This is my monthly column about our life, life in a triad in general, or whatever rants & raves I feel like talking about at the time.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
Several weeks ago I found myself in a situation I had never been in before, one that I honestly never expected to be put in. Because of this I had never given it any consideration and was completely blind-sided when it happened. In the original version of the forums, the one we lost in the crash, I had spent a fair amount of time talking about "messing with the locals". This involved our triad living as two separate married couples, which obviously we aren't. We often joked (and still do) about how the wife could simply change her appearance (wear her contacts and her hair up one day, glasses and hair down the next) to assume the persona of two different women. We had a great time with this (and still do, actually), but recently this escalated to a whole new level. As I said, several weeks ago I found myself in a situation that took me by complete surprise. This was nothing more than a question from a female co-worker.
"Clarify for me that your wife and Kriek's wife are not the same woman."
Wham! From seemingly out of nowhere that question echoed like a gun shot in my head. I was completely shocked that not only had she just asked me that, but that she had the nerve to ask it at all. This from a person that I know only as a co-worker. I wouldn't even say we're friends...acquaintances sure, but not friends. I regained my composure fairly quickly, which was helped along by the fact that I wasn't looking at her when she asked. I took a breath and answered in the first way that came to mind. I lied. That's right, I lied. At first I was very upset at myself, and felt really depressed at this whole interaction. I hated to lie, but then after I began to think about this I came to an important realization. My response was indeed a lie, but it was the only answer that I could have given here. I lied to protect my family.
In our user forums, PolyAnna recently told a similar story regarding her family being outed by a member of her family. I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail since you can read it for yourself, but the point she makes is that her wife told the truth when confronted with a similar situation. She told the truth to protect her family. This brings me to the point I'm trying to make. PolyAnna's wife told the truth while I lied. We both had the same goal in mind; to protect our family. I then came to realize that it didn't bother me so much that I lied to this particular person, but that I had to lie at all. Why should those of us who choose to live in alternative lifestyles be forced to lie about who we are? Why should we have to live in a closet in order to protect the sanctity of our family? Why should we not be allowed the same rights and privileges afforded other American citizens? I realize that what we're going through is no different from what the gay and lesbian community has been struggling with for decades. For many, many decades people have been forced to hide who they really are for fear of public outrage. While many countries around us continue to grow and move forward, allowing their citizens to slowly change long-termed definitions, we remain mired in the societal muck caked around our feet. Those of us who choose to be "different" stand to lose the most. I'm convinced that more folks would choose to live a polyamorous lifestyle if it weren't for society's negative views. This is supported by an email I received recently from a woman who had a question regarding life in a triad. Catherine wrote:
"How do you keep from losing your mind over the constant day-to-day reminders that they are a 'legitimate' couple (with a history that far predates you) & are always able to publicly show their mutual affection while you have to fade into obscurity in public situations? How in the world do you bounce back from that again & again? (I love my man but am constantly feeling dragged down by this lifestyle..) "
Society has forced us to be "dragged down emotionally" by not allowing us to live openly and honestly. You might term it differently, but those of us living a closeted life do so under tremendous pressures. We, the folks living a closeted life, are the ones who must bear the heaviest emotional burden. Or are we? Who says that the closeted family member is the only one who suffers because of this? It's my interpretation from reading Anna's post that her wife was clearly uncomfortable with not telling the truth in her situation. Despite the fact that her wife is the "legitimate" spouse, she risked losing "face" in the eyes of this person to protect the integrity of her husband as well as her wife...Anna. She didn't have to do this, but she chose to do what was best for her family and the reputation of every one involved.
So did I.
Kriek works on a military base. He's not a government employee, but he makes very good money. We rely on this as a large part of our family income. I don't think he is bound by any type of morality clause, but us being outed would only cause an unnecessary risk that we don't need. So I lied. We live in a very small town, one in which the fastest form of communication is word of mouth. It would only take one person that I didn't trust to spread our family business like wild fire. The woman who asked me this question is a huge gossiper, and she would be the one to tell everyone our business. So I lied. I love my wife with all of my heart and soul. She is my best friend, and the thought of her being given the label of "slut", "whore", or "cheater" is something that I would never be able to live with myself for. So I lied.
I lied about this, and if asked the same question under the same or similar circumstances, I would do it again. I could easily have told the truth, therefore letting everyone know our family business and perhaps "legitimizing" myself in the process. Having folks know the true nature of our relationship would make me happy and reduce a bit of the stress and burden I feel in the back of my mind, without a doubt. Protecting my family, though, is first and foremost in my mind. So I lied.
I'd do it again, too.
~ Chias, January 25, 2006
folks have read this article.