It's intriguing reading this thread.
My relationship with GG (bf) tends to be more the way Marcus describes. One of us mentions a need-the other figures out what our part in dealing with it may be, including deep conversations at times.
My relationship with Maca (dh) doesn't tend to be that way-we are working towards it. He is a "tell me what you want and I'll do it" person-and doesn't enjoy the "work" of deciding yes or no.
So-for example, with the beer example-
Maca would prefer I just say "no beer night tonight, the kids need daddy."
GG would prefer I say "kids need your attention."
I generally go for the middle ground of "if possible xyz night would be better cause the kids have been missing you."
Something I noticed while reading this thread is that even in terms of trying to outline the differences here-it's difficult to say what is controlling and what is not-because there is no tone of voice shared.
I can use the same words "your daughter needs you" and be controlling and demanding OR simply be passing on info that one of the guys needs...
I think the heart of Marcus' point is valid. I think the difficulty that presents itself is that without seeing/experiencing one another's real life, it's really impossible to define if our relationships are based on respect of individuals working as a team-or if they are based upon someone telling someone else what to do.
This came up recently in a poly group arguing regarding our boundaries (which has also happened on this board actually). The assumption was that these rules were created and no "new" partner would have a say so.
However, the truth is that all of our agreements are malleable. It's a matter of a circumstance arising to warrant it. Maca's and I's agreements have changed drastically in the 15 years we've been together. Likewise, GG and I's agreements have changed drastically in the 20 years we've been together. Sometimes, they change back and forth.
The point isn't to control or limit each other. The point is to be clear with one another about where we are individually, as a couple and as a family at any given time.
As we are all ADD (yes all of us) it's imperative that we write things down-because it's NOT unusual for us to forget what was said 5 minutes after it was said!
So, yes we have a written agreement. But that agreement could change on a dime.
Much like a calendar. Generally Friday's are Maca and I's date night. Tuesdays are family swim night. That doesn't mean we HAVE to do those things those nights or that we CAN'T change them for something else (like a new partners bday or whatever).
It means-that is what works with the current combination of schedules. If a new person is added, then their schedule needs to be incorporated in. But-until there is a new person OR a shift in one of our schedules-this is what works.