You might never have heard of the word ‘compersion’ before – neither had I until a couple of years ago when I was reading an article written by someone in a very happy polygamous relationship. It struck me deeply because I find language is such a help to disentangling thoughts and feelings to make sense of them. The feelings of jealousy brought on by being in polygamy were bringing me down and there seemed to be no solution to them apart from completely blocking them out (or some form of extreme hypnotherapy maybe?!). I knew denying these feelings was not psychologically healthy long-term, but how else could I turn this around? .
I later came across the term again, and that it had polyamorous roots. Compersion can be defined as “the positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship. Sometimes called the opposite or flip side of jealousy.”
Feeling the opposite to jealous – this must be good! And I have seen it – women who are in polygamous situations are genuinely happy and in fact happier that their husband has another wife.
So I thought it is worth a try, what do I have to lose? By trying to be on good terms with a my co-wife, trying to help her, seeing her as someone I can like – love even – rather than as the competition, why should I be afraid of losing out? All the negativity I was feeling was doing nobody, especially myself, any good.
I see it is rather like the concept of giving a gift to a stranger – not expecting anything back, but actually the good feelings you get from doing this are more valuable than the gift itself. You haven’t lost anything – in fact, you have gained. And if the gift is to someone you love – your daughter, your mother for example – this can be even more rewarding.
So a few days after finding out about cowife #2, I made an effort to consciously feel good feelings for her, to be happy for her having time with someone we both love. In the end, their relationship didn’t work out, and now I (and my husband) have an unclosed chapter in this story, not knowing exactly why things happened as they did. The short time I let compersion into my life showed me another path to take when jealousy strikes; I have learned that the situation isn’t hopeless, there are ways to feel better about sharing my husband. Not that I am saying I am now in love with the idea of being in polygamy, but if it happens again, I have some hope I will cope if I use compersion, and maybe find a new kind of happiness.