Is life supposed to be this surreal?
I'm going to have to tell this story in several parts. It takes me time to get everything together in my head and lay it down in a coherent fashion. (or at least what would sound coherent to another human being.) As such, there are things that I'm going to leave out from time to time that will hopefully be filled in by the two absolutely wonderful women in my life as they read this.
I suppose the best way to start would be to say that the best day of my life was fifteen years ago (give or take a bit) when my wife and I got married. It was an elopement. She was 18 and I was 22 at the time. We were already pregnant and neither of our parents thought that we were going to last beyond a few years. And to be totally truthful, there were times that we didn't believe we would either. But the good times are always what seems to stick in your memory and that was an amazing time. Fifteen years later I still remember being nervous and hearing the same nervousness reflected back at me as she spoke her part of our wedding vows.
My wife has beautifully long and curly hair. In fact, it's something that strikes me so much about her that I will be referring to her as "Curls" throughout this story.
Two months later the first of our three daughters was born. They were spaced evenly. Once every three years for most of the next decade we had a baby. It was hard at first, very hard. We weren't any more equipped to be parents than we were to be married. She was a stay at home mom and I was working a low paying job. It's a miracle we survived to get to where we are today.
Things improved. I finished college and got a decent job, not the best job, but the right one for me. Most people hate the retail environment, I absolutely love it. Curls went to college and didn't just stop at the bachelors degree I have, she went on to get her Ph.D. in English. I couldn't have been more proud of her if I tried. She is in the education field right now. I will never say more about it than that. Nowhere will I find people that understand the need for secrecy more than I will here. We live a lifestyle that isn't considered mainstream acceptable and I unfortunately I think it will remain that way for many years to come.
Our trip down the road to polyamory started about five years ago. It's amazing how some things can go unsaid in a relationship for years, sometimes even a decade or more. After a very, very intense sexual encounter between Curls and I, we spent the entire night talking. We already had our guards and inhibitions way down, and it led to us talking about having other sexual partners. We realized that we were both interested in doing so under very controlled circumstances. That led to our first experiments with swinging. Some of them were very good, some of them were almost comically bad. We went on a swinging cruise and met a lot of really awesome people and it sparked a total change in our lifestyle.
I will discuss this more as time goes on, but I have come to the conclusion over the years that sexual "stuffiness" is the cause for way more relationship problems than anything else. For Curls and I, almost all marital problems we had vanished as soon as we allowed others into the bedroom. How is this such a mechanism for change? I have no idea, but in our case it worked.
I had never even HEARD the word "polyamory" until about a year ago. And oddly enough, it was from the mouth of the third member of our triad.
Every summer, the store I am a manager in gets a few dozen new employees. This was how I met Freckles. A 22 year old music major with long red hair and freckles covering her entire body, she was one of the most horrific employees I ever had. She was absolutely useless. You can't see me grinning ear to ear as I'm typing this, so it sounds more harsh than it really is. Freckles was terrible. She showed up late, she was sneaking her phone out to text every single time I had my back turned. I gritted my teeth every time I saw her.
One day I went to Taco Bell to get dinner after work and she was there. She's incredibly outgoing, and though I didn't want any company, she came and sat down at my table and we started talking. And I'm so glad we did. She turned out to have the exact same taste in me about EVERYTHING. Movies, books, music... we like all of the same stuff. This dinner date thing turned into a routine. We met two or three days a week and just talked, sometimes for hours.
I'm not going to pretend that I was relieved when she quit her job and took a new one. Some of the reasons for my relief were wholesome, others not so much. She sucked as an employee, but I missed seeing her face at work. Still, I already was becoming very attracted to her, and I knew that nothing would ever be able to happen as long as she worked for me.
Curls was a the first big obstacle to what came next...
Very tired. Going to continue writing tomorrow.
Sounds interesting so far, so posting to subscribe.
I was very careful how I approached talking to Curls about Freckles. I started bringing her up in conversations about work from time to time, then talking more and more about how much her and I had in common and how we were spending time talking outside of work. I kept stressing one thing in particular... that Freckles was in a relationship with another female.
Curls can be very territorial. She was on the defensive almost from the very beginning. Me having other sexual partners she was totally okay with. In our view, sex is sex... the only strings that are attached are the ones we create. But this was something different entirely... this wasn't a new sexual partner, this was someone that I had an actual friendship and emotional connection to. Curls is more than willing to admit that she saw this new friend of mine as a serious threat in the beginning.
I decided to fix this issue by having us all go out to dinner one night together. Me, Curls and our kids met Freckles at a restaurant and enjoyed a nice evening together. We came back to our house and hung out for a while afterward. Nothing was ever spoken beyond friendly chit-chat, but Curls was much more easy to deal with after she had a chance to meet my new friend.
