When I married my husband, Greg, we were monogamous, but we hadn’t always been. I found him on OKCupid following the end of a seven year relationship with my third husband. Greg was in a polyamorous marriage, that ended shortly after we started dating. I had been consensually non-monogamous/polyamorous in other relationships in my life before – my first marriage and a long term, long distance relationship. Consensual non-monogamy and polyamory (or multiamory for those who don’t like to mix Greek and Roman words) had worked for me on some levels and caused me a lot of guilt and shame on other levels. I had work to do, and so did Greg, so we decided to close the relationship and do the work.
I’m so glad we did. After three and half years of monogamy, therapy and working on building trust in our connection, we opened up again. We did a LOT of work. TONS. And we are still doing it! Part of that remains unraveling shame around wanting something other than the prescribed “norm”. Polyamory means “many loves” and consensual non-monogamy (or consensual non-monoamory, as it “should” be labeled if you ask a linguist) is pretty self-explanatory. CNM is the big umbrella and includes things like sex without love, which is what I’m talking about as part of my experience.
We opened up because we both recognize that we have needs and desires that we simply WANT in our lives. Neither of us believe in the cultural conditioning that true love is when there is only one. That’s a fairy tale for most of us. Even those who are monogamous often have at the very least emotional affairs, if not physically realized ones.
I identify as Ambiamorous, meaning I can be happy in monogamous or polyamorous/CNM relationships. I do lean heavily toward polyam/CNM as I realize that all of my life I too have had emotional affairs with others while retaining my status as monoamorous/mongoamous.
I often am asked, why get married if you knew you would open up again? Well, we only knew we had an appetite for sexual adventures with others, we weren’t sure what that would look like, but it was there. For me, I simply quite like being married, having what I now call an “anchor and nesting partner”, and I knew that our foundation was the healthiest I had ever experienced. I wanted to acknowledge to the world that Greg was someone special to me, and to celebrate all of the work that we had done in those three and a half years. I wanted to have the title “Greg’s wife”. It feels like it offers security, even though I know VERY well that it doesn’t. This was the fourth marriage for both of us. Getting married is scary, but getting married for the FOURTH time is TERRIFYING. We chose to be courageous and follow our instincts and do it anyway.
We will grow old together, Greg and I, and we will be there through challenges and celebrations, watch our kids and grandkids grow, and mourn together when we lose loved ones. Will there be other intimate partners that we love and who love us in our lives? Yes and there already have been. Will there be other intimate partners who care for us, but who see themselves more as friends than loved ones? Absolutely and there have been. Do we have a set idea of how those relationships should look? No. We try to stay open to possibilities without saying “this is what it needs to be”.
Now we both help other people in the CNM/Polyam communities navigate the emotionally tricky waters that come with this experience. One of the many gifts of having a relationship in which your partner has the freedom to seek out and engage in other relationships is that it calls up all of your fears and limiting beliefs. I know it doesn’t sound like gift, but it IS. Learning about emotional management is a skill everyone should have but it is an absolute MUST for those who are CNM/Polyam. This relationship structure shows you ALL of your shadows, so that you can work through them and bring the light to them.
If you like this you may enjoy reading about “Relationship Autonomy” the term Greg coined to describe our relationship: https://www.gregmillion.com/?p=564