"The life of a blended family". Our Poly Life is written by any one of a poly-fi quad. Each month they will share with readers about issues they face as a blended and committed poly family with nine children still at home. You can read more about them at their website; Our Poly Life.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
The Unasked Questions
In the early days of our quad formation, we existed purely on fascination and raw energy. There was this magnetic force between us that made us blind to many of our shortcomings. But eventually the NRE began to wear off and the reality hit that all people are fully irritating in mass doses, even those with whom you are madly, wildly, and totally in love.
Along with that realization came a rapid settling in and an abrasive shaking out. It was like running full force on those moving sidewalks at the airport then leaping abruptly to a stop at the end. The reverberation caused us all to look up from our fog of infatuation and take a good hard look at the relationships themselves. If you had asked any of us eighteen months ago to rate our marriages, we would all have said strong, healthy, and totally solid. But what I’ve come to understand is how all events in life alter the person within.
It wasn’t as if we didn’t take time and fully consider the what-ifs of our cross coupling. We spent HOURS and HOURS and HOURS on the phone, IM, and email talking about everything we could think of that might come up as potential issues. Temptress and Goddess had been friends for over six years when the conversation changed to poly, so many of our basic personalities, patterns, and principles were already known. The concepts we spent time discussing were faith, politics, traditions, disciplines, past loves, and relationship dynamics. What we didn’t discuss is what we couldn’t forsee. What we should have asked each other is, “What else haven’t we discussed?”
There are many times in the life of a relationship when you think something is past and settled. Maybe even years have gone by since a challenge had surfaced. Those old issues, even when dealt with effectively, can rise again as your life situations change. A person can forgive and try to forget, but aged wounds are always more sensitive to reinjury, and one can never be certain when the time will come that those “forgotten” moments will require rehashing. Some of these aren’t even “couple” issues, but issues from even further back in our lives. I wish I had asked, “Is there anything from your past that still causes you pain?”
Childhood hurts and traumas can be one of the stickiest situations to overcome. Everyone has hang ups and bang ups originating from their family of origin. The trouble with these quirks is that we rarely see these (aside from the horrific) as anything other than normal. After all, doesn’t everyone’s family do it this way? The family thing lends itself to a myriad of questions, but let’s just hit the basics… “How did your family deal with stress, pain, anger, and disappointment?”, “How is your adult relationship with your siblings and parents?” and “What is something you want to bring with you from your past and what is something you definitely want to leave behind?”
Early couple issues or past grievances and indiscretions are directly applicable to any future poly situation. The damage done to a primary relationship, no matter how long ago can affect trust. Since polyamory has its base in openness, transparency, and trust, adding new partners can have great influence on those trust issues and how solid a partnership becomes. Ask your loves, “What has been the most important or reoccurring issue in your past relationships?” “How have you overcome or adapted so that this will have minimum effect on new relationships?”
When choosing to add new loves, or especially if you plan to combine households, there are plenty of other topics to consider dealing with; lifestyles, preferences, roles, chores, possessions, and children/pets. Beyond that, one must consider the sheer volume of changes when adding others to an existing family. This is bound to produce some stress induced anxiety. There are always a host of new issues that can crop up in the most secure and stable of relationships. So the message is to stay aware, keep communicating, and reach out to others who have experience with the unpredictable nature of polyamorous relationships.
We began our public musings and blog hoping to find other people in our situation. We would have loved to know what questions were tough, which ones brought doubts, and which ones only produced more questions. Now we stand near the end of our first major relationship overhaul and although somewhat weak from the battering, feel even more confident in our abilities to triumph in future readjustments. Conflict can cause either retreat or resilience. More than ever before, my restored hope in our poly life brings a twinkle to my eye and a smile to my face. Any questions?
Temptress, Fix, Goddess, and Mr. Big; October 13, 2006
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