Real Stories: Non-Monogamy
Every woman that he ever went with, I think I knew of. He didn’t try to hide it. I went into this relationship knowing his feelings about being with other women. His whole thing was that one day he wanted what he referred to as “two wives.” He was going to have this three flat building. He was going to live in the middle or on the bottom floor, or wherever, and his wives and their children would live in the other apartments. So I knew from early on in our relationship that that’s what he wanted to do.
One time we went to this picnic and one of the guy friends he grew up with was at the picnic with both of his women. They were like one big happy family. One knew about the other and that’s how they dealt with the situation. And he wanted a life like that. And I told him that I had heard about stuff like that back in Africa, but I also understood that you could have as many wives as you can afford. Not to just be having wives without any concept of what you’re supposed to or what they’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to be able to take care of both of these families. And I can’t even say it’s something that I may not have done if he had been a different kind of person. But he was too mean for me to let him have his way in a situation like that. I felt like, you don’t get to have your way.
He wanted us to be all one big happy family. And I said no, absolutely not. (laughs) And it’s not that I don’t think I could have dealt with it, it’s just that he was mean. He didn’t deserve to have his way in a situation like that. And I kept thinking too, I can say yes and agree with it, but he ain’t gon’ find no other woman to agree with it. That was always in the back of my mind – who’s he going to find that’s willing to go along with that? Regardless of whether I say I’m going along with it or not.
I wasn’t really in love with him. He didn’t treat me right. And that’s one of the biggest regrets that I have with dealing with him all that time. I just feel like I should have found me a nicer man. I thought I was deserving of that, to have a nicer relationship. We just didn’t have no good relationship, because he was too controlling, too demanding, and I was very submissive. I let him treat me like that. And I just stayed with him. But I don’t think I really loved him.
So I say to my husband, I don’t think I can live out my entire marriage being monogamous. And he says, well I think a lot of people say that and that's why the rate of people having affairs is so high. He said, okay, what are you asking for in making that statement? What do you want? In looking at the way I handled those conversations in the beginning, I know I bungled and mixed a lot of things together. I mixed the issue of me feeling like I wasn’t having my needs met by him with the idea of being a person who naturally appreciates being in multiple relationships. And what it turned into was, I want to be in multiple relationships so I can have my needs met that you’re not fulfilling met by somebody else. Which isn’t the real message, but that's what he heard and that's what he continues to hold on to.
So he agrees to non-monogamy, and we said, we’ll read about it and learn about it and try it, and then I make the first of many errors in assuming that we’ll go ahead and try it means I can begin to consider my first steps to move into this. I now know that's not what he really meant. We had an argument one evening and I said something snide like, you should be lucky I’m out on a date with you and not someone else -- something along those lines. And he said, why haven’t you gone on a date with someone else? And I was like, I was concerned about you because you hadn’t really talked about it and I didn’t want to jump out there if you weren't ready. He was like, don’t let me hold you back, do what you want to do!
So, I meet someone online, then we meet up in person and I’m thinking, you said go ahead, don’t let your reservations hold me back from meeting people and moving forward. So then I’ve met this person twice in person for lunch -- literally for lunches -- only a few hours I’ve spent with this person, but we’ve spent a lot of time texting and talking online. So then my husband goes go fix my computer one morning and he opens my computer and messages pop up.
He reads through my messages with the guy who I’ve had lunch with and loses his entire mind, and is like, what is going on? We need to go to counseling! And I'm like, what you mean we need to go to counseling? We agreed to this. What did you think that meant? So now I’m the bad guy because I misunderstood the agreement.
But the thing about the community is that they’re polygamous, so the men were allowed to have more than one wife, but the women were not. So there were already women that liked him as soon as we got there and he was kind of like, trying to figure out how he was going to date these women. We were trying to figure that out for us, like how are we gonna handle this? So I remember when he told me he cheated, I was like, maybe I should just back out of this. But there were counselors and leaders within the community that took us in like, no, don’t break up your relationship. Don’t break up your family. We can work through this. So they convinced me to stay. But yeah, had I been able to go back I probably would have told myself to leave.
Part of it was because I wasn’t really in love with him. So, you know, we’d already been through marriage and breaking up, and infidelity. I felt like I was with him out of my resolve to keep the family together. I was like, you know, I only want to get married once and I want it to be forever. So I was just kind of like, you know, I’m going to do this. With conviction. I was in it for that reason. But I didn’t have that, oh I’m so in love with him, I want him around me all the time. I didn’t have that feeling so, I was kind of like yeah, go be with somebody else and let them fulfill your desires. So it’s off of me, you know?
So the first girl that openly said hey, I really like your husband and I’m really interested in being a part of your family, there was a protocol for that. They weren’t supposed to have sex, and the woman coming into the family was supposed to pursue the family, and not just the man. They were supposed to get to know the woman and the kids and understand that she’s going to be a part of a unit that was already existing. So you were supposed to spend time with the woman that was pursuing your man.
But then there was this other one girl, and she was pursuing him, but then she started actively pursuing me. It was really interesting. So that whole thing actually dragged out about three years. She was pursuing him, and she kind of like, subtly started spending more time with me. I was pregnant with my third child and I had morning sickness all the time. She started giving me massages, she started making me dinner. She got really… and this was before it got physical… but she basically dated me. She’d give me flowers and she would write me letters.