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Old 02-09-2015, 03:53 AM
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Infinity Infinity is offline
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Question (How) does marriage work with non-hierarchical poly??

To the poly people who do not like to practice hierarchical poly: how does the idea of marriage fit in with this?

I see a few people on this site who are married to one partner and maybe have another who they consider an equal primary (such as, a husband and a boyfriend). How does this work with them being equal, when that is not represented in your legal arrangements? Have any of you considered divorcing the 'married' partner, so that the relationships can truly be 'equal'?

Another question to those who do not practice hierarchy: would you be in a relationship with someone who IS married? What if they expressed to you that you mean the same to them as their spouse - would that be enough, or would the fact that they are married always mean it felt 'unequal' in some way?

I don't see how non-hierarchical poly and legal marriage can go hand in hand. But I'm open to ideas

Of course, I differentiate between legal and non-legal marriage. For example, a person could have two partners and have a commitment ceremony with each which legally meant nothing but emotionally was very significant.

The thing with marriage though is that there can only be one partner, married, legally. This to me makes it inherently unequal.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:36 AM
InsaneMystic InsaneMystic is offline
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In my not so humble personal opinion, it doesn't.

I'm pretty rabidly anti-marriage, including for that reason, and would love to see the Big M stripped of all legal context and reduced to just a purely religious ceremony with no secular meaning or benefits (legal rights, taxes, etc.pp.), whatsoever. As a rite comparable to baptism and other stuff, marriage sure has its place for those so inclined and will keep it for the foreseeable future; I just don't see the practical use for it in a modern, secular society... especially now that civil unions - which are far more flexible, including in terms of poly structures, as that case in Brazil a few years ago proved - have finally become invented.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:23 AM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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Im married for tax purposes, we get more money back filing married. To divorce would cost me money. Having a legal marriage ad a symbolic one doesn't mean any difference to me.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:54 AM
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Bluebird Bluebird is offline
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I practice non-hierarchical poly. However, I am legally married. To combat the inherent inequality of this, we have drawn up arrangements the best that we can - living wills, insurance policies, joint and separate bank accounts.

I would never divorce my husband - it has so much symbolic meaning to him, and we have a child together. That said, my boyfriend is quite okay with not being legally married to me, and says he considers us soulmates in his heart already, and any legal document from a government agency doesn't make it any more legitimate to him. We are going to have a hand fasting though, because it is important to me. I want to take a physical step that others will see as significant. He is correct though - the commitment between us has already been made.

I absolutely wish I could marry both my guys in a legal ceremony. But things are what they are. I just lucked out that my boyfriend doesn't mind passing on the legal designation.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:28 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Originally Posted by Infinity View Post
To the poly people who do not like to practice hierarchical poly: how does the idea of marriage fit in with this?
To me, the best a person can do while being married is say that they would like to have no hierarchies in their romantic relationships. Nobody who is married can say that there is no hierarchy.

A marriage is a legal contract that gives the people involved in it rights and responsibilities over each other's lives and property. Feelings of love do not come into it.

I appreciate that I do have fairly unusual views on marriage and relationships. The place I've come to regarding poly is that I wouldn't be actively poly unless I were living as a solo person again. To me, the only way to have ethical poly relationships is to do it as a solo person. If I'm committed to a romantic partner then my desire to maintain that relationship would make it hard for any additional relationships to grow naturally.

So I've reached a point where to maintain my own boundaries, if I'm in something that myself and my partner would call a committed relationship, it needs to be monogamous on both sides. To be poly or open would require changing that relationship, shifting it so that we no longer referred or thought of each other as partners but as friends.

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Old 02-09-2015, 11:36 AM
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FallenAngelina FallenAngelina is offline
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Originally Posted by Infinity View Post
To the poly people who do not like to practice hierarchical poly: how does the idea of marriage fit in with this?
I am married (16 years) with shared property, children, emotional ties and a little sex tossed in. My other relationships are sexually and emotional intimate, a little world of two. They're very different kinds of relationships. I see no use or need for stacking my relationships up against each other, ordering them in terms of "deeper" or "longer" or "more important" etc. This question is kind of like asking, "If you regularly travel to certain exotic places, how does the idea of having a home fit with this?" or "If you spend time with friends, how does the idea of having a really good friend fit in with this?" I wouldn't assign a rating system to beloved travel locales as I wouldn't to friends as I wouldn't to intimate (sexually) loved ones. Each is beloved and I never encounter a dramatic situation in which I am pressed to prioritize one over the other. They all just fit with me. People are to be appreciated and enjoyed, not rated and stacked up against one another.

