(excerpt from The Polyamory Toolkit)
Once when dawn came home from a date and she started to tell me about how great it was, she suddenly stopped and asked “Is everything ok?”. I smiled (or perhaps gritted my teeth) and said “Yep, is fine, go on…” and she went on with her story. And at the end, she again asked me, “Is something wrong?”.
Our most serious, intense, and emotional arguments have come about after we began to try polyamory. I’m not telling you that to scare you off of poly (although let’s face it, it isn’t a selling point). Although dawn and I argued before we started practicing polyamory, we did what many couples do; when a touchy subject came up, we skirted around it and let it pass. With polyamory, that just doesn’t work. You have to face those tough subjects so that you can make progress and move beyond them.
We have a few agreements we hold to so that when we do an argument, they don’t become fights. One of those is the “48 hour rule”. There are a few aspects that make up this tool. First, if you ask me what is wrong, and I say nothing, then you trust me that nothing is wrong. Which means I can’t count on you to read between the lines or guess, and my passive behavior “NOTHING” gets ignored. This is valuable because it forces me to take responsibility for my emotional state and to speak the truth – if something is wrong, I have to say so. And if I say “Nothing”, then you should go on about the day as if nothing is wrong, even if I am lying. This isn’t to be cold or ignore me – it is to set the requirement that we have to learn to speak up when we need to. But for this to work, there is another answer that I can give – instead of nothing, I can say “Yes, but I don’t want to discuss it now”.
Because sometimes something is wrong but I don’t want to talk about it yet. It might be that I am upset and don’t want to speak from anger, or that I need some time because I am an internal processor, maybe that I just don’t feel like dealing with it right then. So it is fine if I say “Yes, something is wrong, but not ready to discuss it”. Now, often dawn will ask “Is it me?” and I’ll say ‘no, just need to chew on it’ and that is the end of the conversation…for now.
This is where the 48 hours part comes in. I have 48 hours to bring it up and address it – and if I don’t, then I have to let it go and it is over. That means we never we don’t get to use something that happened four years ago as ammo for a current argument. Instead, when I ready to talk about it, I let the person I want to talk to know and we grab a chair and have a chat.
The Polyamory Toolkit
A book that focuses on specific tools people can use to address the common issues and deeper aspects of a polyamorous relationship. This work includes topics such as: Jealousy, Compersion – finding joy in your partners’ joy, Communication, Mitigating Triggers, Creating a Solid Foundation, and so much more.