligent, Cara Janes!

Ponyboy said...

Cara...

I don't want to get too involved in advice here cause you and Kat are friends, you obviously know her better.

But... what happens if he finds out again? Might that change things in terms of the viability of the relationship?

I have no opinion on what is the right thing to do here, I'm just trying to point that out.

Octavia said...

The wisdom before me leaves little to add, however I think Anonymous hit upon a valid point:

Something has to have changed with Hubby's outlook before he mentioned his desire to be exclusive to each another again.

If the terms of your relationship were mutually satisfactory for a time, and obviously still are on your end, then what made him want to redefine the terms of your shared boundaries?

My instincts lead me to think that a deeper affection than pure sex may have developed toward a partner outside the marriage. Either on his side or one he may have perceived from yours. If that was the case, then his desire to focus on you, (and you on him) exclusively may have been his response to that.

Either way, best of luck navigating the minefield.

Mr. Dryden said...

My personal suggestion falls alongside that of Cara's. I would continue to do what you want to do regarding JJ, or anyone else, but keep it from your husband.

Most would say "but honesty is the best policy?" In this situation it clearly is not. Your husband doesn't seem to be receptive to the whole "open marriage" thing, and thus to force him is asking him to do something he's not comfortable with.

Sometimes, lying to the spouse is a good thing, especially when it's their heart at stake - and your's for that matter too.

What will he do if he catches you again? My guess is that he will continue to stay with you. Realistically, that's what is most likely to happen.

With that said, I again agree with Cara in that you need to up your efforts to not get caught. It's imperative, we're talking Mission Impossible level.

As he can't ask you to be someone your not (monogamous), you can't ask him to be someone he's not (polyamorous). You could discuss this with each other until your ears bleed, but there is no bottom to this barrel.

All said and done, the answer is simple. If you don't want to fight, bitch, complain, argue, shed tears, and all that fun energy zapping stuff we all deal with in relationships... just choose to be yourself, and keep him in the dark about it. I know this goes against what most people think is "good" or "right", but most people have terrible sex lives and don't do anything about it. Sometimes it's ok to lie. It just is.

We all have are deep dark little secrets we keep from people, including those we hold most dear. It's fine. There are no rules. We're allowed to be private with our own desires, especially when our mates disapprove (which readers, they often do - hence the reason most of us find support here in infidelity blogs).

In the end though, what choice do you really have?

Live life, be happy, explore this time space reality, and let him do the same. It's unrealistic to think every married couple knows every detail about their sole personal private lives - I know this because most do not - even when they think they do. At the end of the day, we're just two people living together - and everyone needs their freedom.

Regardless, my love to you in this situation Kat. We don't always "match up" in relationships, but that's what helps us to better know what we do want. It's in finding out what we do want, that makes us individually unique, and life worth living.

Naughty Kitty said...

I agree with Cara as well and that was my first inclination. I hate lying to my husband about prowling and as you know i am always keeping my eyes and my heart open for my own Jersey version of JJ (a man to fill in the gaps of a basically wonderful marriage). In my opinion there is no reason to break up families for a little bit of "me time" with another man. Yes, I understand that I am glorifying it but the price for breaking up a family, breaking your husband's heart as well as you kid's is much more than a fib that will preserve them.

Athol Kay said...

Your actual question is "Can I call my husbands bluff and keep having sex with JJ?"

If you keep having sex with JJ and your husband just limps broken hearted along and stays married to you, then you win because you got away with it.

If you keep having sex with JJ in defiance of your husbands request and he actually does something in response, the question is can you handle that, and what will he do?

There is no compromise possible here. Just a question of what your husband will do in reality if you keep cheating on him.

And if you continue, he will catch you. He is completely untrusting of you on this front now. And him simply saying divorce isn't an option doesn't mean he won't actually divorce you should you continue to cheat on him.

Your husband has been playing a softball strategy of "sexy involved husband" in the sincere hope that you would break things off with JJ, but that hasn't happened. So his strategy is changing to something more hardball.

Anonymous said...

"You have to tell him that he means the world to you and you'd do anything to make him happy, even if it means giving up JJ."

Hey Kat.

You have already reviewed Cara's suggestion, and, given your predicament, it likely presents as a difficult but practical solution to an otherwise insurmountable obstacle in your marriage. I will however risk your scorn by throwing myself against the stream of counsel that you have thus far received.

Look carefully at the constructed deception highlighted above. It is no less than the declaration of a love that reaches beyond difficulty, beyond hardship, toward the ideal that each of us intuitively senses but rarely actualizes. Thus, I question: can you so callously make a mockery of your husband's trust and your own devotion to the pledge that both made those many years prior? Can you look your beloved spouse in his eyes and willingly ensnare him in a reality that is anathema to his expressed wishes and values?

