We Form a Group Marriage

 

In 1987, I took a job at the University of Oregon where I was instantly attracted to a woman named Ellen who conducted the group orientation for new employees. A former alcoholic, Ellen was also a movie buff who decorated her apartment with black and white glossies of yesteryear’s stars. She had grown up in a small Willamette Valley town and, after marriage, had moved to an even smaller town in Oregon’s Great Basin Desert. Her marital unhappiness and her hatred of the area’s provincialism led her to leave her husband and move to liberal Eugene. It was here that she embraced feminism, and it was here that she found inspiration in a 19th century Swedish ancestor whose rejection of women’s assigned roles in society caused her family to disown her (she then made her home under an overhanging boulder, enabling Ellen to claim that she descended from a woman who crawled out from under a rock). When we met, Ellen had won acceptance into doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, and was cashing in her retirement savings to fiance her education. She would be leaving Eugene in three months, and so it was that—with Peggy’s knowledge and consent—she and I spent as much time together as possible.

That fall (1987), I flew to Minneapolis. Ellen having no car, and the weather being bitching cold by Eugene standards, she laughed merrily as we walked about the downtown area, and locals stared from restaurant windows because I was wearing every piece of clothing I had. When it came time to discuss the future of our relationship, I brought up the possibility of group marriage. She reacted angrily until I assured her that modern polyfidelity was egalitarian. I then described my relationship with Peggy in order to convince Ellen that gender oppression was the furtherest thing from my mind. The following two paragraphs summarize what I said:

“Although I work as hard as Peggy, what money I earn comes from jobs that are temporary and/or part-time, my ‘real work’ consisting of housework, yard work, and home improvement projects. Just as Peggy is bored by working at home and finds fulfillment in her nursing career, I prefer the independence that comes with working at home. The gender roles that society demands of us don’t fit, but going our own way is also hard, especially for me because while the public envisions a housewife as being deficient in skills, intelligence, and ambition, it regards a househusband as a despicable sponge who is a man in name only. My own mother called me a loser, a failure, a kept man, a disappointment, and a good for nothing who will never amount to anything. She calls Peggy my better half (and means it), and says that Peggy is a good woman who married beneath herself. Yet, I thrive on hard physical labor, and I’m so driven to get things done that I stay busy every waking moment. I even limit my reading to practical nonfiction. What’s more, when Peggy’s 36-hour work week ends, her time is her own, but because I live on my job site, I’m driven to keep working. At the same time, I’m in charge of my life in ways that are impossible for those who work for someone else.

“At the other end of the spectrum from my mother, Peggy’s career-oriented women friends complain that their husbands dump all the housework and childcare on them. They tell Peggy that she’s lucky to have a husband who mows, cooks, bakes, launders, shops, pays bills, mops floors, raises a garden, cans food, makes beds, services cars, irons her nursing uniforms, takes on home improvement projects, and makes money on the side. They ask to borrow me, and laughingly warn her that some woman will try to steal me.”

Because Ellen scorned conventional lifestyles, she was intrigued, her greatest concern being that Peggy and I agree to the eventual addition of another man. She spent the following summer back in Oregon with Peggy and me, and the two of them got along famously. By then, Peggy also had a reason for wanting to live in Minneapolis. Specifically, she wished to trade ICU nursing for L&D, but Eugene was experiencing such a nursing glut that Sacred Heart required previous L&D experience. Minneapolis’ Abbott Northwestern had no such requirement, but their only opening was in antepartum. That was close enough to satisfy Sacred Heart’s requirement of prior experience.

For my part, I had no desire to move to Minnesota after less than two years in a place I loved, and I was further discouraged by Minnesota
’s harsh winters. I shared my feelings with Ellen and Peggy, but they were both so excited about the move, and they both so needed to move for career reasons that I felt I had to go. They suggested that I think of living in Minnesota as an adventure and promised we could return to Oregon when Vicki graduated.

