一路 BBS

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发表于 6-23-2024 12:36:20 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 6-27-2024 12:24 编辑

Jason Bilbrey, Something Is Wrong in This Marriage. It's Us. Exploring polyamory leads a married couple to their beautiful relationship apart. New York Times, June 23, 2024, at page 6 of SundayStyles section (in the column "Modern Love").
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/ ... -with-monogamy.html

(a) "We were children when we first got together. It wasn’t just that neither of us had dated or slept around before getting married. We also had never been dumped, been single in our 20s, or lived alone."

I am not claiming that I understand this paragraph better than you. My understanding is, "We also had never been dumped" by each other.
(b) "My reintroduction to dating was a disaster. I spent the moments before my first date dry heaving in an alley behind the restaurant. Months later, in another woman's bed for the first time, I was unable to become aroused [thus having erectile problem]."

dry heaves (plural noun): "repeated involuntary retching unaccompanied by vomit"
   ^ This online dictionary does not have "dry heave" as a noun or verb. But other online dictionary has it (dry heave) as a verb ONLY.
   ^ heave (vi)" |RETCH, VOMIT  <nearly heaved at the gruesome sight>"
   ^ The medical term for "dry heaving" is retching.
When my wife proposed that we stop being monogamous, she said it would make us stronger. I said it would make us divorce. We were both right.

She had planted the seed seven years into our marriage as I was finishing seminary. At the time, I was exiting a phase of my life perhaps best described as “worship pastor bro.” My Christian faith was undergoing a meticulous and scholarly deconstruction. I could begin to imagine a life without God, but with my new, expensive master’s degree in theology, I struggled to imagine a career without Him.

By contrast, Corrie’s turn away from religion a year earlier had been quick, uncomplicated and annoyingly joyful.

One night, seven years into our marriage, she said, “Do you ever wish we had slept around a bunch in college before getting married?” Corrie was a fiery social worker whose face could never hide what she felt — annoyance, attraction, embarrassment. Behind this question was an expression of excitement.

I stared at her in disbelief. By “college” she meant the Bible college where we met, both of us in student leadership. It was the kind of Christian university that prohibited dancing.

Like many of our peers, Corrie and I married the summer after graduation. We were in love, but we were also motivated by our desire to explore that part of the human experience marriage would finally sanction: sexuality.

“What? No!” I said, incredulous, but quiet enough not to wake our then-5-year-old daughter. Still, her newfound liberation was infectious. Soon we were naming all the classmates we might have hooked up with, given the chance. As it turned out, for Corrie, they were mostly women.

Thus began a game we would play, called, “Do you think they’re hot?” One of us would pause the TV show we were watching or gesture slyly at a neighboring table, then look at the other with arched eyebrows. The Venn diagram of who we each found attractive were two separate circles, except for a sliver of overlap occupied by Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games.”

Gradually, the game took on a more serious tone as Corrie’s type came into clearer focus. “How about them?” I would ask, nodding toward a particularly androgynous woman. “Do you think they’re hot?”

Corrie started identifying as bisexual, then pansexual, then queer. It was hard to know how to feel about her transformation. On the one hand, it became harder to place myself and our heterosexual marriage on the new map of her sexual interests. On the other hand, the more freedom she felt to explore her fantasies, the more erotic energy she brought into our relationship. After years of being fairly disinterested in sex, Corrie was finally turned on. Just not by me.

It was after an episode of “Orange is the New Black,” the Netflix show featuring incarcerated women — many of them lesbians — that Corrie said, “I wish we hadn’t gotten married so young. I don’t regret marrying you, but I regret that I never got the chance to explore first. What if we had that chance now? Both of us.”

It hurt. It was the first time we talked about divorce. Neither of us wanted to end our marriage. But the idea of opening it also felt wrong — or it did to me.

Like Corrie’s embrace of atheism, the prospect of having other partners seemed uncomplicated to her. Non-monogamy was a sign that our marriage was strong and could withstand threats. Plus, the idea of me with another woman somehow excited her.

By contrast, the thought of her with someone else sent my mind spinning. I imagined them being able to satisfy Corrie in a way that I couldn’t. I wanted to be enough for her, but I also didn’t want to be an object of regret or a gatekeeper to her happiness.

