English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

 

The world is made up of some amazing people, and that diversity makes this world a fantastic place to live.  When I started dating I wasn’t sure I’d find anyone I could live with for the rest of my life no matter how amazing he or she might be.  I liked my space, I liked my privacy, and I liked my way of doing things.  Fortunately, finding our tribe means finding people who challenge us to give up that comfort zone, people who mean enough to us to sacrifice a little control and leverage.  That is exactly what I have found as our family has grown and changed.

When I first met Hubby we joked about how much alike we were.  We even had some of the same obscure belongings. Being that much alike, however, is both a blessing and a curse.  When we agree on something it can be great, but having such similar personalities doesn’t mean we always agree.  Our disagreements can be outrageous, and our compromises can take hours of discussion and negotiation.

Opening our marriage to other partners meant a fractal increase in relationships and personalities.  Hubby introducing A to the family didn’t just add their relationship to the mix.  It changed the way we handle things and introduced the additional relationship that she and I share.  That relationship with a spouse’s partner or a partner’s spouse is just as delicate and important as the romantic partnership, both as a family unit and as individuals.  Their relationship is either stressed or eased based on how well A and I get along and solve problems.

Hubby once told me that he and A never had fights, just disagreements and discussions.  I admit I’m a little more emotion and passion driven where A tries to apply reason and logic to a problem.   It’s the same reason Hubby and I sometimes hit an impasse.  He tries to pull a “why” for everything, and sometimes the answer to an important question is “just because it feels right”. If there’s anyone as similar to Hubby as I am, it’s A.  Knowing their respective personalities, I could see why in two years they had not had a single big “blow up” argument, but I knew eventually the things they were avoiding during their discussions to keep the peace would come to the surface.  Eventually it did, and they did.  The result was a bit of a healthy overhaul for their relationship and some ripples to teach us all how to find a happy medium when these issues arise instead of letting them get out of hand.

Even these slight differences in personality can be a challenge.  Daily interaction can lead to miscommunication or conflict, especially if one of us is just having a rough day.  We all process emotions and information differently, and an important lesson for a poly family is knowing each individual’s needs and limitations during that processing.  Do I need listening instead of fixing? Does Hubby need to chew on a problem before he talks to me about it?  These are all things that can cause unnecessary conflict if not addressed.  For example, sometimes I need to step way from an argument to organize my thoughts and calm my emotions.  Oftentimes Hubby takes this as a sign of avoidance or giving up and refuses to let up for a moment, further escalating my emotional state.  A and I have half- joked about “time out” corners to give us a dedicated spot, fulfilling both a need to step back and a need to know the issue will be revisited for a resolution.

As trying as this all can be I still consider our diversity to be a boon to our family.  After all, the point of poly is to have multiple loves.  How boring would it be if we were carbon copies?  Each of us brings a unique perspective, skill set, and wealth of experience to the table.  I spell check Hubby’s emails, while he checks my math.  The result is an amazing family who always manage to keep life interesting, working together and constantly growing and changing, and that’s what life is all about.

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