In our correspondences, I have sensed (and even noted as much in the most recent exchange) a fundamental love and affection at the heart of your marriage. Adversity has not robbed it of its luster. Tragedy has likewise failed. It is arguable that your decision to see JJ behind your husband's back would not touch the aforementioned core because of how well you may be able to conceal your actions; but I am of the mind that prolonged subterfuge will pollute you and thus transfer to the core of your marital union, not unlike a contagion.

I must also speak against the flawed reasoning of Kitty. The price of breaking your husband's heart pales in comparison to participating in the subjugation of his will. It is better to weather the known pain and seek recovery than it is to live under the belief that the shadow of your assumed reality represents the truth of things. By deceiving him where JJ is concerned, you rob him of his ability to choose his role/response in the situation (thus bringing us full circle back to premiere comment on this blog).

I think a divorce is the easiest solution.

As a mother, you must no doubt worry about how the divorce would affect your children, but I believe that--so long as both parents are allowed to participate fully in their children's lives--the consequences are unremarkable.

Also, why can't you and your husband live as good friends (caring for one another as you age) minus the marital contract?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts, Kat.

Thank you.

petunia said...

I don't see how you could stop prowling. That horse has left the barn. In a way, your husband is now reaping what he sowed. According to what you have reported, he was an inconsiderate, selfish lover for years. Thus, you looked elsewhere for your fulfillment.

Also, you are in your sexual prime, whereas his is but a fond memory. This disparity is one of the many drawbacks of marrying someone so much older than you. I don't have much faith in his ability to satisfy you, when he even tries to skimp on the Viagra he now requires.

Stick to your guns, girl.

Cara Janes said...

"...but I believe that--so long as both parents are allowed to participate fully in their children's lives--the consequences are unremarkable"
Really? Someone really thinks that? I strongly disagree. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than keeping the family together. Kat- I forbid you from getting a divorce. If you have to give up JJ, then I *suppose* I can accept that. I will not be happy about it, but I can accept it, I guess... No divorces though, k? ;-)

Ponyboy said...

I don't have time to scroll back to see who wrote it, but with a sociology background, take it for what it is worth...

I would suggest the consequences of divorce, both financial (depending on your state) and familial, are quite negative and quite severe.

My two cents are that divorce should always be a very final, last ditch decision.

Mr. Dryden said...

This is why I personally think the concept of marriage is outdated. To promise yourself unendingly to someone for your entire mortal life is just unrealistic.

This from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in May 2009... The odds an adult in the United States who has cheated during a marriage or live-in relationship did so with a neighbor are 1 in 6.67, and the odds are 1 in 2.7 that he or she cheated with a co-worker. The odds are even higher that he or she cheated with a friend: 1 in 1.45 (nearly 69 percent).

When are we going to be honest with ourselves as a culture and realize that this is normal, and we're biologically engineered to seek sex with multiple partners? We all know the statistics, I'm sure there were a few eye rolls at what I posted above, but honestly isn't it time?

Of course, this doesn't fit into religious doctrine, or what we were taught by our parents about what is right and proper - who - mind you, probably also had an affair you didn't know about.

Far more people cheat than anyone cares to admit, it's a major social taboo. You might as well tell people you like to masturbate in public.

Just because you're in a relationship, doesn't mean your mate has the right to know everything about you. In fact, this is never the case.

Let's take the infidelity out of this. How many other viewpoints do we hold of our spouse, that we'd never share with them because it would hurt them deeply. Maybe you think her ass is too big, has too much cellulite. What if he annoys you when he acts a certain way, or you can't stand that little bump on his arm. Small examples, but think of all the personal quirks about your spouse, or yourself, that you would NEVER share with them. Grab a pen and paper, because the list is going to be long.

Large or small, secrets are ok - despite what Dr. Laura or Phil say. We're culturally brainwashed to believe in "vows" by religion, which - if you've studied the world's religions as I have - were set in place by some of the biggest cheaters of all time.

It is more important to be your most true self, and honest to who you really are. To suppress this really kills your soul. This is the same as asking a homosexual to be straight. We're all snowflakes in our sexuality, that's what's so beautiful about life. Marriage and social norms try to put constraints on nature, and nature always wins.

Kat said...

Thank you all for the very thoughtful comments. You have given me much to think about. I'll write more later when I can.

Anonymous said...

From your anonymous "hater" - the solution seems obvious and is a true compromise. You ONLY step outside your marriage sexually while in the company of your husband. Yup, you got it: swinging. Or threesomes. Or some other multi-person combinations. ONLY. This is teh only compromise between the two positions. Can you still fuck JJ? Sure - providing he, & hubby agree. Will it be different? Big time.

Will you do it? I don't know, do you love your husband?

Anonymous said...

