A couple of years ago, my wife and I were on a walk, talking about us being non-monogamous. We talked about hopes and fears. We talked along a path of “what then”. This is when you imagine something bad happening and ask “what then”, then follow that with another “what then” until you get to an end point. In this case, it was a discussion about being found-out. We both were and are personally comfortable with our status of non-monogamy, yet we’re aware of what others may think, and we’re not immune to the possible consequences of them discovering.
We were raised in a VERY conservative community with VERY conservative messages incorporated into our consciousness from a young age. Over the last few years, I have used reason, logic and science to work though those. My wife has leaned more upon intuition and emotion to work through hers. We started in the same place, and we ended up the same place, but by very different processing methods.
Because of our traditional appearance and background, we’ve established ourselves in our community and founded our social and professional lives on that old, conservative background—it’s what pays the bills. We have been concerned that if our colleagues discover our non-monogamous life that they may think, “Well, if they can have sex with other people, then maybe they can embezzle and cheat on their taxes too.” In time, they’d learn that these are non-sequiturs, but only if they stick around long enough to learn it first-hand.
Another reason (actually the biggest reason) for not coming out is because of our children. We taught them the same religious traditions in which we were raised. My wife and I didn’t become firmly non-monogamous until after our children’s values were instilled. Now that as a couple we’ve altered our lives, our children could interpret our change in many ways, most of which wouldn’t be easy on them. So we’ve chosen to keep silent on the issue—especially as we evolve ourselves. (Our children are now all over age 18.)
I recently, convincingly found out that our daughter found my previous post and read it. Previous to that, we suspected that she knew. Over the past couple of years, she’s asked us questions to which we have told her it’s none of her business. We knew that she had strong suspicions, but we didn’t know on what she based them. (She is nosy. She can’t deny that.) I now know that she’s been reading this blog. She’s reading this. Hi daughter. Had I known this before, we would have not written much (or any) of what did, but it’s too late. Oh well. Parents often want their children to think well of them, but eventually parents fall from their lofty state. I think we’ve fallen further than most, or at least we were more explicit about documenting our exit from Eden.
So, back to the “what then” conversation. When my wife and I talked about how she’d react if our children (in particular this child) found out, my wife calmly and firmly said, “I’d kill myself.” I stopped dead in my tracks, grabbed her by the wrist, and looked her in the eye as my mouth went dry. “You’re kidding, right?”. “No, I don’t think I could go on knowing that [she] knew.” I firmly stammered out, “Then we must stop immediately!” It turned into a long conversation that ended in her understanding the suicide wasn’t the solution, and that neither of us wanted to alter our behavior for feelings, but it did underscore the very deep concern that she had with that child confronting her about what we do.
My wife has a very childlike heart and loves to live in a Disneyesque mindset. Our daughter is a natural “parent” and authority. She’s loving but judgey—just like me. She and I are way too similar. My wife complements and criticisms both me and our daughter when she says to either of us, “You two are so much alike.” So I completely understand my wife’s fear of our daughter’s judgment. From a values perspective, I know well how my daughter thinks. I was very similar when I was that age. I judged my own parents harshly for much less. I know how I would have felt if I’d discovered that my parents were doing what my wife and I do. I can only imagine what she thinks and how it must pain her soul. I wish I could assuage her of that pain.
So, where do we go from here dear daughter? First and always, we love you. And we invite you to keep loving us. Also, you know your mother well and you know how sensitive she is to you and how much she wants your acceptance and approval, so I ask that you consider timing and how much you feel a need to address these things with her. She has a tendency to take things hard for a while (see above). And as a peacemaker, she often obfuscates rather than deal head-on, so I don’t know how satisfying a conversation with her would be for you right now. If you need to yell at someone, yell at me. I’m here for you, and I will always love you.