Labels are always tricky. I don’t like the word “open” in the context of my marriage. It infers “always open” as in, no barriers to entry and just picking up whatever the wind blows in. It’s not like that.
It is open in this context – we are open to the concept that love is not finite nor needs to be confined to just two people. My marriage indeed has barriers – say, four walls and a roof – it is just that the doors aren’t sealed shut. We are open to answering a knock and evaluating whether or not we let them in.
As we are now open about Kayla, a few brave souls have asked questions – both people in my family and, during our vacation, some of E’s family. Neither Mike, Kayla, or I had any qualms about answering any questions. and most were directed to me. I think being the wife they felt I had some sort of aggrieved status that made my answers more credible, or at least more interesting.
Many of the questions inferred concerns which fell into the same three buckets as what my sister’s expressed about my DD. It’s degrading, it’s unfair, it’s unhealthy. I used some of the same responses I used on my sisters as shared in Post 136.
People seemed generally receptive. They at least seemed to respect that I had thought through those issues and at least reconciled them for myself. I learned if I answer their questions truthfully and with conviction, they quickly go from being concerned to simply being curious. That curiosity often led to discussions about our views on relationships in general.
As I mentioned, I used an approach similar to that in Post 136 in answering their questions. However, as it just so happens, I came across an additional way I can express myself going forward and I wanted to share it.
I credit livingwithx.wordpress.com as my inspiration (i.e., I copied a lot). I encourage you to read his About section. I love to reflect and get all esoteric – but I know I do it in a wordy and rambling sort of way. I appreciate his ability to be succinct. What takes me an entire post to try to convey, he accomplishes in a few words or bullet points.
The concerns people expressed to me were often rooted in confusing FAIRNESS with SAMENESS (which I covered in Post 136). But it is deeper than that, and livingwithx explained it in a way that I feel was more eloquent and powerful than delineating fairness from sameness. Their concerns were also rooted in confusing EQUITY with EQUALITY.
You can pretty much substitute his word, Equity, with my word, Fairness, as well as his word, Equality, for my word, Sameness. It isn’t so much the labels that were powerful to me, it was in how livingwithx defined them.
Equity is giving your relationship everything it needs to be successful.
Equality is making sure everyone in the relationship is being treated the same.
It’s simple. In your relationship, do you value success, or do you value sameness? The answer seems obvious, but society conditions us to focus on the latter. People are quick to identify the injustice of the smallest inequality. So much so that they often overlook the devastation that comes from a lack of equity.
As I illustrated to my sisters in Post 136, their drive for equality in their relationship has led to a lot of inequities. I am not saying they are miserable — they are happy in their marriages. But I am saying their relationships with their husbands could be more fulfilling (and they agree!). And part of the reason is their focus on equality over equity.
Next time I am posed with a “Kayla” question, I think I will start it with a statement that in my relationship with Mike, we value success over sameness. Then let the conversation go from there. I believe most people agree they want the former, not the latter. If so, then it is simply about finding what it is that your relationship needs, and go for it. So did my relationship actually “need” Kayla? More on that in a bit.
WHAT DOES EQUITY REQUIRE?
Many people have relationships where they settle for less than what their needs require.
Ouch! I think that deserves repeating. Many people have relationships where they settle for less than what their needs require.
Why do people stay in such relationships? At least try to invest the equity it takes to improve things. As someone who has always been very self-reflective and in constant state of investing equity, it is hard for me to relate to someone accepting an equal relationship over one that is equitable.
I’ll admit though that my investments in equity didn’t always pay off. Partly because I wasn’t being honest with myself regarding what I really needed and partly because I wasn’t being honest with Mike in communicating what I thought I needed (i.e. I lacked vulnerability). Oh, and partly because Mike wasn’t in an equitable state of mind because he was also focused on “equality” plus, he wasn’t always open and honest about what he needed (i.e he lacked vulnerability). So yeah, just wanting and seeking equity doesn’t mean you’ll get it.
So if equity isn’t about seeking everything your relationship needs to be successful, what is it? Oh! It is about finding what it needs to be successful. How do you do that? It’s a learning process. So how do you learn that?
IT STARTS WITH YOU – YOU ARE #1
I know it sounds selfish, but first, you have to know what you want and then, you must be willing to ask for what you want. Simply put, you need to find a partner that fulfills YOUR NEEDS. Nothing really selfish in that. That is relationship 101. Why would you want a partner that doesn’t do that?
In order to have your needs fulfilled, you have to communicate them (i.e. you have to be vulnerable). My plethora of vulnerability posts can be found in the Finding My Happiness section of my Shortcuts.
IT THEN TURNS TO THE NEEDS OF THE OTHER
While it starts with you, it doesn’t end with you. Equity requires that you focus on the needs of the relationship, which means – others in the relationship. In order to have your needs fulfilled you have to be willing to fulfill your partner’s needs as well. It is through that emotional and physical investment of fulfilling each other’s needs that you create EQUITY. It doesn’t matter if the emotional and physical investments of each person were not EQUAL.
In our case, there was a change in what I needed from our relationship and my life. That change happened to involve DD. I had to understand it first, then had to communicate it – that is, I had to ask for it. That understanding/asking is laid out in my first half-dozen or so posts.
I was then fortunate enough to have a partner in Mike who was willing to invest his equity (efforts, emotions, actions, ) in fulfilling my needs as he saw that there was potential for my equity (efforts, emotions, actions) to fulfill his needs. And what if there is a situation where partners don’t agree on the equity? That’s where communication and give and take have to come in, and in our case, Mike’s role as HOH comes in.
What if you are having too many situations where we can’t agree things are equitable? To me the result is that the relationship can’t be fulfilling. Someone – maybe everyone – is settling for less than their needs require. You can only do that for so long before resentment builds, leading to a downward spiral that self destructs the relationship.
DID MY RELATIONSHIP “NEED” KAYLA?
You can’t always define everything your relationship needs. It is more about addressing each of life’s situations and opportunities as they come. So we didn’t “need” a third and then go looking for one. Instead, our relationship has a need to remain open and honest about everyone’s wishes and desires. This leads us to be open to life’s possibilities…in this case, the possibility of a third, such that when the right situation presented itself, it happened.
Does that mean we are open to a fourth? Why stop there. A fifth? Well, sure, why not? I don’t foresee that happening, but I know our relationship will take whatever path it needs to take to ensure success. I can’t imagine how more people would add to our success, but frankly, I could have never imagined how Kayla could have done so.
So that is my long-winded way of laying out my thoughts on my marriage. I don’t know that I specifically answered how it is that Kayla fits in to our “equity” Or how say, John & Donna, or our overall sex life, Matt, nudism, and oh yeah, and Domestic Discipline – how does all of that fit into our “equity?” I think the simplest answer is, “It just works for us.” Wow. This entire post could have probably been just those 5 words.
With that settled. . . what of my inference to Mike’s Dominance perhaps evolving beyond where I would like it to be? Well, that all makes for a good next post!