Two big items of news in my personal life. Which both entail a very public change to my relationship status.
After twenty years of marriage Jen and I have decided to get a divorce. Breakups are always painful, but we still love each other and remain friends, and there are few contentions between us. We wish each other all happiness. But we are no longer a good fit for each other.
Everyone always asks why, and the answer is important to my life development, so I want to relate at least the core of it, and a caveat.
Several years ago, after about seventeen years of marriage, I had a few brief affairs, because I found myself unequipped to handle certain unusual circumstances in our marriage, which I won’t discuss here because they intrude on my wife’s privacy. In the process of that I also came to realize I can’t do monogamy and be happy. Since this was going to come to light eventually, about two years ago I confessed all of this to Jen and told her I still love her but I would certainly understand if she wanted a divorce. Despite all the ways we work together and were happy together, this one piece didn’t fit anymore.
Had I known several years ago that polyamory was an actual option that works for people, I might have realized this sooner, and dealt with it better. But I labored instead to meet the cultural expectation that you are supposed to make monogamy work, and it wasn’t working. Discovering that other ways of life are possible helped me understand I shouldn’t be doing this.
Rather than divorce right away, Jen offered to try an alternative for a while to see if that would work for us. So we agreed on some rules and have had an open marriage for almost two years now, and it’s helped us work through a lot of things, and has helped us both in very different ways. But one of those things is the mutual understanding that we aren’t compatible with each other. So we have decided to amicably divorce–using a facilitator rather than lawyers, since we’re in agreement about all the material things, and have no interest in hurting each other.
The part about being open hasn’t been entirely a secret these last years (quite a few people were informed or aware, just not the general public), but Jen hadn’t come out to her family, so out of respect for her privacy I hadn’t blogged about it or discussed it publicly. But she has informed everyone close to her now, and we are no longer together. So I can make it official:
I am polyamorous.
I have, and will continue to have, multiple girlfriends who are likewise poly or aware of my being so, and that will be the way of my life from now on. And I am going to strive from here on out to live that way as ethically and honestly as I should, working to grow and improve as a human being.
I am a very public person, and I’m comfortable talking publicly about my private life and my experiences, thoughts, and feelings. So you may see more on that from me here, on the subject of my polyamory, and my successes and failures and lessons learned from it. But Jen has always been and remains a very private person. Out of continuing respect for her privacy, I will not speak publicly about her sex life or private life. Questions about me I’ll answer. But anything that touches too closely on her private affairs, those details are off limits.
That may also hold true, in varying degrees, for my other lovers. Unless they give me permission otherwise. However, I here give a general permission to all my lovers, past, present, and future, to allow you to talk about our relationship as much or as publicly as you want, for good or ill. As long as you aren’t saying anything false, of course. But other than that rule of common decency, you do not have to keep my role in your life secret for my sake. Just please respect the privacy of any others involved (whether Jen or anyone) who have not given you that permission to talk about them. But about me you can speak freely.
The ability to be more transparent, public, and open about my sexual orientation is a major part of what I’ve needed in my life. That, and to have to keep fewer of other people’s secrets–though I will remain bound by many, but that’s their business anyway, and not the public’s; I am choosing to be out and open about my life–and this is a matter of my own personal comfort level and consent.
Comments on this entry (satisfying my comments policy) will be cleared and post within three days of submission. I am still working to find time to clear past queues (a backlog of nearly 300 comments on dozens of past entries), but for this entry I will make time.