So it was that in August, 1988, we made our marriage vowsand ate our wedding cakein the company of Eugene’s polyfidelity community. On the legal front, Peggy went back to using her maiden name. On the nonlegal front, we declared ourselves the Speedwell Family, a name which was inspired by the flower. More aptly in our case, it was also the name of a leaky ship that the pilgrims of 1620 were forced to abandon on their voyage to America.

The closer we came to moving, the more hesitant I became. On October 2, I got word that my mother was dying, and I arrived in Mississippi just in time to hold her hand as she breathed her last. Two days later, I was back in Oregon renting a Ryder Truck and a car carrier for Peggy’s Ford (my Datsun truck was already in Minnesota, and we took turns driving a third car). Prior to the move, Peggy and I sold our house in Oregon, and the three of us bought a house in Minneapolis, yet everything within me screamed, “Don’t go!”

Yellowstone National Park—which is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined—burned that summer—and we narrowly avoided a very long detour by exiting the east gate just before it closed. Peggy and Ellen got along famously and enjoyed themselves immensely, but the best light that I could put on the situation was the hope that things might not go as bad as I feared.

Snow fell on Minneapolis the day after our October arrival, and by Christmas, night-time lows were in the -20s F. No matter how cold the weather, I felt duty-bound to take our sweatered schnauzer on her daily walks, but I shortened the walks when she tried to enter every house we passed. Yet, I found that windless, sunny days were actually pleasant if the temperature stayed above zero. The worst part of Minnesota winters wasn’t the snow and cold per se, but the slippery roads, the city filth that settled on the snow, and the grimy, salt-encrusted cars. I had always prided myself on how well I cared for cars, and every rust-bucket I passed was a reminder that my cars would soon look like that. Like many people, I tried to minimize the damage with frequent washes, but was discouraged by the fact that cars looked as bad six blocks after being washed as they looked before being washed. So it was that car care—like the rest of my life—seemed like a lost battle, and by now, Ellen and I did little but battle.

Yet, I found a lot to like about Minneapolis. We started a support group at our house; made friends at the atheistic First Unitarian Society; found respite from winter at St. Paul Conservatory; fell in love with old Fort Snelling and the Minneapolis Institute of Art; enjoyed the trails at nearby Wood Lake Park; and found pleasure in estate sales. Despite all this, my mental state had so deteriorated by our second winter in Minnesota that I started seeing a psychoanalyst who put me on an antidepressant called Norpramin.

Peggy and Ellen decided that a winter trip to Arizona would do me good, and I needed no persuasion. Peggy and I flew
down in January, 1990. The weather, the scenery, and our time together were heavenly, but Ellen and I continued our fights over the telephone. Once back in Minnesota, our relationship so deteriorated that Peggy never left for work but what she feared that we would become violent in her absence, though we never did. When she switched from staying out of our battles to taking my side, our homelife deteriorated even further. On one occasion, she shook her fist in Vicki’s face. Soon afterward, she came home from work and found Ellen naked and screaming while I held her from behind for fear she would wreck the house. That was it for Peggy, so she arranged for a job interview back in Oregon. Because I had felt trapped in the marriage from the outset and never wanted to be in Minnesota in the first place, I prepared to follow. Ellen also wanted to call it quits.

By the time Peggy returned to Oregon in March 1990, the nursing glut was over, and so the hospital would have hired her to work in L&D even without her antepartum experience in Minnesota. This meant that her work in Minneapolis had not furthered her career and that, as she saw it, she had given up her seniority for nothing. We were also shocked to discover
that housing prices had risen by over a third, the market being so hot that we had to compete in a three-way bidding war for the house that we have occupied for the past 32-years. As for her living arrangements in Oregonprior to my return in Mayshe and a friend named Elaine, who was also leaving a failed marriage, moved into the Lincoln Street home of a mutual friend named Shirley, laughingly calling it “Shirley’s Home for Wayward Women.” Both women had attended our marriage to Ellen.

In closing, I will anticipate a few questions… 

 

Are participants in a mixed gender marriage necessarily bisexual?

This is up to the people who form the marriage although everyone in a group marriage considers themselves married to everyone else.

