Not a choice
I am not new to the poly world per say. I have been with my husband for nine years, married for five, and my boyfriend/life partner has lived with us for 1.5 years. What I mean by not a choice is that my husband and I never thought of adding another partner to our lives it happened naturally with open consent and honesty. I never knew this world, or even dreamed of it but I am the luckiest girl alive who is in love with two men, who love each other (platonically), and me as well. Not saying that the transition was easy with initial jealousy, but we all respect each other enough to care what the others are feeling. My issue right now is family. My partner and I are taking the next step and getting hand-fasted next September. Most of my siblings know about him and either A.) Don't say anything about it or B) lectured at first but then love me enough to accept him.
Here is the thing though.... my parents. They are judgmental and I have no idea how they are going to react. I have a pretty healthy relationship with them, but now feel like I am lying about who I am when I am around them. Even more I feel like I am hiding someone I love so much, and I feel that is so unfair to him. Also, if my parents find out then my husband's will as well. They are also very Christian and again judgmental. They already dislike me for my spiritual choices in life, and feel this would make them downright hate me. Does anyone have experience with Christian/mid-western upbringings and how their family reacted to their other partners? How am I supposed to broach this? And if we are bounded and have the ceremony what happens if I don't say anything, and my family find out later & hates that I excluded them from something so important in my life? I just don't know what to think or how to act.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to talk to the ones you are close to. See how they feel. Tell them how you feel. Give each other a reality check of who the people who may judge you really are. Make the decisions (of what to say to whom - or not) with the ones you love.
Overall, the best thing you can do for you is surround yourself with people who are supportive of who you genuinely are. Distance yourself from those who are not, regardless of who they are (parent, sibling, friend, etc). Sometimes doing this takes courage, such as distancing yourself from someone you are "supposed" to be close to. The reality and the truth is, if they judge you, they don't love you. You can't love and judge at the same time. It's either one or the other. Being "close" to someone who judges you is not possible. Trying to be close to such a person is stressful. Why bother?
I look at it this way. If someone is supportive of who I am, I embrace that support with closeness. If someone throws judgements at me, I respect that judgement by putting distance between myself and them. That distance is my way of saying: "If you don't like who I am, you don't have to be close to me". The distance I am talking about here is real. It is done with honesty. It is done peacefully - with your heart open to loving yourself as you are. It is done as an act of love for yourself, and for no other reason. It is an honest and peaceful distance. The peace comes from knowing you are doing it as an act of loving yourself.
To me, this is a question of sorting out the priorities in your own mind... the competing priorities are -
* being open about who you are to those who are close to you
* Having a functioning relationship with members of your family
Your concern is that these two are mutually exclusive, and this is supported by some solid background evidence.
I have faced something similar, and we came to our own agreements about what was the most important - we ended up doing different things for different groups. I really don't think that it's something that other people can answer for you, because this so completely depends on your own priorities in this regard.
Another way to look at this: if you go with the first, there is a possibility that the second will still be in place. If you go with the second, there is no way that the first will be in place.
Take a look at the worst-case scenario - the parents on both sides judge you and won't have anything to do with you, and tell their friends what you are doing (I *did* say worst case) - how enmeshed are you in their lives and circumstance - how would this affect you? Yes, it would be a massive shame, but in terms of living your life?
I don't think there's a magic wand, here - it's about thinking about priorities, then, once you've decided to do it, working out the most diplomatic way of doing it.
Oh, and while this issue is still up in the air, I would avoid any actions which could be considered to be inflammatory - this would include a big ceremony like a handfasting. Either get this sorted out before you do it, or postpone until until things are settled.
I don't really have much advice at the moment, but I know that I have similar concerns if my fiance's parents ever find out. I don't think it'd be pretty.
Thank you for your insights. I agree religion has nothing to do with it, but the thoughts beliefs with some can help push people into judgements is all. I am still at a loss here. Because, even though I agree with you full heartily snowmelt, I tend to also agree with CielDuMatin. Where I think just coming out in our society may be harmful to my partners, not just me and my family's communication. I am extremely protective, but am a bit done on acting as if I should be ashamed of my family. I still have a lot to mull over and discuss, but I appreciate the feed back and thoughts you shared greatly.
Have you announced your engagement to you family?
That's what society does in monoshipping. You bring your dating partner around to meet the fam. After a while of general dating, you announce you are engaged in contemplating a serious step and keep bringing them around as your intended fiancee person. This gives you and them time to try this person on in family gatherings more seriously than "just a guest" and more like "potential relative" -- get time to develop their OWN relationship with this important person in your life so they can become important to them to.
