I have been in a poly relationship for the last year and half and things are good and bad. My boyfriend is married and has children and I knew that coming into the relationship. I have been in poly relationships before and he has as well. We all set some very clear boundaries in the beginning and his wife and I were friends for a while. In time, she became very jealous as we began to fall in love. I am a bisexual woman and I had made the offer to her to be a Triad.. However, she was not interested. So, my boyfriend and I decided to continue our relationship but with the understanding that his wife and I would share him. Things have come to a point where she is no longer speaking to me, they are fighting and separating, she is blaming me for everything that is wrong in their relationship. I am the target for her issues. I have cut off my friendship with her, I have refused to participate in her drama and I have decided to remain strong and not give up my relationship with him. Everyday, he has to fight for the time we spend together, for the love in our relationship and is dealing with drama, fighting and threats of violence and taking children away from him. Things have gone terribly wrong. She has changed the rules in the middle of the relationship and has decided she is no longer polyamorous and she wants him for herself exclusively.
So, I guess my question to you is, what is the best way to deal with a wife who is jealous, comparative, mean and generally uncooperative. She is very insecure and freaking out and I am trying like to hell to stay out of it and not feed the energy. He is torn between two worlds and I just want to be there for him when he needs time and space away from all of the craziness and fighting. I am very secure in the knowledge that he wants to stay in this relationship with me. I am not so sure he wants to stay in it with her, but it is none of my business. I am concerned that she is going to make it hell for him and I am not sure what to do to help him.
Your boyfriend’s wife is not the bad guy because she’s not interested in you. And dear oh Lord, please don’t think that being all sexually involved makes things easier and smoother. It’s no panacea that I’ve ever seen. Relationships have their challenges no matter what.
You can’t fix how the wife is behaving. You are almost certainly a proxy for the problems they already had in their marriage. Though be slow to call him a saint and her the devil. In the face of that, you do not have to put up with threats of violence, nor is it wise. If she’s not just blowing smoke, make it clear you will fully comply with the law, including taking legal action if you find yourself in fear of your safety. Encourage your boyfriend to do the same. Document, document, document. (You might wanna get a lawyer’s advice about this, too). By the way, document what you witness only. You might want to encourage your boyfriend to do his own documenting. Dates, times, witnesses, all that smack…
If the violence threats are more hyperbole than anything, you have some thinking to do. Go for a run, or have a cup of coffee, or whatever it is you do when you really need to haul things out in your life and give them a cold, hard think. And think. Think clearly. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does Boyfriend have a tendency towards passive-aggression?
- Does Boyfriend blame his misbehavior (we all screw up, ALL of us) on other people or circumstances, or does he own it when he screws up?
- Is it worth it to you to have a partner when you cannot interact with that partners’ partners without antagonism.
- Are you willing to risk being the future Evil Ex?
- Is Boyfriend good at setting boundaries?
- How are Boyfriend’s communication skills? Does he express himself clearly?
What I’m not so subtly getting at is that down the road, you can almost guarantee you’ll be treated like your boyfriend treats his wife. Sure, people can learn better communication skills, learn to set boundaries and what have you. I’m not saying that they can’t. But if he doesn’t have those skills and is not presenting strong evidence that he is working hard to learn them, you might find that the issues between he and his wife might show up between you.
I know you asked me how you can help your boyfriend. You certainly can’t fix how he behaves, but you did not state you had a problem with it. I will say this: the relationships where you both egg each other on to be the best YOU that you can be rock. Mutually pledging to support each other in being awesome creates the most precious relationships you can have. Encourage him to behave with integrity, to set boundaries (with everyone, including you) and model that same behavior in yourself.
You can’t do anything about the wife. Hell, you can’t even do anything about your boyfriend’s decision to handle it. You can do something with how you behave in the face of it. YOU be awesome and honest, communicate well and set good boundaries. If your boyfriend is worth having, he’ll take some cues from that.
And if he’s not, well… Being awesome means respecting yourself, too.