Your OP equates marriage with greater emotional attachment, loyalty and status - and that just ain't so. In my experience, marriage is a relationship suited for everything that's involved in raising a family, not necessarily a relationship I hold up as deserving of more loyalty, love or emotional involvement. I would definitely involve myself with someone who is married, but I would never seriously get involved with someone who had the need to practise relationship hierarchy. The whole notion of rating people like that just creeps me out.
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Last edited by FallenAngelina; 02-09-2015 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:42 PM
Hannahfluke Hannahfluke is offline
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My husband and I have stayed married because it would take a lot of time, energy, and money to untangle all our assets. Plus, right now his insurance is better than my insurance (we're talking a hundred dollar difference per visit to my therapist, which happens at least twice a month) but before 2014, when he changed jobs, mine was better. The fact it would freak my children out and make them unhappy is also a reason we don't do it.

We don't subscribe to hierarchical polyamory though. We just happened to have been married for 17 years before opening up our marriage and had entwined our financial lives pretty thoroughly by that point. Does it bother our other partners? Not usually. My husband's girlfriend is also married and for many of the same reasons that we still are (plus, she's a stay at home mom, so that adds a wrinkle). That hasn't affected how their relationship had grown. I had a boyfriend for a year and a half that it did bother him that he wasn't my number one priority but divorcing my husband wouldn't have made a difference, unless I moved in with the boyfriend and made him my primary. And even then, he would have shared the spot with my teenage children. So, nothing short of abandoning my family would have made him feel like a primary and he never saw that I felt like he and my husband were co-primaries, even though I told him a lot that I thought of him that way. I even came out to my family so he could go to holiday dinners with us, so it's not like I was all talk and no action.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:48 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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*Emotionally*, I'm nonhierarchical. Hubby and S2 are equal in my heart and mind.

But... I am legally married to Hubby. He and I cohabitate. We've been together for nearly 7 years, married nearly 5, and he's helped parent Alt and Country since they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively.

S2 and I have only been together for 7 *months*. We live separately. Of his two children and my two, only Alt knows that S2 and I are in a relationship. Country and Spikes think S2 and I are just friends; Beads, because of his needs, doesn't understand or seem to care one way or another.

So in that sense, yes, there is a hierarchy. Hubby has a place and role in my *life* that S2 does not. Hubby and I have *legal* standing as husband and wife. And it's likely to remain that way; S2 has no desire to cohabitate or gain any more entwinement in my life than he currently has.

Honestly, I would be more likely to divorce Hubby for financial reasons than to make things more equal between him and S2... Because I'm legally married to Hubby, I have to count his income, so I don't have the health insurance coverage I would have if he and I were only living together, and I can't collect the disability payments I would otherwise be eligible for.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:05 PM
Eponine Eponine is offline
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Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
A marriage is a legal contract that gives the people involved in it rights and responsibilities over each other's lives and property. Feelings of love do not come into it.
That's exactly why I believe it's possible to be married and practice non-hierarchical poly. Being married to one person doesn't mean you have to love them more than anyone else, put them on a pedestal, or give them special privileges (e.g. veto power, always putting them on top priority no matter what). That's my understanding of non-hierarchy.

But I guess for some people, "non-hierarchical" also applies to the practical aspect, like equal share of one's time and resources, equal levels of life entanglement, or even equal legal rights. I admit I can't do their version of non-hierarchical poly, and I won't complain if they reject me because I'm married. But I tend to connect with people who value the emotional rather than practical side of things anyway, so they share my understanding of non-hierarchy.
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Last edited by Eponine; 02-09-2015 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:21 PM
GreenAcres GreenAcres is offline
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From a practical, real-world perspective, I don't think it's possible to not have a heirarchy if a couple is married. There are just too many social and legal privileges built into the system currently, and many of them can't be overridden with any type of contract due to various state laws, etc.

Emotionally, however, it's as many poster said above: marriage doesn't necessarily confer a deeper emotional connection. So, emotional non-heirarchy is completely possible for some people.

I wouldn't date a married couple or one member of a married couple seriously because it leaves me relying on the good will of the partner if something goes wrong (someone ends up in the hospital, dies, etc.). It's great to assume the best about people, but I've seen what happens when people get stressed out too many times to put my emotional (and/or financial) security on the line in that way. But, that isn't a concern for everyone. It depends a lot on what folks need and are looking for whether that kind of thing matters.
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