I've been married for about a year now. I love my wife dearly. She is a fantastic partner. We both have other lovers, some more regular than others. But recently she slept with her ex. And I got bothered. It's further complicated that we both used to date her together. It wasn't a true triad as he and I weren't involved intimately. She has two or three other lovers and I never feel this way about them. I know she is out with them and that likely they will have sex. And yet, I can't get over how bothered I am that she slept with an ex. What should I do?
Dear SZ -
Ah, yes. I know this one. You think you're solid, you think you have poly all figured out, and then, wham! You have a visceral reaction that you didn't expect and don't understand. We've all been there, SZ, and we all will be there again. Don't worry, it's a sign that you're doing things well.
Lets start with this; what exactly bothers you about the fact that she slept with her ex? When you think about her doing that, what part of the event brings out the strongest emotional reaction in you? In The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy point out that jealousy doesn't have to be a negative reaction. Jealousy is the path that leads us to our subconscious worries. So try letting your jealousy lead you to understand what it is that you fear.
After you have a good round with yourself about what it is that's really bothering you, it might be time for you and your wife to revamp your guidelines a bit. Remember, DIY relationships aren't static. We all need a good revamping once in a while. I would recommend against the veto rule. Veto should be reserved for situations in which you feel like your partner is in danger or being dangerous. But maybe you need to state that you feel especially vulnerable in this instance and you guys can work out a few little extra expressions of primaryness to be implemented for the moment. Maybe she can call you at a certain time and talk for a few minutes when she's out with him. Maybe she can save a word used during sex for you only.
Chances are that after a month or so of her seeing him again and implementing these new guidelines, you won't need them anymore. What we imagine our lovers are doing with their other lovers is always, always more intimidating than what they are really doing. As long as you both are honest with each other and yourselves, you'll feel better soon.