Six months ago my wife came out as bisexual. We opened our marriage and she started dating and met someone. They fell in love.
My wife and I had been together for 13 years, and have two kids.
Just before Christmas we got into a big argument, she spent time away from the house and a few days later told me she felt she was more gay than bisexual and that she wanted to separate.
She got an apartment this past week and has moved out with her girlfriend.
The immediate new ‘normal’
There are definitely feelings of anger, sadness, and confusion. But I'm also trying to be grateful. I'm grateful for the kids! They're wonderful, and though they don't understand what's going on…
I do want to remain friends with my wife, and that is the ultimate goal. Currently we're quite amicable.
However, the situation is further complicated by my wife's partner. She was recently diagnosed with bipolar type 2 (after two suicide attempts this past summer). She's now on mood-stabilising medication.
When she met my wife she had been stable for a month or two. My wife and her have been together for four months.
While I trust my wife's partner, what I don't trust is bipolar. I'm concerned about the different ways it could impact the lives of my kids.
So while I want to move towards being amicable co-parents with my (ex)wife, a dark cloud hangs over the situation.
My wife is extremely sensitive and defensive about this issue.
Waiting in the wind
As for her reconsidering, I'm not holding out. I figure that she managed to repress a part of her identity for so long, that she could do the same thing in reverse (i.e. her feeling like she's not completely gay and/or wanting to get back together).
Our relationship wasn't based on a lie. It was real. The love we had was real. The joy we had was real. The sexual connection we had was real.
Ever since we opened our relationship I always knew that it was a possibility that she would meet someone and fall in love with them, and want to be with them more than me. And I feel like that's kind of what happened - so why am I surprised by this?
Because I feel like her decision to come out as a gay was mainly a tool for her to end our relationship. Ending a relationship is a painful and shameful business. To be the person that leaves someone else - you don't want to be that person (unless you're leaving someone abusive).
It isn't my whole existence that needs to be reconfigured, but I do feel like the ending of our relationship wasn't based on the truth. I think moving forward from that will be the most difficult for me.
An open marriage: a means to the end?
I don't regret opening our marriage.
But I do regret underestimating the emotional forces as play when multiple people are involved in relationships.
We should have been in therapy from the beginning of all of this.
And we shouldn't have addressed our own patterns of toxic conflict resolution before she started dating other people.
The biggest lesson that I've learned is that you shouldn't let martial baggage accumulate. Therapy is worth it, relationships are worth working on. I won't wait until it's too late next time.
Life after loss
I think this whole situation has really jumbled up my concept of love.
First I've spent the last six months fully in the practice of (and believing) that love wasn't finite. I never felt jealous of my wife and her girlfriend. I still felt loved by her. And I didn't feel like there wasn't enough love to go around.
A good way to think about this is what it's like to have multiple children (you don't love your kids less the more of them you have).
In a way though it feels like my wife didn't really believe that (which I feel is part of the reason she wanted to separate). She even told me, post-separation, that she might feel more monogamous. And so now I'm struggling with my own concept of love. Is love finite? I'm not certain I can default back to monogamy - but I also don't have a lot of experience with non-monogamy.
I don't believe that if you truly love someone you can hurt them this much. I don't want to close myself off to the possibility of love again in the future, I'm quite open to it.
But I think you would be a masochist to not entertain the possibility that you could get hurt again…