"The life of a blended family". Our Poly Life is written by any one of a poly-fi quad. Each month they will share with readers about issues they face as a blended and committed poly family with nine children still at home. You can read more about them at their website; Our Poly Life.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Proactive Poly Partnering

Have you ever been in your car, driving to somewhere you thought you would recognize, only to find yourself hopelessly lost? I have been there; we have been there, perhaps most of last year. The challenge with polyamory for us has been that there are very few roadmaps that tutor rookies on how to traverse the road to understanding and arrive safely at the point where life comes more manageable with some notion of calm predictability (for as much as human paths can ever give.)

When our quad came together, we thought we’d be able to navigate on sheer excitement alone. We had discussed so many angles and possibilities, what else could be a challenge? No, really, we weren’t that gullible, but there was this air that we could make it on love and the experience we brought with us from our long stints at monogamy. Certainly the successes we’d had as individual couples could carry us through the transitional phases of our cross coupling dyads and quad blending. And it did, to a point. About as much as being a star basketball player helps you in your career as a horse jockey. They are both sports, right? Ya, sure.

The trouble with trial and error living is that you have to go through the error part much more often than is comfortable. In all our research on how to blend our families into A Family, there was a lot of experience and opinion written about the emotional issues of the adult poly playing field, but very little in the way of practical poly parameters. On top of that, the fact that everyone is different, and every family is different, plays a huge role in how applicable each piece of advice can be.

So, here we sit, one year into our new lives as a fully blended cross coupled poly fi quad and we looked back and asked ourselves what we did right and what needed more fine tuning. We concluded the biggest umbrella issue was that we’d played all year without any ground rules. In the blending of our respective families, we had taken such care to protect everyone’s personal identity, lifestyles, and traditions that we neglected to speak clearly on the topic of one-ness. The New Year’s Goal: to get everyone “singing from the same hymnal” (please pardon the culturally identifying metaphor.)

There were a few areas we actually decided we’d done well, but many more that required bolstering. We spent several days in conference, as adults only and other times with the older four, discussing issues and making choices. From those hours, we came away with the following edicts:

  1. Creation of Conflict Resolution Guidelines. Also known as “fair fighting techniques.” We pulled some ideas from counseling sights off the internet, and added some areas of personal need, then synthesized them into a list of basic behaviors we could all agree upon. These will be hereby posted on the communication board.

  2. The Districting of “Safe Spaces.” With the underlying notion that everyone needs a place that makes them feel safe, we deemed all bedrooms as personal space. No arguing or (in the case of children) discipline or punishment will occur. One area in our home has been denoted as the Neutral Zone where all mediated conversations will take place.

  3. Establishment of the Parental Tribunal. All subsequent discipline of any child in our family will commence in the Neutral Zone by a quarry of two or more parents, as available. The evidence will be heard, witnesses called, and a verdict will be reached prior to any sentencing. No appeals accepted.

  4. Assembly of a Tween/Teen Consequence Board. Recognizing that our family is not a democracy, but rather a benevolent dictatorship, we brought together the four older children (two 12, one 13, one 14) to hear the parent’s list of grievances. From this list, the older children haggled amongst themselves to produce for said parents a list of reliable consequences for the most often violated regulations. And where is the justice in having the children create that list? They are normally the victims of said defiances and vengeance is very powerful. These consequences, along with age mandated privileges and responsibilities are logged into our family management notebook for consistency in parenting – with nine children to go, this is essential.

  5. The Posting of Domestic Routines. With realistic expectations of everyone’s schedules, commitments, and abilities we designed chore charts, kitchen and bath cleaning check lists, and menu/grocery planners. This is one area in which we had been doing decently well. This allows all of us to be in tune with who does what and when. Predictable patterns of activity have given us a more settled and cohesive feeling. No questions asked.

  6. Convening of Daily Connection Time. Also referred to as our quad time. We have begun to meet on a daily basis, usually as soon as the children are in bed and at other times over an adult only dinner. We use this time to bring the four of us up to date on finances, children’s activities, calendar planning, goals, any upcoming changes, and the discussion of any looming challenges.

  7. A Decision to BE together. We fully recognize that memories are made in the joys and sorrows of life. We want to dilute the negative with the positive and make conscience choices to experience life together. How do we do this? Family Movie Night (complete with nostalgic popcorn); Father/Daughter Date Nights; Scouts; Room Mom activities; Day Trips to the lake, the park, or the ice cream shop; Camping Trips; Fireworks Displays; Sunday morning church services; Birthday Celebrations; Holiday Traditions; and ANYWHERE we go together on our bus.

The idea behind all these lists, decisions, and resolutions was simple. Create a roadmap so that if by chance we look up and find ourselves again lost, we can just pull in and ask for directions.

Temptress & the Laundry Goddess, January 13, 2007

The Poly Quad are contributing writers as well as members of this online Community. They can be contacted via the email addresses listed in the Contact our Writers section, or through our message board Forums.


folks have read this article.