Trouble in Paradise

At what point in a relationship might one feel taken for granted or ignored? After five years in polyamorous relationships or casual flings, I am so inexperienced in negotiating serious, mono relationships that I have to constantly touch base with my rational brain about what is reasonable behaviour.

Almost four months into an intense, loving, thoroughly reciprocal, mature intimate relationship with my beloved, I saw my first hairline crack last night.

I don’t want to make too big a deal out of it. Everyone has issues from time to time, and no one is perfect, right?

However, I am determined to document this and discuss it this evening. After more than two decades in a monogamous marriage that was at first exhilarating, and then by turns frustrating, depressing and irritating, I am doing my darndest to make sure I never make the same mistakes again.

We started with thoughtfully considered vows to each other right in the midst of the heady, early days – just over three months ago. It felt dangerous, almost too intense for words. Kissing each other was still divinely new, and making love was one joyous discovery after another, in quick, lustful, crazy succession.

Our heartfelt vows were a realistic goal to strive for, and a documentation of our overwhelming feelings and aspirations. I stand by my request to do this, although I never asked my beloved to reciprocate, but he took it on board with the open-hearted courage that I adore about him.

While our physical intimacy is just as fulfilling as ever and our vows have in no way been broken, I feel uncomfortable about yesterday’s events. As part of my commitment to always discuss my feelings, however awkward or prickly, I will raise it with him.

Here’s roughly what I’m going to say:

“I understand that you felt angry and frustrated with <child> yesterday but I feel that you let those feelings dominate the mood and your behaviour. I felt invisible and ignored as soon as I arrived at your place, and I wonder how you’d react if I did that to you at my house? I feel that <second child> and I were uncomfortable or even fearful of your mood, which continued right up until <first child> was in bed.

If you feel like that, I would prefer you to be honest with me from the outset – you can say ‘I feel really annoyed right now so please don’t take it personally’ or you can suggest that I don’t come over to see you. As you know, I DID take it personally and I checked in with you non-verbally multiple times and then explicitly. I don’t feel that you were able to reciprocate with me until <first child> left your direct space.

I want to be supportive but there is a limit to my ability to do that while being ignored and unappreciated. I am not your children’s mother and I would never expect those behaviours of you that I instinctively offer your children. I want you to see me and meet me in a safe emotional space where we connect, honestly.”

Note that there are extenuating and complicated circumstances around my beloved’s young children, however this doesn’t change the core nature of my complaint. Maybe that’s too strong a word? My discomfort.

It stems from his expression, demeanour and mood, which exuded blind, disgusted anger, even rage. This is the first time I have glimpsed that in my beloved, and after living with an extremely grumpy, depressed person for most of my adult life, I have no desire to re-visit that particular undesirable trait.

But what to do? My first instinct is to face the lion in its den.

I know that we all have bad days, and that children can ruffle even the smoothest feathers.

I would have been totally cool if he’d said, ‘Look, I’m having a bad day but I’m really pleased to see you. I’ll feel better soon’. I tried to connect with him but I feel like my physical affection was half-heartedly accepted or even dismissed.

I was the one who helped engage his children as he stomped around his flat breathing fire and loudly sighing. I was the peacemaker who tried (again) to reconnect after we left the flat and the cool, fresh air blew away some of the grumps.

It was only after I directly asked him if I’d been the cause of his mood – whether I’d transgressed a boundary or done something to irritate him – that we reconnected through touch.

It was a further two hours until, child now safely in his bedroom, we managed to regain our usual intimate connection and equilibrium.

Wish me luck folks. I’m not used to trouble in Paradise. I love this man and I want this relationship to last and live up to my intuition that it’s the most intense, fulfilling and important (romantic) relationship of my life.

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