Poly lifestyles add a layer of complexity to the already intricate duty of maintaining an intimate relationship. Just like building a good monogamous relationship does not occur over night or by accident, neither does building a good poly relationship. However, poly relationships add a few challenges of its own, which deals with the poly mindset. A must in any relationship, whether monogamous or polygamous, is relationship and interpersonal skills. Here are a few dos and don'ts for poly relationships:
1. Don't force your relationships into predetermined or predefined forms, roles, or shapes. Let relationships run their natural course. This sometimes occurs when a couple tries to bring someone in to their previously established relationship. They may try to make this new person fit into their pre-established arrangement. Remember each person is different, and we cannot force another person to fit into our box. Respect each person and who they are, and value what they have to add to this relationship. Each person needs a voice in the relationship. Each person needs to be heard and counted.
2. Do undertand that your needs have nothing to do with your sisterwife. Sometimes in poly relationships we want to blame the other "sisterwife" for our needs not being met by our shared husband. We may say, "If it were not for her being in your life, then you would pay more attention to me." Do not ask, "Am I getting what she is getting?" Each person in a poly relationship is an individual and has individual needs. Instead, ask, "Am I getting what I need?"
3. Do not keep tabs or score. This is not a fairness game where we keep tallies. Do not say, "Well, you spent an hour with her, but you only gave me 30 minutes. That's not fair!" Fairness works according to need. Don't keep track, or watch the clock. This is way too stresful. Sometimes, our sisterwife may be going through a crisis, facing a problem, or may need more support and attention at that time. We need to be sensitive to this as long as this support is available to each of us when each needs it.
4. Do ask for what you need. Do not assume that your husband or sisterwives can read your mind, or that they know you well enough to know what you need. Assumptions are risky. Even though what you need may seem obvious to you, it may not be to your husband or sisterwife. When you feel like your needs are not being met, talk to your husband and your sisterwife, and do not wait for them to discover it on their own.
5. Don't table a problem or let it stew or sit. When someone hurts you whether intentional or not, do not let it ride or sit. Confrontation can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary in any relationship. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Even if the problem is small, do not let it slide or sit. Small problems will eventually turn into a bunch of small problems which makes one BIG issue. Conquer a problem whether big or small as soon as it arrives. Have you ever heard of the statement, "Do not make a mountain out of a moehill." Well, this is exactly what humans do regularly. Handle moehills before they become mountains.
6. Don't assume that polygamy will solve problems in your already existing problemed relationship. Just like some mongamous couples assume having a baby will help their damaged marriage, some mongamous couples assume adding another wife will also help their relationship. This is a false assumption. Adding anyone else into a hurting relationship only causes more problems. It is also unfair to the new person to bring them into a hurting and damaged relationship. It makes them a pawn. Usually, this new person ends up getting blamed for the problems or for making them worse.
7. Do pay attention to the condition of your prospective husband's current relationship with his current wife. If it is rocky, do not enter the marriage. You do not want to become the person who later is expendable.
8. Don't gang up on another person or take sides. This is destructive.
9. Do become flexible. A husband can only be in one place at a time. Remember this and be sensitive to this. Do not expect him to be superman.
10. Don't blame polygamy for all your problems or do not assume that polygamy is the root of all your problems. Do not say, "If it were not for polygamy...." People who are experiencing problems in poly relationships tend to point out that because their relationship does not follow the norm that this is the reason that they are having issues. However, even monogamous relationships have these same issues. Manytimes, monogamous couples have issues finding time to be intimate with one another due to children, jobs, or other interferences, but they cannot blame poly because they are mongamous. Polygamous individuals tend to want to blame poly if their needs are not being met or there is an issue, but really what they need to see is it is not poly that is causing the problem, but the individual circumstance. Jealousy even occurs in monogamous relationships. Sometimes, the problem is from societal oppression against polygamy. The problem is not polygamy though: it is anti-polygamy.
11. Do pay attention to the way you relate with your sisterwife. Your relationship with your sisterwife is vital. Remember if you hurt her, you also hurt your husband. Pay attention to her, acknowledge her, love her, be conscious of her, and grow a relationship with her.
12. Do not make assumptions about your sisterwife/sisterwives or even your husband for that matter. Remember every individual is different, and each relationship will grow at different paces.
13. Don't assume that being polygamist makes you better or more mature than others. Do not assume this of mongamy either. Your lifestyle does not make you better than anyone else. We are all equals regardless of the lifestyle choice we live.
14. Do take responsibilty for your actions. Be responsible. Remember Newton's law, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." There are consequences for your actions. Before you act, consider the effect of your actions on your husband, sisterwife, and any children involved, and then, be ready to accept the consequences for your actions once you do act.
15. Don't dehumanize or villify your sisterwife. Remember, your sisterwife is not a demon, slave, or the enemy. She is a human being like you with feelings, flaws, and quirks. Do not turn her into the enemy or a monster. This only leads to hostility, anger, division, and alienation.
16. Don't place your sisterwife on a pedestal either and give high expections for her that she may or may not be able to meet. Just like she is not a demon, she is not an angel or a saint either. She is a HUMAN BEING just like you. Do not believe that she is better than you, and thus, think that she deserves better than you. Do not imagine that she is more attractive than you, better in bed than you, more intelligent than you, funnier, or a better human being than you. Do not believe she is worth more than you. You are equals! Do not devalue your self. Just like tearing her down will not make anyone happier, tearing yourself down will not make anyone happier either. This only leads to jealousy, resentment, and bitterness.
17. Do treat your sisterwife and husband with respect.
18. Do not look to your relationships to define or validate your sense of self worth. If you look to your relationships to define your sense of self worth, then your self worth will always be tied up in the type of relationship you hold with others. This is dangerous. You worth depends on you, and if you believe in God, it depends on God. You are an individual with an identity that exists outside of your relationships. Your relationship does not describe your worth or value in this life. You need to value yourself first before entering any relationship because there is a major difference between a person who WANTS to be in a relationship and a person who NEEDS to be in a relationship. If you value yourself, then this self value frees you from dependence on others.
19. Do not sacrifice your own happiness for your husband, sisterwife, or children's happiness. A poly relationship should serve the needs of everyone involved. If your husband or sisterwife cares for you, he /she will not want you to sacrifice your own personal happiness for his/hers. He/she will not be happy if you are miserable. Sacrificing yourself for the expense of the other will lead to a co-dependent relationship. This is destructive.
20. Do accept change and don't fear it. Remember that relationships change just a individuals change. No relationship will stay the same for ever especially if it is healthy it will grow and mature. Remember that you must be willing to change in ways that include your husband and sisterwife.
21. Do know yourself. Know what limits exist for you. Know what you need, and know what will make you happy. Know what you have to offer others also. In knowing yourself, others can also know you. Remember, you deserve to be happy and loved.
Well, I hope this list of dos and don'ts is helpful. Does anyone have anything to add to these?
Helping others to work towards a poly mindset more and more everyday!