dating

My girlfriend and her husband: What I've learnt from my relationship with a married couple.

I am in love with a married woman, who’s in love with another man — but she’s also in love with me, too. That man is her husband and he and I are very good friends.

Such is the dynamic of my polyamorous relationship, and I’ve got to be honest, we’re all quite happy with this situation. There is no competition, no strife, no jealousy, no hard times, no anger or aggression, and it’s rather surprising, even to me, from the inside, that two men can get along so well and share the same woman.

What is polyamory? Post continues after video. 

When I look around at others and the problems they have in relationships, issues with which they can seemingly never compromise, I wonder if it’s us or it’s them that’s different. How is it that so many people are bothered by something that we seemingly absorb with impunity? The fact that we’ve set out on this course of polyamory to begin with is a clue that there’s something deeper — something wonderful happening here that’s quite unique, but is there more to it than that? I think there is.

I think several factors lined up to give us what we have, and a lot of that has to come with ground work that was laid long before I came into the picture — what they had built prior to my arrival. Most of all, being in the position I find myself in, I am privy to an unusually intimate glance at the things that have made their marriage work in a day and age when all so many quests of love and marriage fail miserably.

Perhaps my perspective and outlook could shed light on one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been privileged enough to witness, a happy marriage and the inner workings of one. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from witnessing a happy marriage from such an up-close and personal perspective.

It’s okay not to fight.

There, I said it… and it’s true. Some people in today’s strange world we happen to inhabit have somehow drawn the conclusion that fighting is useful, either serving a utilitarian end, or natural, something that just comes along with the territory of dating and marriage. It’s not — or at least it doesn’t have to be. But does that mean that they don’t care about one another? Absolutely not. This simply means that they show affection in other ways, choosing more healthy outlets rather than harmful outbursts.

They show they care through things both small and large, from something as simple as thinking ahead and changing the laundry while the other is out at lunch with a friend, to taking mental notes of an issue the other is going through and finding the perfect solution, delivering it in the form of a gift to heal that person. Most couples fight, this is just a fact, but I’d like to state it emphatically, here, that you don’t have to.

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It’s much easier to actually enjoy the other person in your life when you’re not at one another’s throats all the time. For the record, he and I don’t fight, her and I don’t fight. That’s just the way it is.

You get what you give.

The incalculable differences in character are such that it’s impossible to cast a mold which could encapsulate every single human being, and as such, there are plenty of people who are incapable of selflessness out there, so I don’t mean to place the blame on anyone in particular, but what I’ve witnessed with them is that you get what you give, and more importantly, you get what you give naturally.

What do I mean by this? I mean that every relationship should strive to be a symbiosis, an interaction that’s mutually beneficial for all parties involved, and part of the process of giving is immediately reaping the rewards of contributing to the larger whole. He recently purchased a gift for her and presented it to her, and immediately, he was amazed and truly happy when he saw her eyes light up and a sweet smile crack on her face. This is just one example of countless things they’ve done for one another that ended up being their own reward in themselves.

The rewards of giving in relationships are perfectly natural, they happen organically. The way that these two human beings foster love in their lives is by actually being that love, rather than waiting for it to happen to them from the outside. They understand that nothing needs to be obtained in order for them to experience emotions like happiness or love, they just experience them.

Independence and balance.

This is built upon a fabric of independence, of course, and each party involved maintain their own happiness, as well as maintaining the happiness of the unit. This balance is extremely important in today’s world, as I often see others trying to do one or the other, never both. They’ve learned when to compromise and when to stand firm and set out their limits, and they ask themselves constantly if what they’re doing is fair, taking the whole of their prior experiences in as a whole, taking the other’s perspective in, and asking themselves if a certain situation is important enough to them to refuse to bend or break.

They’re extremely respectful of one another’s limits and thoughts as independent, free individuals, and I think it’s the fact that they refuse to allow themselves to be completely swallowed by the relationship itself in the first place that they’re capable of doing this. When we maintain our own independent lives, we’re in a much better place to reasonably discuss things and compromise when it’s right to do so, but also to set forth the limits we need to when we need to.

In all, it’s this fundamental nature and balance which has led to them creating the perfect conditions within which the three of us could do this together as a solitary unit, and I’m incredibly grateful for the experience for what it is. It’s truly amazing to watch two people who’ve been married for a very long time together, in love, happy, and living the best lives they can live, both independently, and together.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. For more from Joe Duncan, you can follow him on Medium and Twitter.

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