What did you tell your families about your relationship?

Ellen had scant contact with her father and none with her mother, so telling them
was a non-issue, but my father and Peggy’s parents visited us in Minneapolis. Peggy knew her parents would be horrified, so we allowed them to assume that Ellen was our housemate. I had always been open with my parents, so I told my father, although he persisted in thinking of Ellen as a live-in lover.

What was the hardest part of your marriage to Ellen?

Because I don
’t feel comfortable detailing the reasons Ellen and I argued so much, Ill just say that the second hardest part was having to defend our marriage’s validity. Some examples: It rankled me that we couldn’t legally share a last name… I went to war with the Minnesota Zoo because they refused to issue us a “family membership…” I complained to the minister at First Unitarian about a sermon in which he described marriage in traditional terms… I felt called upon to explain that, no, we weren’t old style Mormons, and, no, I wasn’t putting together a harem. Living on the defensive wore me down, but because I was unwilling to hide the nature of our relationship, I didn’t know what else to do.

Are you in contact with Ellen?


Peggy and I haven’t been in contact with her since 1990. When I googled her today, I was pleased to learn that she is still working and is prominent in her field. 

Was this your only group marriage experience?

Two years after our return to Oregon, Peggy’s lover—who was also my best friend—proposed that we start a group marriage with him. On the upside, Walt was generous, playful, humorous, spontaneous, versatile, intelligent, optimistic, energetic, and possessed of unlimited self-confidence. On the downside, he never mowed his lawn; his house was dirty and unorganized; and he spent money as fast as he made it. He said he would change, but we doubted he could, and it was obvious that he didn’t realize how profound our differences were. For example, after he brought his wok over and cooked for us, I spent the next day cleaning grease off the floor, the cabinets, and the ceiling; and whenever he showered at our house, he made such a mess that I cleaned the bathroom when he was gone. When I surprised him by cleaning his Land Rover, he complained that he had liked the moss that grew in the window tracks, and he became equally upset when I mowed his yard.

How do you now feel about group marriage? 

Traditional marriage being so difficult despite public acceptance, I have come to have serious doubts about the feasibility of group marriage. Personal limitations have also led me to lose interest. Specifically, age and chronic pain have left me fragile and robbed me of strength, energy, boldness, and optimism. My basic belief in the core abilities of myself and others has also plummeted. In closing, I can but say that I respect what Peggy, Ellen, and I tried to accomplish all those years ago, and I also respect the courage and boldness we showed in making the effort.

22 comments:

angela said...

In the middle of reading this I got a call from my husband asking me to pick him up after delivering a truck he had been working on. I thought at that moment another wife would be lovely as I had just sat down to reqd blogs
But I really don’t think I could be in a group marriage. I’ve been taught all my life one wife and one husband
And I think my jealousy would definitely be the end of me and my sanity

Elephant's Child said...

Your final two sentences sum up my feelings as I read through this post. Thank you - for your courage in undertaking this move and for your courage in sharing it.

Andrew said...

While I knew a some of this, it is good to have it concisely written with detail.

I believe a threesome relationship or group marriage could work with the right mix of people, but it would be very rare. Jealousy is just so so human.

Snowbrush said...

"But I really don’t think I could be in a group marriage. I’ve been taught all my life one wife and one husband."

Peggy and I grew up among evangelical conservatives, and were therefore taught as you were. I started moving away from evangelical religion and conservative politics when I was in my early teens. Each step away from traditional values made the next step easier, and so it was that I eventually became the kind of person that I had been taught to hate. Peggy, too, abandoned her family's religion while in her teens, but as to her family's political views, she never gave enough thought to politics for it to matter (that is until Donald Trump came along). I have no idea why we left our childhood teachings and you didn't, but I believe that you are a person of intelligence and integrity, and I can but hope that, despite it all, you can think the same of me.

"And I think my jealousy would definitely be the end of me and my sanity."

