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In Or Out? What shall it be?
One of the big questions that one will face when forming a group marriage is whether or not to be in or “out” about one’s family to the rest of the world. This article is aimed strictly at group marriage, and not at any other form of polyamory.
After careful consideration, deep thought and my own experiences to back it up, I say you really, really should be “out”.
I can almost hear your reaction now. “I always thought that Goddess of Java chick was a total nutcase, but now I have no doubt. She has no idea what she’s talking about. I work for a church, I live in the Bible Belt, I have fundamentalist Christian relatives. What is she thinking ?”
Okay, bear with me, ‘cause this article is going to range far and wide… (Take a deep breath).
I’m thinking it is very important to prioritize your life. What is your driving goal? Whatever it is, don’t do anything contrary to that.
You can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything you want. So, what do you want the most?
If your career is more important to you than a group marriage, you know what? That’s fine. This is about personal choice and personal fulfillment. While I have a strong admiration to commitment, I admire commitment to a career just as much as I admire commitment to having a weird family. You can be poly, have multiple relationships, and keep the quiet without ruining your career.
If you live in a group marriage…. You’re going to have people asking questions whether or not you want them. At some point, someone is going to Figure it All Out. I don’t know about you, but that’s a level of tension I just have no interest in living with. Easier to be out and be done with it.
There are problems with being out; I do not deny it. For one thing, if you’re going to be out, you don’t want to be living where what you’re doing has any laws against it. This may necessitate a move. You’re gonna want to get your ducks in a row in case you have a relative who is vindictive enough to try to use your children as tools to try to get you to “behave yourself” and stop living in a group marriage. (Living in an area where nothing you’re doing is illegal is a good way to pull their teeth, but this presumes you’re already a decent parent, your kids are clean, well cared for, have decent medical attention, and decent education).
“But, but, but... I own a house, I have a job with a good 401K, I have--”
Right. So, what are you committed to? It is perfectly okay to be committed to the house, job and 401K. I’m serious here. Knowing who you are and what you want is really a good thing. Notice here that this is extremely individual and subjective. Life values are not absolutes. There is no more nobility in that desire than the desire for a group marriage. The nobility is in being honest with yourself about what you want and how you really want to live.
It’s important to know what you really, really want if you’re considering a group marriage. You’re going to have to make a lot of choices and it’s not something you can do halfway. In spite of the argument that polyamory is for people who are afraid of commitment, when you’re dealing with a group marriage, this is not even remotely the case. As I will repeat until you want to strangle me, group marriage is for the pig-headedly commitment oriented.
So, why is being “out” easier?
I won’t say it is necessarily easier. It’s safer . If you are acting as if you have something to hide, people will assume “worse” than anything you are actually doing. I’m not saying that you need to broadcast things that are none of anyone’s business. I don’t discuss my sex life with strangers. But people do know that we all live together, that we are rearing the children together and that we are one family. We do use the term group marriage if we have the time and energy to explain the issue, or if it is important that details are understood. It rarely is important to go into more detail than “We are a family and we’re all parents to the kids.” Our kids’ soccer coach just knows that we all live together and that the kids consider themselves brother and sister. Now that we are sending the kids to public school, all four of us do go to teacher conferences for both kids. We do not get a negative response from this. Quite the opposite. They are thrilled that the kids have such involved parents. If we treated this as a big hairy deal that needed scads of explanation, it might be different, but we’re matter of fact about it, and it is as casually accepted.
So, how will most people react?
It has been my experience that most people Just Don’t Care. Why should
they? Sure, it’s weird as an acre of snakes, but for the most part, it
has nothing to do with them. But yes, some people do care. That can suck big
twinkie, too. Thankfully, my family has never been on the wrong end of public
opinion worse than a few people on the Internet taking a dislike to our life
and having something nasty to say about it. As far as nasty comments are
concerned, the advice you got back in the first grade about sticks and stones
does apply. Chances are slim, however, that you are going to face worse than a
snide remark in anything but a divorce case in which custody is an issue. If
you have been on the wrong end of legal discrimination NOT involving a
divorce/custody case and/or involving violence, I would be very curious to hear
about it, as I would revise some advice based on new facts. As far as I am
aware, however, being out isn’t a risk bigger than encountering some
gossip, if you get your ducks in a row first.