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Advice – How much should I share with my husband?

My husband and have begun opening up our relationship. We will likely have a variety of partners. Ones we both share, and ones we both have for ourselves.

I am more open than my husband who leans more monogamous. He doesn’t have the desire to have much outside our marriage and us sharing together but is open to me having other partners.

I have been chatting with some people online and I understand that it is important to discuss these sorts of communications with any partner I might have before sharing with my spouse. I am open about any information I might share.

So, for those of you in similar positions, how much do you share with your spouse/SO? Do they want to know more than you share? Do you keep things more private?

I ask because I get the feeling that he would want to know more details but as someone with chronic anxiety, I think he would spend too much time overthinking things and it would eat at him. I keep him informed that I am talking to people and often share some of the messages with him, but I don’t know if I should tell him any more than we had sex or we didn’t.

Amante Apacionado, Reddit.
Photo by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash

Dear Amante,

Like many others, I immersed myself in the art of baking over the pandemic as a coping mechanism. Majority of my first-time bakes were flops. But after many burnt gob cakes, I came to a realization that much of baking happens to be different variations of the same set of ingredients: sugar, flour, and water. You can add new ingredients, like butter or lemon zest, to make new end result. Or you can even add different proportions of the same ingredients to get a different result.

In the same way, the answers you seek vary wildly from person to person, from connection to connection. Part of this reason is – like baking – we are all made of different types of ingredients, with our histories and lived experiences. But a big part of this is also because the comfort level you might have with your partner might be completely different from a comfort level he might have with you. And the best way you might be able to gauge where your and his headspace might be around disclosure is by communicating how you feel and see how he reacts, and for him to communicate how he feels and see how you feel. It is only at that point you can learn to adapt and adjust how much you share with your husband.

It’s also really important to keep in mind that disclosure cuts both ways. As you noted, it is important to also gather information from the new people you have been getting to know. Everyone has a different comfort level, especially as it pertains to more intimate or personal details. Not everyone wants to have their personal information be disclosed to the polycule they’ve not yet gotten to know yet. So as you gather what your husband’s comfort level is, you might also want to sift through and find out what other’s comfort levels are as well.

A common point of struggle for non-mono newbies like yourself is the shame from the internalized monogamy programming.

I get the sense that you have a pretty generalized idea about how you should conduct your newly open marriage. As you said, your husband leans more towards monogamy while you lean more towards non-monogamy. And built into that gap is an understanding that his responsibility is to maintain a status quo, while you have to do extra work to make sure everything is okay for him. Truth is, non-monogamy takes work from everyone. If what you say is true – that your husband is really okay with you having other relationships – then learn to trust him at his word.

It is also very easy to get caught up in the trappings of morality projection. By this, I mean what you said about how your husband might internalize what he does or doesn’t know about your other relationships. It is very unlikely that your husband knows exactly what he needs to hear about your other relationships, especially if this is his first open relationship experience. At best, he might have a theoretical idea about how much he wants to hear. But in reality, it might be very different in practice. It will take a collective effort to figure out what you feel comfortable opening up about, what he feels comfortable hearing, and what your new connections feel comfortable sharing.

In her first podcast episode of Unlocking Us, Brene Brown talks about FFTs (Effing First Times). She says, “The more we’re willing to embrace the suck and try new things, the more new things we’re willing to try.” And I think this is something you can carry forward in your shared experience with your open relationship. Many parts of what you are effing first time is going to suck. And instead of swimming against the current of suck and figuring out how you avoid the suck, learn to dance with and sit in the ocean of suck for a while. Your sea legs will become stronger the more you swim, and it’ll progressively get easier. I promise.

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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