Territory and Agreements (names changed for privacy)
Written in 2000
A few weeks ago Vick called to invite me to see his new home-- "And be sure to bring Paul!" He has been my lover for nearly quarter of a century and through three different wives. He and my husband have had a relationship, too, during the seven years we've been together. Vick's present wife, Helga, had been uncomfortable with our visiting him in their home, so I haven't seen the place he had been living in for nearly two years. It is a very strange feeling not to be able to visualize his space in my mind. It's out of state, so I wouldn't have been there frequently anyway, but I have always spent some time in the home Vick lived in. He has visited on our end several times while living in that house. Finally, Helga decided it was ok for Paul and me to be there as long as the three of us did not sleep/make love in their big bed. We could sleep in the guest room while she visited her family in Europe.
Paul and I arrive by plane early enough in the day to visit a local wild animal park featuring BIG cats--white tigers, lions, leopards and cougars. There are also wolves about the place and even a few bears. All of these creatures live in guarded harmony with each other and their loving human companions who do not train them, but play with them instead. The shows are actually play times. The announcer is careful to inform us, however, that these are wild animals. Such things as territory and Alpha, Beta, Theta ranking mean something here. The huge white tiger which a staff member is playing with in the lake may decide he is not allowed to be here anymore and that staff member will hightail it out of there--fast.
Do humans have a territorial instinct? Yes. For each of us it is different. To some men--"You touch my woman, you die." Others like my husband Paul, never learned jealousy at all. Helga will share her man, but not her bed and preferably not while she's anywhere close to it. I'll share my man, but I'd rather be right there. Our bed is a good place for this. Does this mean I am not territorial? It might mean I feel safer in my own space. Guess who is the alpha female there?
When we reach Vick's house I look around at familiar furniture and paintings which have been in his life longer than I have. His mother's art work which I've always loved. The bedroom I will not be sleeping in looks like it was transplanted from his place in California to this new home. The bed is the one we've shared so many times over so many years. I keep wandering in and out of there dealing with feelings of upset...betrayal...frustrated territoriality, probably. It might have been easier if this had all been different, more affected by her than by Vick. This is too much like being shut out of my own bedroom.
Vick and I cuddle by the fire near the same piano which has always been in his living room. Paul is installing something in Vick's computer. He comes out and the three of us soak a while in the jacuzzi. We talk of Vick's shamanic work, the nature of power, and what it means to be wholly responsible for the state of one's life.
Quite late, we enter the bedroom to sleep, perchance to love. It is a double bed for three people while a king size one lies empty in the next room. Ridiculous? I am tempted to say so and get Vick to BE REASONABLE. I don't ask and I doubt that he'd go for it if I did. It is our agreements which make it safe enough for some of us to be willing to leave behind the tried and true ways of monogamous marriage for a path filled with strange objects which could bear thorns. It is the agreements I have with Paul which make me feel safe enough to share him even though such sharing has been my way throughout my adult life. For Helga it is a much newer thing. She is taking it at the pace she can handle and only she knows what that is.
Ok boys--you inhale I'll exhale...
A few years ago, Helga became upset over my relationship with Vick. She wanted him to stop seeing me. He was not willing to do that and sought counseling to deal with the issue. The counselor asked her whether she knew I was part of Vick’s life when she married him. She admitted she did. The counselor advised her to honor the agreements under which she had chosen to marry Vick. She settled for barring me from visiting Vick in her home, though she has always been cordial to me when I happen to get her on the phone at their home. Recently the issue of territory came up again. Vick wanted to share his home with those he loved, including Paul and me. In a Ceremony, he danced his willingness to go so far as to let go of Helga if she could not handle this. Fortunately, Helga danced her openness to supporting her husband’s Freedom and Passion. Soon we will be visiting Vick at home.
At my home, I am on the other side of this conflict. I am for the first time in thirty-five years of Poly living in the position of refusing to let my husband’s lover into our home. He is seeing a woman who has chosen not to speak to me. This is a lady who lived with us until about six months ago and decided to move out due to conflicts between us. I fully expected us to talk our conflicts out. It did not seem likely that we would be able to make living together work as some of those conflicts made us incompatible as room mates. I expected we would find a way for her become a family member living outside our home, one who would be warmly welcome for meals , weekends, outings together, etc. That is not what happened and I am not willing to have my home invaded by a declared hostile adversary even when I am not there.
Vick and I had enacted a similar scene of parting in 1992 when we broke our engagement because we could not live together well, but decided to continue being lovers. Oberon Zell says being Poly means you never have to say good by. This is true if one is willing to take the trouble to heal hurts which can come from changing relationships from primary to secondary, from sexual to platonic and back again, etc. Some relationships weather these transitions and remain close through it all. Others do end, despite the participants being poly.
What do you do when one member of a couple (or two members of a triad) choose to continue a relationship with someone who will not interact with his or her spouse? Is this being poly or having an old fashioned extra marital affair? There are emotional issues of hurt and betrayal. There are also practical issues. How are dates between multiple partners scheduled without communication between two of them? Who sleeps at which house when? Is staying out over night appropriate under these circumstances? Here are several “etiquette” questions we are still in the process of resolving…
If you have a “What do you do when...?” for publication please E-Mail it to Live_The_Dream2000@yahoo.com or send it to 8515 Penfield Ave. Winnetka, Ca. 91306. We will take it with your solution or brain storm and give it one or more of our own. Let’s have fun with this and learn from each other.
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