Thoughts on Marriage and Polyamory

Vicki82

Active member
I'm just curious as to what people's thoughts are on getting married to your partner while being poly, versus being married and then becoming poly.

If you knew a couple who were nesting partners, but both poly when they met and continuing to be both poly and open, what would you think if they decided to get married? Do you think that marriage has a place in polyamory if it wasn't already there?

I have some thoughts but curious to hear from others.
 

Ravenscroft

Banned
Annie & I married for the money. :D

We'd been together for years, were very much still in love with intent to go the distance, & each had a lover move in with us. Life was pretty darned good all 'round.

But buying a house was on the agenda, & this is MUCH easier to do under marriage. Then, the Army dangled a year of specialized training at Anne (which also combined subjects highly interesting to her). As a married couple, this year would warrant hardship pay (separation from family). And at the time, our state didn't tax military pay.

So we got married in a nice little ceremony conducted at a friend's house.
 

RichardInTN

Member
I think that anything can work. I also think polygamy (in all it's various forms) needs to be legalized so people don't have to choose between marrying partner 1 or partner 2 or partner 3 et cetera.

As it sits now, with monogamous marriage being the only legal option, it opens the door to this question as a necessity. BUT, even if Polygamy were legal, there would still be people out there who don't want to get married, but may want to participate in having relationships... why should they be denied? They shouldn't.
 

minnegander

New member
We are dealing with this right now, actually. Our Quad started with the other two engaged, set to be married later that year, and we got engaged during the beginning of the Quad relationship.

Since then, they are going through a divorce and we had our small wedding scheduled and planned. The three of us are still together and moving on with life plans, but the wedding has been a trigger for TF.

Discussion has been made and we are including him in the ceremony, but we are still legally getting married because its something we want and he's agreeing to move forward and work through it. Including him with our small ceremony eliminates the "third wheel" or "excluded" feelings he was having (and allows me my name change!).

It's murky water to trudge through, but it's important to keep communication open and to always discuss feelings, no matter how hard it may be.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I'm just curious as to what people's thoughts are on getting married to your partner while being poly, versus being married and then becoming poly.

If you knew a couple who were nesting partners, but both poly when they met and continuing to be both poly and open, what would you think if they decided to get married? Do you think that marriage has a place in polyamory if it wasn't already there?

I have some thoughts but curious to hear from others.

I don't think "married first, then married and poly" is inherently more or less understandable/reasonable/desirable/whatever than "poly first, then married and poly." People get married for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes for almost none at all.

In my experience, I married my partner for the real benefits it provided (health insurance, social approval, no-effort legal ties to children and financial support). 19 years later, with the kids well established, and poly an important part of my life, we started to wish we'd never bothered to marry.

I wanted my own identity back, without the expectations of "acting like a spouse" that everyone seemed to cling to, even us. I also wanted to have a child with my other partner, and my state's statutory presumptive paternity meant the "wrong" father would be on the birth certificate (no choice for married folks!) until we could have it changed by court order. Marriage was never sacred to us, and eventually it started to feel like a lie to proclaim ourselves part of an institution whose origins and expectations we had no desire to promote.

We also figured we were lucky we weren't yet divorced (like so many), and if we settled the financial and custody stuff ahead of time, while we were still in love, we would do better by each other than if we waited until something broke. It worked. We undid it. We are happily divorced together and individually.

I totally get that marriage means something (and often many different things) to many people. I have no desire for that mindset to infiltrate my personal life again. I have intellectually considered marrying my other partner, but I can't think of a benefit that overrides the inherent negatives, for me.

I am very entwined with my partners, separately, so it's not a matter of commitment or intention to share a life. It's really just that the institution serves my needs not at all, endows privileges I do not wish to claim, and tacitly asserts truths that are not mine.

What others are willing to do to and for themselves and their partners is totally up to them, of course.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I will say that choosing marriage after being poly does suggest that the two who are marrying actively embrace couple privilege. Philosophically they may see couple privilege as desirable, in fact that may drive the decision to get married. However, if they see couple privilege as problematic for their own interactions, for the poly community, and/or for society at large, then no "good reasons" for the decision to marry will actually reconcile the dissonance of the situation.

