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John Scott Tynes 1
To paraphrase the wisdom of poker players: If you can't figure out who the nanny is, it means you're the nanny.
Posted by John Scott Tynes http://www.johntynes.com/ on January 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM · Report this
2
Lawyer first, before anything else. You need to make sure you know what your legal rights are with regard to your child, the one you carried, before you do anything to rock the boat.
Posted by EricaP on January 25, 2013 at 5:10 PM · Report this
3
Heavens to Betsy, I hope NTFN has her name on the baby's birth certificate.
Posted by Luckier on January 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
4
Lawyer - hate to say it, but you're going to need one unless you want to accept second-class status.
Posted by madscntst on January 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM · Report this
5
It's not at all clear to me that he doesn't view her as the nanny, more or less. Wife's fuck-buddy on the side.

Posted by IPJ on January 25, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
6
Question: so, the most recent baby is identified to the (legally married) couple's families as the offspring of the couple. Did the families not notice that the wife was not, in fact, pregnant for nine months before the baby arrived on scene?
Posted by MLM on January 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 7
"What a mess.", indeed. How people get into these situations will never cease to amaze. I doubt the best lawyer in the world could sort this out to anyone's satisfaction.
Posted by OutInBumF on January 25, 2013 at 5:27 PM · Report this
8
I hope to hell she already HAS a lawyer. The idea that someone would bring a child into a three-parent family without first making sure all the parents' rights are protected is insane to me. If all she did is carry their genetic material, and they did all that on the down low without legal advice, then she almost certainly has no legal rights to that kid. The married couple could kick her out tomorrow and she would have little or no recourse.
Posted by One Breath on January 25, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
9
These "relationships" are Prima facie Child Abuse.

Selfish AssHoles.

A society that harbors such does not deserve to endure.

And will not.
Posted by Gommorah is Hell on the Children. AssHoles. on January 25, 2013 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 10
Oh to be young and foolish again. How I long for the good old days. What a mess indeed!
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM · Report this
11
Lawyer. NINJA WIZARD LAWYER.

@8 Heck, the child too, but I'm shocked that the couple agreed to bring their third in as a surrogate without clearly delineating who would have which legal rights. That's unconscionable.

I mean, I can think of scenarios in which it might have ended up happening without everyone being a total moral derelict ("So we're thinking of having another baby, but we wanna use a surrogate this time, maybe a student or a woman from India or—" "PICK ME! PICK ME!" "Um, okay.") but there's no reason to think that's how it went down from the letter alone. Even if she was asking to be the surrogate, even if it was her idea, everyone should have made sure that everyone understood the deal. Either someone wasn't honest or someone's dumb as a brick or someone has absolutely none of the guts necessary to have the conversations needed. Culpable cowardice.
Posted by DRF on January 25, 2013 at 5:51 PM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 12
Eep! I hope it's all good and they make it through this because...ugh, a whole lot of pain potential...and ya? Did these other families never see the wife during her supposed pregnancy? I have to assume there was a cover story.
Posted by ArtBasketSara on January 25, 2013 at 5:57 PM · Report this
13
If she lawyers up (and she should) she should do so very discreetly. As @8 correctly points out, the married couple could kick her out and keep the kid. Is her name at least on the deed to the house? She IS a second class spouse. I don't know how she let this happen. Youth is not much of an excuse. I'm 24 and I am making sure to have legal rights to my husband's assets in case of death or divorce.
Posted by wxPDX on January 25, 2013 at 6:01 PM · Report this
14
This letter blows my mind. Their lives are intertwined enough to suggest a 10-year relationship, but the number of logistical details they've worked out suggest a 6-month relationship. How is this possible?
Posted by dchari on January 25, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
15
Don't they make you do some legal/psych counciling when you do surrogacy?
Posted by gnot on January 25, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
16
My guess, and it's just a guess, is that the logistical details were all worked out. She carried a baby made from the wife's egg and the husband's sperm and signed all the contracts that are signed by other surrogate mothers in that situation, but is pretending that she didn't. The only difference between her and most other surrogates is that she was so dumb she did it for free.

The husband is treating her like the help, not because she's the nanny, but because she's the surrogate. (Well, I guess she's the nanny too.)

Nobody's family is surprised about the baby, despite the wife never being pregnant, because they knew the happy couple was using a surrogate. And boy were they ever using her.

Everything about this letter makes me think that she always has been treated as an unimportant servant and has just been ignoring it until the husband rubbed her face in it at the funeral. And I really, really doubt her name is on the deed, even if she did help with the down payment.

For crying out loud, she's been with this couple for three years, has never met either family, nobody in either family has ever heard of her and the husband feels free to introduce her as if she was a servant. Yeah, she's not a remotely equal party with anyone in this relationship and never has been.

Maybe she thought things would get better when they all had a baby together. Surprise: The sperm and egg donors had a baby and you just did all the damn work.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm not.
Posted by Guesty on January 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM · Report this
TreGibbs 17
Uh - How about getting out of a relationship with a MARRIED COUPLE?? Jesus.. go find your own wife to go to counseling over.
Posted by TreGibbs on January 25, 2013 at 6:56 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 18
@12, 14

Great questions. I don't know what to say. If you don't get an answer here, try writing a story to Savage Love Letters, he provides lengthy answers that may be of some help.
Posted by dnt trust me on January 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this
19
Perhaps there's been some lawyer stuff done that the Letter Writer neglected to mention.

If indeed they've gone down the baby-and-house-buying-together pathway lawyer-free then I must join the chorus of those wondering how the Letter Writer manages to safely cross the street, what with her head being so firmly wedged up her ass.
Posted by Functional Atheist on January 25, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
20
Also, even putting aside the whole do-you-agree-with poly issue, is this even a viable long term poly relationship? LW is lesbian. Wife only sleeps with LW. Husband shares no physical intimacy with either of them, and gets his exclusively on the outside. I guess he's the father, but he sounds more like a friend than a husband, or more likely he's happy being the heard to the wife. Anyway, it sounds like LW and wife should be a happy couple together, but wife doesn't/won't come out...so yeah, lawyer up.
Posted by dave1976 on January 25, 2013 at 7:44 PM · Report this
21
How the fuck does she have a baby with these assholes and not even know what their families know about them??
Posted by ghassan on January 25, 2013 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 22
sleeping every night with 2 women & you're not getting it on with either? dude...
Posted by Max Solomon on January 25, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this
23
Fake.
Posted by diner mo on January 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM · Report this
I Fucked Your Dad 24
How do people get themselves in to these dumb ass arrangements? It's fucking unbelievable and the worst part is that they have placed an innocent child in the middle of an unclear and undefined living situation. Selfish idiots.
Posted by I Fucked Your Dad on January 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM · Report this
25
@ 1 FTW
Posted by yuiop on January 26, 2013 at 1:12 AM · Report this
Buttercup 26
@16 nailed this hard with a rusty hammer. Ouch. The poor, loving sucker. Since their baby's been weaned, dad's been angling to edge the surrogate out. Until then, they still needed the wet nurse-- so much harder to replace than a regular nanny! But those days are over. Lawyer.
Posted by Buttercup on January 26, 2013 at 1:32 AM · Report this
27
The LW doesn't have much legal recourse if the baby isn't biologically hers. Very sad. Definitely hammer our these type of details before getting your uterus involved.
Posted by Amanda on January 26, 2013 at 2:36 AM · Report this
Indighost 28
Very sad. It sounds like the husband doesn't respect LW, which is a real shame because she put a lot of work into everything. I don't know how attached LW is to the situation, but if I was her, I would be tempted to just make a clean break, move to Canada or something, and make my own goddamn family.
Posted by Indighost on January 26, 2013 at 5:20 AM · Report this
29
@6--I wondered the same thing. Did she not ask what they were telling his family about the origin of their new baby? Had the family never MET the new grandchild, until the father died? Had the extended family met the baby without the letter-writer present, and that didn't make her antennae go up? It JUST occurred to her to ask all this stuff IN THE CAR ON THE WAY TO THE FATHER'S FUNERAL? (suggesting that they all live within driving distance, and yet the married couple has still managed to keep the fact that a third person gestated their child a secret, and the letter writer has managed to stay unaware of all of this?) This seems beyond implausible. I realize that Dan says he tries not to worry too much about fake letters, because "all letters are hypothetical to everyone except the writer," but I can't imagine a real-world situation into which this advice could translate.
Posted by lulubelle on January 26, 2013 at 6:56 AM · Report this
Alanmt 30
Honestly, if they only see these relatives at funerals and such every three or more years, I don't know why disclosure is necessary. That's not much of a "closet". But if there will be a frequent contact, the disclosure should be made.

