Poly and Parenting

It’s kind of funny – as I write that title I’m like…  uhh I can’t write this, I’m not a parent yet, duh! But then again, not being a parent, let alone a parent in a poly relationship, has not stopped a single person from sharing their thoughts so hell, why don’t I give it a try.

We get a TON of questions about how our relationship affects our plans to be parents.  It’s not the questions I mind so much – actually we welcome more or less all questions because we’d rather people ask than assume.  The annoying part of these questions is the number of people who ask and then immediately tell us what they feel is the correct answer.

Can I just pause for a second here and tell ya’ll something? We’re not “trying”. We want kids to be a part of our future not our right now. So whatever we haven’t figured out, we’ve got time.

But I’ll be honest. When you get serious in a relationship you talk about the future. You talk about values, what kind of lifestyle you want, what your big life goals are, and what a family looks like or means to you.

If you want to be pessimistic you can imagine a different future for us than what we imagine for ourselves but ya’ll know it’s rude to root against someones love life and what makes them happy. And I know ya’ll aren’t rude.

So let me answer some questions:

Yes, we want children.

No, we don’t know how many but 2 is a good bet.

No, at this point we don’t plan to plan who the biological parents are. Oops – there’s a controversial one. Here’s the thing, we all plan to be the kiddos parents. I’m not going to parent a child any less because they are biologically Maggies or more because they are biologically mine. We all live under one roof and we operate as a family unit.  We plan to keep it that way as we think about bringing children in to our lives. They will be loved and looked after by all of us.  Like any other couple, when we’re ready, we’ll be throwing out the birth control methods and carrying on as usual. What happens from there happens.

I know people think it has to be pretty simple to just plan who you’re getting knocked up by, but it’s not.  I’ve tried to talk on this blog about how each of our relationships is unique and no one relationship gets to set the rules or boundaries for another. For me to say I wanted to have a baby with one man specifically would be allowing my relationship with that man to limit my relationship with the other man in order to ensure the biological parentage of the child. Given that we all expect to parent equally, setting those kind of boundaries doesn’t make sense for the relationships we’ve built.

On a related note, we won’t be announcing the biological parentage of babies born in our family. I mean, why would we need to? We’re assuming that our family and friends who will continue to be a part of our lives as our family grows will love our growing family for what it is: a family.

The world is a confusing place, we’re pretty sure that having 4 loving parents is not going to be a huge problem for our children. I mean, we had this conversation about same sex parents, right? There were a bunch of people who could barely fathom same sex relationships and so were completely unhinged at the idea that a child might not understand having two moms or two dads. But children understand love. Time and time again they’ve proven this to the world. Even the young children in our lives now – children of friends and family – handled us coming out better than most. It goes like this:

“Hey, you know how you have this Aunt and Uncle?”

“Yeah”

“And they love each other?”

“Yep.”

“Well, they also love this other man and woman.”

“Okay.”

“And basically the four of them just all love each other and they’re very happy together.”

“Does this mean I get extra gifts at Christmas?”

That is the most vital question a child has asked about our relationship. Does two more people coming into a relationship they’re familiar with mean that they get more Christmas gifts.  Whoa – so confused.

You can stop worrying about our childrens confusing home life now. They’ll be fine.

We have similar values about raising children. That’s a big part of how we know our children are safe from the concerns of others. We believe in raising children in a loving environment.  We believe in rules and routine.  We agree when it comes to dicipline. We believe in teaching them about the whole world, not just our world. We agree with each other on the important things.  They’ll be loved beyond belief.

These hypothetical children will be ours. No really, like any parents, parents to be or hypothetical eventual parents the bottom line and most important fact I can possibly provide you: who to have children with, what our household looks like and how to raise them is entirely up to us and absolutely doesn’t need your opinion about what’s best. You might feel that opinion passionately, you might even be a little bit not okay with the idea of us raising children as a polyamorous family. That’s fine. But if you think that your discomfort or opinions are a factor in our family plans I’m not super sorry to inform you, you’re mistaken.

Carmen

 

 

“Date Night” in the Polyamorous Life

There’s many conventions of dating that can change or shift when in a polyamorous relationship.  Deciding to engage in a polyamorous relationship hasn’t taken away our favourite conventions from our days of monogamy but it has affected exactly what those conventions look like. For example, date night.

Of course not every night you’re with a loved one is inherently a date. Especially as a relationship goes on, you move in together, you must handle day to day tasks and not all your time together is spent focused on how much you adore each other.  That’s what makes date nights so special, right? Ben and I have always tried to plan date nights where we can focus on each other and maybe take time to get outside our routine to try something new or do something just for fun. This was part of Maggie and Tom’s marriage, too, so it’s no surprise that we all still love a good date night.

But what exactly does date night mean for us now?

Just the Two of Us

Well – any two of us, really.  I have date nights with Ben, date nights with Maggie and date nights with Tom.  What we do with the time depends on who I’m with and what we need in that moment.