Again, not for me to choose for others, but these are the issues that come to mind.
 

minnegander

New member
I will say that choosing marriage after being poly does suggest that the two who are marrying actively embrace couple privilege. Philosophically they may see couple privilege as desirable, in fact that may drive the decision to get married. However, if they see couple privilege as problematic for their own interactions, for the poly community, and/or for society at large, then no "good reasons" for the decision to marry will actually reconcile the dissonance of the situation.

Again, not for me to choose for others, but these are the issues that come to mind.

I can see this viewpoint - We briefly considered it.

The idea is for me to continue working through the next year to pay off some unsecured debt and then quit working full time to take care of our home and other things. This has always been my dream (being a homemaker) and the marriage will make it possible for me to be covered under benefits and such.

There has also been discussion about "legal separation", if it made things better, but we will cross that bridge if we ever get there.

I enjoy your take on it, having been married and then later regretting. It's interesting!
 

Vicki82

Active member
Ah, I suppose to make this more philosophical- let's assume there are little to no legal or healthcare reasons.

RichardinTN- I have had some interesting debates about the idea of poly marriage with other people and would enjoy a discussion on it, although I'm not sure I want to muddy this thread with it. Personally, I am not sure it's feasible to do. It seems to me that it would be far too complicated or it would drastically change the institution of marriage back from being a couple, to merely two or more individuals who cannot possibly share in the assets, rights, and responsibilities the way things are now without making dissolution much more dificult than it is now.
 

minnegander

New member
Ah, I suppose to make this more philosophical- let's assume there are little to no legal or healthcare reasons.


Oh! In that case, is there any real reason to become married unless it's to each other? What is marriage other than legal recognition anyway?

I was for legalizing gay marriage, but only in the aspects that it provided the same rights as heterosexuals receive in marriage. This did not make me popular in my own community, but it was my stance.

I do not think "marriage" is overall important, aside from legal ramifications. It is love, commitment, and companionship that make up marriage.

Just my thoughts.
 

Ravenscroft

Banned
I will say that choosing marriage after being poly does suggest that the two who are marrying actively embrace couple privilege.
A statement that, on the surface, appears to be sweepingly nonsensical. Can you provide any depth?

We viewed formal marriage as just another form of business contract, not the gishy Romantic claptrap that infests the Western world.
for the poly community
There IS no "poly community."
 
Last edited:

SlowPoly

Member
I will say that choosing marriage after being poly does suggest that the two who are marrying actively embrace couple privilege.
A statement that, on the surface, appears to be sweepingly nonsensical. Can you provide any depth?

Nonsensical? Getting married is the official way to claim legal couple privilege and the traditional and most ironclad way to claim social couple privilege (except perhaps in the case of a marriage kept secret). Therefore, those who do get married are embracing couple privilege. I suppose they may be willfully ignoring it, if that's possible. But truly, they would be willfully ignoring something they are absolutely soaking in.

Your "another form of business contract" is actually a broad and deep network of legal, commercial, and social amenities bestowed upon you as a couple, which single people and (in many cases) unmarried dyads (including those in poly relationships) cannot enjoy, certainly without a lot more expense and explicit contractual arrangement than is required for a civil marriage ceremony.

Your rejection of some of the "claptrap" that others associate with the institution doesn't actually reduce your ability to benefit from its advantages. No one is quizzing you on whether you fit the mold, romantically or otherwise. You're two people. You're married. You get the great big basket of (legal, commercial, and social) goodies*, whether or not you planned it that way. And, to bring it down to the specific sense of "couple privilege" in polyamorous relationships, none of your other partners get to share in that. Though some legal and financial arrangements can create something like equity, nothing provides to singles or "extras" outside a couple what couples get so easily through marriage.


[For a list of specific amenities enjoyed by couples, and specifically married ones, see the works of Bella DePaulo.]
 

Taramafor

New member
I'm a sub.

I don't believe in getting married for the simple reason of having to "prove" myself. I do that in other ways. Being there. Being supportive. Etc. Collar is practically a wedding ring in some ways. In this case might be literal.

I also believe anyone should be able to get married if they want too. For starters not everyone marries for love. For another limiting it to one is practically pushing people to pick one over others. The "It has to be a choice" mindset is what leads to people getting hurt, or worse, dead (suicide. etc). This is also why I'm personally against marriage. Would someone choose another over me? The only FAIR thing to do in this situation is to not be married. Which is, frankly, unfair.