Frankly, in my state, this woman would be out of luck. No amount of amazing lawyering can change the fact that they are married, and she isn't; or that they are the biological parents and she is the surrogate. What she gets if things go bad is a one-third ownership of the house, her personal stuff, and a one third share in any other joint property or debt. That's it. No visitation. no parental rights. So while it sounds like these folks need to sit down and have a serious talk about a lot of things, she needs to realize that the person balanced on her toes on a greased gunwale is the one who is falling out if she decides to rock the boat.

Her only path to legal rights over the child she carried and is parenting is legal relinquishment by one of the parents so she can adopt, which may or may not be permitted under her state's law.
Posted by Alanmt on January 26, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
Ophian 31
The details don't add up, and to stave off total misanthropy I choose to believe that this is fake.
Posted by Ophian on January 26, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
32
The wife is a total lesbo, but she is beyond being a cowardly closet case. She isn't just afraid of coming out, she is actively clinging to the perks of being in a hetero marriage. That's the only reason she hasn't dumped hubby.

The husband is a clueless Guy guy. "Want a poly relationship?" "Sure, babe!" "You get to sleep with whoever you want." "Sure, babe!" He goes to his job, gets as much tail as he wants, has two women making his home homey, and he's fine as long as nobody moves his food dish. Just don't ask him to have a complicated conversation about relationships.
Posted by Margaret L. on January 26, 2013 at 9:02 AM · Report this
33
Hmm. How to respond...

I am raising a baby with a married couple (my and husband's DNA). We're happy. Our families are in the loop (2 of 3 of families cannot handle it). We did check the legal arrangements before we decided to do this together to protect everyone involved, and our daughter is our most important priority far above and beyond our romantic relationships with one another. So my first reaction is to agree with Dan that this is a mess for what is a essentially a surrogate who's involved with a couple in a failed marriage and to echo that she should have had legal protections in place for herself (if possible) before considering to carry a baby for them.

Having said that, the judgment in many of these comments also make me sympathetic to why they are in the mess that they are in. I have to emphasize this again: we are happy, stable, and our daughter is thriving, but we routinely have to "justify ourselves" and we also hear often that we are jeopardizing the welfare of an innocent child. We expect it, obvisously, but it can be hard to face such hostility and accusation, hatefulness and ostracism. The most painful, for me, is when it comes from folks that we presumed, wrongly, would support us, especially in the LGBTQ and progressive circles we travel. The wife is infertile, I had lost an ovary to cancer, so to our minds this is the most generous thing any of us have every done in our lives for another person's happiness, but it never ceases to amaze me when folks insist that our feelings about the family we've made are nothing to their insistence that they know better, soley because of their own fear and arrogance. It's no different than homophobic people presuming that gay parents are on their face harming their children with no evidence or understanding of who a given set of parents are and how they feel about each other or their children. However, what makes our situation difficult is that we're not demanding inclusion into the dominant model; we're trying to make a model of our own.

So, yeah, this particular situation sounds like a mess. But the tone of many of the comments herein disheartens me. Too close to home.
More...
Posted by maddy811 on January 26, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Report this
tainte 34
gross

i mean hot

i mean STUPID
Posted by tainte on January 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this
35
@33, there are several differences between your and the LW's situation, but the biggest one is definitely that all 3 of you put the child first and you all strongly intend to stay in the child's life forever. You checked out the legal arrangements and you committed to do this openly. You are committed to the family you've made over your families of origin.

The poor LW has stumbled into a situation in which her partner and her partner's husband are seemingly most invested in the appearance of a regular heterosexual 2-person monogamous marriage, over providing a stable and loving environment for their child, and over basic human respect for their partner/surrogate. LW tried to do the work that you have done to build your family and put your family first, but now she is finding out that her partners are far too chickenshit to play their fucking position and pull their fucking weight.

The similarities are there, I guess, but they're all superficial. At most this letter might be a reminder to you to double-check that you've got the legal side of things 100% squared away as far as your parental rights and your housing. But it's not about you. It's really, REALLY not about you.
Posted by planned barrenhood on January 26, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
Ophian 36
maddy811 @33, I think the LW and her partners deserve judgement, especially from someone in your shoes.

As Dan often points out, a major reason that poly relationships get dumped on is because we only hear about the failed ones. Sometimes relationships just don't work out, but in this case these folks brought a child into the world w/o basic diligence.

When these folks [if the letter ain't fake] try to untangle their mess, they will be exactly the kind of spectacle that feeds into the negative stereotypes and make it necessary for you and yours to slog uphill against social disapprobation.

Posted by Ophian on January 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM · Report this
37
Letter Writer has all the logical ability of a box of rocks.

To paraphrase: I'm in a relationship with another woman, who is married to a different man. I totally accept the fact that my female lover can never tell her family about me, because they would disown her. However, I'm pissed beyond belief that this guy, whom neither I nor my female lover is fucking, doesn't tell HIS family about me. (Maybe his excuse is that he would laughed off the face of the planet for being stupid enough to put up with you and his so-called "wife.")

As far as the man is concerned, you basically ARE the nanny. You sure aren't his wife. (Neither is his actual wife, but that's another letter.) If you are anybody's wife, you are the wife's wife. And yet you are totally comfortable with letting her keep her family in the dark about you. But from this other guy who is basically your roommate, you demand full disclosure.

BTW, do you honestly believe that if he comes out to his family, that her family won't find out from them in the amount of time it takes to dial the phone and say "What the fuck?"

Your problem is that you can't think your way out of a wet paper bag.

Posted by avast2006 on January 26, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
38
Hmmm... As a member of this triad let me give you a little bit of extra info.
First, for all of you that think NTFN needs a lawyer...
1. She is indeed on the title of the house.
2. The children are most important and there is a great lawyer currently filing legal conservatorship for her for the child she did not carry so that she has full legal rights to him. Her name is on the second child's birth certificate along with dad. The same lawyer is filing legal for legal conservatorship for me for this child. This was well thought out in advance. She was not a surrogate and we did not use her DNA simply because she was unable to... We tried that first.
Next, these family members are people that we haven't seen for 3 years and have spoken to maybe twice in that time span.
As for my family, not only are they religious, bigoted and mostly close minded people.... I don't like them. I haven't seen the majority of them for 10 plus years and some more like 20. I don't plan on seeing them. Why should I write or speak to them simply to explain my lifestyle?! I have informed my mother and sister (father is dead) and they are the only two that matter to me. All our close friends and coworkers know.
I did not know that his family had no idea of who she was, but feel that her hurt feelings were not something I could fix at that precise moment. The situation was not ideal in any way shape or form.
I love both "she and he" dearly and love my life with both of them.
Posted by Styler on January 26, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
39
Massive FAIL on the lawyer recommendations.

