I provided a “Matt update’ on my last post and thought it fitting to share a “Kayla update.” It’s beyond just an update about her – it includes a significant update about us!
She completed her first year of grad school with excellent grades – and a year from now will be plunged into her working years. Kayla had just turned 22 when she moved in with us. She is now 23 (and half, ha). Normally you stop counting half years when what, you are about 10 or 11? Well, I mention it because while a year-and-a-half seems like a short amount of time, for Kayla, every month marked a time of tremendous personal growth – so that “half” is very important.
She is different. Outwardly you can see it. She wasn’t overweight but has lost some weight and is quite toned (thanks to a steady exercise regimen). It is more than just firmness and curves – the once wallflower now exudes self-confidence. Her dress also matches this new persona, perhaps in part due to a mandated dress code that ditched the baggy t-shirts for skirts and dresses, but she has grown to love her wardrobe and despite its mandate, it reflects and celebrates who she has become.
And more importantly, inwardly you can see it. She is more outspoken – yes, even as a submissive. Submissive doesn’t mean silent. She communications her feelings and views – again, you could say it is due in part from this being mandated as part of our rules (and frankly, is just part of our family culture), but it too has become her. Her fear of rejection is gone.
She was already wise for her age at 21-22. And now at 23, she really has a great grasp on making choices that fulfill her in healthier ways. She has applied all the new things she has learned about herself and has shown that she just doesn’t need as much advice. Not to say that she doesn’t ask – it is just less so.
She has a great group of friends of her own, and continues to be an important and loved member of our household. She is also thriving as a submissive – she will do anything for Mike. You can see the yearning in her to please him and how fulfilling it is for her to do so. And her and I have a great, loving relationship.
I don’t discipline her as we have made it a point for me not to be her disciplinarian. And while at first she still highly deferred to me, there is less and less of that. And that is by design, from both of us. Part of it was she knew she was the “outsider” coming into “my house,” so she showed deference out of respect. As she saw she was not only being accepted, but that her thoughts and wishes were valued by me, she learned she didn’t need to defer.
I feel her relationship with Mike suits both her and Mike well. She craves submission, specifically from Mike, but frankly, she has a need for it to come from a man. It simply doesn’t serve her needs to be submissive to me (nor does it serve mine). Simply put, our three-way relationship has evolved to meet all our needs — and that is how relationships should evolve, else you discover that aren’t fulfilling and realize it is time to move on.
Kayla recognizes the changes in her and is quick to express her gratitude for how we have helped her. She tells me that she is specifically grateful to me for giving her opportunities to explore her relationship with Mike, independent of me, as well as allowing her “equal input” on various things that come up. Not that she always gets her way, but she always feels heard and validated by me.
I think it was very important for her to get that from another woman. Although my relationship with her started out with me being somewhat of a mother figure to her, it has evolved beyond that. She doesn’t need mothering any more. She is a fully functional, confident, vibrant, and flourishing adult.
I love this! The purpose of all my advice was not to clip her wings and make her dependent, it was to strengthen her wings so she can soar on her own – and she is soaring.
TELLING HER PARENTS / TELLING ALL
I don’t think I shared this before, but if I did, I don’t think I wrote much about it. Kayla has told her parents about her relationship with Mike and I. They weren’t thrilled, but they apparently took it well. They already knew Kayla was bisexual, so that wasn’t new to them.
I’ve shared that Mike and I are now in the open about Kayla – and we are now 100% open. Family, friends, anyone! Not that we ran and told people, but, as the situation warrants, we explain it. For instance, Mike didn’t announce it to all his coworkers, but he did tell a few of them and told them it wasn’t any secret – so I am sure his entire office knows.
This “telling all” had a tremendous impact on Kayla. Being unable to proclaim our love for each other can really take a toll. It would be awkward in social situations for her to have to be on alert to make sure she “played the friend” versus the lover. No more.
When Kayla first moved in we talked about her living with us while she finished grad school and then she would move on into full independent adulthood.
With just a year to go before she finishes school, Kayla got to thinking about what she would be doing a year from now. She said she was nervous to share with us what was on her mind. She told us that she wants to stay with us, indefinitely.
We welcomed her declaration!
DEFINING OUR RELATIONSHIP – CEREMONY
Her commitment to us is that she is dedicated to our relationship, not due to a sense of obligation, but due to the love she feels from us and towards us. Dedicated, in our relationship, doesn’t mean exclusive, as she is open to dating again, but is not actively looking to do so.