Perhaps whether or not a person is jealous is something that goes so deep as to be unchangeable. Early on when I proposed an open marriage to Peggy, she predicted that I would hit the roof when she started having sex with other men, but I didn't. Had I thought that she would leave me for one of them, I'm sure I would have become jealous, but I never had that fear, and I don't think she feared me leaving her either. Through it all, my commitment to her remained solid because I knew what I had with her, and I never believed that another woman could equal it. I don't know if you read the comments following my last post, but in one of them, I mentioned that we've been married for fifty years. Few people in a monogamous relationship are able to do that, and very few couples in an open marriage manage to pull it off. There's clearly a rare and special strength in our being together.

Strayer said...

The things you tried are indeed bold, since they defy our traditional roles. I prefer life alone. Today I read the Pope has condemned couples who do not have children but do have pets. I thought to myself, wow, a guy who has no children and never will, from a church that has abused children, telling couples what they should do. Must be short on new recruits for the church, was my first thought. Traditional thought is so messed up with the input from people like him. He has power and an audience and ulterior motives.

angela said...

I absolutely consider you an intelligent person. And I would never judge anyone on their life choices
I’m grateful that you have shared your story with us. 8 love hearing about others life experiences

Ruby End said...

I find this fascinating because it's all really down to our long standing social construct so far as what we've been told will and won't work. I think it's been drummed into us that we must find one person and stay with them, ideally forever, and the only alternative is to leave them and be with someone else; it completely ignores something quite fundamental to humans - we can love more than one person at a time, and respect more than one and want to be with more than one at a time. If we didn't no affair would ever happen and they happen a great deal of the time, it's jealously that causes the problems, some people are more jealous than others, and even if we weren't already programmed to think of more than one partner at the same time as wrong some people would be happier with one person, but some would be happier with three or more I suppose. In many ways I think it might ease the stresses in some marriages. What you've described isn't about men or women having power over lots of partners like a man who has many wives in some religions but none of the wives can be with anyone else. For myself I don't like people all that much and enjoy being alone, but it isn't a big stretch for me to imagine being in love with more than one person. I think it would be freeing for people to be so honest with each other instead of pretending to love someone they don't and cheat on them. You could have couples that no longer want to sleep with each other but love each others companionship so they also have relationships that include one or more other people, if they also agreed. Humans aren't very good at playing nice mind you, so power struggles would always occur, but they do even in one to one relationships. Every time you describe Peggy more I love her more. We're not moving in mind you unless Rosie can marry Ollie. X

Snowbrush said...

"Thank you - for your courage in undertaking this move and for your courage in sharing it."

Thank you, EC. I always look so very forward to your comments.

"I believe a threesome relationship or group marriage could work...but it would be very rare. Jealousy is just so so human."

I've thus far had three comments, all of them from Down Under... I doubt that a jealous person would go anywhere near such a relationship unless, perhaps, he or she was under the complete domination of someone else. As for why such relationships fail, I have no data. In our case, I don't know that Ellen was capable of having an enduring relationship with anyone, and for my part, I became so discouraged that I crumpled when it came to working through differences. An important reason for this was that I lost sexual interest in Ellen early on, and although I never told her (or Peggy), I knew it would ultimately doom the relationship, and I had no idea what to do about it. I could have told her, of course, but the thought of Peggy and me giving up so much for the move, and then for me to throw it all away within weeks was unthinkable.

Snowbrush said...

"Today I read the Pope has condemned couples who do not have children but do have pets. I thought to myself, wow, a guy who has no children and never will, from a church that has abused children, telling couples what they should do."

Well, Jody, I doubt that he would regard us as any less pathetic if we got rid of our pets. Here are some of his remarks: "Today … we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality.” He added that having pets but not children “diminishes us, takes away our humanity." I remember Ed Butz--Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture--saying of the then Italian pope: "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules." (I agreed with his sentiment but deplored his phrasing.)

"I absolutely consider you an intelligent person."

Thank you.

"And I would never judge anyone on their life choices."

