Friday, March 24, 2023
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My (28) husband (29) wants an open marriage. I said no. Now I am heartbroken.

I am writing this right now part as a vent, and part asking for guidance, because I am as clueless as can be.

I met my now husband when we were 19. A year and a half go, we got married. We had what I always thought was a great relationship. But right now, I am discovering it was beyond flawed.

It all began couple of months into our marriage, when he told me that he wants us to open our relationship. For you to realize the amount of shock and pain that befell me at that moment, I will tell you a bit about my background.

I come from a broken household, daughter of an absent father who married a narcissistic and physically abusive mother, then decided he had enough with her (and her children) and left early on. The amount of dysfunction I lived through growing up, left me for all of my childhood, and the better part of my teenage years, incapable of forming any healthy relationship of any kind.

Then he came along. And loved me so much, and nurtured me with care, I looked at him as more than just a boyfriend. He was an entire family to me, a dearest friend whom I could lay my heart open to, a refuge from all the neglect and pain.

But what I saw for years as a loving nurturing relationship, was in reality a not-so-healthy parent-child dynamic that he bore the brunt of for years, and now wants out of the monogamous marriage.

He tells me he thought of leaving many times in the past, that he always wanted to be a free bird untied by marriage or any construct of the like, wished to try many relationships (we are the first people in each other’s lives) and know what it is like to be with people other than me. He tells he opted for staying because I was too vulnerable in the past, having him leave or try his luck with other women would have destroyed me, and now, that he thinks I am stable enough, and given how strangled he feels stuck in our monogamous relationship, he wants things to change.

I thought about long and hard, but no part of me can take even the thought of him being intimate with another. I have had it hard, real hard, and want a man all for me, sharing him with another won’t do, being content with the leftovers and bits and pieces won’t do. I know it works both ways. I know I get to have my share of playing around. But I am a woman who gives herself completely to whom she loves, and just can’t be with multiple people at the same time. It won’t work. I know it in my bones. So I decided it’s better we go separate ways.

This will soon take place, and I don’t what to do, or what to feel, what to think, how to go about it, how to act. I don’t know the first thing about break-up of a relationship that has gone that long, and burrowed its roots so deep into my soul. He has been a part of me for so many years, I lost sense of where I ended and where he began. The very thought of him not there makes me feel like a person who is soon to have a limb amputated.

Judging from my words, you might think I have no life outside of him. But nothing can be further from truth. I work in a creative industry a job that I am passionate about. And since I knew from an early age that art can’t be relied on to pay the bills, I earned a degree in STEM and work another 9-5 more stable job – both places I work in are quite reputable. I speak multiple languages – English is not even my mother tongue. And people tell me I am extremely attractive and beautiful, I get hit on all the time even as a married woman. I have good friends that I can hang out with from time to time, none though that I can tell all of this too.

But yeah, all that doesn’t matter when at the end of the day, I have the self-esteem of an old, torn and tread-upon shoe-lace, and feel that I don’t even know how to exist without him.

So kind strangers of the internet, I am sorry for the long rant. If you made it this far, and have anything to tell me about my situation – any help, advice, or even insight – I would really appreciate it.

TL:DR; Husband wants to open marriage, I said it’s better we go separate ways. But now I am heartbroken and don’t know what to do.

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  1. Hmm, you’ve gone from an unsettled, difficult childhood, and into the arms of a man who became your friend, lover, and maybe even life raft? Perhaps, as painful as it seems, you now have an opportunity to step into your own individual power. You sound like a very accomplished woman. Commitment is, for most, a choice, and as hard as it is when we love another, we cannot cage them (metaphorically of course). You will be okay, maybe even amazing.

