Over the last year, we have been through a fuckton of changes in our non-monogamy. I don’t really know what else to call it. We are definitely not monogamous. We’re past the notch in the bedpost, fucking for sport, just sex swinging but not quite all the way to poly. But, it’s not door swung wide, no holds barred, floundering in the deep end open either. I’m just not sure what the fuck to call it. So, for now, let’s just stick with calling it our non-monogamy.
Recently, for the last three months or so, it seems like the changes are happening at a breakneck pace. The changes and the way we’ve responded to them have exposed every weakness in the foundation of our 14 year marriage. It has tested our communication skills and has proven that they need some serious improvement. It has tested our love and commitment to each other. The changes have shaken us down to the very core of us. It has been a difficult time filled to the brim with hard as fuck conversations and constant pushing of our boundaries and testing the strength and resiliency of our relationship. Most definitely, the past few weeks could have broken a marriage. I am so relieved to know that it did not break us. Instead of losing ourselves in the chaos of the changes, we pulled together, recognized our weaknesses and communicated our way through it. One of the most important parts of that survival was re-visiting our foundations and getting back to the basics of us and THEN starting the hard conversation over.
1. Our Marriage Comes First.
We agree that neither of us wants out, divorce is not an option. Ever.
Both of us are willing to compromise but not sacrifice our needs, emotions and feelings to achieve happiness in the relationship.
Both of us have to be willing to be truly honestly with ourselves and with each other, even when it hurts… even when it’s hard as fuck to do.
Both of us promise to create a safe place so that we can have that honest communication without fear of the other losing their shit or shutting down.
Nothing external is ever more important than our marriage, than our stability, sanity… nothing and no one is more important to each of us, than the us.
2. No Sacrificing.
Compromise is coming together and talking things out to find the middle ground of an issue… to find the places where compromises can be made from both sides to ensure the ultimate sustainability and happiness of our marriage. Compromise is good. It’s healthy. It feels good to know that you came together and met in the middle with the security of our marriage as the priority of both of us as we do so. Sacrifice, on the other hand, is not healthy. It is not good. When one of us sacrificing our needs, our emotions, our feelings at the alter of the other person’s happiness that is not a healthy relationship. Sacrifice can be a good thing, but in a relationship (this one particularly) sacrifice means putting the things you need, your feelings and your emotions deep down in a box inside of you so that your partner will be happy. That kind of sacrifice will never be healthy. Marriage / relationships are all about compromise, yes. Sacrifice, no.
3. Mean What You Say.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. And, don’t say it if you don’t mean it the moment it comes out of your mouth. No more saying things because it makes things easier or smooths over the conflict.
4. Own the Conflict.
There will be conflict. There will be disagreements. There will be things I want that he doesn’t and things he wants that I don’t. It’s going to happen. Conflict is a part of life, it’s a part of relationships. It can’t be avoided. But, there is always a way to work through the conflict. We are both committed to recognizing the conflict and communicating our way through it, even when it hurts… even when it’s hard as fuck.
5. Bring Equality to the Relationship.
What is good for one must be good for the other. Each person in the relationship must carry their weight and contribute to the relationship. If one person isn’t ok with the other doing something, then they need to be sure they aren’t doing it either. Before doing something or asking permission to do something (this works in external relationships, money, work, extracurricular activities) a couple of good questions to ask might be:
~~ How would I feel / what would I say if he/she did this thing or asked permission to do it?
~~ Would I be ok with her/him doing this thing that I want to do or asking for this thing that I want?
Answer those questions in your mind first and then determine whether or not to continue doing that thing or whether or not to ask permission to do it.
6. Own Your Weak Moments.
If you need some time to process something, ask for time to process it. Don’t say it’s ok, don’t agree to it. Just say you need some time to process. Then actually take some time to process it. Look at it honestly. Think it through, figure out how you feel about it deep down. Then bring the thing, whatever it is, back to the conversation. This goes back to creating a safe place for the honest conversations. No more passive aggressive behavior from either partner. No more not saying things because I’m afraid of how you’ll respond to it and no more agreeing to anything I say I want because you think that is what I want or what will make me happy.
7. Give Each Other Room.
If one of us needs room… if we are honest enough to own our weak moment and ask for some space to process it, then we need to give each other that time. If the conversation is getting too hard, yellow out of it and take some time and then come back to the conversation. On the flip side of that, when the yellow is given, the other partner needs to respect that yellow, respect that need and give the room. Give the room without pushing, without pressure.
8. Don’t Assign Ulterior Motives When They Don’t Exist.
Don’t assign motives or feelings that aren’t really there. This goes hand in hand with saying what you mean. If we are saying only what we mean and not what we think the other person wants to hear and we are operating in total honesty, creating a safe space for that honesty with each other, then there should be no room for backhanded or negative motives or feelings to be tacked onto the things we say to each other. We can put our faith and belief in the words that pass each other’s lips. We shouldn’t have to look for the “real” meaning behind the things that are said.
9. Remember the Things That Make Us Strong.
What things make us strong? Physical touch makes us strong. Affection makes us strong. Trust makes us strong. Our spiritual roots, our faith, our relationship with God makes us strong. Communication makes us strong. Sharing our lives, our wants, our dreams, our hurts, fears, loves, laughs… these things make us strong. We must remember to foster these things. We must remember to care for them and make them important. These are the ways that the core of us will stay strong… stay connected… stay committed.
Before anyone else is brought into our lives. Before any other relationships can be considered, we agree
~to be brutally honest with ourselves and with each other no matter what.
~to put our marriage and each other first.
~to be truly committed to healthy compromise and to erase the notion that sacrifice is a requirement of a solid foundation.
~to stop tiptoeing around each other’s feelings, fears and egos… to be committed to getting to the heart of the hard stuff and to do so from a place of genuine love and concern for each other.
These are the building blocks of our foundation. These are the places our strength comes from.