Trouble in Paradise

At what point in a relationship might one feel taken for granted or ignored? After five years in polyamorous relationships or casual flings, I am so inexperienced in negotiating serious, mono relationships that I have to constantly touch base with my rational brain about what is reasonable behaviour.

Almost four months into an intense, loving, thoroughly reciprocal, mature intimate relationship with my beloved, I saw my first hairline crack last night.

I don’t want to make too big a deal out of it. Everyone has issues from time to time, and no one is perfect, right?

However, I am determined to document this and discuss it this evening. After more than two decades in a monogamous marriage that was at first exhilarating, and then by turns frustrating, depressing and irritating, I am doing my darndest to make sure I never make the same mistakes again.

We started with thoughtfully considered vows to each other right in the midst of the heady, early days – just over three months ago. It felt dangerous, almost too intense for words. Kissing each other was still divinely new, and making love was one joyous discovery after another, in quick, lustful, crazy succession.

Our heartfelt vows were a realistic goal to strive for, and a documentation of our overwhelming feelings and aspirations. I stand by my request to do this, although I never asked my beloved to reciprocate, but he took it on board with the open-hearted courage that I adore about him.

While our physical intimacy is just as fulfilling as ever and our vows have in no way been broken, I feel uncomfortable about yesterday’s events. As part of my commitment to always discuss my feelings, however awkward or prickly, I will raise it with him.

Here’s roughly what I’m going to say:

“I understand that you felt angry and frustrated with <child> yesterday but I feel that you let those feelings dominate the mood and your behaviour. I felt invisible and ignored as soon as I arrived at your place, and I wonder how you’d react if I did that to you at my house? I feel that <second child> and I were uncomfortable or even fearful of your mood, which continued right up until <first child> was in bed.

If you feel like that, I would prefer you to be honest with me from the outset – you can say ‘I feel really annoyed right now so please don’t take it personally’ or you can suggest that I don’t come over to see you. As you know, I DID take it personally and I checked in with you non-verbally multiple times and then explicitly. I don’t feel that you were able to reciprocate with me until <first child> left your direct space.

I want to be supportive but there is a limit to my ability to do that while being ignored and unappreciated. I am not your children’s mother and I would never expect those behaviours of you that I instinctively offer your children. I want you to see me and meet me in a safe emotional space where we connect, honestly.”

Note that there are extenuating and complicated circumstances around my beloved’s young children, however this doesn’t change the core nature of my complaint. Maybe that’s too strong a word? My discomfort.

It stems from his expression, demeanour and mood, which exuded blind, disgusted anger, even rage. This is the first time I have glimpsed that in my beloved, and after living with an extremely grumpy, depressed person for most of my adult life, I have no desire to re-visit that particular undesirable trait.

But what to do? My first instinct is to face the lion in its den.

I know that we all have bad days, and that children can ruffle even the smoothest feathers.

I would have been totally cool if he’d said, ‘Look, I’m having a bad day but I’m really pleased to see you. I’ll feel better soon’. I tried to connect with him but I feel like my physical affection was half-heartedly accepted or even dismissed.

I was the one who helped engage his children as he stomped around his flat breathing fire and loudly sighing. I was the peacemaker who tried (again) to reconnect after we left the flat and the cool, fresh air blew away some of the grumps.

It was only after I directly asked him if I’d been the cause of his mood – whether I’d transgressed a boundary or done something to irritate him – that we reconnected through touch.

It was a further two hours until, child now safely in his bedroom, we managed to regain our usual intimate connection and equilibrium.

Wish me luck folks. I’m not used to trouble in Paradise. I love this man and I want this relationship to last and live up to my intuition that it’s the most intense, fulfilling and important (romantic) relationship of my life.


34 thoughts on “Trouble in Paradise

  1. Adulting is necessary. Adulting is scary. Adulting sucks. Adulting demands vulnerability (risk + uncertainty + emotional truthfulness).

