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Advice – I want my husband to break up with his girlfriend.

Hi. Two year ago I (F38) finally convinced my husband (M41) to try opening up our marriage. He was very much against it when I first told him but I finally convinced him.

I really wanted to have one of my coworkers and we immediately started dating after I got my husband to agree. It was hard for him to hear about us but he never complained. We’re both working partners and he would often stay home taking care of the kids while I was out with my boyfriend. I was and I am very grateful for all his support.

A year ago my husband found himself a girl and they also started dating. Now I’m gonna be honest here. SHE IS SEXY!!! and I’m actually very jealous of her. She’s also 10 years younger than me and apparently great in bed. They spend a lot of time together and two months ago he even introduced her to our sons (as his friend) which is fair enough because I’ve told them about “mommy’s friend” too. They even went out together with the kids.

Anyway. Last month my boyfriend and I broke up and I’m not really into the open marriage idea anymore. Most of all I don’t want my husband to date his girlfriend. I wanna wait for them to break up but it seems like it never going to happen.

On the other hand I feel like a jerk to tell him to not do the thing that I tried really hard to convince him to do. Plus I don’t think it would be right to tell him to end a relationship that he has invested so much time and effort into just like that.

What do you think I should do?

REAJX, Reddit.
Photo by Jia Ye on Unsplash

Dear REAJX,

Two of the most common misconceptions among previously monogamous couples who open their relationship up is that a direct request to close the relationship will always be honored and that if they do return to exclusivity that things will return back to what it was like prior to opening up. Each of those misconceptions are dangerous because they each operate under the assumption that it is of utmost importance to maintain the existing relationship, no matter the cost. But as with any other absolutes, such a perspective disregards any established or expected personal and relational boundaries.

Based on what you have shared, I gather that the discussion around opening up was not framed as a negotiation but rather as an ultimatum. As common with other “take it or leave it” approaches, there is often very little room for proactive discussions around expectations, mutual agreements, or planning. They are the foundational cornerstones which are built upon trust and communication, both of which are clearly absent in your personal connection with your husband.

Your husband is clearly poly under duress. When you initially requested to open up your marriage, that request was pitted against the life he already had: a husband of ten years and a father of two. You were not successful in “convincing” your husband. Opening up was a mere mate retention and abandonment prevention strategy he had to make in order to maintain his self-image as a husband and father. This is further elaborated in not only the coworker you selected to pursue but the household and parenting responsibilities your husband had to pick up on.

Coercion is not consent.

Photo by Matcha & CO on Unsplash

We also need to consider your respective relational landscapes.

I gather that a part of your motivation to open up originated around the specific person you wanted to be with. Polyamory is a subset of ethical non-monogamy, and your approach to not only open up with someone specific in mind, but have that person also be your coworker tells me that there is a fundamental lack of respect for essential boundaries. Enmeshing your erotic life with your career is challenging enough without having to consider that your relationship orientation is not a protected status in all states. There is always an inherent risk of relationships going sideways. And just because your relationship with your boyfriend happened to end without any lasting negative impact around your workplace, that doesn’t mean that your decision to pursue your coworker was not a risky one.

In the same way, just because your husband didn’t decide to leave you when you started seeing your coworker doesn’t mean that your decision was not a risky one. Everyone has a risk threshold, a level that each person deems is too risky before they opt out. And in your case, the opt out has such severe consequences – the same consequences you appear to threaten your husband with in this very comment.

This is all compounded by the intense jealousy you appear to harbor for your husband’s new partner. While jealousy can be a very intense feeling, there are ways to manage the bad with the good. Perhaps your jealousy is a manifestation of the homework you did not do with your husband when you opened up. It could also be possible that you need to establish better boundaries around your metamour. What is clear is that the pain from the end of your relationship with your boyfriend/coworker is manifesting in intense jealousy for your metamour.

You must own the emotional labor associated with non-monogamy.

Just like your husband learned to manage his own jealousy regarding your new sexual adventures, it is time for you to figure out how you can manage your own jealousy regarding his new sexual adventures. Emotional labor, as the name implies, is work. Figuring out mitigation strategy for jealousy can feel really hot and intense. But it is absolutely a worthwhile labor.

What might help is to acknowledge that each of you are responsible for each of your relationships.

In the same way that your husband did not or was not able to dictate the type of relationships you were a part in, you cannot step in and veto his partner – or “convince” him otherwise. They have been dating for over a year. And, as you pointed it out, their relationship required a lot of work. As such, it is ultimately and wholly within your husband’s agency to decide who he is in a relationship with. You are welcome to express your own feelings about how difficult it has been to manage your jealousy. But you’ve also had two years to develop those skills on your own.

No matter what you decide to do, you will have to reflect on the state of your marriage as it applies into the future. You absolutely do not have to stay in a marriage that does not feel rewarding to you.

At least then you will finally be doing your husband a favor by removing one manipulative partner from his life.

Merry Christmas and good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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