POLYSHIP MAKING: SKILLS FOR EVERY DAY LIVING
How's that for a journal entry title? Amused.
I got a text from DH today. We'd been going back and forth. He ended with this --
"I found you long ago. And I keep finding you daily."
Mmm. Life Shared.
Connecting and reconnecting. Over and over we keep choosing each other.
I never took Home Ec in junior high though my friend did and I was more than happy to eat her weird shaped chocolate peanut butter bars that she cooked. Until I bit into it and found pockets of white flour that had not been incorporated into the batter well. Ack.
It was an elective and I was busy taking advanced Spanish and what on Earth could I learn there that my Mom wasn't drilling into me at home? So I never took it myself. Just watched my friends go through it bearing strange projects.
The one time I cooked in the junior high home ec kitchen was because our Spanish teacher got a wild hair to have us make traditional Spanish foods to enhance our lesson. I appreciated the change from the usual classroom deal but it was no biggie to me at fourteen.
It was easy stuff. Here's ingredients, make it so. Pan fry this, boil that, done! I have NO idea how old I was when Mom started making us do kitchen things.
What was astonishing to me was watching my teacher struggle with a classroom of 14-year-olds who clearly were not expected to do much cooking at home.
We were paired off and my partner eagerly took me up on being the notes taker and ingredient chopper helper while I did the bulk of the actual cooking since she was afraid of burners. Ours was the only one produced in class that looked yummy and like it was supposed to. Tasted just fine. It attracted a throng of teenage boys who wanted the eats. Their own dishes looked like an unappetizing mess.
My partner's crush? Sent her all atwitter when he gobbled our food and announced "Wow! This is great! I hope when I grow up my wife can cook like you guys!"
Meanwhile I thought, "Good lord! Why would I want to marry someone like you? Just to sign up to make more work for myself? You annoy me and can't cook worth a damn. What would you
bring into a partnership?"
Our teacher was soooo frazzled with everyone that she beamed when she came to grade our station and it was normal. Between food fights, near fires, spills, overcooked, undercooked, and messed up things? I overheard her say to another teacher who asked how the spanish food experiment went that she had to talk to the home ec teacher to get these students more exposure to practical life skills. Because it was crazy and she wasn't sure she'd do THAT again all by herself! The advanced Spanish class was bad enough!
Guess it was an eye opener for her too as it was for me. Good at one skill (speaking Spanish) does not automatically mean good at another skill (cooking.)
How's that for analogy? Good at one skill (monoships) does not automatically mean good at another skill (polyships).
OLD TEXTBOOK & HOME TRAINING
I have an old 1981 copy of the school textbook Homemaking: Skills for Everyday Living
by Frances Baynor Parnell and Joyce Honeycutt Wooten that I picked up in a used bookstore years ago because it charmed me. I was well past home ec jr high school days and wrapping up my college degree.
The reason I bought it? Because it lays out basic interpersonal skills in the front of the book in a neat, concise way. That kind of information is a treasure. At the time I was about to marry DH too -- so it was good to measure us against some kind of a ruler.
Not the wedding planning foofoo. Everyone seems to get overwhelmed with that end of things. My mother made me crazy on that.
But the strength of the potential union. THAT is what interested me back then. We never did take a premarital class at a religious institution or county extension office. I had wondered if we should. Instead? I ran us down that home ec textbook.
We'd been informally engaged for a while. Two years. Known each other almost 5 years. We were of age. It looked like we were solid. The families all liked the other one fine. We'd been trotted around to family things and everyone had long grown used to us as a couple. There was an Understanding in the Families. That sooner or later?
That Galagirl and Galagirl Guy were going to end up married and everyone had time to get over the "living together" thing and see that it wasn't making a whit of difference anywhere. Actually, people were starting to get restless and ask "So. When ARE you guys getting married?"
Well, the period of engagement ended. So we were legally wed.
Life Shared Changed and Continued Being Shared.
I am turning into my mother as I age.
She used to exclaim in disbelief throughout my childhood. "These people have NOOOOO home training!"
I can only hope I am doing a decent job with my own kid in providing her with life skills and that very "home training."
It's not just the wacky Spanish cooking class of my early teens. I see it all the time. People being... people. Some great with their skills, some just horrifyingly unskilled.
I feel ALL things in relationships begin with the first tier. Not just in polymath.
Or familymath. Or friendmath. Whatever relationship network you are talking about the first tier is the SAME. The tier of
- me relating to myself (me <---> me)
If you do not know your own self well? If you cannot determine and articulate to yourself what your own
wants, needs, and personal limitations are? How can you hope to articulate them clearly to another person?
Be it a friend, a dating partner or a committed/ marriage partner?
So it amuses me when viewing the table of contents of the home ec textbook with a polyamorous eye what I'd pick out as useful.
PART 1: A BETTER YOU
1. Understanding Yourself and Others
2. Communication Skills
- Human needs
- Nonhuman Resources
- Human Resources
- Success and Failure
- Mature and Immature Behaviour
- Making Decisions
3. Leadership Skills
- Starting a Conversation
- Open Communications
- Communicating a Changed Behavior
- Communicating negative and positive feelings
- Decoding Coded Messages
- Nonverbal Communication
- Body Language
- Types of Leadership
- Exercising Leadership
- Using tact with skill
- The art of motivating others
- Organizing new groups
- Choosing programs and activities
PART 2: INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
6. The Meaning of Marriage
- Freedom of choice
- Single Living
- Parallell Living
- Family Living
- Family Structures
- Extended Families
- Nuclear Families
- One Parent Families
- Blended Families
- Choosing Your Life Style
- Learning to Love
- Factors that influence marital success
- Wedding Plans
- Making Marriage Work
Some of that stuff is just a direct plop into polyamory world. Listening skills are listening skills. Some of that takes a bit of extrapolating -- like considering "publicity" as "how to come Out as Polyamorous well."
But that would be amusing to consider with DH. Same yardstick again -- Junior high textbook guidance. To see how solid we are in our relationship skills before we Change Again like we did once many years ago.
Engaged ---> Married
Married ---> Open
Because most of the time I really don't see running a good polyship as being all that different or complex than running a good monoship, friendship whatever it is. There's nothing in this text about online dating, or sexting or anything. But basics are basics no matter what era we're talking about or what relationship shape you seek.
It really is going to boil down to how well you know yourself and your wants, needs, and limits.
How well you relate to others in communicating those things to them and hearing their wants, needs, and limits that they speak up on
How well you manage your relationship(s) against the resources available (human and nonhuman) and carry the load of maintaining a good relationship with each other
How solid your commitment is to seeing it through the good and bad times for the sake of this person you are in relationship with and the relationship ebbs and flows through its relationship life cycle.
How you agree to be together.
In Life Shared.
Connecting and Reconnecting. So over and over you keep on choosing each other.