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Old 04-07-2014, 08:05 PM
stevie stevie is offline
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Default Polyamory & Marriage - Need Advice

Hi all. This is my first post on these forums, but I decided to post here because I was really impressed with the community here, and how supportive and helpful I see people being. I am optimistic that I can get some good advice here. I have been feeling like I must be the only one in the world with this problem!

Bit of background: I am the hinge in a V relationship, we are all in our mid/late 20s and unmarried. I am female. I currently live with my partner (call him Blue) who I have been with for over 7 years. At the other end of the V is my other partner (call her Pink) who I have been with for 2.5 years. We are getting ready within a couple months for all three of us to move into a new place together. We are all three really excited about this move. Pink and Blue are close friends and engage in BDSM-type play with each other from time to time, but they aren't sexually or romantically involved with each other. All of us date outside the V, but none of us are currently involved in any life-entangled or primary-like relationships outside of the V.

So what's the problem, right? This sounds awesome, and it is. I am very lucky. Too lucky, maybe. As I said, we are all in our mid to late 20s, which is the prime time in life to be thinking about getting married...

Blue is a very important part of my life. I love him very much, and we've agreed that marriage makes a lot of sense for us right now. We trust each other completely, we are on the same page as far as having a minimalist courthouse wedding, our families would be thrilled, it makes financial sense in terms of saving a lot of tax dollars in our financial situation currently and for the foreseeable future. To make the matter more urgent, Blue will be losing access to health insurance soon. If we were married, I would be able to extend my very solid health benefits to him.

Pink is a very important part of my life. I love her very much, and while Pink and I have agreed that we are not ready for marriage to each other yet, it's something we'd both be open to after living together for a while. We have not discussed the details extensively, but we are certain that neither of our families would be at all pleased with our relationship, much less us getting gay married. In fact, in the state we live in, gay marriage is not an option, but we are all three intending to relocate to a state where it would be an option relatively soon for unrelated reasons.

To state my problem succinctly: If I marry Blue now, I close off the option of marrying Pink, ever. Pink also is afraid that marriage would carry with it an inherent hierarchy – that she would be forever less in my eyes. The fact is, she would definitely not be less in my eyes, but she would be forever less in the eyes of the law. I understand her concerns, I really do, but considering all the above facts… I think I want to marry Blue, and soon, so he won’t be without health insurance.

So, the questions I need answers to are:
- How could I put Pink’s feelings about a potential future marriage to me one day in the future over an immediate need of Blue’s, a need that I am able to and happy to fill?

- How can I reassure Pink that legal marriage to someone else won’t change how I feel about her?

- How can I make her feel like an equal partner if I go sign a binding legal document with someone else?

- How is there any solution to this problem, ever, for anyone with more than one eligible, life-entangled partner? If I want to get married at all, ever, I'd have to choose...

-Is there a third option here that I’m not seeing?

Last edited by stevie; 04-07-2014 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevie View Post
- How can I reassure Pink that legal marriage to someone else won’t change how I feel about her?

- How can I make her feel like an equal partner if I go sign a binding legal document with someone else?

- How is there any solution to this problem, ever, for anyone with more than one eligible, life-entangled partner? If I want to get married at all, ever, I'd have to choose...

-Is there a third option here that I’m not seeing?
I may not have the advice you're looking for, but I feel I probably ought to weigh in anyway...

I've already had this discussion with my partner - that if he marries my metamour, it would be a game-changer for our relationship, if not a deal-breaker (and we're in our 40s, two of us with children, and no real impending need to be married on the horizon - I still felt compelled to have this talk, since it could mean big changes).

I do understand that it wouldn't change the way he feels about me. I'm confident in our relationship as it stands. But right now, my metamour and I stand as equals... sort of co-primaries if you will, although we don't really use the term. Anyone getting married shifts the balance of power, even if nobody uses it. I don't want to have to trust Xena not to pull the "wife" card. I don't want to put myself in a position where my relationship is beholden to someone else's good will, nor to put myself in a position where I'm the most easily expendable because it's just *harder* to break off a marriage if something goes horribly wrong.

Another, less important reason (but something that would be painful nonetheless) is that the people we care about have worried about Chops "having to choose" for a while now... or anticipating it. And this would just validate the "fact" that he was just biding his time until he "settled down" and picked one. It would show them that they were right in equating Poly to "casual dating".

Not the biggest reason, but it would add to the pile of suckage for me.