Things went on like this for a couple months. Freckles was over at our house once or twice a week, either having dinner with our family or spending an evening watching a movie with my wife and I. We STILL didn't talk anything about relationships or even see each other as any more than really good friends.
I think I've isolated the time that started to change in my head down to one conversation Freckles and I had when I had taken her home and was walking her into her apartment. She had recently broken up with her girlfriend of about nine months. We talked a little bit about marriage and she laughed it off, she said that she was too free-spirited to ever be in a functional marriage. She said 'maybe' a polyamorous marriage would work for her. As I had pointed out... at this time, I wasn't even familiar with that term, so I had to google it as soon as I got home. Freckles SWEARS to me that she meant nothing by that comment, certainly wasn't hinting that she wanted to be in a relationship with my wife and I. I believe her (I don't tell her that, I have so much entertainment giving her a hard time about it.).
Anyway... I got to thinking about this. Trying to work it out in my head how this could even happen. It became a daydreaming topic for me throughout the next week, and I found that I not only would like this arrangement, but I could actually picture it working. We have a large house with a couple guest rooms, we could easily have her move into one of those rooms.
I decided to talk to Freckles first about it. My logic was that this was going to be hard sell for Curls, and if Freckles wasn't receptive to the idea, then it would be a lot of wasted effort for nothing. So the two of us met like we used to, a fast food restaurant after I got off work. I pitched the idea to her. At first she wasn't interested. She said she wasn't ready for that kind of commitment.
I was bitterly disappointed, I will admit. So I let it go. And then something funny started happening. Once every couple days, sometimes a couple times a day, Freckles would text me something. Usually it would start with "It would be awesome..." or "It would be funny..." followed by some little aspect of daily life that would be a result of the three of us being together. After a couple weeks of doing this, she called me and told me she changed her mind, and she was open to this.
I look forward to following your journey, and I have enjoyed what you have written so far. I wish you well with everything. xo
Thanks Ry, I have already read a lot of your journey too and though it has a bumpy path, I'm glad you are in a place of contentment now. :)
I'm going to admit right now that I have the predisposition toward being manipulative. That should be obvious right from the time I got Curls and Freckles together in a restaurant to try to get them comfortable with each other. I did the same thing now, only much more drastically.
You see, Curls is always at her most open-minded state right after we have sex. The more mind-blowing the sex, the more open to suggestion she is. I took her to dinner one night and we came back to a house empty, the kids gone over to their grandmother's house for the weekend. To get to the point, Curls and I were laying in bed afterwards and rehashing a couple months worth of sexual partners. She was already aware that I had told Freckles about our swinger lifestyle and although Curls had given me permission to hook up with Freckles, we never had.
I have already 'fessed up about this, so I can write it knowing full well that my wonderful wife is going to read it. :) But, I railroaded her into being the one to initiate the "what exactly IS Freckles to us?" conversation. Instead of coming straight out and saying "Why don't we try for something more with her?", I let Curls ask the question for me. Now... we have had more threesomes than I can remember, both of the MMF and MFF variety, but this would be the first time we have ever considered letting someone into our bed that we were more than casually friendly with.
We talked it over VERY carefully, and Curls was actually much more receptive than I ever thought she would be. I shouldn't have been that surprised, though. The two of them had become friends since they met, occasionally going out and having lunch together, or going shopping together when I was at work. This didn't prevent Curls from being apprehensive. We had been mono for a LONG time, and we both had to seriously consider what this would mean to us, but we didn't want to do it alone.
The next night we invited Freckles over. Kids were still gone and the three of us sat in our bedroom on the bed facing each other and drinking Mike's hard lemonade. We reaffirmed that all three of us were interested in moving forward and then we talked until the sun came up. We tried to touch on everything we could.
Our house, for one, seemed to be tailor made for our arrangement. It was a custom job and has a bizarre floor plan. One thing that works out for us is that the master bedroom closed is a "jack and jill" closet shared with one of the guest rooms. We decided that Freckles would move into that guest room. She could freely come and go through that door into our room and vice versa. At night we would keep the bedroom doors locked and she would sleep in our bed when she wanted to, but had the freedom to keep her own space if she so desired it. We decided that there would be no PDAs in front of the kids. We are more than aware that the secret can't keep forever, especially from our oldest daughter, but for the time being we didn't want to let on about our lifestyle.
I pointed out that commitment is a rough thing for Freckles, and she has been terrified from the beginning of messing up and letting us down, but we have tried to make things as easy for her as we can. Despite giving her the option to do her own thing, she decided that she wanted to abide by the same rules that Curls and I keep for each other... Full disclosure about where we are outside the house, no unprotected sex with anyone outside the triad, and always be back home before sunrise.