    What you are doing is adulting and if you want an adult relationship you don’t have a choice. You got this.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Honey, I’m sorry to hear this but you know what? There HAS to be trouble in Paradise, because all we humans are flawed, we have moods, our kids trigger us like no one else can, and sometimes we are just plain tired, sulky, & not our best self. Well done for sticking to your commitment to bring issues up; listen quietly to his answers, & see how you feel afterwards- cracks are bound to appear, but our intention & integrity should fix them up again. Please let us know what happens ok? Sounds like he was pretty overwhelmed, and you two need to practice how you communicate around his kids. Good luck- you’ll be fine xO

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes, I agree. After having a long and deep conversation with my sister this afternoon I chose not to bring it up tonight, because he was just so happy to see me and be child-free again, that I wanted to give some air to the situation for a day or so. But next time I will discuss it with empathy and sensitivity. Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. First off, please realize that after an “intense” (I presume) and loving 4 month relationship with your guy that perhaps the “honeymoon” phase of your relationship (where you both are on your very best behaviour with each other) is winding down somewhat into a steady but less intense phase. This in my opinion is nothing to worry about so long as you both still in general have strong feelings about each other. This is perfectly normal as time passes in any relationship and our normal true natures start appearing. By that I mean that at times, either he or yourself will have the odd bad day along with (hopefully) mostly good (if not really great) days. I would counsel patience on your part with him and see how things progress for the immediate future.

    How old are his children? You have to realize that he has known and been with them a lot longer than he has known you so his relationship with them (as their father) definitely is different somewhat in that he generally wants to please you (who is a new entity in his life) than them.

    Regardless, in most new relationships (such as yours with him), I feel that the first several months are a period where you both get to know each other better – your moods, his moods, in good times and not so good times. By all means discuss your feelings with him, as he should be encouraged to do so with you. Constant ongoing communication is very important and feelings (from both of you) should be shared. As has been stated by others here, adulting is tough enough and with children in the picture can be even more so. I wouldn’t worry too much for now but I realize, based on your past checkered history with relationships that you might wish to tread cautiously all things considered.

    There will probably be other future episodes where you will see a different side to his nature but in turn he will probably at times see the same in you. A truly mutually loving relationship however should be strong enough to cope with such issues and overcome them. Time will tell. In the meantime stay positive and don’t excessively worry about it until you feel that there might be good reason to do otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rob for the thoughtful comment. I’n not generally a worrier, but I am an analyser (typical INFJ!), so as I have said on another comment, I do feel a strong desire to explore discomfort through writing or talking. Your advice is wise and mature and I agree on all fronts. I guess what makes this relationship so amazing is that I don’t feel either of us have intentionally put on a ‘good face’ for the other – we are both genuinely ourselves and I guess the good pheromones and vibes have kept us floating along in a very close harmony and connection. However, I did think that myself in terms of timeframe. My ‘checkered history’ as you call it is pretty typical for someone after a very long period of monogamy and stable relationship (over 20 years), where there is a period of experimentation and redisovering self and values. I feel heartened that you feel it’s normal and natural for the heady early days to morph into a new stage – my fear is that it will slide into the type of relationship I left, or one that doesn’t make me feel heard or valued. I need to listen to that fear to keep me agile and in touch with my feelings, but act on it for the best outcome for us both. Things do change, so thanks for that gentle reminder that it’s totally OK. As for his kids, see other comment about complexities I have no right to discuss. He has a heavy load indeed when it comes to his share of single parenting.