If it's a hard limit for her, you may never be able to get her to feel better about it. However, you need to have that conversation, especially if you're trying to figure out your future together. I hope a good working option comes up for the three of you.
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Me: Mono. Divorced, two kids (DanceGirl, 13; and PokéGirl, 10), two cats, one house, many projects.
Chops: My partner. Poly. In relationships with me, Xena, and Noa.
Xena: Poly. In relationships with Chops and Noa, and dating others.
Noa: Married, Poly. In relationships with Chops and Xena (individually).

Blog thread: A Mono's Journey Into Poly-Land (or, "Aw hell, there's no road map?!")
Slightly more polished blog with a mono/poly focus: From Baltic to Boardwalk
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  #3  
Old 04-07-2014, 09:17 PM
PolyinPractice PolyinPractice is offline
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So, the questions I need answers to are:
- How could I put Pink’s feelings about a potential future marriage to me one day in the future over an immediate need of Blue’s, a need that I am able to and happy to fill?

- How can I reassure Pink that legal marriage to someone else won’t change how I feel about her?

- How can I make her feel like an equal partner if I go sign a binding legal document with someone else?

- How is there any solution to this problem, ever, for anyone with more than one eligible, life-entangled partner? If I want to get married at all, ever, I'd have to choose...

-Is there a third option here that I’m not seeing?

You just do. I don't know how you convince anyone of feelings, except by consistently showing behavior that matches your words. If I married another partner, I would never feel like my other partners were less; nor, would they feel lesser.

Don't know how else to put it....
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:07 PM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is online now
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You can't change someone's feelings, you can only try to understand them, respect them, and control your own actions.

A piece of legal paper may not, as you say, change your feelings for either partner. But, at least in most countries, marriage is about a lot more than just the feelings of the two partners involved in it. In a mono-oriented society, there are some definite societal and legal issues come with being married that you simply cannot replicate with the non-married "third," and for some people those things automatically change the relationship. You'll get invited to things with your spouse, you'll get benefits Pink will not get in her relationship with you, she will have minimal rights to share assets and retirement benefits (even in a contract situation, in most states in the US spousal rights trump many things...something to check out), family leave may be harder for her to obtain if something happens to you or one of your family members and vice-versa, she'll never get tax breaks, etc. The list goes on. Some of these things can be worked around, some are just how society is currently structured. But, together, they add up to a hierarchy that can be difficult to bring into equality. It's not impossible, and there are people here who do it, but it's understandable that she's concerned.

And, in reality, some of what you've said here could, I imagine, make Pink uncomfortable about this, and already has some "couple privilege" tones to it. If one of the reasons you're considering marrying Blue is that your families would be thrilled, and you're considering that your families would be unhappy if you married Pink in your decision to marry either partner, that could be a problem for Pink (it certainly would be for me). That fact alone does, at least in my opinion, make it seem like the value of your relationships is based on some external factors that at least give the impression your relationship with Blue is more valuable, in your own eyes, than with Pink. Whether it's the case or not, if you've expressed to her that one of the reasons you want to marry Blue is that your families would be thrilled, it's worth thinking of how she may have taken that to heart (I'll tell you that, for me, a statement that a partner wanted to marry someone else because the family would approve of them and not me would be a deal-breaker for me, but I realize it may not for everyone).

You talk about tax breaks and the like with Blue, which are things that Pink will never be able to (legally) share with you (unless things dramatically change in the US, of course), but that you seem to want with Blue. Again, I can see how this would make her feel as though perhaps things with Blue would be more "primary," and she would slip into "secondary" status, even if that's not what you intend.

The "third option" would be to rethink how you view relationships and marriage. If the ceremony is important but you can live without the legal document, that's definitely an option that would let you "marry" both partners. If keeping your relationship with both partners fair and equitable is a priority, and marrying one is making the other uncomfortable, can you look at other ways to deal with those things you'd otherwise look to marriage to provide? Talk honestly with both about why marriage is important (or unimportant, as the case may be) to all parties involved, and consider ways to have those needs/desires met without a mono legal marriage. Some here have formed LLCs, etc., so there are other options.

If health insurance is the main issue, have you looked into whether your health insurance company allow domestic partners? Could you all contribute to the cost of a health care plan for Blue through the affordable health care act? What if you marry Blue, but someday Pink ends up without insurance through a job? What would you do then?


Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyinPractice View Post
So, the questions I need answers to are:
- How could I put Pink’s feelings about a potential future marriage to me one day in the future over an immediate need of Blue’s, a need that I am able to and happy to fill?

- How can I reassure Pink that legal marriage to someone else won’t change how I feel about her?

- How can I make her feel like an equal partner if I go sign a binding legal document with someone else?

- How is there any solution to this problem, ever, for anyone with more than one eligible, life-entangled partner? If I want to get married at all, ever, I'd have to choose...

