real life

Rowan is raising a baby with her two wives.

Rowan Mangan's life is anything but 'conventional'

She's raising her young daughter with her two partners — Martha and Karen — and together the three of them each have a dynamic role in their bustling household. 

"The feeling of love and joy that you get when you see your two partners loving on each other, it's gorgeous," Rowan says on Mamamia's No Filter podcast. "There's something so liberating about that feeling."

When Rowan first met her wife Martha Bec, they were on a retreat in remote South Africa. Martha, a coach, Harvard-trained sociologist, and New York Times bestselling author, was running the coaching program in South Africa. Rowan had spent "a really ridiculous amount of money" to be an attendee.

It wasn't a love story from the beginning. But it morphed into one.

Watch: what is polyamory? Post continues below.

Video via SBS.

"I am exceptionally good at being a teacher's pet. I knew about Martha because in all her books she always incorporates her personal story. I was aware that she had been with her partner Karen for many years," explains Rowan.

Martha had grown up Mormon. She had married young, had kids young, but felt something was missing in her life. She met Karen, they fell in love, and the pair ended up raising Martha's kids together with Martha's ex husband. By the time Rowan met Martha, Martha and Karen were in a long-term relationship. 


After the South Africa retreat, Martha and Rowan's lives intertwined again, this time on a ranch back in the United States. The sparks slowly emerged.

"It was so 'this is never going to happen' that it's fascinating the way it did happen. Karen went and had a conversation with Martha, and said, 'I'm having these feelings for Ro', Then it was all three of us suddenly being preoccupied."

First Karen and Rowan fell in love. Then Rowan and Martha soon found feelings for each other too, Martha and Karen's connection remaining as strong as ever. Soon enough, the three of them had become a throuple. There was an awkward dinner table conversation at the ranch where their throuple situation was revealed to their wider friend circle.

"We had friends visiting and there were 10 people in the room for dinner, and they had been chatting about polyamory. Karen just bursts out of nowhere and said, 'I love Martha. I love Ro. And I'm going to get Thai food.' She walked out the door, and the ranch was about 45 minutes away from the shops. So she was gone, Martha and I are sitting there and it was honestly the most awkward silence ever of my life."

Rowan Mangan, and her two partners Martha and Karen. Image: Supplied/Instagram.


There are logistics to navigating a throuple. There's jealousy, communication, sex and friendship. They also have an age gap, with Karen in her mid 60s, Martha in her early 60s, and Rowan in her mid 40s. 

But perhaps the biggest thing they all navigate together is the baby they share. 

Rowan had always known she wanted to be a parent. 

"They didn't think babies and nappy changes were going to be in their lives again, but they said, 'If that's the dream, then it's our dream. Let's do it. I then underwent IVF,'" explains Rowan. 


"I was always quite adamant that neither of them were getting up in the night. That was a really clear one for me. But I needed more support than I thought I would, logistical and physical support. 

"I'm the biological mum and I work full time. I have a three and a half year old with special needs. I have one female partner, who is working really hard at a very high level to make money for our family. And I have one female partner who's working really hard to support me and our household and do grocery shopping and do pickups and do runs to the doctor when I can't make."

Despite being in a throuple technically, Rowan says the three of them aren't crazy about labels. They all love each other, they live together, they're all raising a child together. Interestingly, Rowan says they each sleep in separate bedrooms, because three people to one bed would "be a lot".

"What the heck does the person in the middle do? They would have no bedside table," laughs Rowan. 

"None of us identifies as anything other than monogamous. We're just a little monogamous clump. Some people really feel like polyamory is their identity. I'm not sure if it's like a sexual identity, or it's a broader identity. But that's not exactly how we feel, it just happened to fall this way for us."

For more from Rowan, her writing and podcasts, you can follow her on Instagram and find her website here.

You can listen to the full interview on No Filter now.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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