The only thing lawyers do in family court situations like this is suck money and drag out custody for years at the expense of the child's welfare. They are necessary only as a last resort with the most asshole of parents.

A lawyer is a good idea BEFORE complicated parenting to get legal protections per the details you've mutually agreed to, but AFTER the fact, if you're starting to disagree / things have changed / you're being cut out, you don't want a lawyer. You want a custody trained MEDIATOR who will help you all agree to a compromise. Try and work things out amicably. Then a lawyer can formalize the details as best as possible given legal limits for poly relationships and limited /non-recognition of 3rd parent adoption.

The only people who win when you lawyer up for a fight are the lawyers. Plus, in most states gestational surrogates have few rights.
Posted by delta35 on January 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM · Report this
40
@32: When you put it that way, it doesn't sound so bad. On the other hand, if all you want is a clean house and home cooked meals and the freedom to chase as much tail as you want, a live-in housekeeper is a hell of a lot cheaper in the long run than a marriage.
Posted by avast2006 on January 26, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
xjuan 41
LW says that the husband gets his sexual needs served outside the Family. To me, this is a strange arrangement concocted by the wife, who is lesbian and wants to remain forever in the closet. How convenient for her not to even carry her own offspring. She's the one getting all the benefits but has no guts to come out and say it as it is. And him: what is he even doing in the picture? Why doesn't he gets out of the house? Although I understand polyamory and other arrangements, I believe this time they're using LW and she's just beginning to find out about it. The couple should divorce and the two women should live together and keep the kids. That's fair.
Posted by xjuan on January 26, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this
42
@33: Way to go. Now we can't speculate, condemn, act superior and call fake. Just out to ruin everyone's fun aren't you?
Posted by LateBloomer on January 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
43
Whoops. Should read @38.
Posted by LateBloomer on January 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
44
@Styler: "I did not know that his family had no idea of who she was, but feel that her hurt feelings were not something I could fix at that precise moment. The situation was not ideal in any way shape or form."

OK, good job making sure that she is on the title of the home and legally entitled to the kids. But HOW does the situation occur that your husband (I'm figuring you are the wife here???) hasn't said a word to his family about your triad fam, and you two bring her to the funeral regardless, with absolutely no game plan for how to introduce her and your child? Seriously that whole set of decisions was all three of you setting yourselves up to fail. You can't unring that bell, obviously, but now it's time to have an actual conversation about how to deal with everyone's families, plus I personally think your husband owes her an apology whether or not "her hurt feelings were something you could fix at that precise moment." Well you sure do need to process her hurt feelings now.

As for your questions about your degree of openness with your family, I hope that you've posed them to your partners because those are the people you need to come to an agreement with.
Posted by planned barrenhood on January 26, 2013 at 11:06 AM · Report this
45
One other question for Letter Writer: You say you realize the funeral wasn't the right time to drop the bomb on the family, but you sure don't act like you believe it. He kept things very much on the down-low at the funeral and now you are furious about how you were introduced there. You don't get to have it both ways.

Has the situation continued for some time after the funeral with no movement? Have you actually talked about it since then and gotten stonewalled? Because that's the only way I see to justify your anger. Otherwise the indications from the letter are that actually, you DID want to drop the bomb at the funeral -- which would be a shitty thing to do. It would be shitty to all the mourners to have to process that right then, but it would be especially shitty to him. In case you hadn't noticed, HIS FATHER JUST DIED. Wanting him to deal with the coming out discussion in the middle of dealing with his dead father is beyond selfish on your part.

Yes, you have a right to have your relationship acknowledged, but...not today, of all days, for god's sake. Frankly it's the job of any of the non-bereaved, including spouses (acknowledged or not), to shut up and be quietly there in the background to meet the needs of the family members of the deceased, and put all your own needs on hold as much as possible for this short, difficult time.

Yes, bring up the topic again sometime soon. But let the funeral go.
Posted by avast2006 on January 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM · Report this
46
@38 sounds like you've worked things out well on the legal angles, and glad to here your use of lawyers was smart (to ensure mutual protections, in advance; not to fight).

So why is NTFN writing to Dan?

Dan the go-to-guy for quick, simplistic answers to entertain the proles (reading about Orwell lately).

Sounds like what you all need is a little throuples counseling, especially the male in your F-F-M throuple. I could definitely see him not telling his evidently psychologically distant family about NTFN -- given how poly-negative people are -- but not telling you both that he hadn't told, that's weird and something to work on.

Anyway, more power to you, especially that you're out socially. I imagine it's not easy given how poly-negative batshit crazy people go at the idea of throuples & multi-partner marriages.
Posted by delta35 on January 26, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
47
To the polyphobic assholes saying this relationship is invalid, anti-child, etc: Go fuck yourselves.
Posted by Tyro on January 26, 2013 at 11:43 AM · Report this
48
It's called a triad. Throuple sounds incredibly stupid - I don't care how many people use it.
Posted by Tyro on January 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
49
@20 @32 -- I knew of one poly / throuple who lasted over 30 years, ending when one of them died, leaving just a couple remaining. They were very down low about it all, people just kind of guessed.

There are all types of poly relationships -- just like there are all types of coupled relationships. Who has sex with whom doesn't mean whether it's successful or can last.
Posted by delta35 on January 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
50
@39: The LW sounded frustrated, and (to my reading) as if she was considering walking away from the relationship ("I obviously don't want to lose my family but...") With that in mind, it seemed very important for her to understand her actual legal rights with regard to the children, before she decided to rock the boat. If, legally, she was just a surrogate, then presumably she would want to think twice before complaining about the status quo.

Given the new facts we have gotten @38, the advice to get a lawyer doesn't seem helpful anymore. Thank goodness! And thank you, Styler, for writing in to explain and reassure us!! Maybe communicating with maddy811 would be helpful, since you might have a lot in common. It's easy to set up a temporary email address in order to be able to find each other without getting outed here on Slog.
Posted by EricaP on January 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM · Report this
TVDinner 51
@44: Because they're people, and one of them was mourning the loss of his father? Ya think?
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 26, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 52
37 is on to something - the total disconnect between the LWs feelings for the W versus for the H. It's okay for W to stay in the closet, but not the H. A few red flags: "he gets his physical needs met" i.e. women have feelings for each, men have physical needs. And, "On the way to his father's funeral. . . " - would she have been so insensitive to her lover, the W? It seems she is trying to drive a wedge between H&W so she can W to herself. It's a very rare lesbian GF who values the H-W relationship as much as the GF-W thing. (although, in this case, there ISN'T a H-W relationship.)

So many men who discover they are in mixed-orientation marriages initially think two lesbians in bed are a hot scene. In practice, the lesbians are rarely interested in the hairy biped jacking off in the corner.

Best guess: H thought he was marrying a straight/bi women who was in love with him and attracted to him. W strayed, wears the pants in the household, and brought in her lover and gave H a hall pass. To the LW or Styler@38: What did the husband know and when did he know it? Before the wedding? Before the first kid? Or did he marry the W because he was in love with her while W weren't in love (big "L" Love / desire / attracted to) with him?