This has not been done in your case.
If you are coming out of the closet with a handfasting -- some people are not going to take kindly to it because you gave them no time or consideration even if they WANT to be welcoming to the new relative!
1) Because it is foreign and they have no map for how to behave even if they wanted to be nice and welcoming. You shoosh it on them without giving time to learn. They feel you are not treating them nicely. And you are not.
2) Because you did not prepare them or allow them time to make relationship with this stranger -- who now has to be what? The turkey carver at Thanksgiving? It's like eloping and then expecting all to be joyous about it -- they did not get to share in your joys along the way and now you want instant joyness? Most families aren't that flexible.
3) Because they do not accept you polyshipping because they do not like polyshipping. They cannot reconcile you (someone they like) doing something they do not like, so they throw the baby out with the bath water. That's hard to take. But we deal.
We teach others how we want to be treated.
Examine how you ARE treating your family. Before you rush off to worry about how they MIGHT treat you. Have you given THEM opportunity to rise to the occasion or not?
Can you be perceived by them as doing lies of omission? In hiding this person in your life? (You could have valid reasons like living in a place where hate crime could happen! But you still have to make nice with the relatives for not being out to them right away. Hopefully they understand and rally to your side and welcome the new relative. That would be the best scenario.)
If your polypeeps agree to being "Out" now -- each one call their own family and announce the engagement. You may or may not change the handfasting date or just hold another one later down that family IS invited to.
(I've been married to DH three times so far over the years -- handfasted, city halled, ministered -- different times, different people invited to bear witness.)
You write your own life story. You have the right to live as you wish.
Loving yourself for who you are is an act of courage. Doing things that respect, honor and support those you love is also an act of courage. I understand that you see your situation as a dilemma. Do things one way, you are being nice to your parents and hurtful to those you love. Do things another way, and the reverse happens.
This dilemma comes from wanting to please those who judge you. If you let go of the desire to please those who judge you, the dilemma evaporates. What is judgement? In my opinion, those who judge me are saying who I am and how I live is bad and wrong. This doesn't have to be about polyamory. This could be about anything. This could be I'm bad because I eat the wrong kind of food, or live in the wrong city.
They are telling me to be someone else and live a different way so I can be good and right. Once I do all of that, they will be able to love me. This is nonsense. Does someone who tells me the real me is bad and wrong really love me at all?
In my opinion, you have two options:
The first option:
Let those who want to judge you do so at their leisure. That judgement will have an effect on their relationship with you. They will feel that effect. Let them feel it. It is of their own doing. That means they can undo it at anytime.
Allowing them to feel the effect their own judgement has on their relationship with you (instead of trying to do something different to please them so they approve of "who you are") is an act of love for yourself and those you truly love, because it prevents those who judge you from steering your life and the relationship you have with those you truly love.
I'm not saying you have to be unpleasant to them and tell them to get out of your life. I am saying live as you want to and let them judge you as they want to. There is no value in putting effort into trying to please people who judge you. Let go of your desire to turn off their judgements and put your energy into living your life.
Yes, it takes courage to do this. Love is an act of courage.
The second option is tell them nothing and live your life. The best choice is the option that brings you the most peace.
Thank you snowmelt. I almost missed your response for some reason. I am glad to see you can see both sides of the story. Also it's not as easy as GalaGirl claims it to be. Might be for them, but until you walk someone elses shoes..... Also my husband never wants his family to know, and of course being they are my in-laws my parents speak to them. I am having my hubby read all this and pleased to say we are planning an action to make all parties happy.
Again, this is more about protecting those I love ... not hiding from fear or judgement. I am a strong outspoken woman, and if things were my way this would have been handled ages ago. Anyways, I appreciate all the feedback and wish us luck. ;)
It is not easy to feel. Hang in there.
Recognizing why relatives might feel as they do could help you plan alternative approaches / routes. Esp when you have a mismatch of you wanting to be "out" and DH not wanting to be "out" to his fam. He has another level of willingness than you that has to be accommodated.
Try to let go of expectations of the other relatives and just let them own their own feelings and their behavior if you guys choose to be "out." If they behave badly toward you, don't go around them to visit them, don't invite over for bdays, etc. You don't have to be mean to them but you don't have to put out extra welcome or explain anything either. Why should your bday be tinged with their "bad guest" attitude? If/when they behave better, then you can see how to adjust anew.
I'm glad to hear that you are trying to work it out with DH and your other partner to find some kind of happy medium solution for yourselves. Please yourselves first. Not the relatives.
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