I'm happy that my post didn't offend you. I'm also wondering if, perhaps, you're more tolerant than I because I judge a great many people. For example, I strongly condemn Trump voters, conservative Catholics, evangelical Christians, and various others for their life choices, but this is because I see them as being not only a threat to my personal existence but to decency, democracy, civilization, a healthy environment, and countless species.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

What an interesting life you’ve had! I enjoyed reading this and the previous installments. I haven’t met anyone that had been in a group marriage. I would think jealousy would bring most down. I assume you kept your finances separate especially for tax reasons.
My relatively traditional marriage must look boring

I grew up in a household in which my father had all the power since he earned the money and my mom was miserable. I vowed never to be in such a situation and made sure I could support myself. We had similar jobs and incomes and split up child raising and household duties fairly equitably. My father considered my husband to be pussy whipped as he handled so many household chores and dealt with the kids

Again keep up with your well written memoirs

ellen abbott said...

Who is Vicki? As I mentioned before in one of my comments on this topic, my first husband wanted an open marriage but what he really meant was he wanted an open marriage for himself, not me. He would constantly flirt with our women friends and when I mentioned I was OK with them going out with him they thought I was the terrible person, not him for wanting to step out on me. I finally had enough of the double standard and divorced him (there were other reasons as well) I remember once a guy I had a crush on accosted me one night as I was leaving the bar where I hung out. This was in the time between filing for divorce and having to wait the requisite 3 months. My soon to be ex found out I had a crush on this guy and went to see him. I don't know what the hell my ex said to the guy but the guy told me I should go back to my ex, that he loved me, blah blah, and once again I was the bad person in the relationship with my ex. That was the end of my crush.

kylie said...

I once knew a man who I felt so loved by, I knew that his desire for my happiness would have allowed me to have other partners and I think he was so confident in our relationship that he wouldn't have been jealous.
My theory was never tested but I think I understand enough to entertain the idea of a group marriage.
I think it would be a very rare thing to have a group of people who had the skills and confidence to maintain such a relationship. It must have been an experience!

Snowbrush said...

"we can love more than one person at a time, and respect more than one and want to be with more than one at a time."

There's a lovely song entitled "Torn Between Two Lovers" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFB1yytGLRA) that was especially popular in the polyfidelity community back then. In part, it goes:

"There are times when a woman has to say what's on her mind
Even though she knows how much it's gonna hurt.
Before I say another word, let me tell you 'I love you,'
Let me hold you close, and say these words as gently as I can. 'There's been another man that I've needed and I've loved,
But that doesn't mean I love you less...
Couldn't really blame you if you turned and walked away,But with everything I feel inside, I'm asking you to stay.'"

"...it's jealously that causes the problems..."

I hardly mean to defend jealousy when I say that it wasn't jealousy that destroyed Speedwell, but rather problems that were there from the first but that we ignored in the hope that they would magically disappear. I knew that this was true on my part, but upon reading this post, Peggy confirmed that she too attempted to shove aside her bad feelings.

"...some people would be happier with one person, but some would be happier with three or more I suppose."

On principle, I opposed the image of two people excluding the rest of the world from an island-like communion. I also feared putting my everything into one person all the while knowing that the day would come when one of us would die (I never entertained the possibility that one of us would walk away). Just as I feel a degree of safety in having more than one cat, I wanted the safety of having more than one intimate partner. At the same time, it's hard enough to make things work with one person.

"For myself I don't like people all that much and enjoy being alone...

With the coming of Covid, I've spent even more time alone, and instead of making me miss people, the experience has caused me to become easily tired when I'm with people. Although I can even say that I greatly enjoy my fellow humans, it's like my social "muscles" have gone to flab, and so I lack the endurance necessary for prolonged contact.

"You could have couples that no longer want to sleep with each other but love each others companionship...

