Love

Why Our Kids Are So Lucky We Have An Open Marriage

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family of four

Sometimes I forget things. I don't mean my keys or why I went into the kitchen, although I forget those, too. I mean I forget bigger things. I forget to be thankful, to marvel, to bask in my life and the people I live it with.

This economy has driven my husband out on the road. He's working as a consultant. He leaves on Sunday afternoons and comes home on Friday nights.

When he was home, he did the grocery shopping and the cooking.

He got our daughter up and out to school in the morning and off to bed at night. Now I'm alone. I'm a single parent.

I'm drowning, working 10-hour days and trying to keep the house from falling down around my ears, and the kid from starving or flunking or just plain hating me. Except somehow, I'm actually afloat despite how my mind imagines it some days.

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The truth is, I'm only partially a single parent. Aside from a husband, I also have a girlfriend.

I knew I was lucky to have her in my life because of the love and support and sheer giddiness in being together.

What I was not conscious of was just how lucky we all were to have three parents, three adults, three spouses really, to pitch in when things were less than stellar.

I forget how lucky I am, how good I have it despite the difficulties.

The economy has forced me to do some corporate writing alongside my "real" work, which means deadlines and company politics, and stress.

Combine that with a spouse who is in town for less than 48 hours a week and who wants (and needs) to do little more than rest during that time, and you're likely headed for the looney bin, or worse.

But because I'm in an open marriage — a polyamorous relationship — I'm not alone at all.

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I forget that this lifestyle isn't just about love or sex. It is also strangely practical despite people finding it so very unusual.

My girlfriend doesn't take my daughter to the doctor or register her for school or keep up with the home warranty or schedule the exterminator.

She does, however, help me cook and clean and grocery shop. She does do spelling words with my daughter and helps her grow crystals for her science fair project. 

She is a third parent, a third person, and a third spouse.

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I forget life wasn't always so isolated. Families weren't always mom and dad and 2.5 kids and a dog. It has always taken a village.

I tried to do it all, to be supermom, superwife, superwriter. I was terrible at it. Something always had to be sacrificed.

I wished for extended family, for a house full of friends sharing the load. But that's not the way the world works, I was told. I didn't open my marriage to create a village, but it has certainly been a lucky side benefit.

I forget that my focus should not be running life, but living life. I forget that the point of life is not the job or the money or being number one.

Life, in terms of what I want for my own life anyway, is about love. I want time to love my daughter, to watch her grow.

I want time to love writing, to work at the craft that feeds my heart and my soul, and my mind. I want time to love my husband, to forget about the chores, and remember who he is as a person, and why I fell in love with him in the first place.

I want time to love my girlfriend, I want to hear her stories, rest in her arms, and love her without distraction.

I forget that there is no prize at the end, no reward for having the most things. The most love I can have — that is the prize I want.

This economy sucks. But I'm grateful that it has improved my memory.

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Update:

Things are quite different in my life these days. I'm engaged to a woman I adore and we are in a happily monogamous relationship.

I'm still married to my daughter’s father, and we are scheduled to get divorced in May 2017. We are staying married until she is 18 so custody is a non-issue.

We are happily and successfully co-parenting together, and my fiancé is loving and supportive.

My daughter even has her on her phone as "step-mom." Things have changed in many ways, but in others, they are still exactly the same.

Raising my daughter remains the center of my universe, of all of our universes, and I believe, more than ever, that it does indeed take a village.  

Jenny Block writes for a number of regional and national publications, including the Dallas Morning News and American Way. She's the author of the book, Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.

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