Archive for March, 2015

Last weekend MS, HC and I embarked upon a new chapter in our lives: We moved HC in with us and we are working on an intentional family. It is something we’ve been talking about since last fall and actively planning since the beginning of the year.

The discussions about this started last Fall after a fire in the town-home adjoining HC’s. Her unit had extensive smoke damage and MS and I offered to let HC stay with us while her unit was clearing out. She stayed with us about 3 weeks and overall it was a positive experience. Then around Christmas we all began to talk about what it would look like if it were permanent.

And we all sat down right after New Year and talked about it. Then talked about it some more. We discussed living arrangements, date night arrangements, and general household rules and boundaries. And we talked some more. We’ve also been to several counseling sessions with a poly friendly counselor. Oh, and we talked some more.

One of the items we discussed is around success and failure criteria. In a more traditional monogamous relationship paradigm, a couple might consider cohabitation as a precursor to marriage. Or, that couple may go from dating and living separately to married life and living together. It seems that under that paradigm, the success/failure criteria are

  • It works and they live happily ever after, have children, grow old together, and live together until one or the other dies (The relationship escalator)
  • It fails and the couple breaks up, separates or divorces

For us, we’ve identified that the most likely cause for contention and conflict in our mini community will be personality differences. Knowing this ahead of time all three of us are going into this as a trial period. It’s not necessarily permanent and therefore we’ve set a timeline for 60 a day test.

And knowing and talking about potential issues ahead of time, during the next 60 days, we’ve set up some boundaries and general living guidelines.

  1. We have a weekly check-in. During this time we’ve chosen the breakfast nook area as our neutral corner to sit down and discuss things that may be bothering each other, to see how things are going, what worked, and what didn’t. The purpose is to try to derail potential issues that could build up over time and create meltdowns or crisis. For example, one person may have an issue with how someone leaves the bathroom after brushing their teeth. So rather than have it build up for weeks with a “God I’ve been walking into the bathroom for weeks and seeing toothpaste and makeup all over the sink, how can you be such a slob”, we bring these up in a non-confrontational manner using non-violent communication skills. “Hey, during the week I noticed every time I walked past the bathroom that I saw toothpaste splattered all over the mirror. It bothers me a little and I was wondering if maybe you could be more careful or wipe down the mirror afterward”. Since any two people living together are bound to have these types of issues, realizing and understanding them, and having a tool to meet them will help minimize them becoming major issue
  2. Privacy and alone time are other areas we are experimenting with. When a couple decide to marry or live together, often times it is under the assumption that “We’ve met our soul mate so everything will be perfect”. However, prior to that each have led a rather autonomous life with some periods of alone or downtime. An assumption is that once a couple has married, that their partner will fill all their needs or they become the joined-at-the-hip couple and do everything together. Therefore we’ve talked about respecting each other’s needs for alone time and or privacy. As such, we all decided that everyone gets their own room. MS and I rearranged the house and turned the office into a bedroom for HC. I upgrade the guest room in the basement and it is my room (I am writing from there now). MS keeps the master bedroom. This is each person’s private space and the agreement is that owner of that space, we invite people into it.
  3. Have flexibility and respect. All the boundaries we’ve discussed are just that: boundaries. They aren’t hard and fast rules that are made to be strictly followed and met with harsh punishment if broken. If something needs to change, we all discuss it. We make requests. We ask and talk about what we need and why.

Officially now, we are closing out day 2 of the experiment. HC moved in Saturday so Sunday was the first full day. However, that was spent finishing unpacking, last-minute shopping for needed items, and cleaning. Today we all got up and went to work, came home, ate dinner and watched a movie cuddling on the couch. Now it’s bed time. Last night I was invited to HC’s room where we slept together. Tuesday’s are typically MS and my date nights and nights where I sleep with her. Wednesday is HC’s and my night. Those are followed up by Friday date nights for HC and myself, then rounding out the weekend with date night Saturday with MS. By progression it seems Tue/MS, Wed/HC, Th/MS, Fri/HC, Sun/MS which means Monday night is everyone’s alone night. (see item 3 around flexibility).

That’s all for days 1 and 2. More to come as we start this new chapter in our lives.