  2. I think you made the right choice. Knowing that he wants to be with others is probably enough to make staying intolerable, even if he compromised and stayed monogamous. Not sure how you walk back from “but I really want to fuck other people”

  3. First of all, it does sound like he’s putting all the blame onto you for something that he wants, something that the vast majority of couples don’t do. He’s blaming you so-called vulnerability when that is really just an excuse for him to ‘pass the buck’ and make himself feel better. There are a million different ways he could have handled this differently to account for any supposed vulnerability that you had so do not be blinded by this deflection. The timing is suspicious too – either he feels you’re trapped by marriage now which makes it harder for you to reject him, or he is feeling trapped. Neither of which bode well for the relationship were you to try and keep it.

    I don’t think that you should get stuck on the whole open relationship idea either. This isn’t really about an open relationship, this is about a guy that has finally decided he doesn’t want to be in this relationship for his own reasons. There isn’t anything wrong with you, or did or didn’t do, this is about him feeling like he has missed some experiences. You can’t fix that for him. The whole open relationship idea is something he has come up with as a halfway measure, and likely wouldn’t work even if you went along with it. Open relationships are about adding experiences to the core relationship, whereas he desires to have experiences that aren’t adding to the core relationship. He wants to do his own thing.

    Take some solace at least in the idea that this IS about him, it is NOT about you. There is likely nothing you could have done to prevent this relationship coming apart. Be heartbroken but also do not blame yourself.

  4. Dang. I am sorry. That is rough.

    How did he react when you told him you would rather separate than share him? Did he try to persuade you to change your mind? Did he backtrack his stance?

  5. Well done and congratulations on knowing your boundaries even when it looks as scary as this. It sounds like you have developed some good self-esteem, even if you do not recognise it yet. You know you want a monogamous, loving relationship. You know you want to keep leaving the unhealthy childhood patterns behind – as they no longer fit you. You have a career and creative outlet. You are going to be fine.

    You were young when you met your husband and it sounds like he was very respectful and loving and helped you experience a better relationship than you knew growing up. Not all relationships are for life and he was young and needs to grow on his own path too. I hope you can let him go, and one day remember him with affection for the place he had in your heart.

    As for what to do now? Do what is in front of you. Do it to the best of your ability. A good life comes from lots of little steps. Get a good place to live. Rely on friends. Do stuff you enjoy. Be responsible with bills. Be a good neighbour. Get advice or therapy if you don’t know what to do in a situation. The emotional pain you are feeling will pass. Your life can be good and you definitely deserve a good life.

  6. I’m really sorry you’re going through all this. You deserve better. It’s normal to feel sad. Just please remember that heartbreak doesn’t last forever. You have so much going for you. You sound like a real catch. It’s unfortunate for your husband that he couldn’t appreciate your worth and love you the way you deserve. That is his loss. One day you will find a loving and loyal person that is just for you.

  7. This is not a healthy relationship and likely never has been. It’s time to cut ties and focus on getting yourself out of this codependent mindset you’re in so that you will recognize the eventual right one because you know how to weed through the wrong ones.

  8. When I broke up with my first real love, he said someone the same things. How I was just so dependent on him, I didn’t have any friends…

    Honestly, it was a gift for me. Because it made me so angry. I felt like myself for the first time in a long time. I was furious that he thought I couldn’t live without him. And I swore to prove him wrong.

    That anger got me through a lot of the recovery process and that process took years.

    I’m married now to a man who loves how much I need and want him and he needs and wants me too. Rather than a vine growing over and strangling a tree, we are two trees that have formed a symbiotic relationship and hold eachother up.

    Honestly, this speaks more to his issues than yours. He chose to stay in a relationship that made him unhappy and never communicate with you because he didn’t respect you enough to take care of yourself.

    Now he has reached his breaking point but oops you got married.

    Speaking as a person in the lifestyle, he won’t get what he is looking for.

    Go and find someone who is ready to love and support you because it isn’t this fool.

    My advice, is to get angry.

  9. You’ve figured out the unhealthy dynamic, so kudos. I know you are sad, but take what you have learned, and live a fantastic life! He isn’t capable of giving you what you need. Cherish what was, but love yourself, more

  10. He’s blaming you for choices he made. Let him go. You don’t need him. He has convinced you that you are this broken person that needs to be held together but you’re not. Be by yourself for a while and learn just how strong you really are. Then go out and find someone who will appreciate all you have to offer and not treat your relationship as a burden. Someone who will be grateful to have you and want to sleep with other women. Good luck!