Sex is absent between Peggy and me, but our relationship is no less intense; we are no less devoted to one another; and we even continue to have our daily hour and a half cuddle. I'm sure there are people in their seventies who still have sex, and I think that, well, whatever makes them happy, but I can no longer imagine it. This has led to the thought that if Peggy died, and I wanted another partner, why would I necessarily choose a female partner. Although I don't know that I could ever cuddle with a man, I could enjoy everything else that I would do with a woman... One thing that she and I have agreed upon is that if one of us should die, and the other go on to have another partner, we will keep our money separate from our partner's money, and therefore a major--if not THE major--expression of trust that we have shared will end forever when our relationship ends.

"Every time you describe Peggy more I love her more."

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and I thank you for taking it on.

"We're not moving in mind you unless Rosie can marry Ollie."

[for those who might wonder, Rosie is a dog, and Ollie a cat]. Firstly, I hope she's not hoping to have a lot of sex. Secondly, I showed Rosie's photo to Ollie, but he acted like he hadn't even seen it (maybe I'm wrong, but I take this to be a bad sign). Perhaps, Rosie would be interested in one of my other offerings--Brewsky, Sage, Harvey, or all three of them (now, THAT would be a group marriage to end all group marriages!).

Snowbrush said...

"I assume you kept your finances separate especially for tax reasons."

Ellen had no money because she was using her retirement savings to finance her schooling. Peggy and I had money because we were in our upper thirties by then and had made saving a priority. However, we never added Ellen's name to any of our accounts simply because it was money that Peggy and I had earned prior to her entering our lives. In our minds, this meant that she had no claim to it, and that giving her access would have represented a gift (I seem to recall her thinking otherwise, although she never made an issue of the matter) that we weren't prepared to offer. As for money that was earned after the three of us came together, that was, of course, shared although there wasn't much of it to share because Peggy was the only person who was bringing in a paycheck.

"My relatively traditional marriage must look boring."

If yours is, then mine is too because Peggy and I have been monogamous for upwards of twenty years now.

"I grew up in a household in which my father had all the power since he earned the money and my mom was miserable."

Your father's belief that your mother's work of providing hands-on care for her family's needs was essentially worthless brings up images of centuries of men putting their wives on an allowance and complaining that they spent too much on flour and darning needles.

"I vowed never to be in such a situation and made sure I could support myself."

I'll say a little more about how Peggy and I handle money. For starters, neither of us is expected to account to the other for how much we spend or what we spend it on. This is easy because we are both frugal; because we would both prefer to be tortured and killed than to take unfair advantage of the other; and because we both trust that the other won't do something ridiculous (like gamble) or extravagant (like fly first class or eat at expensive restaurants). I have no personal indulgences beyond the occasional $4.00 potted plant or $3.50 used book (I don't count my clothing, which I buy used at a charity-run thrift store--as does Peggy). Peggy, I'm sure, spends hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars a year traveling to clothing button collectors' conventions and visiting her father and sisters, but we both regard these trips as essential spending in that she would feel spiritually impoverished without them. As for just how much she spends, I have no idea because I never look at bank statements (when she retired, she took over balancing the checkbook). We hold all our accounts in common, although we have an understanding that some of those accounts contain money that is hers alone, and some contain my money that is mine alone. For instance, the money I inherited from my father is my money, although Peggy's name is also on the account; while the money that Peggy's father sometimes gives her (so she won't have to wait until he dies) is her money, although my name is also on the account. I don't think that such trust is the highest form of intimacy, but it's certainly a close second or third.

"My father considered my husband to be pussy whipped as he handled so many household chores and dealt with the kids."

Words like sexist, rigid, callous, oppressive, and unjust leap to mind although he surely had his good points (I don't mean to say that the following has anything to do with your father, but I'm nonetheless reminded of the most laudatory thing that my mother ever said about my sister's husband: "At least he doesn't beat her").

"Again keep up with your well written memoirs."

Thank you, dear Sue. I am honored to have received such an open and interesting comment.

Snowbrush said...

"Who is Vicki?"

I wrote this post in Apple Pages, and when I was done, I went to "find and replace" to change her real name to a fictitious name. In responding to comments, I obviously screwed up. While I have no reason to think that she--or anyone she knows--will ever read this, I don't know but what the memory might cause her pain if she should somehow come across it, so I decided to show her the respect of changing her name. I also wrote less specifically about some things than I would have preferred, and I didn't share our wedding photos.