To the H: yeah, it's tough to admit a failed marriage and that you couldn't tell a lesbian from a straight wife. Especially when there are now kids involved (who apparently carry binders of legal documents around with them). If you're happy - cool. But I'd guess when your pieces on side start getting emotionally invested, you can't offer what they'd like - something more serious and committed.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM · Report this
53
Davidinkenai you sound bitter.
Posted by Styler on January 26, 2013 at 4:37 PM · Report this
54
If NTFN doesn't know where she stands, how can she expect the rest of those involved to tell others?
Posted by maybe she could get this straight on January 26, 2013 at 4:59 PM · Report this
55
@52 Or the H and W had gotten sorta companionate so they opened it up and it just happened to work out really well with the LW so H and W invited her in, gave it some time to see if that clicked for real, then had another kid with some finagling due to biology issues. Or they were a triad from before the marriage and he could only marry one, so they flipped a coin, and each mom got to have a baby. How it happened isn't really our business or the problem at hand, nor does it have to be all doom and gloom.
Posted by gnot on January 26, 2013 at 11:07 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 56
Styler@53: Sure I do. I think if you are not the orientation you present, you owe a very small obligation to society and your fellow Ss, Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts, or whatevers to be honest and disclose.

I feel much more strongly that you have a very large obligation to disclose to intimate partners your true feelings before they commit - legally, financially, genetically and emotionally.

That your H might also be bitter, however, makes it a MORE relevant (unanswered) question: What did he know and when did he know it?

Dan talks about "rounding your partner up to 'the one'." And "paying the price of admission". How is it fair to pay a price you weren't told? Her teeth are crooked. He chews with his mouth open. She doesn't like to wear leather corsets. Those are all things a partner knows going in. 1990 and 2000 aren't 1950 or 1960. "I didn't know" or "I thought I could suppress those feelings" doesn't hold water like it might have for our grandparents.

Yeah, I'm bitter. For good reason.

You are defensive. What's your reason?
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM · Report this
57
@38: "I did not know that his family had no idea of who she was."

Let me get this straight. The three of you piled into the car to go to a funeral together as a family, except that: 1) You, the wife, thought you were all going as a proud, out, poly trio, because you just assumed. 2) The LW apparently knew the score, though, because she asked the husband how the heck he was going to handle this. (But, bizarrely, she asked after you were all trapped in the car together, not before.) 3) The husband must have known the extent of this mess, but apparently didn't think it was any big deal.

Do you get why the Slog commentariat thinks your relationship is dysfunctional? Your third is thinking about leaving. I strongly suggest that you get some relationship counseling from a poly-friendly therapist.
Posted by Margaret L. on January 27, 2013 at 6:37 AM · Report this
58
@38: "Why should I write or speak to them simply to explain my lifestyle?! I have informed my mother and sister (father is dead) and they are the only two that matter to me. All our close friends and coworkers know.
I did not know that his family had no idea of who she was"

You seem to have some srs double-standards going on here.

@57: "Do you get why the Slog commentariat thinks your relationship is dysfunctional?"

Really. They all apparently find it easier to discuss things with Dan Savage and the commentariat than they do each other.
Posted by yeesh, polydrama on January 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM · Report this
59
Ok... More info.
H's mother and sister, the two of his family members we see on a regular basis absolutely know. These were additional rarely seen family members.
Davidinkenai we were married for 6 years before anything changed. Additionally, I communicated my feelings with both he and a therapist prior to any life changes. He was the one to suggest a triad.
This just happened last week. We will solve this problem and move on. Please don't tell me that none of you ever encounter any areas in your interpersonal relationships that isn't 100% smooth.
Posted by Styler on January 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
60
@Styler: I realize I'm prying, but do mind my asking what the H gets out of this relationship? Is it just that it allows him to stick around and be a dad, or is there more to it than that? Not being malicious, but when I try to put myself in his shoes all I can come up with is feeling like a third wheel. And living with a woman that I am presumably attracted to, and who loves me "dearly", but isn't interested in me physically--that would make me profoundly unhappy. And OKCupid is all very well, but it's not really a sustainable long term solution for one's emotional/physical needs.
Posted by LateBloomer on January 27, 2013 at 4:59 PM · Report this
61
Emotional intimacy and physical intimacy are two separate things Latebloomer. Our emotional intimacy has not diminished at all.
Posted by Styler on January 27, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this
62
Ok kids, let's all play nice now... I wrote this letter and let me clarify my issue since it seems things are getting a little misunderstood... 1) the reason this question came up on the way to the funeral was so I would know how to respond to any questions posed to me regarding who I was and why I was there because I have told both of them that it is not my place to out them, that it is up to them to do that. 2) I had assumed that his immediate family knew what was going on given that he had presumably spoken to them in the last 24 months and we had a baby that presumably he had told them about, I did not find out until the car that this was not so which was what I was angry about, not the fact that he wasn't explaining our situation at the funeral. 3) He is completely happy with our family and living situation, I have asked him if he wanted me to leave several times and he has repeatedly said no. 4) he is not lacking for dates or sex and seems to enjoy the variety. 5)their relationship without sex is closer than most people's that are sleeping together.
Posted by RJ8 on January 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM · Report this
63
Huh. Couldn't do it myself--physical intimacy is part and parcel of emotional intimacy. But I guess if it works for you guys, good on you.
Posted by LateBloomer on January 27, 2013 at 8:05 PM · Report this
64
@62: Based on Styler's comment #59, my comment stands. Wife's mother and sister know, the rest of her family don't because she never sees them (and because they are bigoted assholes), therefore she doesn't care if they know -- and you are fine with that, you even cater to it. Husband's mother and sister absolutely know, the rest of his family don't because he never sees them, therefore he doesn't care if they know or not -- and you are threatening to leave the relationship over it.

So my two main questions remain: a) What is with the double standard regarding her family being kept in the dark vs his, and b) do you honestly think you can tell his whole family without it getting back to the ones on her side that you don't want to know?

You do bring up another interesting point, however: "their relationship without sex is closer than most people's that are sleeping together.

I want to know how is YOUR relationship without sex with him? Closer than most people that are sleeping together? Reading between the lines of your letter and comment, I doubt it greatly. And yet you are furious with him for not treating you seriously with his family -- though other people know; I take the "our" in "All our close friends and coworkers know" to mean his as well as hers.-- when as far as I can tell, you don't treat him seriously in private, with neither physical nor emotional intimacy. And the one with whom you DO have both physical and emotional intimacy, you are fine keeping HER family in the dark.

Unless you can come up with some radically new information, I'm sticking with my original assessment. Drop the double standard, start thinking logically and pragmatically rather than trying to rationalize your anger, and get over yourself.
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Posted by avast2006 on January 28, 2013 at 12:48 AM · Report this
65
Avast2006, you sweet-talker, you.
Posted by LateBloomer on January 28, 2013 at 8:49 AM · Report this
66
As the third in a relationship very similar to this one I get why writing to Dan is a viable alternative sometimes. It takes a lot of bravery to to fight pressures that say a family only looks a certain way, and more than that people who will say your family IS wrong.

Writing to an advice columnist who's first reaction won't be horror is a blissful thing. If you'll notice he answered her problem without claiming her problem was her relationship itself.

Coming out to my family that I loved a woman with 2 kids, and oh yah, a husband, was way harder than telling them I loved women in t he first place. But if I was willing to commit really to my family (and I was) it was one of the prices of admission. Having his and her families' know as well showed me they were willing to pay that too.

