Tonight I sought Traveler’s advice on a situation with Cleveland. I’ve been concerned that my relationship with Cleveland might be messing up or exacerbating or making stuff harder with Cleveland’s wife. They have been together a long time and seem to have a very strong loving and happy marriage, but there have been some “growing pains”. I am assured that it isn’t me, but I can’t help feeling like maybe my presence in Cleveland’s life might not be the healthiest thing.
I want the relationships I have with others to be nurturing and fulfilling and make us better or happier or more supported. I do not want to be a cause for angst or discord and I REALLY don’t want to do to anyone what happened to me in my marriage. I never want to be a contributing factor to someone going through what I’ve been going through. I started thinking maybe I needed to offer a break so that Cleveland could spend a little time shoring up and addressing whatever is up in his life. Maybe I needed to bow out gracefully.
Part of me is totally on board with this. It seems obvious to me that if I were creating a situation where Cleveland had to be caught between me and his wife and partner of 18 years.. uh.. duh.. I need to let go. If I am making her unhappy or wrecking what they’ve made I just don’t want the beautiful thing I’m building with him because that is too high a price. I love Cleveland. I really do. But he’s known me a handful of months and we’ve had what… maybe 80 dates? That’s not nothing. We have been and are putting a lot into this, but it’s pale in comparison with what he and his wife have built in decades as life partners.
Traveler came to the same place with this. He was recommending that maybe I talk more to Cleveland and maybe consider taking a break if it might be helpful to focus the attention he needed to on his marriage. I agreed whole-heartedly with what Traveler was suggesting, and it lined up with my ideas too, but there was this little part of me that rankled.
It’s this. Saying that it’s obvious that if this relationship is messing with his marriage that it’s obvious that this relationship must end or accommodate whatever the marriage needs to thrive is saying that this relationship is worth less than that one. We aren’t saying it that way and nobody is suggesting it, but it’s true. Saying that a happy relationship that is fulfilling for all parties would clearly need to be halted for another relationship’s needs is putting this one below that one. We say we aren’t ranking, but well.. there is some ranking that is just common sense. It’s that thing that happens sometimes. There is ideal and pure belief and then there is hard cold reality. I can accept this, as much as I don’t love it. It is reality and I’m a practical girl. And more to the point.. I never want my love and being with me to be a thing that would result in my love’s ultimate unhappiness. And don’t kid yourself. If their lifelong partnership with their best friend that they still think is dead sexy were killed by my love.. it would make them ultimately less happy. I would hate every moment of it and it would be very hard, but I would do what I could. If they later, not based on me, ended up ending anyway or making hard decisions for themselves or they’d grown apart or something.. well.. then that’s another thing.
Then it made me ask the other question that follows.
If I am expendable, and it seems I am in the right circumstances (and you could argue this is true of everyone, but still), would I always be expendable? Listening to Traveler kinda cutthroat my own view of my expendability here with Cleveland I wondered.. what if it were Traveler?
I hemmed and hawed trying to ask what I was asking. Finally Traveler asked “are you asking me if my wife for some reason demanded I stop seeing anyone else and we move to Alaska or else, would I?” Well. Yes. That’s pretty much exactly what I was asking. Traveler’s Wife would NEVER do that. She is just not wired like that and wouldn’t dream of doing that to him, but yes. Would there be a time when such a demand would simply not be met with compliance? Would there ever be a time when “wife” doesn’t so automatically usurp anything else? Would there be a time when a problem in THIS relationship didn’t automatically demand anything it wanted to from THAT relationship. To be specific… I wanted to know what he would say to that. Would there be that time for HIM.
Where I am standing now it’s clear that if it were necessary I would need to sacrifice what I have with this guy I love if his marriage needed it, but I want to think that it won’t ALWAYS be that way. I want to think that someday it would be unthinkable to throw me away if your other partner needed you to do so. I am not treated like a “secondary” in so many respects, and Traveler seems to hate that word as I do. I am very much respected and treated as a whole person, but I wondered, after hearing him quickly endorsing a number of solutions up to and including backing off if my relationship was hurting Cleveland’s other relationship, would letting me go ever be unthinkable? Would I ever not be expendable?
Happily, yes, and maybe already. It’s already unthinkable that he’d just move away or that he’d end things with Peaches or I. Too much of him is in these relationships. He stole my word and said he’s too “invested” now.
Happily it doesn’t seem that is anywhere near necessary with Cleveland at this time. He and his wife are already working on and healing their growing pains and it’s nowhere near as dire as I imagined with little info. Maybe my partners don’t feel I’m any more expendable to them than I feel they are expendable to me. And maybe that’s not entirely accurate because I do think there are still a number of things that would equal my expense, but I like knowing it won’t ALWAYS be that way and the list of what would equal my expense is shrinking all the time.