So speaking as someone that doesn't even do marriage, I fully support multiple marriages.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm just curious as to what people's thoughts are on getting married to your partner while being poly, versus being married and then becoming poly.

It's an option. I figure they know what they are doing/want and their other partners are supportive.

If you knew a couple who were nesting partners, but both poly when they met and continuing to be both poly and open, what would you think if they decided to get married? Do you think that marriage has a place in polyamory if it wasn't already there?

I wouldn't think anything. How they do things over their in their poly grouping is their business.

There's a whole host of things that come with marriage that people sometimes want to have. Legal standing is one. Next of kin, things for kids, health insurance, etc.

Ah, I suppose to make this more philosophical- let's assume there are little to no legal or healthcare reasons.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/marriage-rights-benefits-30190.html

has a long list.

Galagirl
 

Shaya

New member
I think it deepends what marriage means to you. Marriage is traditionally a monogamous agreement to remain sexually (and i presume emotionally) fidelitous for life. Even if that is not achieved in reality, the commitment made at that point in time is sincere. A side effect is that you would also be expected to have 'fidelitous' resources and a 'fidelitous' approach to raising children.

Polyamory turns this social norm sideways and Relationship Anarchy will turn it upside down and inside out, allowing you to make marriage mean whatever you want.

To go from poly to marriage would mean whatever you want marriage to mean.

To go from a monogamous marriage to poly... my opinion is this often does not work that well, with notable exceptions of course and several such stories on this forum.
 

RichardInTN

Member
RichardinTN- I have had some interesting debates about the idea of poly marriage with other people and would enjoy a discussion on it, although I'm not sure I want to muddy this thread with it. Personally, I am not sure it's feasible to do. It seems to me that it would be far too complicated or it would drastically change the institution of marriage back from being a couple, to merely two or more individuals who cannot possibly share in the assets, rights, and responsibilities the way things are now without making dissolution much more dificult than it is now.

Feel free to open a thread about it, I'll happily participate... or PM me.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
I have written about my take on marriage and poly in my Journey blog and read many threads here on the subject.

While some folks see marriage and poly as an oxymoron, I do not necessarily think that is the case. I ID'd as poly before I met my husband (together for 25 years, married for 21). I see a lot of people talk about the financial benefits of marriage - taxes and insurance are the main ones that come to mind. I see zero reasons why these could not be expanded to multiple spouses.

Would I marry my Dude if it were legal? Actually, probably not. (Nor would I marry MrS if we weren't already - though I don't regret doing so.) Marriage is basically a business contract for a household - there are corporate business contracts that are WAY more complicated than the most esoteric poly household - so what? Doesn't mean we can't try.
 

Al99

Well-known member
Quoting JaneQSmythe -
While some folks see marriage and poly as an oxymoron, I do not necessarily think that is the case.

Great point. The issue at hand, or so it seems to me, is that a culture has grown up around polyamory that is often viewed as being synonymous with polyamory itself. This resultant poly-culture generally frowns on "couple privilege" and - for the most part - does not hold marriage at the same level of importance as the general public.

This poly-culture is not the same as polyamory itself, which by definition is ('"simply") "having multiple long-term, loving (sexual/romantic) relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved" (or something similar). One does not have to subscribe to the poly-culture, be a fan of Veaux, or pay any attention at all to the poly literature and forums - in order to be poly.

So, it is quite possible that a happily married couple that deeply values marriage - but is obviously open minded - could just happen to fall in love with the couple next door, and the four of them could have a very happy quad for years - without ever questioning that their respective marriages are primary, or even hearing the word "polyamory", much less being aware of the "poly-culture" - yet their relationship is as polyamorous as any who claim to be (by definition).

Of course, there are many other facets of the poly-culture - and perhaps this concept deserves a thread of its own - but I leave for vacation tomorrow so I will just reply here for the moment, anyway. :)

Al
 
Last edited:

Ravenscroft

Banned
Your rejection ... doesn't actually reduce your ability to benefit from its advantages.
Monogamists have sometimes denounced me for "hating marriage" when I've done nothing but present myself as happily nonmonogamous.