The NTFN's role is hard. It has benefits, the house 3 incomes can afford is nice, but sometimes it can feel precarious. You are constantly coming out, and having to explain your relationship to people, sometimes defending it, and some people still call you an idiot because you're family doesn't look like theirs. At times it's exhausting. I hope her partners can understand that, not try to diminish her feelings, and find a solution.

And to rephrase a comment above, fuck off polyphobes.
Posted by MsPennyDreadful on January 28, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
67
As the third in a relationship very similar to this one I get why writing to Dan is a viable alternative sometimes. It takes a lot of bravery to to fight pressures that say a family only looks a certain way, and more than that people who will say your family IS wrong.

Writing to an advice columnist who's first reaction won't be horror is a blissful thing. If you'll notice he answered her problem without claiming her problem was her relationship itself.

Coming out to my family that I loved a woman with 2 kids, and oh yah, a husband, was way harder than telling them I loved women in t he first place. But if I was willing to commit really to my family (and I was) it was one of the prices of admission. Having his and her families' know as well showed me they were willing to pay that too.

The NTFN's role is hard. It has benefits, the house 3 incomes can afford is nice, but sometimes it can feel precarious. You are constantly coming out, and having to explain your relationship to people, sometimes defending it, and some people still call you an idiot because you're family doesn't look like theirs. At times it's exhausting. I hope her partners can understand that, not try to diminish her feelings, and find a solution.

And to rephrase a comment above, fuck off polyphobes.
Posted by MsPennyDreadful on January 28, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Helix 68
I'm going to point at this whenever a poly person gets all high and mighty about how much more enlightened and sensible the poly lifestyle is than being monogamous. This is so much more work and headache than I ever want to deal with.
Posted by Helix on January 28, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
69
I'm really not seeing any polyphobes on here Ms. Penny, just people asking questions, expressing concern, and making judgements--which is pretty par for the course in the comments. I can only imagine how much it sucks to feel that people in general judge your family harshly, I just hope you don't feel that way in savage land.
Posted by jujubee80 on January 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
70
Ps. This is the best letter we've had in ages...seriously, i just pissed 45 minutes not working and am a-ok with that. :)

Thank you LW and partner for jumping in with additional info/perspective. I hope you work through this to everyone's benefit.
Posted by jujubee80 on January 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
71
@65: Okay, I know I'm being harsh, but that's my reaction when people try to cloak crappy situations in sweet words. I'll play nice when she does.

Letter Writer has made it perfectly clear that she has done the hard work of having the big showdown with her own family, and that she is miffed that nobody, neither Wife nor Husband, has made the same sort of loud, proud declaration of loyalty to her. She has also made it pretty plain that her primary relationship is with Wife and not with Husband, so if anybody really owes her that declaration, it's Wife, but Wife has no intention of doing so. She can't very well make a huge stink about this with Wife -- I'm guessing that she has already had the initial conversation and Wife flat-out refused, citing bigotry -- because that would introduce drama between her and her lover. So instead she projects that onto Husband, with whom her personal investment is lower -- even though he is taking his cues from Wife (namely, I don't have to bother telling people that I don't care about). That isn't playing nice.

So, now Letter Writer gets to resent Husband for doing exactly what she doesn't resent Wife for doing. Aside from being hypocritical, this is a form of triangulating against him. That's really not playing nice.

What do you suppose will happen when Husband comes out to his family? Of course it will very rapidly spread to her family, at which point the shit-storm from Wife's family blows into town -- and it will be somehow Husband's fault, at least as much as it was LW's for forcing the issue. And that will become a rift of sorts in the emotional intimacy of the whole family, won't it? It's already a rift between LW and Husband. (Which becomes a rift between Wife and Husband indirectly. First the house is full of resentment from the woman Wife loves, directed against Husband. Second, what do you suppose is the effect on Wife of LW repeatedly implying that Husband wants Wife's beloved out of the picture?) And it will become a rift between Wife and Husband directly when the shit hits the fan from her family. Very convenient for cracking the emotional intimacy within the triad, which is to say, forcing him even farther out of his own marriage. He's already lost physical intimacy with his wife, and now he's going to lose some portion of the emotional intimacy, too. That's not playing nice either.

This whole dynamic may be subconscious on Letter Writer's part. But she needs to understand the likely outcomes of what she is insisting on, and reconsider whether she really wants to own that.

Bottom line is, either both of them have to come out to their families, or neither of them do. (Again, if one of them comes out, that will out the other one, anyway.) I totally do not blame her for wanting formal recognition. But she doesn't get to resent one partner for not doing what she has given the other a free pass to not do.
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Posted by avast2006 on January 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Tim Horton 72
@60 - after giving this some thought, I can see how husband could come around to this situation. If this is your average married couple going on 10 years, how much are they lighting up the sheets anyway? Once a week? Now add to it that your wife was/is a lesbian.

So if you are the husband, you get the social and emotional benefits of being married and the chance to go out and live like a bachelor. And, you don't wind up in divorce court with half your assets disappearing with the stroke of a pen. Seems like a workable comrpomise to me.
Posted by Tim Horton on January 28, 2013 at 1:52 PM · Report this
73
Avast2006, if you think I haven't given her just as much shit for not telling her family about me you have lost your mind, my only reason for giving her a tiny bit of leeway is she was raised a jehovahs witness and if you know anything about them its pretty much a frickin cult and the immense guilt she is dealing with over our lifestyle and the fact that her family would be required to NEVER see or speak to her again let me give her a small pass for a short time... And despite the fact that I am not fucking him I consider the hubby just as much my family as she is, spend just as much time with him as her, and consider him an older brother, in the same way that I'm not the fucking nanny he's not the fucking roommate. That being said I hold him to a similar standard as I do myself, and if he's not then I expect him to tell me.
@67, we tried a shrink at the beginning, he told me to leave, husband to divorce her, and tried to convince us we were all insane for trying this... I'm planning on sending him our daughters birth announcement..
Posted by RJ8 on January 28, 2013 at 5:59 PM · Report this
74
@73: "if you think I haven't given her just as much shit for not telling her family about me you have lost your mind, my only reason for giving her a tiny bit of leeway is she was raised a jehovahs witness and if you know anything about them its pretty much a frickin cult and the immense guilt she is dealing with over our lifestyle and the fact that her family would be required to NEVER see or speak to her again let me give her a small pass for a short time... "

You're her committed partner, not his.
Posted by isn't that how this is? on January 28, 2013 at 7:37 PM · Report this
75
I mean, husbands are not at all like older brothers. You do not consider him a sexual or emotional partner, you describe him literally like a roommate. Like a blood relative. This is not a relationship.
Posted by i don't understand the conflation on January 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM · Report this
76
Avast2006, husband's family doesn't ever speak to mine....ever. They've never met one another and I'm not sure the majority of his family even knows their names, much less how to contact them and chat with them about my lifestyle.
I don't agree with your basic premise...but I see your point. What you need to understand is NTFN is a maker of grand gestures... I am not. This is not indicative of lack of commitment, simply lack of desire to argue my lifestyle with individuals that exist in the far boundaries of my awareness.
Posted by Styler on January 28, 2013 at 9:17 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 77
"Davidinkenai we were married for 6 years before anything changed. Additionally, I communicated my feelings with both he and a therapist prior to any life changes. He was the one to suggest a triad."

Styler,

What's wrong with answering the question, "Did he think you were straight when you married?"

I hear you say he agreed to the triad, but wasn't that after your first child? Was the "H&W & child, only, in love and in an emotionally and physically intimate relationship" still on the table as a choice for him? Or had that choice been removed? I may well be projecting, having been through a similar wringer myself, but, from afar, "we're all as happy as we could be" just doesn't square with your and NTFN's descriptions of the relationship. As someone above posted, maybe he's thrilled to be horn-dogging around while taking turns as a tri-parent.

