The heartbreak of double standards

June 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Listening to: Rose, Ludovico Einaudi

I find myself in the most surreal position.  In one respect I am happy that my husband and I are brave and honest enough to be here.  But, while I have been an active protagonist in us reaching this situation, it still makes me a little bit sad.

Adam bought me a card recently for our first wedding anniversary.  In it he wrote, “Our marriage was never to be conventional and we have been true to our vows” – and true we have been.  In our first year as husband and wife, I chose to sleep with another man and our marriage suffered tremendously because of it.  While I think Adam will eventually forgive me one day, I don’t know that the impact of what happened with Nic will ever leave us.  It has left an indelible imprint on our marriage and on us as individuals.

I now find the situation reversed and I have very mixed emotions about this, hence the surrealism.  This, I am discovering, is the heartbreak of double standards.

I have probably been guilty of imposing double standards in the past.  I am a “want” type of person.  That’s not to say I’m not a giving person also, but once I become fixated on something I want everything else seems to slip away into unimportance, often including the consideration of others.  I think I have been partly lucky and partly very manipulative in the past to get away with such double standards.

When I took Nic out for the night, I knew in my heart that Adam wasn’t onboard with it.  I honestly thought he would push through it, which he did for the most part.  But when he texted me shortly after midnight asking me to come home, I chose to put my own desires ahead of his and devastated him as a result.

We have had many frank and open discussions since and for some bizarre reason I have been pushing and pushing Adam to consider allowing himself the same freedoms which I took.  I’m not sure if some small part of me is trying to do this out of guilt, though I don’t think so, or to try and justify my own behaviour.  Regardless I have been light-hearted about the whole thing, not wanting to make it complicated and dramatic.  Now that we are at last on the brink of him engaging in such freedom, I am finally questioning how I really feel about it.

In trying to develop some ground rules to put to him, I find myself realising that none of these rules had been set for me and if they had there’s a good chance I would have broken some of them (if I haven’t already).  This is the heartbreak of double standards.

I haven’t really ever tried to put myself in his shoes before, or anyone’s for that matter.  I probably thought that I tried, but I haven’t really.  In doing so now, I find myself wondering if I could ever be as strong and brave and forgiving and faithful as my husband has been to me.  The answer is probably no.  Tears come to my eyes as I appreciate for the first time how strong he has been, all this time, without me even noticing.

In this situation, I tell myself – and my husband – that we do whatever it takes to make our marriage work, to keep ourselves and each other happy.  I tell us both that we will make whatever sacrifices we can allow for the greater success of our marriage.  We made all these modern, PC statements in our wedding vows about how nothing is forever, that we are not bound to each other to the exclusion of all others, thinking that we were being courageous realists.  In truth, we are two people who are seeking more than the other can offer at the present moment.  I am sad that we are in this situation so soon and I am apprehensive about what our future holds, but remain optimistic about how we will handle it and how our marriage may benefit.

In my mind, we have to at least try.  We have to do everything we can to make us work, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.  It’s up to us and I am making this choice to let my husband sleep with another woman just as I slept with another man so that we can each be truly satisfied, truly secure and truly honest with the other.

In theory, monogamy is not for me and never has been.  I would much rather go through this upfront (albeit somewhat difficult) process than risk cheating or being cheated on, or slipping numbly into a comfortable relationship where any real desire for each other or another is squashed and ignored solely out of social habit.

But, realism has never been easy.  In practice, I was not able to enjoy Nic’s body without enjoying his mind and any emotional attachment makes our marital arrangement so much more difficult.  I know my husband and I sense he will have a similar struggle, regardless of his resolve.

So watch this space, I guess.

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