One man’s liability is another man’s asset. But for sometime now, I have been seen as both… for just one man. My dear one, my rock, and the father of my children.
We’re not like other couples. Or at least, we’re not like the majority of other couples. We have a loving romantic relationship. Just not with each other. We’ve reached a blissful state of togetherness in our relationship, but the content of it has changed. And yet we’re still together, more so in fact, than before where our togetherness seemed to be dependent on whether romance was part of it.
For a situation like ours, society would give us only the devil’s alternative. Be unhappily sexless together or leave one another. I will stand fast and make neither of those choices. I will thumb my nose at you – society – with our co-created, beautifully transitioned, open relationship.
We love each other, enjoy living together and after eight years, we consider each other to be family (and family is important to both of us). No, we’re not together for the children… because doesn’t that imply that we are making a sacrifice? For us there is no sacrifice. We’re still together because we want to be. We hang out and giggle, as only two people who still love each other can. We have long conversations over coffee, we discuss our renovation plans for the house and the fascinating evolution of our adored children. And we empower each other.
There have been a few recalibrations necessary along the way, primarily reframing the outmoded way that a relationship is judged a failure if you stop having sex. You can remove almost any other content from a relationship – a past shared passion for opera for example – where one of you says
‘You know what? That really isn’t doing it for me anymore.’
And it’s not a problem. Certainly not grounds for a break-up. We don’t consider it to be a problem, because we’ve recognised it for what it really is. A change, and not an insurmountable one. We’ve always been in an open relationship and perhaps that’s why we see it differently. Holding each other close, we’ve chosen to stay together. We’ve grieved what we had, together. Celebrated what we still have, together. We’ve had difficult but loving conversations over the transition, yet only one real problem.
It’s that the women he’s dated, see me as a liability. They want him all to themselves. Despite the fact we maintain separate bedrooms. Despite the fact that I have gone out of my way to welcome them into the house, by my presence or – where necessary – my absence. Despite the fact I trust him to make all his own decisions about where to allocate his time. If they see me as a threat, that is what I am to them. But I am not.
Simply put, he comes with family. He loves us and we love him. Would they prefer to live with him in a house made only for two? Perhaps. Yes, it’s a prerequisite that the woman he dates, likes a more ‘community’ style of living. He and I share that passion still. So she’s welcome to live with us too if it feels right for them, here in the house that we jointly own, or maybe one day in a house we all own (or indeed any arrangement which is supportive of our blended family). After all, if they love each other, she will also be part of the family… and part of our children’s lives. As any caregiver to my children, her influence cannot be underestimated. As anyone my partner loves, her importance cannot be underestimated.
Living away from his family, me and his children, would make us all unhappy. Again and again I’ve seen families devastated by a desire for one person to possess another completely. I was once part of one, torn apart by acrimony.
Why do they want him to be unhappy? Why must we be unhappy? Why must we make our children unhappy?
For over a year now, I have waited in strong, steadfast love and also limbo. For fear that his desire for romantic love might be satisfied by a woman who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept me, as part of his family. It’s not binary. One accepted me as a temporary niggle. Another refused to even meet me. She was in my home. She played with my children and denied my presence. In the end, she chose to leave. But now one has opened her eyes in delighted surprise and wonder. She’s said with a passion and conviction which matches my own,
‘Wow. I get a great boyfriend and his supportive family all in one package? It’s like a utopia.
She’s an exceptional woman who sees me as an asset. They are happy together. That makes me happy. And our children happy. One big, happy relationship-fluid family. My daughter now has several female role models in her life. We’ve seen a blossoming in her over the past months which warms all our hearts. It’s something kind of wonderful.
Society desires that families and hearts must break under the rigidity of convention and Victorian morality. That my children lose the presence of their father or myself, and go through traumatic loss in order to preserve a relationship structure which was designed to promote exclusivity and possession. Society supposes that we will succumb to fear and jealousy as we form new relationships. But as might have been written by one more skilled than I,
If society supposes that, sir, then society is an ass.
Without knowing our future, as no one can, I have found our intimate network is stronger, because we are all flexible. We are open. We communicate honestly. We confront the difficulties others would assume mean the end of a relationship. They forget that with an end, comes a new – and beautifully promising – beginning.