One Man, Three Husbands

In the last year, I have had friendships with three husbands, two of whom were lovers. Here’s why.

I returned to online dating about 18 months ago after a two-year hiatus. I found the online landscape a bit different than my initial foray almost five years ago. Maybe it was because I was on OKCupid which supports broad, open descriptions of wanted relationships, but I found myself being sought out by a large number of men who described themselves either as polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous.

My immediate reaction was to reject them on the grounds that I wanted my own guy and didn’t want to be the third to the party. But my rejections didn’t decrease the number of inquiries.

Over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to continue exposure to situations and take note of whatever is trying to be communicated to me.

I decided exploration and deeper understanding of polyamory and ethical non-monogamy (ENM) were required so that I would be clear about what I was rejecting. What better place to research than with some of these guys!

So I decided, for a bit, I wouldn’t immediately say no to the poly or ENM guy for that reason alone. I’d say yes if they would otherwise interest me. If I did the meet-n-greet, I could use the interlude for personal research.

Within two weeks, I had agreed to two meetings.

The first guy. Let’s just say: not at all what I expected. 

My reasoned research approach went right out the window within the first fifteen minutes.  Within 45 minutes I knew resistance would be futile.

He jumped right into my heart and I into his. This poem I wrote when I got home after our five-hour tete-a-tete brought to an end by the closing of the restaurant. The car-side goodnight kiss illuminated, literally, by the full moon.

I decided I was not going to predict the trajectory of a possible relationship. Simply be in the moment. Enjoy the ride and whatever scenery was part of the trip.

The challenge and thrill of this man lasted about two months before the reality of his life ended our liaison. I know I rocked his world and he, mine. That I am even posting this writing on this website is due in large part to his support of me as a writer. He, a well-published author, loved my erotic stories and challenged me to dive into the world of writing fiction.

Husband #2 I met a week later in another powerful exchange on a park bench in Portland’s Rose Garden. The exchange was joyful, the connection powerful. He had great eyes and a keen mind. Yet, I was overfilled by the other guy. I don’t do casual and, in the moment, I didn’t feel like I could do two. I asked to keep in touch. We did. When I returned home, I wrote this poem about the reality of my choice.

Several months later, when the first guy had moved on, I connected with #2 and we spent a couple of months enjoying each other. Until I asked him to only email me when he planned to come over. His email messages were saucy titillations, fun to read, but frustrating when there would be no in-person conclusion. I dislike getting hot and riled for no reason.

I’d learned that with the ENM types, I have little say in when he comes and go — that’s up to him and his other side. A condition I understood from the beginning but grew to dislike.

I know two examples are not enough for a sweeping generalization. However, in both cases, unresolved emotional issues within the marriage led to the choice of non-monogamy. Both times these issues colored our relationship and created baggage he was constantly tripping over and hung as dishonesty on his heart. The experience, independent of any issue, was fun and enriching. But, as I suspected, neither man could offer me long-term fulfillment.

Preferences clarified: I want one man for me and only me. I don’t do casual. I don’t want to share. I particularly still don’t want to be third to the party.

While I went through these experiences, the third husband was a good friend of mine. A hiking buddy who I explored trails, forests, and beaches — often just us two. Like the other gentlemen, he, too, had a wife who didn’t like to share either the trail or a bed. While this guy wasn’t my bedmate, he did revel in listening to my stories and he is a large inspiration for my Natural Heat series (this is the story series which comes to my mailing list exclusively).

Lots of conversation with all three revealed much of the psychology and reasoning for ethical non-monogamy. Not that I wanted to continue to be a willing participant but aspects I could understand because of the less than satisfactory sex life of my 25-year marriage.

Yes, it has to do with wanting great sex. But, at a deeper level, it has to do with all the levels at which touch and connection is desired. In its absence, there is a hole which yearns to be filled, to be acknowledged, to be loved.

All three husbands — and me included — wanted desperately to feel connected at the deepest levels especially within a physical context. Again, the lack of touch wasn’t entirely about a lack of sex. With these three, their heart-touched yearning was to be intimate mind to mind, body to body, and heart to heart.

I set out to research an expression of multiple relationship. One or two meet and greets, I thought, and I am good. Twelve months later, I have had some of the most amazing experiences with three delightful, intelligent, loving men. More than I bargained for, richer for the experience.

I’m so thankful to me that I said yes.  Now I can make choices for myself as I go forward armed with real experience and not unfounded fears.

The following is a bit of a parable I wrote about One Man.  I believe the feelings and motivations represent husbands who seek out the ethically non-monogamous relationship as a solution to a desire unattainable within their primary relationship.


One Man

Once upon a time there was One Man who loved his life, his family, and his creative efforts in the world especially his writing.

As life progressed, he found that he had to give up parts of his happiness for his wife to be happy, or at least to be less sad. He perceived that this effort would be best for the overall happiness of his family and particularly for his kids.  He made these choices though they dug deeply at his heart and at the deepest intimate desires he had for his life.

