Tag Archives: unhealthy

260. More Mike, Jen, & Kayla: Equity vs. Equality

260

OPEN MARRIAGE
Labels are always tricky.  I don’t like the word “open” in the context of my marriage.  It infers “always open” as in, no barriers to entry and just picking up whatever the wind blows in.  It’s not like that.

It is open in this context – we are open to the concept that love is not finite nor needs to be confined to just two people.  My marriage indeed has barriers – say, four walls and a roof – it is just that the doors aren’t sealed shut.   We are open to answering a knock and evaluating whether or not we let them in.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS
As we are now open about Kayla, a few brave souls have asked questions – both people in my family and, during our vacation, some of E’s family.  Neither Mike, Kayla, or I had any qualms about answering any questions. and most were directed to me.  I think being the wife they felt I had some sort of aggrieved status that made my answers more credible, or at least more interesting.  

Many of the questions inferred concerns which fell into the same three buckets as what my sister’s expressed about my DD.  It’s degrading, it’s unfair, it’s unhealthy.  I used some of the same responses I used on my sisters as shared in Post 136. 

People seemed generally receptive.  They at least seemed to respect that I had thought through those issues and at least reconciled them for myself.  I learned if I answer their questions truthfully and with conviction, they quickly go from being concerned to simply being curious.  That curiosity often led to discussions about our views on relationships in general.

As I mentioned, I used an approach similar to that in Post 136 in answering their questions.  However, as it just so happens, I came across an additional way I can express myself going forward and I wanted to share it. 

INSPIRATIONAL CREDIT
I credit livingwithx.wordpress.com as my inspiration (i.e., I copied a lot).  I encourage you to read his About section.   I love to reflect and get all esoteric – but I know I do it in a wordy and rambling sort of way.  I appreciate his ability to be succinct.  What takes me an entire post to try to convey, he accomplishes in a few words or bullet points.

The concerns people expressed to me were often rooted in confusing  FAIRNESS with SAMENESS (which I covered in Post 136).  But it is deeper than that, and livingwithx explained it in a way that I feel was more eloquent and powerful than delineating fairness from sameness.  Their concerns were also rooted in confusing EQUITY with EQUALITY.

You can pretty much substitute his word, Equity, with my word, Fairness, as well as his word, Equality, for my word, Sameness.  It isn’t so much the labels that were powerful to me, it was in how livingwithx defined them.  

Equity is giving your relationship everything it needs to be successful.
Equality is making sure everyone in the relationship is being treated the same.

It’s simple. In your relationship, do you value success, or do you value sameness?  The answer seems obvious, but society conditions us to focus on the latter.  People are quick to identify the injustice of the smallest inequality.  So much so that they often overlook the devastation that comes from a lack of equity. 

As I illustrated to my sisters in Post 136, their drive for equality in their relationship has led to a lot of inequities.  I am not saying they are miserable — they are happy in their marriages.  But I am saying their relationships with their husbands could be more fulfilling (and they agree!).   And part of the reason is their focus on equality over equity.

Next time I am posed with a “Kayla” question, I think I will start it with a statement that in my relationship with Mike, we value success over sameness.  Then let the conversation go from there.  I believe most people agree they want the former, not the latter.  If so, then it is simply about finding what it is that your relationship needs, and go for it.  So did my relationship actually “need” Kayla?   More on that in a bit. 

WHAT DOES EQUITY REQUIRE?
Many people have relationships where they settle for less than what their needs require.

Ouch!  I think that deserves repeating.   Many people have relationships where they settle for less than what their needs require.

Why do people stay in such relationships?  At least try to invest the equity it takes to improve things.  As someone who has always been very self-reflective and in constant state of investing equity, it is hard for me to relate to someone accepting an equal relationship over one that is equitable.

I’ll admit though that my investments in equity didn’t always pay off.  Partly because I wasn’t being honest with myself regarding what I really needed and partly because I wasn’t being honest with Mike in communicating what I thought I needed (i.e. I lacked vulnerability).  Oh, and partly because Mike wasn’t in an equitable state of mind because he was also focused on “equality” plus, he wasn’t always open and honest about what he needed (i.e he lacked vulnerability).  So yeah, just wanting and seeking equity doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

So if equity isn’t about seeking everything your relationship needs to be successful, what is it?   Oh!  It is about finding what it needs to be successful.  How do you do that?  It’s a learning process.  So how do you learn that?

IT STARTS WITH YOU – YOU ARE #1
I know it sounds selfish, but first, you have to know what you want and then, you must be willing to ask for what you want.  Simply put, you need to find a partner that fulfills YOUR NEEDS.  Nothing really selfish in that.  That is relationship 101.  Why would you want a partner that doesn’t do that?