I suppose they're correct: far as I can tell, Monogamism is indeed so fragile that ANY faintest hint of alternative (or even logic :D) could bring the whole ghastly edifice crashing down.

However, that doesn't mean I'm working AGAINST monogamy, much less that I "hate" it.

And it kinda looks like YOU not only hate marriage, but married people, particularly those who profess to nonmonogamy, & especially those who got married WHILE nonmonogamous. That's correct, correct? :confused: It'd be really groovy for you to explain for the benefit of the wedded people here.

Meantime, let's consider a word that has for no clear reason dominated this thread.

I am also caucasian.

I am also middle-class.

I also have disposable income.

I also pass (mostly) as heterosexual.

ALL of these things grant me a fair bit of the sort of "privilege" you keep brandishing as though the term means anything. I've achieved that socioeconomic status AFTER declaring myself nonmonogamous.

How have YOU managed to distance yourself from your own swathes of "privilege"? Tell how YOU have "reduced your ability to benefit from its advantages."

I'd also enjoy some explanation of the concrete ways in which terrible people like Anne & me have taken undue advantage of our less-fortunate peers.
 

Polysnow

Member
Nonsensical? Getting married is the official way to claim legal couple privilege and the traditional and most ironclad way to claim social couple privilege (except perhaps in the case of a marriage kept secret). Therefore, those who do get married are embracing couple privilege. I suppose they may be willfully ignoring it, if that's possible. But truly, they would be willfully ignoring something they are absolutely soaking in.

Your "another form of business contract" is actually a broad and deep network of legal, commercial, and social amenities bestowed upon you as a couple, which single people and (in many cases) unmarried dyads (including those in poly relationships) cannot enjoy, certainly without a lot more expense and explicit contractual arrangement than is required for a civil marriage ceremony.

Your rejection of some of the "claptrap" that others associate with the institution doesn't actually reduce your ability to benefit from its advantages. No one is quizzing you on whether you fit the mold, romantically or otherwise. You're two people. You're married. You get the great big basket of (legal, commercial, and social) goodies*, whether or not you planned it that way. And, to bring it down to the specific sense of "couple privilege" in polyamorous relationships, none of your other partners get to share in that. Though some legal and financial arrangements can create something like equity, nothing provides to singles or "extras" outside a couple what couples get so easily through marriage.


[For a list of specific amenities enjoyed by couples, and specifically married ones, see the works of Bella DePaulo.]


That's his fault? Or any other married couple? We need those benefits. I would happily share the pot if I could with my other future partners if I were legally allowed to do so. The best thing you could, as you say, is create the equity. But would it be wise to go through all the contracts and expenses for both partners when you can marry one and pay for the other? I think not.

Sometimes circumstances make it very beneficial for partners to marry.

But I completely disagree with the "automatically embrace couples privilege" statement. Ive been there myself. I would do anything in my power to make sure those i wanted to marry, but legally can't, feel equal.

If you are talking strictly benefits, then yes, but the flaw lies in the instituion of marriage itself, not those who go through with it, whatever their reason. Those benefits can help any family, poly or not, its just a bitch we live in a monogamous society.
 

Shaya

New member
This poly-culture is not the same as polyamory itself, which by definition is ('"simply") "having multiple long-term, loving (sexual/romantic) relationships with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved" (or something similar). One does not have to subscribe to the poly-culture, be a fan of Veaux, or pay any attention at all to the poly literature and forums - in order to be poly.

I like the way you put It, Al. The conceptual polyamory which in its simplest form is the ability to form and maintain multiple loving relationships simultaneously with the consent of every party involved. Then there's the philosophy or practice of how to do that. I feel that many of our discussions on this forum and in particular the disagreements can be due to various individuals stating what works for them. The more mature or senior members seem to realise that there are many ways to do polyamory.

Marriage in poly can probably mean whatever you want it to mean. Marriage could very well work for a given polyamorous couple. I dont see it automatically providing hierarchy, but if it does, some couples probably feel they need hierarchy or if you want to be controversial, couple privilege. Certainly swingers, FWB and other recreational sex activities are loaded with couple privilege and they seem to be more popular than polyamory (at least in my area). Given the grey line that I think exists between poly and recreational sex activities, it makes sense to me that some who identify with polyamory will say nay to hierarchy and others will say yay.
 
Top