Recently I got an email from a slightly panicked gentleman. He had read one of my articles on compersion and given his wife a "golden ticket" when she was away on business. They had a hot searing late night conversation after she'd arrived at the hotel. The whole idea of her cashing in a golden ticket--a pass to be sexual with another person--wildly turned him on. But then she actually cashed the ticket and he was thrust full force into a state not of compersion but of shock. What had he done? Could their marriage survive this? What now?
We emailed back and forth until things settled down. Then it occurred to me that the steps I recommended to him, might be helpful for others to take before issuing the golden ticket. One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is different. People have different fears, desires, goals and needs in relationship. This is perhaps an obvious observation. But when you decide to enter the world of polyamorous relationships or open marriage or any form of ethical non-monogamy--- you are going off the traditional relationship grid. You need a road map and a compass. It's important to take that extra time to clarify what you both want and need.
1) Create a Relationship Mission StatementOkay, perhaps this sounds hokey or way too California for you, but I contend that it is important. Writers have to summarize their screenplay or book in three sentences. Can you do the same with your relationship?
Think in terms of qualities. My husband and I have a commitment to play, nurture and grow with each other. The balance of those three elements really appeals to us. We want to have fun in a safe but also edgy environment--so that we continue to evolve together. We want to thrive in our relationship while encouraging each other to expand out of any complacent comfort zones we may get stuck in. We both desire positive transformation through play and pleasure.
So, that's our relationship mission statement. And we use it as a template to ask ourselves if a particular situation feels right. Is it going to be fun? Is it going to challenge us while expanding our connection? Will it encourage us to evolve in positive ways? Take a moment and clarify with your spouse and/or the people you're getting involved. Check to see if you have the same value system. It will save you trouble down the road.
2) What's your deal breaker? Putting things in the worst possible negative scenario can be useful. For me someone lying to me or intentionally hurting me is a deal breaker. Being sexual with another person honestly is not a deal breaker. However I want to be the primary person in my husband's life. A lot of people do not set it up this way. I have polyamorous friends who do not share this paradigm, they consider it hierarchical. But I am a realistic diva, I want the spotlight. Which brings up another point. Be honest about who you are and what you desire. You have to start there. Don't try to make your needs fashionable--be authentic.
Once you have these two parameters: a mission statement and your deal breakers, you can move forward with a grounded game plan. My final words would be--go slow. Take some initial baby steps to test your sturdiness. I will admit I am an instant gratification gal. When I am sewing myself a new outfit I put the sewing machine on the highest speed. But I've learned in relationships it's hard to stuff the genie back in the bottle--so take your time, create some clarity before you take action.
Please write to me at GracieX.com if you have a word that you'd like to add to my "Love Lexicon" of new words describing states of love & relationships.