Having multiple relationships pushes each of us to be cognizant of the time, effort and energy that we give each other.  If we weren’t conscious of our actions and efforts it might be easy to become very romantic with one partner while becoming very pragmatic with another.

For example, Maggie and I are both planners. We like organization, timelines, details and knowing exactly how our days and weeks should unfold.  Both Ben and Tom are used to these qualities and leave a lot of planning to us.  This means that in our time together it’s easy for us to get preoccupied with planning.  We check in with each other about upcoming events, meal plans, who needs to be where when…. before we know it dinner is over and we might be super satisfied with the plans we made but we didn’t really take time for ourselves.

Planning a date night is a signal to ourselves as much as it’s a signal to everyone else: This is relationship building time. The practical stuff can wait. Right now, it’s about nurturing our love for each other.

In all three of my relationships I look foreword to our date time and the chance to nurture these unique relationships.

Have Fun you Two!

We often plan date nights according to events we’re interested in. Concerts, plays, and festivals all make great venues for a date.  We also plan according to important dates like anniversaries.  This can mean that a date night for one couple isn’t necessarily a date  night for another.

For example, if Ben and Maggie go to a beer festival that doesn’t automatically mean Tom and I will hunt for date plans.  We’ll more than likely be enjoying the time to ourselves but in a less formalized way.  We might catch up on some t.v, sneak out for icecream and maybe get some derby cars built.

I’ve written before about the effect of “compersion” – the opposite of jealousy. This can really  be felt on a date night where two of us staying home are perfectly content and happy for our partners who are off to enjoy some well deserved time together.

I guess it’s also convenient too as we can choose to invite partners to events that interest them and not force partners that aren’t interested. Maggie and I can catch all the “girly” movies together, call it a date when we get our nails done, and plan shopping trips to spend time together.  Meanwhile Ben can take Maggie to all the beer festivals which they both enjoy and neither Tom or I have interest in.  Tom and I this summer have gone to watch a lot of the derbys he hasn’t participated in while Maggie and Tom have always liked a good dinner and movie date.

Ultimately having multiple partners has meant having more opportunity to connect over common interests and not force date nights in venues only one partner is really interested.

Three’s a Crowd and Four is…?

Not surprisingly there are things that get all 4 of us interested.  Sometime’s it’s a new Marvel movie or a big concert like Trackside Country Music festival in London, Ontario. On these occasions we go as a family.  I guess the idea of being out somewhere and seeing your partner with other partners is very strange to some but it’s become our daily norm.

It’s really nice to get out sometimes and bond as a family.  However unique our individual relationships with each other we’ve ultimately moved in together and committed to living our day to day lives together. It’s nice when our common interests bring us together.

We’ve had our Weird moments, and Gotten Over It

I guess in conclusion the biggest thing people struggle with is thinking of all the potential for awkward moments and weirdness.  Like is it weird knowing that your spouse is on a date? Is it awkward saying bye to them as they leave, or greeting them when they come home? Do we flip coins for who’s with who for what?

Yeah, we went through that phase too. We spent time staring at each other trying to figure out how to ask for a date night or suggest a date for an event or something.  We wondered what the proper protocols might be for coming and going and how to interact with each other in all kinds of new situations.

Then, all of a sudden we woke up one day and didn’t wonder anymore. We loved each other, we trusted and were happy together, there was nothing to be weird about.

What makes Polyamory work for Us

  1. None of us are prone to jealousy and all of us understand our responsibility to cope with jealousy in a healthy way.
    Not being prone to jealousy doesn’t mean we’ll never look at our spouses with their boyfriend or girlfriend and think it might be nice if we had the same thing they have in a given moment.
    Instead, it’s committing to acknowledge those feelings and that jealousy ultimately is about us – not them. As an example: I need to remember, if I’m feeling jealous over something, that nothing between Ben and Maggie takes away from what I have with Ben or what I have with Maggie. Jealousy is sneaky and makes us feel like someone’s got it better than us when in fact we don’t mean to undervalue what we have.
  2. We’re all genuinely happy to see each other happy.
    I guess this goes along with the low levels of jealousy but it’s deeper than that. There have been many aspects of Ben’s life that brought him happiness outside of our relationship – the bands he’s jammed with, music in general, a whole University degree that just dizzy’s my little arts brain (he’s a computer scientist.) I’ve always taken pride in supporting his interests and hobbies outside of our relationship so I guess it was a natural extension to encourage him when sparks flew between him and Maggie. This is just another way he as an individual can experience happiness that compliments, not complicates, our happiness together.
  3. We’re so lucky we sometimes just sit around in amazement
    Seriously – it’s not that surprising that Maggie and I are compatible a partners. We found each other while both lost on a school trip and never let go of each other. We’ve been best friends for a decade and even when we did not see each other often we were always there to support each other. Our romance developing isn’t super surprising.
    But what are the chances that we would also be very compatible with each others husbands?
    Then again, people say Maggie and I are very similar while Ben and Tom are very different. It’s true that Ben and Tom have very different hobbies but at their cores, when it comes right down to values and how they prefer to live, they are not that different.However it happened, we’re glad it did!

Carmen