"...my first husband wanted an open marriage but what he really meant was he wanted an open marriage for himself, not me."

When I proposed an open relationship, Peggy predicted that I would change my mind the first time that she had sex with another man, which she soon did. To her surprise I was okay with it. As things turned out, it wasn't our open relationship per se that caused us difficulty; it was situations in which my feelings for another woman--or her feelings for me--became unequal. For instance, two of the women who I had relationships with imagined (I hadn't meant to deceive them) that Peggy and I were only in an open relationship because our marriage was falling apart. Because they believed this, they felt good about trying to "win" me for themselves. The hurt that they experienced when they realized that I was unwilling to leave Peggy was considerable, but it wasn't always the woman who was hurt. For example, one woman had only wanted us to be "fuck buddies," so when she realized that my feelings for her had gone beyond that, she dumped me instantly and graciouslessly . On another occasion, when a woman came to realize that I would never leave Peggy for her, she proposed that we be friends but not lovers, but I was too hurt for it.

In Peggy's case, Walt was the only other person to whom she was at all committed, and when she told him that she didn't want to be in a group marriage with him, he felt devastated. Perhaps this was what led him to end his friendship with me. I say "perhaps" because he never gave a reason. He instead said that he was unwilling to talk to me.

cont.

Snowbrush said...

"...I finally had enough of the double standard."

Such experiences didn't happen for Peggy, perhaps because you are more outspoken than she. It appears that, in most relationships, the woman is more open and emotionally present than the man, but the opposite is true in our relationship. At its worst, trying to know what Peggy is feeling or thinking is like trying to open a can without a can opener. I have an enormous need to know what's happening inside her head, but I know that if I persist in asking questions so that I can understand, she'll get mad, and things will go downhill from there. Putting all that aside, Peggy was cordial to the women that I had sex with if she met them, but since most of them were little--if anything--more than one-night stands (or even one hour stands) she never met them. Of the women she did meet, she was capable of friendship and of antipathy, depending upon the woman. She would especially become incensed if she thought a woman was trying to compete with her for my affection. Of all those women that I had sex with, only one is still in our lives, she and her husband (who she married after breaking up with me) having become our good friends. Nothing that happened between us back then is never mentioned.

"I once knew a man who I felt so loved by, I knew that his desire for my happiness would have allowed me to have other partners..."

What a sweet and beautiful memory, and how wonderfully you expressed it. If you would enjoy sharing more, perhaps you could post about it, or else write about it here, or even email me about it--I guess you still have my email. Then again, maybe it would bring up too much pain to look down a road that seemed so promising but was never fully explored.

"I think it would be a very rare thing to have a group of people who had the skills and confidence to maintain such a relationship. It must have been an experience!"

Oh, but Kylie, it was as though I wanted to fly like an Olympic pole vaulter, but only had one leg with which to propel myself into the air.

the walking man said...

You write well and tell one hell of a good story here. I personally think the courage you have was (is) on display every day you walk your own path. Obviously you found one that was good for you and you walked it that is your courage, not "coming out or whatever."

Marion said...

Speaking from the 1970’s perspective, I can honestly say that there’s one too many people in ANY 3-way “marriage” as your narrative so clearly illustrates. xo

kj said...

Hi Snow,
My overriding thought is threesomes are always complicated. Attentional needs, compatibility, favoritism, lifestyles, communication styles--all of this is complicated enough in just about every relationship I've ever had. Heck, JB and I have developed a precious friendship with two great women who live across the street and sometimes I find myself jealous of another couple they also count as friends. My feeling is akin to a 7th grader vying to come first. I don't know how 'coming first' stays out of a group-ish relationship where intimacy is expected in one form or another.

All this said, this was a very enjoyable read and confirms for me that you and Peggy are a good match.
Love to you, snow
kj

Snowbrush said...

