explosionI’m a full-time working mother of three children, married to a wonderful man while dating others. This column chronicles our challenges, boundaries, and successes in a polyamorous marriage. 

As discussed last week, our coworkers already know about my boyfriend Jim and I and things have settled down at the office. My husband Allan, Jim and I have an enjoyable friendship and my kids adore him, but what remains in the grand scheme of life is our families.  All three of us would like the normalcy of being able to discuss our lifestyle freely, but if we were to come out to any of our families it could irrevocably ruin relationships.

A few months back, I wrote a question into Slate columnist Dear Prudence asking for advice on telling my religious father that I have a boyfriend.  She ignored the question, instead talking about how my lifestyle could effect my children, while commenters were all over the board.  The majority of people questioned why in the world I would tell my father about my sex life, that what I do in the bedroom is my business.  Therein lies the main problem with discussing poly with outside people: they almost always assume the relationship is only about sex.   Being in a new and enjoyable poly relationship is just like a monogamous person being in a new relationship — I want to share him with other people I love.

I know we could just keep it a secret from our families, but we find it increasingly difficult.  For one, I spend a lot of time with Jim and am honest about who I’m with if it comes up — lying could be easily discovered and send off alarm bells.  Second, the kids know about Jim to some extent and will know more as they grow up.  Currently, if I go on an overnight with Jim, the children know who I was away with and might bring this up at any time.  Allan and I find ourselves running into this more and more often. Jim and I are affectionate when we are out in public, just as I would be in a monogamous relationship: holding hands, and the occasional kiss or hug.  Allan and I have discussed this and have decided we aren’t hiding, so what comes may come.  But I often wonder if one day someone we know will walk by mouth agape at our clasped hands.

The weekend before my son’s birthday, I had spent Saturday night out with Jim at his house, the two of us picking the kids up the next day for an outing.  That morning, Allan’s father called the house and asked to stop by.  Allan went cold for a minute. Where would he say I, his dutiful wife, was? What if Jim and I returned while my father-in-law was still there?  So he made an excuse to postpone the visit, and the risk was averted.  That same afternoon, my father and his wife came over and the conversation came around to what we all were doing the night before. I tensely awaited one of the kids piping up that, “Mom was with Jim.” Or worse, “Mom was with her BOYFRIEND.”