To accommodate that which was almost unbearable, he erected a wall in order to create a refuge for himself. On one side was the majority of his life. On the other, he put his writing and creative work. In this safe place he could explore the intimacy for which he hungered. Keeping the separation made him hope he would not need to give up the refuge.

While this was not ideal, for a while this refuge sustained him and filled him enough that he was able to tolerate giving up other aspects of himself on behalf of the other side of the wall. His children were beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful. He loved them beyond the moon and the stars. Surely, he thought, his sacrifice was the best path forward for all.  It was … for a while.

Until one day, the One Man realized that he was going numb. He couldn’t let go of his dreams and desires and remain sane, happy, and connected to the deepest motions of his heart.  He began to see that he needed to make choices for himself.  He realized that his deep desire for loving partnership was not something he could relinquish without severe emotional and possibly physical consequences to himself and maybe even to his wife and children. Because his children were growing into amazing young adults, he decided that as painful as it might be, he needed to begin to make life decisions he truly wanted without compromise.

One Man approached his wife and told her of his frustration and pain. At first, she could not understand and perhaps didn’t want to understand. With some effort, the man and his wife were able to identify that she wanted different experiences in relationship than her husband.

One Man was able to identify to himself that his desires for partnership were not going to be met by his wife. Her values and desires were much different than his. She was not capable of shifting or learning a new way that would satisfy his desire.  They did, however, decide that the man might seek out a companion who might offer what the wife would not.

This was a decision which was both pleasing to the One Man and distressing. The man was required to separate a part of what was truly important to him from his primary relationship and hope to find what he wanted in another relationship.  Again, a compromise. In the face of maintaining his family, the man made the choice to try this to at least find a portion of what he desperately sought and had long been denied.

With the agreement that he would keep his wife informed, he began his search.  The man was able to meet several nice women whom he enjoyed.  But the experience of knowing her husband was elsewhere was too much for the wife. Though she couldn’t make a change in herself, she asked the man to stop. He did . . . for a while. But the tension within him did not abate. His desire for what he wanted, if anything, became more intense and driving, no longer ignorable. He asked his wife to shift their agreement to one where he would seek but not reveal his actions. She agreed.

Once again, the One Man sought connection. He sought the type of connection he truly desired, without compromise. He again met several nice women, but not the compelling connection he sought.  

Until one day, unexpectedly, he met the kind of woman he truly desired. His actions toward her were swift and focused, wanting to make sure of her and her choice toward him. Most unexpectedly of all, this woman was a writer and they connected in many wonderful ways. Ways he had only dreamed of, ways which filled his cup to overflowing, ways which brought incredible happiness and satisfaction.

One Man did with her what he had done years before with his writing.  He put her in his refuge, on the other side of the wall from all the rest of his life. Which at first made sense and was what he had thought he would do if ever he was so fortunate. There was a way that it worked … for a while.

However, his life didn’t change as much as it became more complicated.  His kids were growing up and needed different support and encouragement from him.  His work life shifted drastically and unexpectedly. Work life satisfaction went up dramatically, yet the time commitment greatly expanded causing stress at home.  

One Man found himself increasingly unable to tolerate all that he had given up, especially in the relationship with his wife. In his heroics and his denial, she did not change. The new woman was exhilarating and a painful reminder of the price of his willingness to divide his life.

One Man realized that he needed to make changes.  He didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the relationship with the new woman. However, he could no longer let the best of himself languish. He went to this new friend and told her a bit about his dilemma, hoping that the sharing would ease the pain of his inner separation.

He also expanded his refuge a bit for himself by finding a small home to which he could retreat to see to himself, to make decisions about his future, and, most importantly, to reacquaint himself with him.

What he found in his refuge was liminal space for himself. A space only for him. A space which answered a deep need for solitude. A space he surprisingly found he did not want to share with anyone or anything, but his pen and paper and his new cello. But was not a place for his family. Instead, this was a place for him to act as anchorite to his family . A space which held him in his old beliefs about himself.

This new refuge was also not a place for the new woman. He found he could not cross the wall to her and tried to bury her in the hubris of his restraint and the demands of work.

Within this liminal quiet came the frantic call of his children, no longer able to live peacefully in the illusion of trust maintained in their home.

In the emergency of family, One Man threw his anchor over the wall believing that maintaining marriage vows was the only solution to his children’s distress. He returned to his home fortress with the mask of deceit firmly in place again.

Living now without One Man, the new woman knows peace and happiness for herself. Yet, when she looks in the direction of the One Man, she sees only stress and frustration hidden by the conventions of a marriage arranged solely for the refused actions by one and the denied heart of another.

She is thankful to be free from One Man’s less than honest reality. Sad that the One Man has had to vanish from himself.

Though the first weekend together with the One Man was pure, heavenly delight.


Sacred Sexuality is Sacred Hot – that ability to entwine the sensual and the spiritual within relationship.

For more articles exploring the celestial and the intimate check out more articles in this section of my website: Sacred Sexuality.