Chosen Family and Polyamory: The Newfangled Brady Bunch

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Today I was compelled to look up the definition of “Family”.

A group of people who are related to each other
A person’s children
A group of related people including people who lived in the past

If we go by Webster’s definition it’s all about your gene pool. But when I think of my “family”, I think of an inner circle of people, that I’ve known for years and share similar values and deep love which creates a kinship between us.

Several years ago I set up a situation in which my husband of 25 years and I converted our single family home into a duplex, my husband lived on one side with his girlfriend, and I lived on the other with my new partner. This felt so right to me. It was the tribe I’d yearned for, so I was saddened when we were summoned to court by my new partner’s ex-wife trying to prevent her children from ever moving in.

Even though the hearings seemed to be all about the kids—I couldn’t help but wonder what was underneath the attack. Was there some envy that we were breaking the rules and creating something that worked for us? Was there fear that if everyone broke the rules—we’d all be in position to follow our unique values but chaos would ensue?

Too many people are looking for an authority figure to tell them how to live. But many of us going “off road” to create unique situations that work for us. My motivation was partially about fulfilling sexual needs but predominantly about creating a chosen tribe that felt right to me. In today’s world there is an isolation of the nuclear family. Margaret Mead said it best “Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.”

It takes creativity to create a life that satisfies. Everyone’s picture of what feels “right” isn’t the same. The status quo can be condescending—and don’t think I haven’t been guilty of the same misconstrued thinking. It comes from ignorance and a sense of being pleased to be a part the established norm. But in today’s world where there are so many alternative set ups and step families, it’s mean to be smug. Let’s make room for people creating unique families (chosen families) their own way.

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