Q: My husband and I have an open marriage and we both have other partners. My husband and his new partner love each other, and it bothers me because it happened so fast. He came to me and told me that he had strong feelings for her, and I was okay with that. But then he went forward telling her he loves her, before I had time to fully process it. I know his love for me hasn’t changed, and that he will always will love me. I also know that this love for other partner is not the same love he has for me.
Recently, I found out he introduced his other partner to our close mutual friends without letting me know. He said he felt like it was okay because it was spontaneous, our friends wanted to meet her and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had no idea he was planning this. Our three rules to make this work are trust, honesty, and communication. I felt like the communication was broken, and I do not like that I’ve seen a picture of his other partner with our mutual friends.
I felt my space with our friends was violated. Because that’s who we hang around with together. Was it right for him to do so without letting me know? If I can’t/don’t meet her, should our close friends meet her? Should his girlfriend be friends with our mutual friends that we always hang around with? If we don’t give details to each other of our other partners, should details be kept from those friends too? Was it okay for him to tell our close friends he thinks he loves her too? Am I overreacting over the fact he went and did something with our friends with his other partner without discussing it with me first but he discussed with those friends first?
A: The way your husband has acted shows that he’s not actually comfortable with having an open marriage. At least not in the ways that would keep and build your trust with each other.
Right now he’s happy to have two separate “monogamous” relationships. This might work for some people and that’s fine, but clearly it doesn’t work for you and that’s a real problem. How you feel is not wrong. If he is truly committed to your marriage as much as his new relationship then he has to do the work to make you not feel like your trust is being broken.
He’s trying to compartmentalize the relationships. What’s he’s doing is lazy. It’s half a step removed from just cheating on a spouse. He’s doing this instead of doing the hard communication with you, to really find out how you both feel about certain situations. No excuse about “convenience” can override a decision by him to knowingly hurt you. If there is a questionable situation that arises then he needs to stop and default to communicating with you.
There is never an “emergency my girlfriend has to meet our friends right now” circumstance. It’s not about asking permission, it’s about being open about EVERY aspect of the relationship that affects both of you. Of course there can be boundaries about what that means (like not sharing sexual details, etc.) but for the most part—everything needs to be available when it comes to keeping the trust between you two. There is absolutely nothing more important than that.