Monday, April 27, 2015

Reason #19 Why I Love Polyamory

Two words: hug sandwich.

This is one of my favorite photos. My wife took a selfie when my boyfriend and I were falling asleep. It warms my heart to see the love on her sweet face, and the way she both literally and figuratively embraces my relationship with my boyfriend. Plus, I think she looks extra cute here.

I adore my cuddly poly family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

R.I.P. Husband

"Your husband is gone and he's never coming back. There is a loss that needs to be grieved."

That's what my therapist told me in our last session.

About a month ago, hanging out with my wife on the couch, my eyes drifted to our wedding photo, and suddenly welled up with tears. I was hit with the realization that I no longer recognize the man in the photo. I still remember that man, but only vaguely, and he is not the same person who comforts me as I cry on the couch. Well, the same person, but not the man I married.

It's strange to feel a sense of loss when I can't articulate anything that is actually lost. I don't miss the man I married. I don't wish he was here instead of my wife. I don't miss my life before she came out as transgender and we opened up our marriage. I can't pinpoint one tangible thing that is gone. And yet there is a profound grief. Our relationship has changed forever; one chapter of my life is over. I like this new chapter far better, but that doesn't ease the pain.

I only grieved for a few weeks (read that blog post here) when Jay first came out as trans and started transitioning. My focus quickly shifted to the excitement of our polyamorous adventures, and I didn't feel any loss as our relationship evolved. Only now, experiencing the finality of her transition two years later, am I swept back into unexpected grief. I look at our wedding photo often and I sob almost every time.

Our 10 year wedding anniversary is coming up next year, and I want to schedule a shoot with the same photographer. If I get my way, I will wear the dress I wore when I said my vows a decade ago, and my wife will wear a wedding dress too. Then we can have a photo in the living room that represents our new life together, our transitioned marriage. Then when I look at our wedding photo I can see my wife, instead of some guy I used to know.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Wonderful Sexless Marriage

A blogger I follow was looking for people to interview for a piece on sexless polyamorous marriages. I sent her the following background as an email introduction. I wasn't planning on posting it here, but since I haven't had the energy to blog lately, it feels like a good time to share this piece of my story:

I met my spouse 14 years ago when I was 18 and she (he at the time) was 25. We never totally clicked sexually, but I didn't know that because I was so inexperienced. I had one boyfriend through most of high school and didn't get a chance to date before I met Jay (that's the pseudonym I use on my blog) my first year of college. We fell in love and developed a wonderfully solid happy life partnership. We never talked about the lack of sexual chemistry because the sex was satisfying enough, and everything else was so perfect, I don't think either of us wanted to rock the boat. 

When Jay got sober two years into our marriage, that's when the sex began to decline. Neither of us would have said that at the time, but it's a very clear milestone in hindsight. Without alcohol to numb her gender dysphoria, Jay had to start dealing with the feelings of being utterly uncomfortable in her own skin, but not yet knowing why. We never stopped having sex, but over time I was the one who usually initiated, I was the only one performing any foreplay, and she no longer wanted to french kiss me. I began to feel undesirable and ashamed of my body. 

When Jay finally identified the root of her life-long depression and came out as transgender, it was a great relief to both of us to put our sex life on hold. She could stop playing the role of husband and male, and I learned that the sexual rejection had nothing to do with my attractiveness as a woman. Since we cherish our marriage and desperately wanted to stay together, we quickly figured out that polyamory would be a good solution. As she transitioned, she could explore her new female body with men and women (she's bisexual/pansexual), and I could make up for lost time and get to know myself sexually for the first time with different men.

The door is always open for us to have a sexual relationship again, but it's not something that feels right to either of us right now. I'm straight. I believe that sexuality is a spectrum, so I was hoping I'd uncover some small part of me that could be attracted to women, but so far I seem pretty hard-wired for men. For my wife, having sex with a straight girl, especially one with a lot of sexual baggage from our marriage, would be miserable given her gender dysphoria. For me, healing from my feelings of sexual rejection, and finding myself unattracted to her femininity, playing together sounds painful. But we're both open to the possibility that could change one day, especially as she gets closer to completing transition. 

People who don't understand polyamory say things like, "Why wouldn't you just divorce Jay and be friends?" or "Aren't you basically just roommates if you aren't having sex?" But that's such a narrow view of marriage. Our relationship has always foremost been about being a team, a family, life adventure buddies. We still sleep together every night, cuddle and kiss, share our finances, and provide each other with a safe foundation in life. Roommates and friends don't have that level of intimacy. Sex is the one thing that's easy to find outside the relationship; the rest takes years and years to develop. Even if we were monogamously married with an amazing sex life, chances are when we're old and ailing (hopefully in our 90's!); it wouldn't be about the sex at the end of our days; it would be about the companionship. And we're in it for the long haul. 

Not our most flattering photo but it sure captures how much we laugh together.