As it turns out. That was our first night sleeping together as a triad. (no sex, we were exhausted) It was also the last night Freckles slept in the middle. My god... she moves around in her sleep more than anyone I have ever seen in my life. Now we take turns on who has to be next to her and spend the night getting kicked and punched in our sleep. :)
I know this is a blog, and we aren't supposed to be critical, but I am confused. You knew Freckles as a friend, thought she was attractive, and based on those qualities alone, decided to move her in (to your house with your 3 young daughters) and have your wife and you start having sex with her and sleeping together?
I think people usually date a while and then consider moving in together after 6-24 months or so. So this seems backwards to me! How did you know she would make a good life partner for both you and your wife?
I have simplified a lot of things and glossed over a lot of details for the purpose of giving an overview of our story, things that I will probably go into more detail about at a later time... including the transition that led her to live with us, something that was neither fast nor without complications. As I fill in the holes and blanks, other things should become more clear.
Our relationship didn't start out with the intention of ever forming a triad. There was a very long period of discovery that started long before that point and is still continuing to this day. I like to think of it as an onion... every layer that we peel away leads to more information and a more complete understanding of each other but there is another layer beneath that, and beneath that one, and so on.
The good thing is that we have always been very free with information. The three of us can talk for hours and hours and never get bored. It was that way even back when Freckles and I were having our twice or thrice weekly dinners together. That was how the information came out that led me to believe this kind of relationship was even possible. She had asked me how it is that my wife was so okay with me having close female friends. I had already known by that point she was bi, and very open to alternative sexual lifestyles. That was enough for me to risk full disclosure and explain where I was coming from with that. That talk was probably the catalyst that started us down the road to where we are today.
We never went on a unicorn hunt, our unicorn just basically tripped over us.
It is hard to treat two people as a primary, even when you fully think of them as such. This is mostly a socio-cultural thing. Mainstream society tells us that we are in a deviant lifestyle because we have more than one mate, therefore even when we would like not to, we often find ourselves relegating one of our partners to second class status.
I found myself doing this to Freckles almost from the beginning.
Curls is employed by the public education system and therefore has a job which puts her in scandal territory should either the swinging or polyamory aspects of our lives ever get out in the open. I am not in quite the same position, but I AM in a job where I have more than two hundred employees under me, a number of which remember that Freckles used to work there. Compound this with the issue that while we don't live in a small town, we don't live in a very big one either... nearly every time I go out the door, I will run into someone that knows me.
Swinging wasn't an issue as much. Sure we have friends in town that are swingers, but they understand the need for discretion and provide such. The club we go to is 45 minutes away and we have never run into anyone we know there that isn't in our swinger circle in our town. (and seriously... even if we did, they would have to explain why they were in a swinger club every bit as much as we would :) )
Poly is a totally different issue. Things like grocery shopping, going to dinner, anything... people we know see me with Curls, me with Freckles, Curls and Freckles together, sometimes all three of us at once. In a perfect world it would be easy to introduce them for who and what they are, but our world isn't perfect and we are forced to maintain a facade. As far as everyone else knows, especially coworkers, Freckles is a really good friend that is renting a room at our house because money is tight and she's working on finishing college. We don't do PDAs outside of the house unless we know we are somewhere safe that it won't be a problem.
On coming out to our families? We aren't there yet... With Curls' parents, we probably won't ever be. There are religious issues there, not to mention that her parents are just petty, nasty human beings who wouldn't hesitate to do something like call child protective services on us JUST because they disagree with our lifestyle. My parents would be much more understanding, and we are tailoring exactly how we intend to approach the conversation. We need to do it soon... there's only so many more holiday dinners we can invite Freckles along to before they start asking why we keep bringing our friend to family gatherings :)
Freckles already has a head start on us. She's already out of the closet with her family as being bisexual. Most of the ones that were accepting of this news are going to be accepting of anything else that comes down the pipe. The ones that weren't accepting aren't on speaking terms with her anyway, so what's the problem?
Here's the big question... how does Freckles feel about this? She claims it doesn't bother her, but it really does. I see it every time I have to tell some acquaintance that Freckles is a friend, and we are just hanging out... or she's a friend of my wife's... or some other lie of omission. We try very, very hard to make it up to her... she is treated like gold in our home. We have never treated or even though of her as our unicorn. She doesn't get treated like a free babysitter, or free sexual partner, or free housekeeper or whatever. She is a 100% partner in our lives, we don't make decisions without including her on anything.
Still... It would be so nice if things were different and we didn't have to hide what she means to us.
Our lives feel like a constant juggling marathon. Before Freckles came along we had three balls in the air - relationship, kids, job. Since she has been in our lives, I think we are juggling twice as many balls, maybe three times as many.