But maybe not. Someone in love with his child and maybe still in Love with his wife, will say yes to a situation that wasn't of his making, wasn't what he signed up for, and was hardly his first choice.

My comments aren't because I think it's a weird relationship model or that there's anything inherently wrong with such a set-up. Rather, it's because I'm familiar with scores of MOMs that this triad being his preference over a more intimate relationship with his wife does't seem very likely. Not with how Styler and NTFN have described the triad, its history and their feelings for the husband.

Does he know this conversation is going on about him? That would be telling - if only 2 of the triad are in the loop.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 29, 2013 at 2:53 AM · Report this
78
He's been following the entire post.
Posted by Styler on January 29, 2013 at 7:58 AM · Report this
79
Several commenters seem to think that as the husband is getting less intimacy and love out of the relationship than the women, he is entitled to put less in - which includes getting to be misleading with his family.

NTFN clearly disagrees. The Wife/Styler seems happy to leave everyone to their own preferences, which is a bit disingenuous given that she benefits most from the current setup. So, after all that, Dan's advice seems correct - NTFN either has to fight hard for a major renegotiation, or has to accept that she's not going to get what she wants on this.

If NTFN gets what she wants, it's likely the Husband will suffer by having his relatively low status in the relationship made clearer in private and in public. Will this screw up the delicate balance of the whole thing? Is it kinder to him to let things continue as they are?
Posted by misspiggy on January 29, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
80
I'm a little tired of everyone assuming that either we are forcing him into this or that he is a lesser member of the family than she and I are for the sole reason that HE DOESNT HAVE SEX WITH EITHER OF US... I don't understand the hang up there... The implication that he can't possibly be happy having sex with women other than his wife is humorous to me so let's spin this a bit... Say we were in a triad where she was the shared go-to sex goddess for both of us (since he and I having sex would never be an option) and everything else about our current relationship is in play, does that make him more important? What if she could no longer have sex with either of us and we both had to look elsewhere? Does that diminish us? We don't have sex in front of him or even if he's in the house, but we have allowed him to go out whenever he wants as long as he is safe about it and frankly gets laid way more than we do... So really I don't see why the sex aspect is the get out of jail free card...
@77, I'm sorry the person in your previous relationship was a total douchebag but that wasn't what happened here... She truly didn't know when she married him, it was never anything she was even allowed to consider (JW) and I witnessed the incredible mental and emotional affect it had on her to acknowledge it...So did he... And he has told me that even if I left and his relationship went back to n
"normal" he still would go out with other women... He's not being use, he's not unhappy, and if he was he has had plenty of chances to get rid of me or walk out the door...

I do enjoy the banter though :-)
Posted by RJ8 on January 29, 2013 at 9:15 AM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 81
> "He's been following the entire post."

Then maybe he'd answer, since Styler won't:

Did you think your wife was gay, bi, or straight when you married her?

Six years into your marriage, when things changed, what did you see as the choice in front of you? Could an emotional and physical relationship with your wife have continued if you wanted it? Could you have as much time with your child if you hadn't agreed to the triad?

Did you feel like you'd won the lottery? Or more akin to Elias Boudinot signing the Treaty of New Echota in 1835?

IME, fewer forced/uninformed choices have happy endings compared to free choices.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 82
@80, RJ8: (sorry, crossed posts).

So he didn't know know she was lesbian when he married her. And she didn't either.

I completely get that it sucks to be a gay JW. I'm an ally. Religious fundies and small-town conservatism are major reasons I helped start a PFLAG chapter. To paraphrase Zuzu Bailey in It's a Wonderful LIfe, "every time a power tool revs, a lesbian gets her wings." and it's a GOOD thing when anyone knows themselves better and gets more of what they want. But when that epiphany comes after marriage and procreation, there can be a lot of collateral damage.

>(if he could have sex with his wife) does that make him more important?

No, not more important. And quite possibly not getting laid as often. I'm not asking about more sex or less sex, but what it implies / suggests.

It sounds like you and Styler are in love with each other. Is the husband in love with anyone? Is anyone in love with the husband? Not friendly, loving, good friends, "like a big brother". But "in love" - deeply emotionally invested in, romantically attracted to, and (mostly) seeing them through slightly rose-colored glasses?

Getting laid is easy if you have a hall pass and brush your teeth regularly. Being mutually in love with someone, however, sounds VERY problematic for him in this situation.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
83
@80: "He doesn't have sex with either of us...I don't understand the hang up there." Ya. Exactly. The fact that you don't see that as a problem in a marriage puzzles me. It would spell the end of mine. And judging from the letters Dan gets, it spells the end of thousands every year.

Again, if it works for all of you, great. But your inability to see this as a problem makes me wonder if you understand what H has given up. And maybe it really doesn't bother him, in which case lucky you. That puts him in a slim minority. But I find women dependably under-rate the importance of sex for guys. And yes, there's OKC for the H etc (and that's a whole other story--how do the women he meets enjoy being physical add-ons to a marriage and nothing more? but I digress), but that's just not the same thing as sharing emotional and physical intimacy. Wouldn't mind hearing from H on this one. H?
Posted by LateBloomer on January 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM · Report this
84
@73: Thank you for the clarification that you have indeed pressed the issue with Styler. I did not get that from the original wording of the letter. All I got was that it had been brought up and made clear it wasn't going to happen on her side. I don't know where the assumption came up that "Well of course Husband has told _his_ side of the family. Haven't you, hon? ...hon?" It seems reasonable to me that he took the cues about his side of the family from what had already transpired from her side. ("Okay, got it. Informing family not a requirement. Scratch that off the to do list.") But in any case it appears now that you are not so much mad at him selectively as mad at both of them; while you grudgingly accepted her reasons, it was a shock to find out that you weren't going to get what you wanted from him either.

I still say it should be both or neither. Given the lack of contact all around, I'm leaning towards neither. I'm not sure what you, NTFN, hope to accomplish by telling a whole bunch of people that none of you otherwise care about or have any contact with (on his side) that you three are a triad. I also don't get why it's important to not alienate a bunch of hyperconservatives (on her side) that you also don't care about or have any contact with. What are they going to do, never speak to her again? If the reason was to avoid a lot of family drama, you have just failed that goal, because all the drama is right in your nest, right now.