-Is there a third option here that I’m not seeing?

You just do. I don't know how you convince anyone of feelings, except by consistently showing behavior that matches your words. If I married another partner, I would never feel like my other partners were less; nor, would they feel lesser.

Don't know how else to put it....
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:57 PM
graviton graviton is offline
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I think marrying for economic reasons is not a good idea. Having children would be understandable reasoning, but saving some $ in exchange for alienating a partner and being legally connected to blue sounds like trouble.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:49 PM
stevie stevie is offline
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Wow, I have to say, this was not the reaction or advice I expected! In some ways though it's perfect, because I was not thinking along these lines at all! Thank you all for your advice and well-wishes. I'd like to address a few points here.

...saving some $ in exchange for alienating a partner and being legally connected to blue sounds like trouble.

Economics is in fact the main reason I see for anyone to get legally married. What other possible reason would there be for a legal marriage (as opposed to a ceremonial marriage)? The thing is, putting it like "saving some $" trivializes the situation. The monetary benefits of being married could add up dramatically over the years, and it's not like we are greedy rich people here. We are NOT well off and just trying to make it. Yes we could get bottom of the barrel health insurance for Blue through Obamacare, but we cannot afford the cost of insurance that would actually prevent Blue from going deeply into medical debt in the event of an emergency.

My employer does not recognize domestic partnerships. Really, marriage is the only way we see to provide good insurance for Blue.

...some of what you've said here could, I imagine, make Pink uncomfortable about this...

There is nothing here that she and I haven't discussed already, and I will probably show her this thread when I see her next. Yes, Blue and I would probably gain significant couple privilege if we were married. However, Pink and I can never have a lot of the benefits that Blue and I could have. Pink's family will never, ever accept me as her partner. It simply will never happen. Even if we got legally married in the future, in many states/countries, we still wouldn't be considered as married, including in this state that we live in currently and that all our families live in. I cannot change the world or even her family. Pink's family is a very important part of her life and she really cares what they think.

If the ceremony is important but you can live without the legal document, that's definitely an option that would let you "marry" both partners.

It's not about the ceremony. Neither Blue not I give a shit about that. Pink may in the future but we are not at a point where we are actually talking about getting married! That's key to this problem - marriage right now between me and Pink, legal or ceremonial, is not actually on the table in the here and now.

What if you marry Blue, but someday Pink ends up without insurance through a job? What would you do then?

This is a hypothetical. In the real world, Blue needs insurance very soon. Pink may or may not even be in this situation, ever. And in the future, I can expect I will be better off than I am now (I am just finishing school...) and more able to help those I love.

It's worth pointing out that Pink is actively seeking another long-term, life-entangled partner, potentially for marriage, and being married to someone is a life goal for her. I totally support her in this. So I would hope that if this future situation comes up, she will have a spouse then to help her.

It's also a little tough for me because I know there's something that Pink really wants that I can never, ever give her - which is a marriage that her family approves of. Simply impossible. Honestly, it makes me feel a little insecure about her ever deciding she wants to marry me... and this is something I just realized... hopefully her and I talking about that will help the situation is some way.

...it's understandable that she's concerned.

Absolutely. All the stuff you and others pointed out is very valid. The bottom line, though, is that I can only marry one person. It's a little weird to me that the consensus thus far seems to be that poly people just shouldn't get married? Yet, in another thread on this forum, I saw a poll and it looks like the significant majority of this forum is in fact themselves married! I'd love to hear from some married poly people about how that works out for them...
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:36 AM
graviton graviton is offline
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I believe most of the people who respond frequently on this forum are people that are pushing forty and older. Many of us got married before we learned about the option of poly. It is not that we are against marriage. I think it's more that we are seasoned and more wizened perhaps due to our ages. And just like any concerned adult we caution people from marrying for the wrong reasons. I guess it is up to you to decide what is a wrong or right reason but many of the people here have had multiple marriages and could perhaps give you insight as to what can cause a marriage to be unstable. As for myself I have seen far too many friends regret a marriage of convenience.

Last edited by graviton; 04-08-2014 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:59 AM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is online now
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You asked what you could do to make her feel like there won't be a hierarchy, to make her feel the relationship will remain the same, and how to deal with the fact that if you marry one you'll be closing off the option of marrying the other. What I was saying is that you can't control how she feels, and she likely has some valid, logical reasons for feeling that way. And that yes, the reality is that if you marry Blue, you can't marry Pink, so there's no making anyone feel differently about that until our society changes. You can't change the societal rules at this point, which leaves changing personal paradigms about marriage, or accepting them and hoping everyone is okay with it in the long run. The hypothetical insurance wasn't a real question, it was to make a point that once you marry Blue, those same options and supports you gain from that marriage are largely closed to Pink, and she may have some feelings about that, even if she's not ready to marry you now (or, possibly, ever).