  11. It sounds like you ended up with a guy like your dad. Which is fairly typical.

    You need to up your therapy and learn to be happy with yourself, not depend on someone else for it. He doesnt get you or what a relationship should be like for you. You didnt sign up for this. He is using this as an excuse and you know it.

    Tell him to GTFO and find happiness with yourself.

  12. Dear OP, You sound like me but ten years ago.

    You got a stronger spine than me and said no.

    There’s nothing more hurtful than when someone you love, tells you that you’re not enough and they need the company of other people too. That’s just a bunch of selfish bs.

    Let the hurt and pain wash over you, and then let it go. You sound like a kick ass person. You deserve someone who looks at you like you’re the entire world.

    Many hugs from an Internet stranger.

  13. Ok, so first of all, I know how hard it can be to break up your first marriage if your first was immediately a serious long term relationship. I was with my ex from my 16-20, we lived together for the last 2,5 years of the relationship and all I did after work was things with her (even with my friends, I had to take her almost everywhere, at first because I just wanted to be witb her all the time but after more than 2 years it was more because I’d get into and argument if I went somewhere alone if she was free).

    We were in a (almost) completely different situation but I also was scared because I didn’t know how I could live my life without her, all I did in the weekends was with her even if we stayed at home she was always somewhere in the background and you’re used to your daily habits together, when I got home late at night because of something she couldn’t come to she’d be in bed and I’d have someone. But even though I was so scared I’d been thinking of ending it since a year or so before it ended, there were just so many problems outside of that, and when the day finally came it felt weird but also not too painful because I was thinking long about it and because I realised she was a person who wanted a completely different life than I did. (Soon after I found out she started dating my (then) best friend after only one week, so I know I made the right choice)

  14. There’s no way around it, your marriage and your relationship are over. If you stay, he WILL cheat, and you don’t want to wait around knowing it’s going to happen.

    Also, if you ever have children with this man, well, their childhood is going to look a lot like yours. Just leave before you talk yourself out of it. You’re going to regret every second you stayed.

  15. So I am not going to defend him, you should divorce him.

    With that said I have read too many stories with similar factors. Assuming you were in poor emotional state at the time you begun your relationship, he might have done a lot emotional labour to help you get to a the point where you are right now. It is generally true people do not want to be therapists for their partners. I can’t tell if this part about not leaving, because you were vulnerable has any merit to it though. I mean you are married 1.5 years. He has decided to marry you and only then start to look elsewhere? Clearly something is fishy here.

    I will ask, was your relationship still focused on you and your emotional state or was it very much even-leveled relation with focus on him as much as on you? I know it might be hard for you to evaluate that.

  16. You are definitely doing the right thing in divorcing him instead of allowing an open marriage. Completely cut contact with him as soon as you can because staying in each other’s life right now will only cause you pain. Continue your therapy, heal and move on to someone more worthy of your love and loyalty.

  17. Both couples I know who got together young and one partner asked for an open marriage to save the marriage are divorced now. In both cases, said partner was having an affair and was too cowardly to just rip the bandaid off and get divorced.

    You have made the right call and saved yourself at least 2 years worth of anguish in my experience.

    Go to therapy, you’re going to be all right.

  18. He found someone he wants to cheat with. That’s the only reason partners start to suggest opening up the relationship. Stand firm in your answer. He clearly doesn’t love or respect you.

  19. If thats how he felt, why the hell did your relationship progress to marriage???

    Whether or not it seemed like a parent child dynamic, he didn’t say a damn thing about it until he wanted to fool around, you are not to blame for him catering to you and claiming to resent you for it just because he wants to guilt you into his wanton desires

    OP you seem to have a good head on your shoulders, a good life situation, as well as stern belief system you will do exceptionally on your own.

    The hard part will be getting used to the “quiet” in every room of your home.

