Cooperative Living, Open Relationshis & Group Marriage

Articles – Birth of a Triad

In May of 2000 Paul and I had a Synergy gathering at our home, the first one we’ve had there in years. Marcus Jenkins attended that meeting. He sat in the hot tub telling us stories about his life which sounded vaguely familiar. The children he raised were those we had been hearing about for years from one of our Water Brothers (Richard) who had been his co-husband when the girls were young. Richard had stayed in the lives of Marus’ daughters over the years. One of his daughters now lives with her boy friend in the group home of two friends of ours who have given LTD many meetings on group living over the years. How did we avoid meeting Marcus sooner? We should have tripped over him!

Over the next six months, we had Marcus over for dinner, shared outings to romantic restaurants, filk (science fiction folk singing) conventions and story telling events. Marcus mostly did things with both of us in the evenings and on weekends, though he and I did do lunches together by ourselves during the week several times. He was there for me a couple of times when I was down for one reason or another and helped cheer me with his very off beat sense of humor and his caring. He and Paul talked about computers and photography. We spent time together in bed and out. We watched Star Trek and Babylon 5. He got to know my daughter and started teaching art to my grand daughter. We discussed our dreams, our political opinions, what we wanted from our relationships. and who should do what chores in a group house.

Marcus and our housemate/Water Brother of five years, Carl, made connection, learned about each other, and worked out how they could live in the same house together. Though Carl is not romantically involved with us, he is part of our family.

We all shared Water. Based on Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, this is a commitment to be family-by-choice on a permanent basis, whatever evolutions your relationship may go through.

My Dad had been living with Paul and I when Marcus came into our lives. There was not really room for another person to have his own room. My Dad decided to go back to his estranged wife at the beginning of 2001. When my Dad moved out, Marcus moved in. Shortly afterwards, we decided to be handfasted and chose rings together. When a third person joins an already existing couple (a legally married one in this case), how the first commitment compares with the new one must be considered and discussed. Will these relationships be equal? Even if you intend for them to be, a lot of history between two people can be daunting to a third. If at least the intent for equality is not there, you’d better be diligently looking for a fourth or the relationship won’t last long. Who wants to be second banana indefinitely? We do have an intent to move in the direction of equality, though another compatible lady would certainly be welcome in our relationship. It is to all of our advantages that we’ve all experienced being in triads before. We’ve learned what works and a lot about what doesn’t. There will be plenty more chances for such learning’s in the future of this relationship.

Shortly after Marcus moved in, he attended an annually held weekend birthday party with Paul and I for one of our Water Brothers in the science fiction community. For the first time, we were presenting ourselves as a committed triad before our friends and family-by-choice.

The first time we stayed in a hotel room together and actually registered as a triad was another mile stone. The hotel, which usually did not allow three in a room, saw matching gold rings on three hands and accepted us!

Before our formal handfasting, we started to work out the finances of who pays for what on trips, in restaurants and when the washing machine needs repair. There are lots of details which may not come up while dating (or not seem important enough to deal with if the relationship may be only part time or short lived) which suddenly matter when you are putting your lives together for the long haul. In many ways it is the same as when two people decide to be married. Differences lie in the greater complexity of relationships to be worked out including who leads in what circumstances, which kinds of outing and activities do two or three of you go to together, and who sleeps in the middle. It can be fascinating and frustrating, especially during the shake down.

June 2nd of 2001 we had a formal Braiding ceremony at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire with friends and family in attendance. Our 9 yr old grand daughter was flower girl with our two year old grandson as ring bearer. My daughter was matron of honor. Passages were read from Stranger in a Strange Land. We had a Water Sharing for all members of our Nest who were present. An unusual part (aside from there being three of us) was Marcus’ decision to formally join the Brussel “clan” as a son to my father. Both of them have taken that ceremony seriously since then. Marcus helps my Dad with his advertising business, drives him to family events, etc. My father introduces him as his son on business and personal occasions.

June 2nd of 2002 we celebrated our one year anniversary–just the three of us this time–back at Faire. It has been a rough year including legal battles challenging our lifestyles choices. When you talk to news papers and media people, you take the risk of being noticed. It is also the best way to educate the general public and those who may need to learn about this lifestyle for themselves. We have had plenty of opportunities to test the “in good times and bad” part of our commitment to each other. We’ve weathered it and are closer now than ever. The delight is worth the hassle. For all of us, this relationship is part of who we are and what we want from life.