"And despite the fact that I am not fucking him I consider the hubby just as much my family as she is, spend just as much time with him as her, and consider him an older brother" (emphasis added)

Thank you for that clarification too; I'll just let it speak for itself.
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Posted by avast2006 on January 29, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Report this
85
@80: "I'm a little tired of everyone assuming that either we are forcing him into this or that he is a lesser member of the family than she and I are for the sole reason that HE DOESNT HAVE SEX WITH EITHER OF US... I don't understand the hang up there... The implication that he can't possibly be happy having sex with women other than his wife is humorous to me"

You're handwaving away what other people are saying, people are observing the no sex and your words about how he's "more than a room-mate" but rarely do you hear "like a brother" and "husband" referring to the same person.
Posted by he's not intimate with you, what is there to tell others on January 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
86
@82, why the assumption she's not in love with him? The fact that she isn't emotionally able to have intercourse with him? They are still physical without having sex and from I can see the way they act toward each other hasn't changed...
@83, sex obviously is a major part of your marriage which actually stresses me out a little for your blood spouse... Fingers-crossed he/she never gets cancer or ED or whatever because it may be terrible for them when you divorce them because they can no longer service you adequately... And Dan also gets thousands of letters every year from people looking for alternative ways to keep their relationships alive when one or both parties are no longer sexually compatible...
@84, the reason I feel they should disclose is just for these kinds of situations because even if you have little contact with them they are still family and inevitably things are going to happen that bring everyone together and we could have avoided a lot of angst, tension, and awkwardness for everyone if there had been mention of the situation prior to this, also it is not just the two of us in this, we have two kids that I hope will be proud of and comfortable with their family situation and won't feel embarrassed to talk about it or like they have to hide anything... There are going to be enough negative people they are going to have to deal with (obviously) without having to deal with it from family because the subject has been avoided. I'm just happy our son was not old enough to realize the situation... And as far as the brother comment I feel that's pretty accurate and don't understand the problem you have with it, I love him and enjoy spending time with him, we have many interests independent of hers and frequently go out without her, I am not attracted to him and treat him as I would my own family... Should I instead consider him the guy that lives in my room and helps pay the bills?
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Posted by RJ8 on January 29, 2013 at 4:30 PM · Report this
87
@86: "And as far as the brother comment I feel that's pretty accurate and don't understand the problem you have with it, I love him and enjoy spending time with him, we have many interests independent of hers and frequently go out without her, I am not attracted to him and treat him as I would my own family... Should I instead consider him the guy that lives in my room and helps pay the bills?"

Nobody has a problem with it, we just find that pretty appropriate for a good room-mate and don't see it as a poly-connection for the husband. You're a part of each others' lives, but it's friendly and social and not particularly deep.
Posted by he's there but not important to the dynamic on January 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 88
>"why the assumption she's not in love with him? The fact that she isn't emotionally able to have intercourse with him?"

@86, RJ8: Yup. That would be why.

Sounds worse than I thought (if I were the husband but he can make his own triple-wide bed and sleep in it). I was assuming she simply wasn't physically/sexually attracted to him. That happens when lesbians come out. Not always but almost always.

But that she's not "emotionally able to have intercourse with him", points to one of the distinctions I make between loving (your child, parent, brother, dog, Crème brûlée, etc) and being "in love" with someone you can be vulnerable with, someone you WANT to be vulnerable to, whether that's baring your soul, your fears, or your genitals and someone whose inner life, struggles, and tender bits hold some interest for you.

Props to you for engaging in a conversation with all these strangers and clarifying where things stand. It reads like a no-holds-barred therapy session but $130/hour cheaper.

Rewriting history is normal when you've moved on from a past partner. But the W hasn't moved on from the H and yet there is so much being swept under the rug.

I've never had to come out. I've seen, sometimes VERY up close, how hard it can be, but that's different than being the formerly closeted one. Likewise, you've never been the straight spouse in a formerly, nominally straight marriage.

My gay ex and I still care for each other, I'd say we still love each other. If she switched teams again, I could imagine us making it work i.e. be "in love" with each other. But without that, for me, it would be too hard. Clearly, you three are making different choices.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 29, 2013 at 5:27 PM · Report this
89
Hmmm, where to start. So many comments (both positive and negative), questions, and insights that I'm sure I will miss a few, but I will do my best to address as many as I can. This thread has been at times painful, disappointing, humorous, and curious, but always entertaining. I obviously will not agree with everybody's thoughts on here, and frequently let out a "what the hell do you know..." after reading some of the comments, but I do appreciate everyone's input.

As has already been established, I am H / Husband. Nice to meet ya. To those of you who felt it your duty to belittle or judge either NTFN / RJ8 or STyler, you may very kindly and quickly fuck off. Or better yet, have the guts to post on a public forum about something that is so close to your heart that you will go way out of your comfort zone to find an answer, and then sit back and watch the rest of the world rip you to shreds.

What did I know or suspect when STyler and I got married? Just as much as STyler did. It was only with the benefit of hindsight, after she came out, that we could look back and see signs that she had actually been repressing these feelings for probably most of her life. She and I have always been very close, but looking back, sex had only ever been a small part of our relationship. When she finally came out, I was terrified because I felt like my only option was to get a divorce (and this was encouraged by multiple therapists, family, and friends). It was a long process, but I eventually came to the realization that if I could put aside the sexual aspect for a moment, all of the other reasons why we got married in the first place were still there. So we decided to try it this way, with RJ8 moving in and me starting to date. We've certainly had our ups and downs, but we've learned and grown a ton in the process. I can honestly say that I would not want to change my family for any reason.

Why didn't I tell that particular side of my family? Because I hadn't spoken to them for more than about 30 minutes over the past couple of years, and I did not think that was the time or place. But I completely agree with RJ8 that they should know, and I will tell them. That being said, I'm reasonably certain that they won't shun me for how I live my life, yet I know for a fact what would happen if STyler told her family. Believe me, that's been a contentious point all around for a while, and it's not something that any of us is looking forward to, but I think it has to come out as well.

There have been a couple of comments about whether it's appropriate for RJ8 to call me her husband, or me to call her my wife, etc. This is not an easy thing for me, probably because I'm too analytical about it. When I introduce them to friends, coworkers, acquaintances, etc. I just use their names without any title, because I'm trying to keep them on equal footing as opposed to "my wife and this other girl" or something equally obnoxious. And that's what I did when we went for my dad's funeral. I suppose I could say "these are my wives", but then my brain starts worrying that I'm treading awfully close to yet another lovely legal quagmire of common law marriage and bigotry (seriously, go look up the elements for each of those). That's what I get for having spent too much time in law school, I'm no longer able to think like a normal human. Saying they're both my roommates doesn't do either of them justice, because I love them both far more than any roommate. So yes, I take the easy way out and punt on this one. If anybody has suggestions, constructive or otherwise, I would love to hear them.

Finally there were some comments about my relationship with someone I'm dating vis-a-vis my family. Does the fact that I live with and for all intents and purposes am married to RJ8 and STyler impact the pool of women that I could possibly date? Of course. If I were single, I could go out with all sorts of women who won't give me the time of day because I'm married. Big deal. I have dated some incredible women over the past couple of years, and most of them were perfectly fine with my family. I do tend to favor women who are already in poly relationships, because they often are looking for the same things I am (which, for those of you who care and are still reading, goes well beyond just a physical connection). I will also give a shameless plug for OkCupid, which is an incredible environment and is actually a big part of what makes this possible (ask me sometime about my experiences on ashleymadison or adultfriendfinder *shudder*).

If I have missed something, please feel free to point it out to me and I'll respond as I can. Dan Savage has been such a positive influence on our lives through the past couple of years, that if somehow, through this thread, we can give back some small bit to the community, then I will do what I can to help out.

Cheers.
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Posted by jtyler on January 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM · Report this
90
um. jtyler, I think you mean BIGAMY not BIGOTRY.
Posted by auntielarrie on January 29, 2013 at 8:47 PM · Report this
91
Mr Tyler - Well, at least the cast and the situation are superiour to what's on offer in The Sacred and Profane Love Machine. As for the status question, the obvious solution would seem to be to keep the living arrangement as is but to realign the legalities so that the marriage in the case is between the two boinking parties. Is that available for you?

I wish you luck, but, as someone who had a hard enough time with two parents in the house, living with three parents strikes me as a perpetual nightmare for any poor child involved.
Posted by vennominon on January 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM · Report this
nocutename 92
@89 (jtyler): You seem to forget that all those comments you characterize as "ripping [you and the two women with whom you share your life] to shreds" were grounded in a desire to be helpful. Commentors, like people everywhere, can only go by what they have been given, and in the initial letter there was something to convince many that NTFN was being taken advantage of.
Later comments by Styler gave others reason to be concerned on your behalf. Still later letters from RJ8 likewise made some here think you were being mistreated.

