15 July, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Eva and Mark

This post will take you through the looking glass.

Well, I kinda figure quite a few of my posts do: I'm not normal, as you've surely figured out by now. But even so, it's not every day you run across a blog post from a husband wishing his beloved wife and her boyfriend a happy anniversary.

Here's one.

As much as I would like to simply wish Eva and Mark a great day and a better year ahead and leave it at that--you know, the way you do with any couple celebrating an anniversary--a post like this regrettably has to have a whole lot of me in it. I hope there comes a day when that's not true...it'll be around the time that Hallmark starts selling cards for metamours.  But for right now, my newer readers (and probably more than a few of my older ones as well) are trying to wrap their heads around what they're reading here...and likely thinking some pretty uncharitable thoughts in the process.

It's okay. I've had my manhood questioned, vigorously, all over the place over the past year. Often with disgusted, derogatory and degrading terms, words infected with so much hatred they would paralyze me if I bothered to really hear them. People hate what they don't understand. I get it.

I, however, understand what all three of us are doing, here. That's kind of the point of polyamory. There are no secrets, no sneaking around, no deceptions.

Which isn't to say I know everything about Eva and Mark. Actually, I don't know very much at all. I know enough to know that Mark is good for her and she is good for him; that both of them are strengthened in each other's presence; that they love each other. You can say the same things about Eva and Ken, of course...which is why, in the end, those things are all I really need to know.

Naive? I should feel threatened? Think of this from Mark's point of view. Eva and I have sixteen years of history. I live with her, he doesn't. I am fully integrated into her life in a way that he is not. I could, in theory, suddenly demand they never see each other again. Not that I'd ever do such a thing, ever...but I could.

Who should feel threatened, again?

The answer, of course, is neither of us. The whole notion that the existence of one relationship threatens another is a holdover from monogamous, scarcity-minded thinking. Oh. I suppose it's within the realm of the possible that, years down the road, relationships may be re-jigged somehow...but don''t hold your breath. None of us have plans along that line, nor will we if and when other partners join the mix on one side or the other.

But Ken, what if they...?

Doesn't really matter what follows the ellipsis there...they've probably done it. I'm still here, Eva's still here, Eva and I are still here. Oh, I will admit to some but what if they thinking at the outset...when there was still only an us and before there was a they.  I wrote it all out in a document I entitled 'The Only Way Out Is Through' and the act of writing it helped me understand that in many ways there would not be a they, only a bigger us.

Note that evolution in my thought came before Mark did and long before I even began to consider what a bigger us would look like. (That's a lifelong consideration when you walk this road.)  It didn't settle entirely smoothly into place...it's kind of a wholesale change of brain, and there have been and will continue to be growing pains. At first I was prone to the

But Ken, what if he's a better ______ than you are?

jitters. Once my hindbrain shut up about those, I was able to sit back and actually look at that question and how stupid it is. What if, indeed. It goes without saying he's better than me at any number of things. Just as I'm better than him at any number of other things. Did I, or did I not, just get finished writing a blog about my disdain for competition? In reality, there is no "better". There is only different.

So how is Mark different?

He's a retired massage therapist, very deeply spiritual. Where my spirituality is cerebral and idealistic, his is tactile and grounded in realism. He has a hard-earned patina of world-weariness that matches Eva's in many ways. He's had an interesting life, full of higher highs and lower lows than I have experienced. He's very close to his brother; I don't have one.

It's not really worth it to dwell on differences, as far as I'm concerned. Mark and I are also similar in many respects: we're both compassionate, empathic, intelligent and deep people who highly value the genuine. A dear friend of mine paid me the ultimate compliment a few months back when she said "there's no room for plastic in your world". I believe the same is true of Mark. None of this should be a surprise:  Most people are attracted to a set of qualities. The more of those qualities you can find in your life, the better. That sentence is probably the strongest endorsement for polyamory I can come up with. Well, that and "too good not to share". Which is how I feel about Eva, and how she feels about me.

Hell, Mark and I are broadly similar physically.

It's not hard to respect the guy. It's not hard to value somebody who values Eva so highly. It's especially not hard to admire his consideration as he embarks on his first poly experience. He's been very careful not to appear to be treading on me in any way. In the end, I can't not care for anyone who cares for Eva, or whom Eva cares for herself.

This is, incidentally, my second. Poly experience, I mean. I haven't spoken much about the first one, which I would file emphatically in the "learning" drawer. That's for another day. I'm learning through this one, too. Difference being this time we're all on the same page.

It's a balancing act, right? No they, a bigger us. One of the guiding principles behind successful polyamory is allowing each relationship to find its own level. In order to do this, speaking specifically to our situation, it is important for me to ensure Mark has a say...just as it's important that he ensures I do, and just as both of us must consider Eva. There's the same give-and-take that there is in successfully monogamy, just split among more people. Is it complicated? Sometimes, yeah. But so long as you keep the One Commandment of Relationships, it's not really as complicated as you might think.

You know what the One Commandment of Relationships is, right? THOU SHALT NOT BE A DICK?

Now, people are probably wondering what each of us gets out of this arrangement. More to the point, what I get out of it...I mean, it's pretty clear what Eva gets, and reasonably clear what Mark gets, but me? I have no other partners of my own, not to the extent Eva does. So what's in it for me? I'll tell you.

I don't have to be all things for her. I never did, of course. But now I don't have to feel guilty for refusing to pretend. (There's no plastic in my world, remember?) I'll leave "things" to your imagination, though to be honest many of them are quite pedestrian. Our tastes in movies and television barely overlap. She cycles through interests like a disco ball, some of which I share, some of which I don't. Again, I neither have to pretend nor feel bad for not trying to.

I don't have to have husband mode on high 24/7. That looks beastly, sitting there bald-faced. I love my wife dearly, as should be obvious: just as much as you love your spouse. If you're honest with yourself, though, I bet you'll get the appeal of being able to power down at intervals, again without actually depriving your beloved of anything.

I get Mark's perspective. That's important, no matter what it covers. Mark sees Eva with different eyes, and he has different, valuable ways of seeing the world.

And of course, I have the opportunity to reach out and love someone, or someones, who could use my love...this isn't a triangle; a fourth line has yet to be drawn, is all. In the meantime, I get to improve my communication, my processing of emotions, and my compersion. In short, it's making me a better husband and a better person.

So thank you, Eva and Mark. Happy anniversary. May you have a lovely day, and a better year.


karen said...

Happy Anniversary to Eva and Mark!

It all sounds quite . . . enriching!

Have I ever mentioned my theory of relationships? I think that each person in a (two person, for instance) relationship is an absolutely separate, individual entity and that the relationship is a third entity created when they come together. The experiences outside the relationship, including other relationships, help to build and support the relationship, which in turn should enhance the lives of its participants.

Of course, this is not really what mostly happens is it?

Ken Breadner said...

hi karen...yeah, if it's done right, it is enriching. (If anything's done right, it's enriching, of course...all in your frame of mind.)
I like your theory! I And...well, actually, yeah, I think that's what mostly happens. There are many people in unhappy relationships...but there are also many, many people who are in wonderful, stable and supportive...enriching...relationships. Whatever model they choose.

Julia said...

I love your explanation of not "them", but "more us". Happy anniversary to you all!