Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Open Marriage - Cat pt 2

Continued from Cat pt 1.

So, Cat and I were on opposite coasts and had decided to have an open marriage.  It wasn't my idea, it wasn't what I wanted, but I didn't feel like I had much choice in the matter.

The first few months on the new coast were really difficult for me.  I was thousands of miles away from my daughter and broken emotionally, financially and mentally.  As bad as it would have been anyway, it was worse because Cat now had "permission" to date other guys and was having a great time back in Georgia.  I knew because every time we talked on the phone there was a different male voice in the background.

After a couple months though, I kind of got my mental shit together.  I couldn't just sit around feeling sorry for myself, I needed to try and move forward with my life.  I started working out, drinking less and taking better care of myself.  I began to feel a little better.  Feeling better made me more confident.  Confidence and the working out started to turn some female heads.

I was pretty naive at that time, thinking that I was somehow morally superior to Cat because I had never really "cheated" on her.  I'd been with one woman while married but that was when Cat was living with the other dude, so I didn't really consider that cheating.  Otherwise, I'd done all this "sacrificing" for the relationship and in my mind she hadn't.

Basically, I was young and dumb enough to be completely unaware of myself, my behavior, and how my own actions affected the relationship.

That "moral superiority" I thought I had was overcome by my spite.  Even in an open relationship the idea of dating other women felt like cheating, like I would lose my moral high ground, but if she was going to sleep around than I was going to sleep around.  Dating wasn't driven by some desire to be with someone, or even for sex, it was a way of getting even.

So, I started dating.

It was a little awkward at first, trying to find my dating legs again... but I did and an odd thing happened, I actually had a good time.  I was dating out of spite, I hadn't expected to actually enjoy myself.  But a couple of the girls I went out with made me feel smart, sexy and desirable... things that I hadn't felt with Cat in a long time.  I hadn't even realized how low I was until these girls started pulling me up.  They made me feel good about myself.  All the sudden I'm walking taller, chest thrown out, feeling like a fucking MAN again.

All those good feelings led to a strange revelation: Cat was dating people that made her feel smart, sexy and desirable... because I hadn't made her feel like that in a long time.  She wasn't sleeping around because she was a slut or screwed up in the head, she was doing it because she wasn't getting what she needed in our marriage.  And I wasn't getting what I needed either, the girls I dated proved that.

Our marital problems hadn't been my fault, but they hadn't been Cat's fault either.

I had spent so long blaming her that I hadn't realized my own role in the breakdown of our marriage.  That realization was like a light switch in my head, suddenly everything changed.  I'd been an asshole to Cat for years, blaming her for everything wrong with the marriage.  Of course being around an asshole like me wouldn't make her feel good, no wonder she was looking to other guys.  I wasn't giving her what she needed and she wasn't giving me what I needed.  It wasn't anyone's fault, we were both fucked up.

Suddenly, the "open" relationship made so much sense.  We could raise our daughter together, take care of each other and still have all our needs fulfilled.

By the time that Cat and our daughter moved in a year later I was in a totally different place mentally than when I left them.  I wasn't angry with Cat anymore, I could understand where she was coming from.
Under the same roof, we continued the open marriage.

Our relationship got infinitely better.  No more lies, no more anger, no more blaming.  We were totally open and honest with each other, we supported each other and we were both so much happier.  We re-learned how to trust and care for each other.

We even started having frequent sex again.  It almost felt illicit, we were seeing other people but still fucking each other.  It was like we were cheating on our dates by having sex with our spouse.  It was kind of hot.

There were a few jealous twinges on my part when she was living with me but dating other guys.  That was a little tricky at first, but any of those twinges were quickly washed away because we were both so happy at home.  Why be jealous of what happened outside the house?  As long as everyone was happy, wasn't that worth being flexible?

So, I let go of my possessive feelings over Cat.  Mentally, I let go of her.  She was still technically my "wife" but I decided that the benefits outweighed my need to be her one and only.  My best friend being there for me was far more important than the wife that wasn't.

Before our marriage screwed it up, Cat and I had been best friends.  During the open relationship we were able to go back to that place.  Butch and Sundance, back again.  It was awesome.  It's what I always thought marriage should feel like, which was crazy since we were about as far as you could get from a traditional marriage.

Letting go was probably the hardest thing I've ever done because it basically meant admitting that I was completely ignorant.  All of my preconceived notions about relationships and marriage were total bullshit and I had to completely reevaluate everything.  It was the one of the hardest things I've ever done but by far one of the best things too.

For the next two years we both saw other people (and each other, surprisingly frequently) and it was awesome.  If she wanted to go out I would watch our daughter, or vice versa.  We worked out schedules so we could cover for each other.  We were happy at home, happy outside of home and getting all of our needs fulfilled.

As much as I was against the open relationship to begin with, it was absolutely the best decision we ever made for our marriage.   As hard as it was for me to let go, the reward was so much more than I could have imagined.  The last two years were so easy, so laid back, so comfortable.

After being open for two years Cat met a special guy.  I could tell because she stopped sleeping with me, which meant she was taking him seriously.

I should mention here, somewhat grudgingly, that Cat had really good taste in men.  Or, at least the ones she was somewhat serious with.  I met a few of them and they were all really great guys, ones I would have happily shared a beer with had the circumstances been different.

Cat was a mother first, so she never brought any of her dates around our daughter.  I was the same.  When she told me that she wanted to introduce the man that would become her fiance to our daughter, I knew it was serious.  And I trusted her judgement.  I knew she put our daughter first and wouldn't even consider having this dude around if she didn't trust him completely.  I met him too.  He was really nervous to be meeting his girlfriend's current spouse, I appreciated that.  He was a good guy.

Eventually, she decided that she really wanted to marry him.  So, we got divorced specifically so she could get remarried.

By that point Cat and I were so comfortable with each other, had that friendship back, that we didn't even have to hire lawyers.  We flew through the divorce process without any issues.  Cat, Cat's faince and I all became friends.  I was there, smiling, at their wedding.

cat 3 s

I spent so much time at their house while they still lived here that I'm practically a step-dad to their daughter who was born a year later.  I even slept in their guest room for a month when I was between apartments.  Eventually his job forced them to move away.

Cat and I are still good friends, a fact that amazes most people when they find out we're divorced, and that's entirely due to those years of our open relationship.  We ended on a high note instead of a low one.  It opened my eyes, it made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about relationships and we were both far better off for it.
Some fun stuff to follow in part 3

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