This is my monthly column about our life, life in a triad in general, or whatever rants & raves I feel like talking about at the time.

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

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

We all agree that this is an important mantra to include in the daily routine of poly relationship stability. In fact, it's by no means a mantra that is specific to polyamorous folks, but it's definitely an important one. The more people that are involved in a relationship, the easier communication becomes, right? Wrong. While it would seem that having multiple life partners living under the same roof would improve the channels of communication, it's just not always the case. Life doesn't always provide us with the ideal conditions to communicate under. Work schedules conflict, dinner needs to be cooked, laundry needs to be washed, everyone has an agenda separate from the family one, and sometimes the more people that are involved the harder it gets. Communication is an essential part of every day life. Despite this fact, it's very frequently taken for granted. In a poly family this can happen without even thinking about it.

Recently a decision was made in our family to have our son enrolled in daycare after the first of the year. The decision itself wasn't a bad one, but the process used to get there caused conflict. Kriek and the wife came to this decision after a conversation between the two of them while I was at work. Because I was left out of the conversation, the chain of communication broke in a big way. I was left feeling excluded and alienated from the decision making process in my own family. Do I agree with the decision that was made? Not entirely. Do I think that the decision itself was made in the best interest of the family? Yes. Did being left out of this decision making process cause feelings of discontent? Definitely. The issue has blown over, but in the back of my mind trace feelings of resentment at this exclusion still linger.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Easy to say, much harder to do. How do we go about making sure that the important issues are communicated without overkill? While it's unreasonable to expect your partners to tape record every conversation they have, it's not unreasonable to expect to be included in the ones that affect the family as a whole. The problem, though, is this. Who decides which issues are all inclusive and which ones are not? I know that I wasn't left out of the daycare discussion out of any malicious intent. Kriek and the wife have been together for eight years and their communication is free flowing. They start talking about things, communication flows, decisions get made.

Feelings sometimes get hurt.

What starts out as a casual conversation develops into something much bigger, and without even knowing it decisions are made. Stress can sometimes contribute to the lines of communication getting clogged up. We feel under pressure, for whatever reason, and we find ourself making a snap decision without even thinking about it. Again, who decides which issues are all inclusive and which ones are not? It's very possible to make a decision on your own that affects the entire family without even realizing that it has happened. We do this every day of our lives at one time or another. Do you always ask your family what you should prepare for dinner if it's your turn to cook? Of course not. You decide on what to make and you make it. Sure this decision will be made based upon the various tastes of your family. Likes and dislikes, dietary needs, allergies, and similiar factors will all be included and weighed in a matter of minutes until you make a decision and start the meal. Without even being conscious of the fact, you just made a decision that affects your entire family without consulting any of them. That's how easy it can happen. Of course making dinner is on an entirely different level from the daycare scenario described above.....or is it? This brings us right back around to "which issues are all inclusive and which ones are not". The answer won't be found within this article. Only your family can decide what level of communication is important and required, but I can give you this bit of advice from my own experience. The more communication the better. I would rather feel inundated with "trivial" bits of information then to be left "out of the loop". This might be a good approach to take within your own family in determining communication levels.

If everyone were to agree that nothing should be left uncommunicated within the family, and related every conversation that took place with other partners, this might start to be overkill. You might not feel the need to know that your other partners took the kids to the park while you were at work. You would, however, definitely want to be informed if one of the kids fell off the swingset and broke their arm. So how do we go about making sure that the lines of communication are open and flowing in all directions? Put yourself in the other person's shoes and ask yourself "How would I feel if I was left out of the loop in that conversation?" "Would I be angry or upset if that decision was made without me?" Granted, the answer might not always be the same as those of your partners, but this is a good starting point. As each situation arises, discuss the level of detail you feel is necessary for you to receive, apply communication filters within your family until everyone is comfortable with the level of communication that they expect to receive.

Then stick to it.

Not every person communicates well verbally. I tend to be a much better communicator on paper then I do with the spoken word, especially when issues are emotionally charged. This is okay too. If you think that this might be true for someone in your family as well, encourage them to write down their feelings. No one said that communication has to be verbal. Some of the best messages ever communicated have been via the written word. When it comes to good, strong, effective communication, the rules are simple. Find the common denominator that opens the lines of communication within your family. Discover what works best for everyone involved. Agree to include your family in every crucial decision whenever possible.

Then stick to it.

~ Chias, December 20, 2005


folks have read this article.