Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been married to my husband for five years, and in a relationship with him for fifteen years. About four years ago, we became poly with a friend. At the time, she was our roommate and had just separated from her fiancé. He was deeply immature, and she has an abusive family background. She had also been through a sexual assault. While we were helping her get through the assault, we became quite close, and discovered that we were both attracted to her. When we found that the attraction was mutual, we formed a closed poly triad with her.
In the last year, she has twice demanded to have absolute relationship equality to my marriage with my husband, despite our 15 years of history together. She has also stated that she wishes to have children with my husband – a condition I cannot accept under any circumstances. Because of this, and some other issues, she and I are no longer partners. However, my husband has depression and PTSD, and he cannot make a decision about what he wants from this situation (his preferred situation, that we go back to being a triad or at least a V, cannot happen because of her demands).
She still lives with us, and she continues to state her intention to convince my husband to have children with her. For me, the ideal situation would be for them to break up and for her to move out. My husband’s depression is so severe right now, however, that he cannot decide what he wants (and has said so). The ongoing situation is putting a strain on our marriage and destroying the peace of our home life. However, if she left, he would have a PTSD meltdown because his PTSD was caused by behavior of hers before we even became a triad. She knows this, and has used it several times in the past several years to get her way when she wants something, usually something I am not comfortable with.
I have to live with her and she is passive-aggressive and combative. There are times that, no matter what I say, she has to contradict it. I promised my husband I would try to support his relationship with her, but she tells me that the things I do in that direction are suspicious and remind her of an abusive parent. She and I had a long discussion the other day and during that conversation she told me that she refuses to be second to anyone. I have talked with several poly people about her demands. No one thinks they are reasonable, but because my husband does not know what he wants, I am living with the situation. My main goal is for him not to be hurt, however unlikely or even impossible that may be at this point. Her goal is to be equal to me in his life, apparently even if he gets hurt in the process. I have not demanded that he throw her out for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to hurt him and 2) I don’t want him to trigger when she leaves, again because it would hurt him.
I want my husband to be happy, but this situation is killing me. I want us all to be happy, but I don’t see how the V she and he want (even though he still doesn’t know if he wants to have children with her at all and she is openly working toward that) is even possible.
A friend of mine who knows about the situation said that it reminds them of King Solomon with the two women fighting over the baby – that one woman is putting her needs over the baby’s and the other is putting the baby’s needs over hers. My goal is for him not to get harmed. Her goal seems to be to get her way.
I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this. My main fear is that if I demand that she leave that he will trigger horribly when she does and that he will resent me and leave me. He has told me that absolutely won’t happen, but I cannot keep myself from being so frightened of the prospect. And, of course, the idea of him triggering (and getting hurt) is not pleasant either. I’m also afraid that if I demand that she go that I will be selfish in doing that. A friend of mine asked me what I would do if I had a secondary partner that demanded to be a primary partner and the comparison stunned me.
If you have any suggestions for how to handle this situation, I need to hear them.
At The End Of My Rope