Like many, Angel stumbled into polyamory quite by accident. She and her husband have been happily married for four years, and recently opened their marriage and their hearts to the possibility of poly relationships. She shares the ups and downs of being new to the lifestyle and navigating the emotional and practical issues that come along with it.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Making time for family

Ah, the necessity of scheduling.

You don't really appreciate your calendars, day planners, blackberries, and cell phones until you try combining the schedules of three adults and two children into some semblance of balance.

If you live together it might be easier I suppose, I wouldn't know, but trying to keep tabs on everyone becomes quite interesting.

Poly people can have heated and intense discussions about scheduling. How best to do it, which day planner or online calendar system works best. Group scheduling is a big deal, and the more people you add to your life, the more complicated it gets.

We found that scheduling is especially vital when it comes to making time for outside lovers as opposed to your spouse or mates that you live with. In the beginning of our poly relationship, my husband ended up feeling like I wanted to spend all my time out with my boyfriend and no time at home, with him. I on the other hand felt like I never got to see my boyfriend and was at home all the time. Probably because I am a stay at home mom, so I really was spending 90% of my time at home, but since Jack works long hours, very little of that time was with him.

This caused us a great deal of conflict when we just sort of made plans here and there. Jack felt neglected, my boyfriend felt like he never knew when he was going to get to spend time with me, and I felt frustrated and torn.

So Jack and I sat down and hashed out our part of the schedule. Then I consulted my boyfriend to get his input, and we all came to a very amicable agreement. Once that was in place a lot of hassles were avoided. Jack knew that he had specific time with me, as did my boyfriend, and it worked well.

Scheduling of that nature can also be important for such things as phone calls and IM conversations. For us, we decided that my talking to my boyfriend would not run into my time with Jack, nor would Jack call me unnecessarily while I was spending time with my boyfriend. That way neither felt that the other was robbing them of quality time with me, and I didn't feel like I was neglecting either of them.

We have very busy lives. With Jack working, the kids, our respective families with whom we like to spend time, various other social commitments, friends, and so forth, I often joke that I need three months notice if you want to get together for coffee. It's sort of funny, except in a way it is true. I really want to add more friends to my life, but only if we can be friends who only get together every quarter.

A few tips on scheduling. If possible, get together as a group to discuss schedules and time commitments. If you have more than one significant person in your life, especially if they do not all live with you, set time aside for each of them on a regular basis. For example, my boyfriend and I would get together for wings every Monday night. That was our guaranteed regular date each week. On top of that, on most weeks (unless it was out of the question due to other commitments) I would also spend an overnight with him on the weekend at some point.

If you schedule time with a specific person, make it a priority. Do not change your plans unless there is something unexpected and very important that comes up which you cannot work around. In that case, shift that block of time to the next available space, because your lovers have a right to get to see you.

I know all of this does not leave a lot of room for spontaneity at first glance, but there are ways around that as well. For instance, if I know I am getting to see person A on a specific night, we may not make any solid plans for that time and just do something spur of the moment. Scheduling is vital in such complex relationships. Also, if one of your lovers wishes to be spontaneous, they can also make arrangements through your other lovers in order to do that. Scheduling is negotiable, just try not to make a habit of moving things around too much or you will be back to square one.

Having an online calendar (such as 30 or the new Gmail calendar system) is an advantage because everyone in the group can have access to add events to the calendar. That way if you want to make plans for a certain time you can check that there are no conflicting events. That only really works if everyone commits to making an effort to add events as soon as they know about them. You could also appoint one person in a larger tribe, who is fond of organizing, to run the schedule. Get yourself a yahoo group and events can be added and family members can sign up for notifications.

Making a schedule can also prevent conflicts over people feeling that their 'things' or events are always given lower priority than other people's. If one person feels like they are always getting pushed aside, it just breeds resentment, which is never a good thing.

So go out and buy yourself a dozen calendars, sign up for every day planner program online, never let your blackberry out of your sight, and you are all set.

Nobody's Angel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Nobody's Angel; June 14, 2006


folks have read this article.