We subsequently talked about having a ceremony, honoring our commitment and recognizing her position in our relationship (my idea, and Mike agreed). Nothing over the top – not like a formal ceremony – basically a party where we make an extended toast/declaration regarding our relationship. So yeah, like a ceremony.
Beyond this “ceremony,” we are also taking a few other steps as ways to show a greater committment between the three of us.
We are combining finances. I can hear the “uh-oh” coming from some of you. Once you talk money in a relationship things can get a bit wonky. But, she is either part of our family or isn’t, and as far as we are concerned, she is. And actually, it is a bit anti-climatic because as part of her submission she gave up choices in spending her money. Mike already monitors and controls her spending.
I shared a bit about how we manage our finances in Post 181. Domestic Financial Discipline. Kayla will now be on our “day-to-day account” and any money she has to deposit will go into the “bills account.” She isn’t working right now, but does get a little money each month from her dad to help with living expenses – he promised her he would continue to do that as long as she was going to school, and, he is also paying for her schooling.
Kayla had been paying us rent, because she insisted on doing so. She will no longer do that. All her money simply goes into our account and her and I have a budget on what we can spend – and we have to get Mike’s permission for anything beyond things like food or gasoline. The end result is that there really isn’t any change in how she spends her money – and it wasn’t like she was building a savings of any kind. It’s not like her dad is giving her a lot of money – just enough to get by.
I have shared before that Kayla’s bedroom is basically part of our master bedroom. When we had the house built we had an option of putting a door to one of the bedrooms either in the hall or, where a wall would have been in our master bedroom. We opted for access via the master bedroom. It was great when the room served as a nursery, and we felt at some point it would be converted into a sitting room or office. It makes the master suite seem really huge as you open these double doors to this small entry way. To your your left is another door to this “hidden” bedroom, and to your right is a door to the actual master bedroom.
Even though the three of us have been sharing the same bed for some time, there was still this visual of “Kayla’s bedroom” versus “our” (Mike and I) bedroom. And it was also part of our vocabulary. These visual and those words are powerful and aren’t reflective of our true relationship.
Thus, Mike is moving his home office into what was Kayla’s bedroom and the master is officially “ours” (Mike, me, and Kayla). The room currently serving as Mike’s office will be a guest room. A bonus of my dress code is that I pared down my wardrobe such that our master closet has a lot of room. Kayla’s stuff fit nicely in it. Even though we haven’t yet moved any furniture, we did move her things into our closet. That gesture seems small but was extremely powerful – as we hung her last bit of clothing, Kayla began to cry — tears of joy. This symbolic gesture means a lot to her, and to us.
What this all comes down to is that we are all in a committed relationship. We understand that our commitment is no more permanent than commitments made in any other type of relationship. Unmarried people living together can split up and married people can divorce — but those possibilities don’t lessen their commitment.
Kayla can leave at any time, but that doesn’t lessen her commitment. However, because it is so easy for her to break off from us, it is important to her, and to us, to go out of our way to demonstrate a deeper commitment. It can’t be a wedding ring, but, we can stop hiding the role she has in our lives and we can look for subtle, but powerful, ways to demonstrate commitment.
Our “commitment party” is one such way. Combining the finances is another. There are some other ways as well, but I don’t want to share those just yet.
THE FUTURE BEYOND THAT?
While Kayla expressed her desire to be committed beyond the end of her schooling, let’s face it, she is 23, Mike and I are closing in on our 50’s. As much growing Kayla has done from 21-23, she may continue to rapidly evolve from 23-25. What does the 25-year old Kayla need compared to what our relationship provides? What of the 27-year old Kayla? 30?
We talked about this and all agreed that, just like any other relationship, if it reaches a point it is no longer fulfilling, whether it be because priorities change, people change, or whatever the cause — well, that’s when you re-evaluate. And hopefully we are all loving enough to not take offense if that were to occur. In our case, it is not only understandable, but somewhat predictable. We recognize our age differences may eventually matter. Kayla may meet someone she wants to marry, she may want a child, she may yearn to be on her own. All normal things a 20-something could want and all things that may be difficult for our relationship to support.
We aren’t looking for a lifetime commitment. That would be silly and put unnecessary pressure on everyone. Beyond a dedication to each other, we are dedicated and committed to the principles we have established as the ground rules for our household. Those principles demand that if Kayla reaches a point where she yearns for something the relationship can’t provide, she is encouraged. . . no, she is required, to not allow the relationship to get in the way of her fulfillment. Further, if (when) it comes to that point, we are required to support her.