We started seeing a couple’s therapist who specialized in non-monogamous relationships. And then we started seeing other people.

My reintroduction to dating was a disaster. I spent the moments before my first date dry heaving in an alley behind the restaurant. Months later, in another woman’s bed for the first time, I was unable to become aroused.

And I felt even more uncomfortable watching Corrie date. I knew she wouldn’t leave me for someone else, but I felt utterly debilitated, something bigger than jealousy.

Among the stack of books about non-monogamy and polyamory that now sat on my night stand, I learned the term “primal panic,” a destabilizing jolt to one’s nervous system coming from the potential abandonment of an attachment figure. I didn’t like to think of myself having a childlike attachment to my wife, but I had spent too much time sobbing in the shower not to see that simple truth.

We were children when we first got together. It wasn’t just that neither of us had dated or slept around before getting married. We also had never been dumped, been single in our 20s, or lived alone. Corrie was now finding an identity that transcended our relationship. I had no idea who I was outside of us.

I started seeing an individual therapist and attending a men’s process therapy group. But perhaps most helpful was the exposure therapy of continuing our non-monogamy experiment. Jealousy was like a tight muscle that I learned to stretch and relax. As many times as I watched Corrie leave on a date, I watched her come home. I learned to comfort the panicked child inside me rather than outsource that job to Corrie.

One night, laughing with a date as we walked home from a performance of “The Producers,” I realized I was having fun. Years later, when another woman I was seeing slapped my behind playfully at a restaurant, I realized I was having feelings.

Becoming emotionally attached to other partners had always seemed like the biggest threat to our relationship. Now, romantic feelings for others just felt like part of the territory. When I suggested that we remove our wedding bands, Corrie happily agreed. We started using the term polyamory, saying to other partners that we wanted long-term relationships, not just sexual connections.

“I accidentally said ‘I love you’ to Tamara,” I told Corrie one day over lunch. With our children at school and our work calendars blocking off the hour, these midday check-ins had become a ritual for us, a time to process all the drama — and increasingly, comedy — that filled our lives as a polyamorous couple.

“What?” she yelled. “Jason. Seriously?”

“We were having sex and it just sort of slipped out,” I said.

“On your second date?” We were both laughing now. “Dude, you are going to scare this girl away.”

I had matched with Tamara on OkCupid, which includes options for seeking monogamy or non-monogamy. Her profile said she was open to either. I swiped right.

We quickly hit it off. Tamara was cheerful, a bit cautious and deeply curious. Given our shared love for the outdoors, we soon were planning canyon hikes in Utah and a backpacking trip near Aspen.

But what I found most endearing about Tamara was the way our physical connection fostered emotional connection. For the first time, I felt like my sexual desire for another person was reciprocated.

“Healing” was the word I found myself using as I described this to Corrie over lunch one day. The word caught in my throat as I said it. She had met Tamara a few weeks earlier and seemed uncharacteristically pensive as our relationship developed.

“I don’t want to lose you,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give you what she can. The way Tamara feels about you is the way I feel about the women I’m dating.”

It was the truth we both had pretended not to know: Corrie was gay. After years of confusion and dread, this clarity came as a relief, casting light onto years of tortured conversation about sexual desire and our fundamental compatibility.

She asked if we could stay married as platonic partners. I said no. We held hands across the dining room table and cried. We would divorce later that summer.

I had always been so focused on what Corrie wasn’t getting from our marriage that I didn’t realize what I wasn’t getting. Our non-monogamy had given me the chance to explore what I wanted. And what I wanted was a monogamous relationship with Tamara.

We moved in together that fall. Next year, we’ll be getting married, with Corrie attending as my “best person.”

I maintain a beautiful relationship with Corrie. She and Tamara maintain a beautiful relationship with each other and our children. They’ve each given their blessing for this story to be published.

Our lives together require an expansive view of love. Although I have stopped being non-monogamous, I have also stopped depending on romantic love for a sense of identity. For that, I’m grateful for polyamory.

Jason Bilbrey handles digital marketing for a medical supply manufacturer. He lives in Denver.

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