I’ve mentioned in several previous posts the benefits and blessings of nontraditional relationships. In the year that my husband, boyfriend, and I have been working together as a family, I’ve learned so much, and I’ve experienced so many joys. But I would be remiss if I didn’t state that poly is a lot of work…for everyone involved.
If my hubby and I were struggling, or if I didn’t desire to invest more effort in my marriage; that is, to look for ways to make things work better, to compromise, to listen, to support…there is no way in hell I could feel justified in investing in a secondary relationship.
Perhaps it’s because my hubby and I have been through so much together, but when I take a step back and really LOOK at what makes us so good together, I realize it comes down to a few simple things:
- We talk about everything – or at least, we try to. We ask each other, “what makes you happy?”, “what would you like to be doing in 5 years? 10?”, “what would you like more of from me?”, “less?”
- We have a common vision of our future together, give or take a few details. We know what we want, and what we don’t.
- We look for ways to support each other’s individual goals when they diverge from our shared vision.
- We manage our finances together; we discuss saving and spending priorities to deal with short-term issues while supporting our longer-term goals.
- We make time to check-in with each other (my hubby’s particularly grateful for the PMS warnings he gets a few days each month!)
- We have fun together. Play and humor are a priority.
This is the foundation. To open one’s marriage without it – in my opinion – is to court disaster, because it leaves a couple unprepared for the effort additional intimate relationships require:
- to face ambiguous, awkward, and uncomfortable situations with patience and an open mind
- to identify one’s own emotional states, and communicate them effectively to all partners
- to listen to and empathize with all of one’s partners
- to make accommodations and compromises so that everyone’s needs are addressed
- to extend support to one’s partners in times of need
Every poly arrangement is a custom job, but the key ingredients are all the same. A high level of communication is essential to transparency and trust. Poly will not work without it.
I’m very fortunate that my hubby and boyfriend hold me accountable for doing my part; that when I get into one of my ruts, they’ll prompt me to look at what I’m avoiding, and it’s always done lovingly. This is one of my favorite things about my most intimate relationships…that we help one another grow and learn.
I know that I often speak of how great my poly situation is, but I do not do so to brag. Quite the contrary, I am so amazed by it, because I hardly feel worthy of one beautiful romantic relationship, let alone two. At the same time, I recognize that the person I am now makes this possible; for a very long time, I was the most significant problem in my relationships. It has taken a long time, and a lot of hard work to turn that around.
Which brings me to the point of how one ‘does poly well.’ I think that if we’re willing to entertain that we’re at least partially responsible for what doesn’t work in our relationships, if we are willing to look at what we could do better, then I think it’s possible to sustain multiple healthy partnerships.
Like so many other things, healthy poly requires a healthy me.