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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “I opened up my marriage. I am having loads of fun, but he is not. How to cheer him up?”

Short answer: “Cheering him up” needs to be lower on your list of things to do.

As with many Fuckbucket items, there is no context here, so I’m going to hazard a few educated and/or statistically probable guesses:

  • This is a straight couple (individual orientations unknown), and you are a woman.
  • This was, at least in theory, a bilateral opening-up, that is, you both are able to see other people.
  • Your husband is not having fun because he is not getting a lot of action, at least not compared to you.

The third point is the one you both need to explore a little. Approach that first conversation gently, not in the spirit of “how can I fix you, your downer is bringing me down,” but “I think you are upset, but I don’t know why, and because I love you and want to understand you better, I would like to know.”

Is he jealous, that is, is he upset that you are having fun with people other than him? Or is he envious; does he wish that he were having the same amount of fun as you are?

Figuring out which of these two emotions is at the core of his lack-of-fun-having is just the first bit. Bonus: both can be present at the same time, and can fluctuate in amount and intensity over time and depending on a boatload of other factors, too. Yay, emotions! So complicated, er, nuanced!

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of writings out there in the open-relationship thinky-writey world about jealousy, and to a lesser degree envy. Many folks with open relationships experience jealousy and envy in themselves and their partners; of course, this is also true with monogamous couples as well, so polyamorous folks don’t have a lock on it by a long shot. But if you two were monogamous before, or even polyamorous "in theory," opening up the relationship can be a bit of a shock to the system, especially if for him, it feels like you’re getting all the benefits and he is not getting any (which is sadly the case for many male-female open relationships).

I’m speculating, sorry. Educated-guessing. This is just a relatively common scenario, based on what I see on Facebook forums.

Once you’ve gotten a little clarity on why he’s not having fun, don’t just barge in and try to make things fun for him; that way lies Resentment Town, and he may already be halfway there.

Instead, ask him what might help him to feel better, and then listen carefully to his answers. He might not know, in which case you can offer to check back. He might ask you for help writing a better personals ad. He might have specific suggestions or requests for what kind or amount of fun you’re having, and then you get to decide if you want to go along with those. He might say, just let me sort it out. He might say, you know what, I’m not having fun and I don’t think I am ever going to have fun with this open relationship thing.

I don’t know what he will say, but I can guarantee this: things are going to get deep and uncomfortable. Sorry, hon. This is definitely about way more than “cheering him up.”

*****

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