What are you teaching your children by not divorcing? To stay in marriages that don't make them happy? To stay with wives and husbands that don't match their sexual worldview?

Nicholas said...

Kat, do you think he would consider a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. That would not be an open releationship, but it would give you permission to maintain things with JJ. If he does not ask, you will not tell. If he does ask, you will be truthful. It sounds like that would work for you. I am not sure if it would work for your husband or not, but it is a thought.

Anonymous said...

I guess I wonder, in the end, how certain you can be that "divorce is not an option" for HIM. I understand you feel that way, but it is not hard for me to imagine that if this is a barrier he simply can not get over (i.e. there is no amount of extra-marital activity he can deal with and remain sane), he may decide that divorce really is an option for him. Especially compared to the misery he apparently suffers through knowing you have a lover outside of the marriage.

I do agree with Athol that just going back underground with this probably won't work. He is already suspicious and I believe sooner or later he will find out. And the repurcussions of that will far exceed your current difficulties.

I think the question you have to ask yourself is this: If Hubby does decide to play chicken with this (and I expect at some point he will) are you willing to let your relationship with JJ (or your other desires) mean the end of your marriage?

The only advice I would give on working out a compromise is figure out what it is exactly that makes him so insecure and unable to tolerate your realtionship with JJ and try to address that. You need to somehow convince him JJ is not a threat to him or a substitute for something he is not. But I think that's going to be a big task.

Good Luck.

Mikey-Mike

Kat said...

Wow. I just read through all of the comments again and there is so much wisdom there! Seriously, thank you to everyone who offered a helpful thought. And forgive me for not responding to every comment individually.

As I was reading through the comments, I had many thoughts (in no particular order).

-- Divorce is not an option. How do I know that my husband won't divorce me even though he says he won't? I just do.

-- My incentive to attempt fidelity is not the fear of divorce. The incentive is that I can't stand to see him in so much pain. When he thinks I've been naughty (when my whereabouts are unknown for several hours), he becomes distraught. When he didn't know, that was one thing. Now I know I'm hurting him. It would be cruel to continue to knowingly hurt him.

-- To be clear, he's the one who changed the rules. Early in our marriage, we did some swinging and more than a few fmf threesomes that he enjoyed very much. In recent years, he enjoyed his flings with younger women. Now that he knows I've been playing out there, too, he wants it to stop.

-- There's a part of me that wonders if I can stop. Monogamy is definitely not my natural state.

-- Someone implied that if I tried to make my husband into someone he's not that would mean that I don't love him He wants to make me into something I'm not. Does that mean he doesn't love me? Absolutely not. Sex is not love. It never was.

-- I think it's true that going underground again won't work, at least not for a while. Hubby is way too vigilant and sensitive now.

The answer is pretty obvious to me now.

Anonymous said...

Seems you are at a rough spot.
1. Continue to prowl - will hurt your husband.
2. Continue to prowl and keep it quiet - will hurt your husband when he finds out.
3. Stop prowling and stop hurting your husband - But you will make your own life miserable.

I guess it comes down to what is more important to you Kat, your happiness or your husband's? Because, unless divorce is the solution, I don't see how you both can get what you want.

Anonymous said...

having read through the comments, i do have to state that i disagree with Cara; going underground is not the solution.

multiple people, yourself included, have stated that he will find out. what happens when he does?

my recommendation: talk to him about what changed. specifically bring up the threesomes and his fun with other women, and then ask for very detailed specifics of what changed. you may have to do some reading between the lines, you may not. you may find that he is feeling inadequate and insecure; like he isn't good enough. he may not have realized this himself; insecurity often presents without being readily identified.

i have seen insecurity ruin both open and exclusive relationships... if it is feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, becoming monogamous doesn't address the underlying issue and so won't solve the problem; it will only mask it for a while.

--- Darkling Raven

Anonymous said...

I'm sure he is feeling insecure. Kat is substantially younger than him, and she has been having affairs with hunky younger guys. Even if he totally believes she will never leave him, how do you think he feels knowing his wife isn't satisfied with what he has to offer sexually?

I get that he cheated too. They are both guilty. But he wants to go exclusive because he is more concerned with the loss of his marriage and his wife than with getting variety.

I would never even consider swinging or threesomes, so I have no problem imagining what is likely going through this man's head. No man wants a woman to stay with him only because she loves him. Love is wonderful, but a man also wants to believe his wife WANTS him as well. And by want I mean sexually, and of course he wants to be the one she wants THE MOST. If Kat is prowling, then her husband probably feels inadequate and that he cannot satisfy her desires. In that case, staying because she loves him may actually make it worse. It probably feels a bit like a pity marriage.

Kat said...

Anon 8:12 - Your comments are very interesting. Would you be willing to email me so I can share a few thoughts privately?