In order to have your needs fulfilled, you have to communicate them (i.e. you have to be vulnerable).  My plethora of vulnerability posts can be found in the Finding My Happiness section of my Shortcuts.

IT THEN TURNS TO THE NEEDS OF THE OTHER
While it starts with you, it doesn’t end with you.   Equity requires that you focus on the needs of the relationship, which means – others in the relationship.  In order to have your needs fulfilled you have to be willing to fulfill your partner’s needs as well.  It is through that emotional and physical investment of fulfilling each other’s needs that you create EQUITY.  It doesn’t matter if the emotional and physical investments of each person were not EQUAL.    

In our case, there was a change in what I needed from our relationship and my life.  That change happened to involve DD.  I had to understand it first, then had to communicate it – that is, I had to ask for it.  That understanding/asking is laid out in my first half-dozen or so posts.

I was then fortunate enough to have a partner in Mike who was willing to invest his equity (efforts, emotions, actions, ) in fulfilling my needs as he saw that there was potential for my equity (efforts, emotions, actions) to fulfill his needs.   And what if there is a situation where partners don’t agree on the equity?   That’s where communication and give and take have to come in, and in our case, Mike’s role as HOH comes in.

What if you are having too many situations where we can’t agree things are equitable?  To me the result is that the relationship can’t be fulfilling.  Someone – maybe everyone – is settling for less than their needs require.  You can only do that for so long before resentment builds, leading to a downward spiral that self destructs the relationship.

DID MY RELATIONSHIP “NEED” KAYLA?
You can’t always define everything your relationship needs. It is more about addressing each of life’s situations and opportunities as they come.  So we didn’t “need” a third and then go looking for one.   Instead, our relationship has a need to remain open and honest about everyone’s wishes and desires.  This leads us to be open to life’s possibilities…in this case, the possibility of a third, such that when the right situation presented itself, it happened.  

Does that mean we are open to a fourth?  Why stop there.  A fifth?  Well, sure, why not? I don’t foresee that happening, but I know our relationship will take whatever path it needs to take to ensure success.  I can’t imagine how more people would add to our success, but frankly, I could have never imagined how Kayla could have done so.

So that is my long-winded way of laying out my thoughts on my marriage.  I don’t know that I specifically answered how it is that Kayla fits in to our “equity”  Or how say, John & Donna, or our overall sex life,  Matt, nudism, and oh yeah, and Domestic Discipline – how does all of that fit into our “equity?”    I think the simplest answer is, “It just works for us.”  Wow. This entire post could have probably been just those 5 words.  

With that settled. . . what of my inference to Mike’s Dominance perhaps evolving beyond where I would like it to be?   Well, that all makes for a good next post!

NEXT: 261.  A bit more on Kayla

79. Anxiety, Resentment, Jealously, Guilt

jealous

I am very anxious. I need to purge my emotions, so apologize in advance if this becomes a rant. I don’t think I am saying anything I haven’t shared with Mike and Kayla, but perhaps some new or more constructive ways to express my feelings will emerge.  This is a continuation of what I’ve shared in this post and this post, and in this post as well.  Sorry to have to share as the events unfold, but it sure is great therapy to write this.

This whole thing with Kayla has me all out of sorts and I can’t put my mind to just about anything for more than a few seconds without it drifting back to our situation with Kayla. I already talked about the risks that concern me, such as the increased need to practice safe sex, the implications of Kayla being someone who our son is close to, and my motherly instincts being more prevalent when I interact with Kayla and thus makes it harder for my mind to see her in a certain way. In addition, my concern that her neediness may cause problems.

What if we pursued something?
Putting everything aside that I previously stated, the other issues are that if we did pursue a sexual relationship, what exactly would that entail?   F*ck-buddies?  Would she partake as a submissive?  It sure seems to be leaning toward the latter…and submissive to just Mike, or perhaps to me as well?  What would that be like?   These are all questions I’ve posed and the three of us have discussed. And here is where we stand.

F-buddies?
I only use this term because Kayla had used it to describe her relationship with her best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend. Kayla said that she does not want that for the three of us, that we mean so much more to her and that it is so much deeper than just a physical interaction. She talked of saying she would end the sex with her best friend if we all pursued a relationship. She even used the term, “I love you guys.”   And of course, we love her, she knows that, and we said so.   While that could be a good thing, to me, it is part of my struggle.   The situation could set her up for disappointment or hurt later on. I can only imagine what being “the third wheel” could be like and beyond disappointment and hurt, it could build resentment on her part.   Bottom line, it could turn our great relationship into an unhealthy one for her. That has implications for all of us.

And, just what kind of relationship would this be?   I guess it could be called poly, which I’ve never really considered. I have no qualms with that term, but, is that what this would be? Kayla uses the term “relationship” so there seems to be a certain level to commitment she is willing to make, but are we?

