Compromise

If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.

-Ramsey Bolton, Game of Thrones

Six months of therapy, and we’re at the exact same point we started.  Six months.  As a couple, individually, over dinner, with friends, over tears.  And yet last night we were right back where we started, still at an impasse, still uncompromising.

A few times I thought we might be making progress, though in hindsight I just wanted to believe it.

Jenna has been repeating the same narrative recently.  I can argue that her supporting me through grad school isn’t the same (after all, I did the same for her before we had kids), or that moving to the city really was a similar compromise to moving to the country.  But each time she ends it with how she’s not going to repress her feelings like her mom did, how she has to be true to herself.

There are a lot of places in our lives where we can compromise.  With this one, though, there’s no middle ground.  Sooner or later, one of us has to give in.

Last night I realized that Jenna isn’t going to be the one to compromise on this.  Either this feeling subsides on its own, or eventually she acts on it.  Six months, and we’re right back where we started.  Six months, and this feeling hasn’t subsided for her.  And while I’m no expert on these sorts of desires, I don’t expect six more months to be any different.

So last night, despite my feelings on the subject, as we sat on the garden bench together, I told Jenna to go try whatever she felt she needed to experience.  Last night I compromised.  Last night I gave up the fight.  Not because I felt differently about opening our marriage, but because it just feels inevitable, like fighting gravity.  I can’t quite tell if her tears were those of joy or sadness, only that as I sat there holding her, my own well had run dry a while ago.

I’m not for opening our marriage.  Despite Jenna’s insistence that it would make our lives more fun, I think it will add a lot of jealousy, anger, resentment, hurt, and stress to our relationship, among other potential feelings and complications.  Jenna says I’m the pessimist; I say I’m the realist.  But it’s evident to me that this discussion isn’t going to change; sooner or later we either open it up, or we walk away.  Right now I’m not yet ready to walk away – like I told Jenna a month or two ago, I’m (loosely) giving us until the end of the year to figure this all out.

I don’t really know yet how this plays out.  Right now I find myself up at 3am, unable to sleep, with the same feeling in the pit of my stomach I had last February.  I find myself looking for a parallel, wondering how she would feel if I suddenly insisted I wanted to deal cocaine, or enlist in the army, or become a bigamist.  Maybe the latter is the closest parallel – the idea of not just having sex with someone else, but becoming emotionally attached, moving that person into our home.

I’ve had feelings of anger and resentment for a while, and I suspect now they are only going to get stronger and more complicated.  I just hope I feel more positive about it once she starts exploring her sexuality with others, because 2014 is rapidly approaching.

3 comments

  1. Hubman says:

    In the 5 or so years that my wife have had an open marriage, we’ve never known another couple (intimately or just as friends in the lifestyle) where one half of the couple ‘gives in’ to have an open marriage and it worked out.

    There are many places in a marriage where couples compromise, I don’t think this is one of them.

  2. Mark says:

    Maybe I’m the only one who has heard Jenna talk of how she had to be true to herself, can’t repress her feelings like her mother did. Listening to her, I realize this isn’t going away. Listening to her, I realize either we open this marriage up and risk it ending, or we keep it closed and eventually it ends when she leaves.

    Am I happy about it? No. Is it a compromise? Probably not by definition. But it’s obvious that I alone can never give her what she wants. So I ask, could there ever be a compromise, does one exist? Because in the end all I can see is that someone has to be unhappy, and right now that’s both of us