"You write well and tell one hell of a good story here"

Thank you. I was excited to see that you had visited, having known of your existence for quite a while from other blogs. Upon hearing from you, I read and enjoyed several of your posts and will visit your blog again soon.

"I can honestly say that there’s one too many people in ANY 3-way “marriage” as your narrative so clearly illustrates."

A single example of a failed group marriage "clearly illustrates" that no group marriage can succeed!? Are you familiar with the logical fallacy of attempting to prove something based upon a single instance of anecdotal evidence? How about begging the question, that is basing an argument upon the assumed truth of the very thing that you're trying to prove?  Then there's your failure to consider any explanation for Speedwell's demise other than the one you're invested in believing. Finally, as stated, the same "logic" that you apply to a three-way marriage would be equally applicable to a two-way marriage:

Snowbrush was in a three-way marriage.
Snowbrush's three-way marriage failed.
Therefore, "ANY" three-way marriage will fail.

Marion was in a two-way marriage.
Marion's two-way marriage failed.
Therefore, "ANY" two-way marriage will fail.

Generally speaking, my problem with your positions isn't that you disagree with me but that your arguments are petty, snarky, venomous, illogical, mocking, and devoid of subtlety and nuance. As I understand you, complexity simply doesn't exist in your world, the result being that your arguments could fit on a bumper sticker.

"I don't know how 'coming first' stays out of a group-ish relationship where intimacy is expected in one form or another."

I can but say that Speedwell's problems didn't arise from the fact that there were three of us, but rather from interpersonal problems between Ellen and me; from our failure to deal with those problems constructively; and from me blaming her because I agreed to move to a place that I didn't want to live. Things got so bad that everything we did was in the direction of destructiveness. Given who we were, I believe we were doomed from the outset, partly because I lost sexual desire for Ellen early on, and partly because we were so enamored of the idea of group marriage that our self-image became more tied to it than to the inner workings of our relationship. The polyfidelity community was watching us, and we (Ellen and I anyway--Peggy being much more private than we) very much liked the attention as well as the idea that we were on "the cutting edge of a bold new social experiment." Finally, proponents of group marriage argue that by providing  other voices to a disagreement, it becomes harder for two people to come to an impasse. For instance, I often find that Peggy and I disagree about what one of us said or didn't said, this being a situation that additional people might be able to clarify.

Joe Todd said...

Life is meant to be lived and you sure do that. Good for you, Peggy and Ellen.

Marion said...

Typical MAN: my sarcastic post zoomed right over your old snowy head. 🙄 LIGHTEN UP, FRANCIS! I was involved in three “3-ways” in the 1970’s. Not my first choice of lifestyle, but hey, it WAS the swinging 70’s, I was young, innocent, naive & curious. All relationships are complex. All three of we triumvirates wanted to be Caesar. My husband (each time) eventually became quite jealous and the other guys (different years) wanted me to divorce my hubby and marry them. My long legs… 😆

One guy claimed he was gay, but I guess I cured him. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Bro, he was SOOOO not gay! 🥵🥵🥵 Sorry, but I loved him dearly…he was my soulmate as we were twin souls born on the same day…he died of AIDS in the early 90’s after getting into some bad drug habits. I’m not nearly the person you think I am.

I’ve lived 2 dozen or more crazy, different, funny, scary, adventurous, joyful, dangerous, happy, horrifying lives since I was 5 years old. My Daddy (born in 1894) roused my 2 sisters and me out of bed in the late 1950’s to rush to City Hall in South Louisiana where “Old Sparky”, the electric chair from Angola Prison was being exhibited in back of an 18-wheeler. We took turns sitting in it. There’s a cute, girlie memory! I was 4 or 5 years old. I’ll stop on that high note. OH, WAIT! I have NEWS:

I have FOUR week-old kittens, born here from a stray we took in. They are adorable! I’ll post some pictures when their eyes open. Now that’s another story, the quadruplets births! OY! 🤯 Take a happy pill before you reply, old fart. 😉🐈‍⬛🐈🐈‍⬛🐈 xo