I don't think most people here would say don't get married, ever, which wasn't the question you asked. You asked how to make her feel like/reassure her things won't change in terms of relationship status and feelings despite marrying Blue, and if there were other options.

One difference that I believe the majority (though probably not all) of the married people here have from your situation is that they were not married during an ongoing, theoretically-"equal" V relationship where the hinge chose to marry one partner. Some were married while mono, some while in an already hierarchical, etc., but I haven't seen many where a hinge chose to marry one of two partners. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist or can't work, of course, just that it seems fairly uncommon, and that means you're getting a different perspective.

There are many reasons for legal marriage that aren't strictly financial, obviously. There's the emotional side of things for many people; but, even leaving that out, there are legal protections that come with marriage in most places; property rights, medical decisions, divorce rights, retirement benefits, custody protections, etc. There are also social conventions that go along with marriage that, while you can flout in some circumstances, might be difficult in others (work parties that allow only a single guest/spouse, for example, etc.) You and Blue would enjoy these protections and conventions, while Pink would be left out of most of them. Whether or not this is a big deal for her I don't know, of course, but in our society legal marriage is more than just a tax break and health insurance, which can be considerations for some people.

The very short version is that it sounds like you're going to marry Blue regardless, so other than talking to Pink and keeping things open and honest, there's not a lot else you can do.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:15 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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The institution of marriage began as a purely economical contract. It only stopped being so when women stopped being legally ownable property. Nowadays, we've kept the institution and changed the so-called purpose. Now the official purpose appears to be raising kids, although that too is falling apart at the seams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevie View Post
It's a little weird to me that the consensus thus far seems to be that poly people just shouldn't get married? Yet, in another thread on this forum, I saw a poll and it looks like the significant majority of this forum is in fact themselves married! I'd love to hear from some married poly people about how that works out for them...
Careful about generalizing from specific advice given to you personally in your current situation, to general advice for "poly people." I'm married, as is my girlfriend, and we're poly people through and through. We're happy to be married, and we're happy to be dating each other. We're not in an "equal vee" though. We both prioritize (time and energy wise) our families. If anything, the consensus is that "you can't have two completely equal partners if you're legally married to one of them."

Also, this:



Personally, I think "equality" is overrated. People are different. Different people should be treated differently. I prefer emphasis on fairness and respect. For example, I would hate it if Auto treated me the way she treats her husband. He's needy and prone to jealousy. If she treated me the way she treats him, I would feel patronized by the constant reassurance.

By the sounds of it, there's already an imbalance in the relationship. As much as you'd like everyone to be equal, it sounds like you're feeling hurt that you're not treated as an equal in the eyes of Pink's family. There's nothing you can do about that, of course, but it is the reality of your situation. No use pretending it's otherwise.

And as a result, Pink is already seeking a marriage partner. So where does that leave you, really? What good does it do you to forgo marriage to Blue for Pink's sake, only to have Pink go off and marry some other guy, who's probably going to have priority over you at that point?

Of course, that's all hypothetical and futuristic, and you're dealing with an issue right now.

Honestly, there's nothing YOU can do to "make" Pink feel anything. You can express yourself, reassure her, and offer her support... but at the end of the day, she's going to feel what she chooses to feel.

I never thought I was the marrying type, then I met Gralson and all that changed. Diddo for him. I don't know if marriage "inherently" changes anything or not. I've never been in a marriage purely for the purpose of financial benefit. For me, it was a way of making our commitment official, adding a bit of security that if things got rough, it might be more work to end the relationship than to work out the problems. That and some objection to "getting the milk for free" in regards to doing his taxes and managing the household. :P

If you do go through with the marriage, it might help Pink if you make it obscenely legalistic. Like, write up a contract stipulating that the marriage is only for as long as Blue is not otherwise covered by health insurance, and that in the event of a break-up, joint property will be split three-ways between all of you.

I have a totally wacky third option that solves the hierarchical problem, but may not be what you or Pink or Blue were looking for... If this is 100% a marriage of convenience, for the sole purpose of obtaining health insurance benefits... what about Blue and Pink getting married? Then Blue gets the benefits, and no one's left feeling inferior.
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Auto: my girlfriend (lives with her husband Zoffee).

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  #10  
Old 04-08-2014, 03:30 AM
loveartist loveartist is offline
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I'm in agreement with a few of the above posters. Don't rush into the idea of getting married to either partner, because even for economic reasons you might find that it's not worth the discord it could cause.
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