There's nothing in this whole thread that suggests anyone was trying to rip your family to pieces. RJ8 asked for advice and well-meaning people responded to the limited information that they had, putting themselves in the position of the players as best they understood and using their own emotional responses as the basis for their input/reactions/advice. Some brought life experiences that seemed somewhat similar to yours, but clearly that similarity was only surface-deep.

It is rare that all concerned parties write in to clarify. Considering that you are part of a triad, instead of a couple, it is a giant added layer of complexity. It is nice, but very unusual to get the fuller picture, and perhaps in response to the anger you three felt at everyone's mistakes in getting the biographical details of your three individual lives and backgrounds as well as the nature of your relationship as a triad, the three of you were able to work through what sounds like some big issues that were really bothering RJ8. In which case, the appropriate response is "thank you."
Posted by nocutename on January 29, 2013 at 9:14 PM · Report this
93
Thank you @auntielarrie, bigamy is the term I meant.

@vennominon, we had actually discussed that as an option, but it's obviously not a simple solution either way. Of course, a big part of what we're trying to get across here is that "people who are boinking" does not equal "people who are married". Legally we cannot all three be married to each other, which means someone is going to be left out. Until that issue can be resolved, we're doing our best to formalize our relationship in other parts of our lives: parentage, home, bank accounts, insurance, cars, etc.

@nocutename, thank you for your comments, and I know many of the others on this thread were well-meaning, as I said before, I appreciate everyone's input. Some comments in particular just rubbed me the wrong way. If I inadvertently told you to fuck off, then I apologize.
Posted by jtyler on January 29, 2013 at 9:43 PM · Report this
94
Well good on you guys for finding a creative solution to an unusual problem. And thanks for putting it out there on the comments thread, there's lots to learn from this.

RJ8, we just don't see eye to eye on the importance of sex with a spouse--your use of the word "servicing" says it all. But it's good to know jtyler is fine with your views on what makes a marriage. And as for me and Mrs. Bloomer, don't worry--we have every intention of getting old together. I'll pass on your concern though. Cheers guys!
Posted by LateBloomer on January 29, 2013 at 11:20 PM · Report this
95
@jtyler: It seems to me that RJ8 is your sister-in-law. I know that usually sisters-in-law are your siblings' wives, and RJ8 is your wife's wife, but I think it's close enough to work. Importantly, the assumptions that go with "x is my sister-in-law" generally work for your relationship with RJ8.
Posted by Old Crow on January 30, 2013 at 2:24 AM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 96
JTyler - I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your father. I've been expecting that phone call for a few years and don't know exactly what my experience / grief / bit of relief / guilt about the relief / etc will be like.

Thanks for posting and filling in yet more details. I'm perhaps in both the "concerned" and "rubbed you the wrong way" categories due to filling in the blanks (and, man, were there a lot of blanks) with my own experiences and observations and because of, frankly, RJ8's apparent callous feelings for you, based on the words and phrases she uses. It's cliche, but truly, many of my best friends are lesbians (and far too many of my exes) but I couldn't have as a dear friend (much less a life partner) someone who came across as so dismissive of male sexuality. But I don't. And you're happy with what you have. I'm good with that.

People don't write Dan unless they have a problem and poly couples usually aren't writing to him with Miss Manners type questions about funeral etiquette. On Straight Spouse Network forums, we mostly get the walking wounded who aren't taking it all in stride so well (nor do 99% of them last as long as you three have). So my apologies for the "sampling bias" I have from having heard so many horror stories - happy and coping couples/triads don't post on support-group sites. I'll be referring some guys who just found out that they're in a MOM (mixed orientation marriage) to this thread because many of them ask for success stories during the "denial" and "bargaining" stages while processing the loss of the marriage they thought they had. Many will take solace in your success, although most will later find your thoughts about OkCupid more helpful.

Hearing your side of things makes me feel better about your situation but more importantly about the three of you as parents of your two children. Unlike @91, I think 2 happy parents can make for a better household than one, and that 3, when they're all happy about the situation, can be better than 2.
More...
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 30, 2013 at 2:37 AM · Report this
97
David, I apologize if my comments regarding our personal situation made it seem I am dismissing male sexual needs however I was simply trying to allay the fears of pretty much everyone on here that there was some sex-based time bomb waiting to go off for j and that we were using the kid to force him to stay in a situation that makes him miserable. As I said sex isn't really high on the list for any of us which may be uncommon but doesn't make it any less true and feeling like I was beating my head against the wall to convince you guys that that isn't a problem was getting old. Obviously after 3 years the sex aspect has been dealt with or else this wouldn't have lasted more than a week. My entire purpose in writing in to Dan was not to get into a debate over the validity of our relationships but to figure out the etiquette of this particular disclosure situation because obviously none of us have any poly experience prior to this, hence the lack of a total life story in my letter (had I done that it would have been about 8 pages long). I appreciate the people who actually took the time to answer the question at hand, especially the ones in a similar poly family situation, so thank you for that. And I think that pretty much wraps it up for me... Good session people...
Posted by RJ8 on January 30, 2013 at 4:42 AM · Report this
98
@93: Pretty sure you mean me, pretty sure telling me to fuck off isn't inadvertent in my case, and pretty sure it was deserved. I came away from the initial letter with a number of negative impressions that subsequent clarifications showed to be mostly misunderstandings on my part. I regret going off on any of you. (Which I shouldn't have done even if I had been entirely correct in my assessment. Tact is preferable.)

For what it's worth, my beef was never with your relationship model. I can imagine plenty of straight marriages where the ardor has cooled that could benefit from a similar hall pass as pressure-relief valve or permanent solution. People do make good partners during dry spells (even permanent ones) and it seems a shame to blow up what you've built together over many years. I wasn't saying you weren't happy or that RJ8 and/or STyler were using you, just that the anger expressed in her first letter seemed to be conveniently and conspicuously misdirected at you and your side of the family. Again, clarifications showed that it wasn't as simple as that, and even it if was I could have said so more neutrally.
Posted by avast2006 on January 30, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
99
@avast2006 we're all good, I did appreciate your multiple comments, even if I didn't always agree with them =)
Posted by jtyler on January 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM · Report this
100
Mr Tyler - While I quite agree with your way of thinking, I was just presenting the lineup that would require the least additional explanation, which seemed to address your paragraph touching on that area. We could have an interesting debate on whether theirs really is the most unitive relationship among the three of you, and I've no idea which side I'd be inclined to present, but I shall pass and wish your children good luck.
Posted by vennominon on January 30, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
101
@The triad : you probably won't read this and it's superfluous after a month, but anyway... As a reader I really appreciate you all commenting here; I don't know if discussing such personal matters with random not-necessarily-friendly commenters on the internet is the best idea in the world but I assume you can handle it since you did so and it's really great to know more about your situation.

On the question of how to introduce your wives; I got the feeling the real sticking point for NTFN was that people would think she was a servant, which people could assume if you just introduce her by name and give no other cues to your relationship. You could allay that by introducing her as "a close friend" instead. When you add to that that she lives with you it pretty much comes down to an outing, but at least you're getting others to ask the questions if they really want to know instead of directly dropping the poly bomb on them.
Posted by Caravelle on February 20, 2013 at 4:38 PM · Report this

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