    Think of this as an opportunity to fins yourself, get to know who YOU are when you are alone.

  20. I absouloutly understand all your heartache, I made the same choice. It’s been like 2 months. It’s the hardest thing I ever did, my whole heart aches for him daily my soul and spirit feel dead but I stand by it. I can not share I would rather find the bits of happiness alone than be miserable and heartbroken with him destroyed by self doubt. I am enough. I will get through. I am ok.
    Take real good care of yourself. Pamper often cry when you need and laugh too. It gets easier. Stay blessed

  21. You want to know something? He underestimated you. He thought you were in a “good place” for him to ask to fuck other women – but in reality you’re in a stronger place where you can tell him to go fuck himself. I know it’s hard as hell now, but I hope you find comfort in the fact that you are stronger than he though you were- you’ve shown him that.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, or it won’t be hard, but there’s definitely some out there that would accept what he’s asking for fear of being alone, for not having enough hutzpah to tell him to fuck off. You did. Rest in that power. Realize that being able to advocate for your truth in the face of everything he is to you means you’re a strong woman.

  22. Here’s what I suspect. Your husband already has someone all picked out. How he expected it to go down is he would convince you to open the marriage and he’d be able to enjoy his time with this person. You wouldn’t look for someone else so he could eat his cake and have it too. If you had actually found someone yourself, I’m willing to bet he would have immediately wanted to close up the marriage or try to stop you in other days.

    Basically, I know it hurts,I know it sucks, but it’s for the best that you realized you can’t do that and walk away. It’ll take a while but I am willing to bet with time you will realize this was the best thing you could do for yourself.

  23. Sorry to say but when a partner in a previously monogamous relationship says they want an open relationship then they already have someone lined up, or have already cheated and want retrospective permission.

    It’s strange that he told you that he wanted to leave you in the past but didn’t because of your mental state. But now that he thinks you’re stable, rather than leave you he wants an open relationship. This means it’s not so much about you, but rather about him wanting to have his cake and eat it too.

    You’re making the right choice by leaving. Once someone brings up the idea of seeing other people, it’s over. Even if he backtracks now, you’ll always wonder if he’s doing something behind your back. As painful as it is, it’s better to cut the cord now, so you can take the time to heal from the end of the relationship and give yourself a chance to find true happiness.

    Good luck.

  24. Oh honey, I’m over here on the other side of the internet just so torn up for you. This post could have been written by my daughter.

    So, just in case: A, if this is you. Call me. I have credit cards. We can get you on a flight here whenever you want.

  25. I don’t have much to tell you to help aside from staying strong and trusting you will find so much better out there but I need to tell you I’m extremely happy and proud you decided to respect yourself enough to know your limit and stand up for yourself by ending the relationship even though it pains you so deeply. You’re incredible

  26. So sorry- that sucks. The whole open marriage thing hardly ever goes well. You see it here all the time. This may be a good thing – as you said you don’t know where you end and he starts. Sounds like you are very dependent on him. This might open you up to being more creative. You need to just focus on yourself right now. Good luck – I would have left too.

  27. First and foremost, if you don’t want to do something like that, don’t. Don’t sacrifice yourself for a relationship that he is throwing away. He’s already thinking about being with others. He’s just asking your permission to do it.

  28. Even if you’ve had a greed to an open marriage honestly when a relationship goes from monogamous to open it’s usually the beginning of the end. I have read so many threads of exactly this thing and within a short amount of time they’re broken up. What you did as you honored your marriage you are not your choices and you’re taking care of yourself it’s the most important thing you could never do. I promise it will get better

  29. Why wouldn’t you feel all over the place having been together so long ? After all he has been a steady presence in your life for a long time following a difficult dynamic you had with your parents . Of course it’s going to be difficult .
    I’m thinking of that jump , that move away from your previous home life, I’m thinking you have resilience as I have read about your work life, your languages and friends. For someone who had a shitty example of parents you have done well. You adapted and changed. Stick to your guns, you want monogamy and that’s ok.

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