  4. Sorry to hear this. I don’t know much about your past relationships but what I do know is to stay grounded and hold on to your heart until you’re sure this is a problem you can handle. We so often make “love” and our intense feelings for someone the reason why we stay, when in fact our shared values are the reason we should decide on staying. It sounds to me that one of your values is the importance of being able to control behavior and emotions, or perhaps, to be emotionally mature. Is that one of his values too? Only you both can decide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks this is a really useful comment because I realise that it IS one of my core values – not taking out your feelings on someone else, staying ‘in control’ (at least most of the time) and not externalising emotions in a way that makes others uncomfortable. This is a good way of opening the discussion. We do have shared values and an easy harmony that I have never found before. He also manages his emotions extremely well and has an optimistic outlook, which I find is rare. Having said that, this piece doesn’t explore the very personal reasons why his children are ‘high stress’ and the types of single parenting issues he deals with that are genuinely extremely challenging.


  5. It is good to give words to your feeling. And, have the conversation right after the event, but after everyone involved has calmed down enough to listen with an open mind. For me, vocalising what I feel is very difficult and hence I find myself staring at my partner willing them to understand what I want, all the while knowing that they have no way of knowing what they need to do. I am learning. So, it is good to read about how you did not minimise what you felt, how you decided to ask him rather than attribute excuses on his behalf!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes very true – my natural inclination is always to raise any potential problems, but in this case I tempered my desire to go at things like a bull at a gate, because I want to let a couple of days pass so that I can gently raise this discussion at a time when he is not so exhausted – and so happy to see me! TBH I didn’t want to ruin it last night, but that doesn’t mean I won’t raise it later in the week. I do believe that setting the intention right from the start influences how any relationship pans out. I am also not someone who ‘stews’ – once I have achieved release through writing or talking something through, I have usually processed the problem (so it isn’t one any more) or I have a plan to move forward as opposed to letting things build up the way some people do. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your own journey for self-expression. No one can read our minds 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My first instinct would have been to recoil from him and run away. Like you I spent too much of my life in negative relationships, treading on eggshells too, and I am still at that stage where, if everything becomes too much hassle or too complicated, I just run a mile. I am 4 years behind you.

    For the first time in my life, as I am now, I am having relationships that actually work for me. And considering I have found it in places where it’s less relationship, that says a lot about where I’ve been going wrong for so long.

    If I don’t hear from someone for two weeks, sometimes a month, I think nothing of it. But like I said, that’s the point I’m at, and I’m still in those early days where having your cake and eating it ie sex but ‘god I love my freedom’ is still a novelty.

    I do struggle with confrontation and facing the complicated emotions of relationships. I always have. I prefer not to have to deal with it. I think I’m still on a break from all that. The couple of small jolts I’ve had with Harry remind me this one is not going to last. Fair dos. But I do think that the longer you go on ‘doing it your way’ the harder it is to work out the social norms of 1 2 1 relationships as they were before.

    The worst ones are those who stomp around creating an atmosphere but not telling you why. I can’t bear that atmosphere and it’s easy to see (when you could have chosen not to question him) how relationships can break down so fast, so well done for just biting the bullet and facing him. Could he not tell you because he didn’t think it was a big enough deal to discuss or because he wanted you to call him out so he didn’t have to start the conversation? Hopefully, these are just small glitches that just need ironing out.

    I find myself thinking more and more recently how I couldn’t imagine having to deal with a monogamous relationship again. It just seems like so much work when I have so much time to spend on me. We’re always on that learning curve. Noone ever said interacting with the human race would ever be easy! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks C for your comment. I have explained some more detail in a couple of other comment replies just now, but essentially, I do understand his mood, but I don’t agree with letting your ‘overwhelm’ affect others on a regular basis. I like the idea of phrasing the discussion in terms of values, as suggested by Girl Rebuilt. I completely see that you are at a different phase in your life, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll ever end up dealing with monogamous complexities unless you really want to. I get where you are and your POV. Where I have ended up is where I want to be, and so I will put the effort and maturity into the relationship to help set us on a positive course.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, funny how this seems so long ago. Those very minor hairline cracks were resolved very easily, but that is not to say anyone is perfect and that’s totally fine with me. What has become really evident is that I have the support of a very strong, kind and compassionate man and he has been by my side through very difficult traumatic times. I will be writing about this very soon. Lovely to see you back online 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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