Her as a submissive?
When I think about this I actually feel two feelings that rarely surface in me. I feel a level of resentment with a dash of jealousy.   I am not a jealous person by nature, it is very un-me! I don’t like it. Here’s what’s going through my mind.

Waves of Resentment.

  • I work hard on my submissiveness, she may not take it as seriously as I do. She may not be committed to it as I am. She may look at it as simply a game.   I resent all of that.
  • What rules would she have? Same as me? Different? If different, are they less/more restrictive than mine? If she can do something without punishment but I can’t, well, that’s just messed up. Who does she think she is? I resent that.
  • Would she also be accountable to me? I like that, but we would have figure out how that works as ultimately I do want Mike to be the ultimate authority figure and I want to be fair with Kayla. However, I like the idea that there is something to remind Kayla that despite her participation, she is not my peer. If she thinks of me as a peer, I resent that!
  • Her level of commitment could never be consistent just due to lifestyle. She lives with her mom and goes to school. What, she comes over now and then when she chooses?   It makes it seem more like a game for her and not a lifestyle. Again, I take my commitment seriously and she will just be unable to do the same, even if she wanted to. I resent that!

Add in some Guilt.
Then I begin feeling guilty. Why wasn’t my first response to Kayla not one of compassion but instead a series of assessments as to her “fitness” to be with us?  See, the resentment is already manifesting itself in unhealthy ways as it poisons my empathy and compassion.

I shared just about everything I’ve written here with her, and of course, it did make her sad and she cried.  Not a full on cry, but teary eyed and emotional.  I know it wasn’t just in what I said, but in the manner in which I said it.  I know my tone was somewhat biting.  I apologized for my tone and tried to explain that it is not about a deficiency in her, it is about the realities of where she is at in life compared to ours and that despite our mutual love and respect, it just may be incompatible to the type of relationship we are considering.

All of my concerns are just as much about my own baggage and needs as it is about hers.   Ug, that sounded a bit like, “it’s not you, it’s me.”   But I want her to know I don’t see her as unworthy.

Dash of Insecurity?
I also have concerns about priorities. Will Kayla be a high enough priority for Mike and I that we do right by her, and will we be a high enough priority that she does right by us?  In other words, do we end up just considering each other as “available options” or is the relationship to be more meaningful than that. Not that whatever we have can’t be casual if that is what we decide, or that it can’t be more meaningful if that is what we decide, but each route has implications.

We all are works in progress to some degree, but Kayla, given her age and background is just more so.  I also am aware that whatever issues a person has they bring to any relationship. That’s a given and by itself not necessarily a problem.  But it can become one if that person is not willing to work on their own issues or allow help from their partners.   So far Kayla has impressed me with her own self-awareness of her needs, her strengths, and her weaknesses.  Including her willingness to seek advice and guidance and be open to constructive feedback.  That’s a plus, but apparently not enough to eliminate my concerns.

While I have been very impressed with Kayla’s reaction and responses, it has not lessened my anxiety about all these things. Yes, she has some needs, but don’t we all. She’s loving, caring, and self-aware, has some abandonment type issues with her parents but recognizes that and does not shy away from it. I can see that this could be fun and could be meaningful. But, my life is so good right now, and has already moved pretty fast in just the last 18 months. None of the positives I see with Kayla are enough to reduce my anxiety, resentment, and jealously, nor reduce my guilt for feeling anxious, resentment, and jealous.  And then we have the concerns I first expressed in my other posts.  Concerns about complicating my life and the fact Kayla is someone special to my son.

All these bad feelings.
 
Sum it all up and another significant roadblock is whether or not we could ever have an arrangement where I don’t feel these negative feelings.  I don’t want to feel these things but that doesn’t change the fact that right now I do.  I know these feeling would end up manifesting themselves in various unhealthy ways. Unhealthy for me, my relationship with Mike, and for Kayla.   If I can’t get past these feelings, we just can’t move forward.

Mike and Kayla both seem to be outpacing me on this issue. While they are not dismissive of my concerns, they feel more carefree about just diving in, living life, and what happens will happen. I have reiterated with Mike that I stand by my commitments to him and will abide by anything he decides.

Where we are today
Mike said we should having a “cooling off” period so we all can reflect and continue to discuss our feelings.  That makes me happy and does reduce my anxiety a bit.  Mike set a date of November 15, where he said no decisions should be made before then. We’ll reassess on that date and he may decide we continue to wait or not, assuming Kayla is aboard with what he decides – which apparently she is.

One question I posed to Kayla that she has not been able to fully articulate is how she sees this dynamic working in her mind. What does she see as the ideal situation for her?   She has shared bits and pieces but hasn’t thought it through enough, so I am hopeful some additional time will allow her to understand and share her own needs and expectations better.   I hope that for myself as well.

Next:  80.  Breakthrough.  What a Week!