One of the balls I'm trying to keep in the air that concerns me a great deal lately is named "managing kids' perceptions". Now, we aren't naive or stupid. We knew from the very beginning that the entire ruse of us being in separate rooms and coming and going through the adjoining closet was nothing more than a way of stalling. This was us buying time so that we could come up with a more permanent solution.
The problem is that our kids aren't stupid either. Oldest is a nearly fifteen years old, and we already know damned well that we aren't fooling her. I see the looks she gives us, and while she might not know the exact details... she is aware that there is something more to her parents relationship with Freckles than what we are letting on. The good thing with this is that she is extremely close to Freckles. The two of them are both anime fans, they both play the clarinet, they both like the same books... the list goes on and on. The dynamic between the two of them from the very beginning has been a strange hybrid between a much older sister and something of a hip young aunt. Freckles has this knack for coaxing my low self esteem daughter out of her shell in a way I have never seen before, and we love her all the more for it.
So Oldest definitely is aware of something that isn't being said, but I don't think she totally understands the whole truth of it. (Though I keep in mind that it's very likely she knows more than we would like her to.) It's Middle that I'm a little bit more concerned about. She's not a teen yet, but she's very close, and she doesn't have the same quick and easy friendship dynamic that Freckles and Oldest have. Freckles and Middle have been a tiny bit standoffish from the very beginning. Middle is our daughter that is bound for a period of rebelliousness... While Oldest has always been an open book to us with everything, Middle is secretive and more difficult to predict. We have already dealt with multiple instances of Middle saying "Why does Freckles get to tell us what to do? Who put her in charge??" or something to that effect. There is definitely trouble brewing on that horizon.
Youngest? She isn't old enough yet to care. She adapted easily to the new member of the household. She's got her Nintendo 3DS, all is well with the world.
I guess the issue we are having right now, is how are we going to address this with our kids. And by extension, how are we going to address this with the rest of our families? Because as soon as our kids know, we need to have the battle plan for dealing with our families, because the secret can't hold for long when the kids know. As I had pointed out before... my family? minor problems, but manageable. Freckles' family? no problem. Curls' family? huge fricken problems.
Curls' parents are very likely to do ANYTHING. They are deeply religious and will absolutely view our lifestyle as both sinful and negative. They are not above trying to wrest control of our kids away from us. We are already developing a scorched earth scenario where we circle the wagons and cut them off from ALL contact with us, permanently if necessary.
This is going to be the first serious test of our relationship.
We have only had one real problem so far in our relationship, and that mostly has to do with division of labor and spending time together.
Curls works a standard monday through friday job which she is at from about 7am to about 4 or maybe 5pm every day. She is a morning person, a serious morning person. Fortunately, years ago she came to the understanding that I will NEVER be a morning person myself, and she quit trying. But it doesn't prevent her from getting up every morning on Saturday and cleaning the house top to bottom.
This solitary task of hers has never been an issue until about two weeks ago when she was in a bad mood and told Freckles and I that she was upset that neither of us were doing our share of the cleaning.
We were taken aback by this a little bit, because we DO clean up quite a bit, we both do the cooking and clean the kitchen when we are done every night. But the cleaning that she means was all of her usual Saturday morning stuff... things that she has NEVER in fifteen years complained about having to do by herself before.
Obviously this wasn't the real problem, so the three of us sat down and talked about it. The REAL issue was that she was feeling left out. You see, as I had pointed out before, I am in retail. I am second-in-command of a sprawling big box store and I work the overnight shift. This schedule has always left Curls and I clawing at every available moment we can find together. Both of us have Sunday off, and that has always been our day together, plus I will stay up and have breakfast with her on Saturday after I get off work and before I got to bed.
Likewise, Freckles is a nightowl and keeps pretty close to the same schedule that I do without really needing to. It's just the schedule that she feels most comfortable with. This has caused a little bit of hard feelings with Curls because Freckles and I have MUCH more time to spend together than her and I do. Freckles doesn't work. She wanted to get a job after moving in with us, but we have refused the offer. She is in her last year of college before getting her bachelor's degree, and we have made it clear that is far more important than working right now.
So because of schedules, Curls feels like she is disconnected from us for six days out of the week and she sees us as having all this fun without her that she is left out of. And it's true, Freckles and I DO have a good time together, but we tried to make Curls understand that we don't set out to not include her, it's just a crappy mismatch of schedules.
We are trying, though. Freckles is making it more of a priority to be awake when Curls is home so they can spend time together and that has been going well. Meanwhile, hopefully in a year or two I will have my own store and will be primarily working days again and all three of us will have a lot more time together.
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