Maya is the hingepoint in a MFM V-triad that currently maintains a long-distance-relationship element. Her partners are Zuke, to whom she's legally married and in a relationship with for a total of 13 years and Kai, whom she's known for 18 years and in a relationship with for about 1.5 years. Maya and Zuke have 3 children and Kai has 2 from a previous marriage. With the ups, downs, distance and juggling -- this is Maya's Mayhem.

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

Challenges

Maya's View:

I've written about the 'good' of my relationship with Kai and Zuke. Now hear ye, there is also the "Bad". And, the "Ugly". Kai and I had an issue that came up which I would label as "Bad" and bordering on "Ugly". In the midst of it, I was angry, hurt and heartbroken. I cursed, yelled, cried and wailed. I became ill with the stress and my daily activities were put on hold for what was, thankfully, a short time.

I knew one day we'd have a falling out. We didn't, after all, go our separate ways 18 years ago on a whim. However, I was wholly unprepared for the intensity I felt. I just didn't expect to be so utterly devastated. I will admit that I may have even naively thought that difficulties between myself and Kai would have a softened impact because of both the distance and the poly nature of our relationship. I may have even expected that Zuke's presence in my life would shield me from or prevent any rawness that might come from a disagreement with Kai. I submit this was probably an error of thinking from being, in general terms, a poly-newbie. I further admit that the strength of my feelings for Kai was not even fully apparent to me until this reaction on my part. Another huge shock!

During this whole episode, I went through an emotional questioning phase. All of this had caused me to fear that we were about to become another statistic in the poly world. I revisited every reason I'd ever had to doubt Kai's constancy and in my anger might have made up a few as well. I started weighing the validity of Poly relationships in general and they weren't coming up all roses when I applied my feelings at the time. I even went so far as to wonder if I was a 'bad person' for having put my husband through this and it having, possibly, failed. I mean -- I bet the farm on this and here it was falling apart in front of my eyes. He reassured me multiple times that I wasn't a bad person and that this wasn't really about poly relationships. Remarkably, he was upset and angry along with me. I remember in one calmer moment thinking, "Wow, we really are a family..."

And therein lay the answer, the anchor, the rope back to sanity. We are a family and as such, there are going to be screw-ups, issues, failings, etc because of how life goes. I've recently been telling my daughter, "Family takes care of each other." With many discussions, phone calls, IM conversations and emails, we found a middle ground, worked it out and agreed to forgive and move on. With a few more 'ground rules', yes, but in the end, even more trust and security. We came out, tried and true, on the other side. And in a poly relationship. In a long-distance relationship.

Kai's View:

Every relationship has challenges and hurdles to overcome in order to be successful and LDRs are no exception. In fact, the process of dealing with those challenges in a LDR can take longer and sometimes stress the relationship to a breaking point. Unfortunately, we all makes mistakes; some big, some small. But even the best of normal relationships are strained when REALLY big offenses occur. This is especially true for an LDR because the impact of the offenses are amplified.. Phone conversations, emails and other forms of communication simply aren't always enough. Now take a Poly LDR imagine the difficulty when just one of the triad makes a stupendously bad judgment call. There aren't just two individuals that must come to terms, there are three.

I am in a poly LDR with my SO and her husband. Unfortunately, I live separately from them and am only able to be home on weekends and holidays. My weekdays are spent at my apartment when not at work. And while I love my SO beyond words, the strain of being separated is significant. And not to use that as an excuse, but the stress of being separated played a part in me making a very poor judgment call that carelessly betrayed the trust of my SO; a trust that had taken nearly two years to build between us. To make matters worse, not only was my SO affected, but her husband was as well. Both of them were very upset. How does a poly LDR survive such a dramatic turn of events? Instead of having to work things out with just my SO, I had to also consider her husband. But, being the long distance part of the relationship, I wasn't available to face them in person and thus we had to rely on email, instant messaging, and some very emotional phone calls. The healing process is difficult over phone lines and landlines; personal interaction, touching, crying, and holding are essential, yet unavailable. At least my SO had her husband to hold, talk to and to have consolation from. I, on the other hand, was stuck with no one to talk to, no one to confide in, no one to ask advice of. All I could do was apologize, ask forgiveness, and hope the damage was not too great.

Being separated could have made it easy for my SO to simply put up walls and push me away. She could have decided she didn't want me coming home for the upcoming weekend or even ever again. I am thankful this was not the case. I think that were it not for more than eighteen years of history between us, and the effort we have put into making this Poly relationship work, my actions would have resulted in me being told to not bother coming back. And I know our relationship will be at an end if I ever screw up like that again. I also think that were I home, not only would the mistake I made not have occurred, but even if did, we would have been able to face each other and the process of healing and working things out would have been easier and less stressful for everyone involved.

We all make mistakes, but when in a LDR, and especially a poly, even the mild mistakes can be amplified and difficult to overcome. Hopefully, those involved in LDRs have the ability to forgive and not allow the distance to become a factor in how they work things through.

Maya is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Maya; September 28, 2006

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