The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family
By Hunter Styles
Glance at Michelle, Aimee, Micah and Ian on the street and you might assume they’re two straight couples — or two gay couples. But they’re all going home together.
That home is a large, sunny house in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. It’s where this group of four polyamorous partners — a “quad’” — live, laugh, eat and sleep under one roof.
These four adults are intimately connected to each other, but they’re also open to new flings and encounters. And so they face an unusual challenge: running a communal household while tending to the myriad romantic relationships that hold the four of them — and their lovers — together.
“It’s structured chaos,” says Michelle. “But we’ve maintained it for years now because we come together and talk about how things are playing out.”
For years, the four of them slept together on a queen-size and a king-size bed pushed together. But it’s not the hedonistic free-for-all some might imagine.
Having kids, for example, changed everything. When Aimee and Micah had their son Connor, the two beds came apart. Aimee and Micah slept alongside the crib, while Michelle and Ian — both light sleepers — moved to a different room.
But kids weren’t the only complicating factor. “Polyamory” in Latin means “many loves,” but a polyamorous household also features a surprising amount of scheduling, financial planning and debate.
For daily logistics, they use a Google Calendar and a family email list. They also share a bank account, which they discuss at quarterly finance meetings. These are Type-A people, professional and well-organized.
Michelle Driscoll, 35, works in human resources in Northampton. She is married to Aimee Bouchard, 34, a lawyer in private practice. Each also has a deep relationship with one of the two men in the house: Aimee with Micah Schneider, 43, a Springfield math instructor, and Michelle with Ian Rose, 44, who works a corporate job in Hartford. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind: the kids have four parents, not two.
Just ask Connor. Micah is “Bubba.” Ian is “Daddy.” Aimee is “Mama.” Michelle is “Mama Too.” And at the most recent parent-teacher night at Connor’s school, the four of them showed up together.
Many poly people are straight, but all members of this quad identify as bisexual. Legally, Michelle and Aimee are the two spouses. But all four are committed to each other. “I think of the quad as a single relationship that contains a lot of inter-relationships,” says Ian. ...
A recent Pew poll found that millennials have a steadily declining rate of marriage. There are several possible reasons for this, but I think it highlights a broader, changing reality: We're in the midst of a social and cultural evolution regarding the kinds of romantic, sexual and intimate relationships men and women seek and what they experience as fulfilling.
Some forms of this shift that I describe below trigger knee-jerk, negative reactions from those who see their own moral standards and beliefs as being threatened or under attack. However, I think it's important to understand these emerging forms of relationship with an open mind to understand how and why some people may find them fulfilling and positive. Keep in mind that much of our thinking in psychology and mental health has evolved. For example, women's menstrual "blues" and homosexuality were once defined as forms of mental illness, but no longer are.
Today, interracial marriage is no longer illegal, as it was for most of the previous century. LGBT relationships have moved past the threshold of acceptance by a majority of the population. And currently, we see emerging shifts towards what some define as desirable and healthy intimate partnerships, for themselves. For example:
Polyamory: The subject of an annual conference, polyamory relationships are those in which people have multiple partnerships at once with the full knowledge of all involved. A comprehensive report in LiveScience describes how jealousy works in polyamorous relationships, how children in polyamorous families experience them. It also explores several other new findings, including that some polyamorous people report feeling energized by their multiple relationships and say that good feelings in one translate to good feelings in others.
Open relationships: A variant of polyamory, open relationships received some attention in the 1970s among young baby boomers (e.g. the 1969 movie "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice") and looks like it's re-emerging in new form -- now called consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships. In them, committed partners mutually agree not to be sexually and/or romantically exclusive to one another. Some recent research finds, for example, that up to 40 percent of men and up to 25 percent of women in a monogamous relationship said they would switch to a CNM if they lived in a world where everyone had open relationships. Currently, the research finds a continuum: some people are completely monogamous, others are completely nonmonogamous, and many more are somewhere in between. ...
A Connecticut jury has awarded about $638,000 to a Greenwich woman who sued a man she alleged had a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with her mentally ill and disabled daughter.
The Stamford Superior Court jury returned the verdict Thursday in favor of Mary Kortner, who said her daughter, Caroline Kendall Kortner, could not have consented to an abusive sexual relationship with Greenwich resident Craig Martise because of her mental state.
Caroline Kendall Kortner died from an undisclosed illness at age 39 in 2010, seven years after her relationship with Martise.
Martise said he did nothing wrong and the relationship was consensual. A jury found in his favor in 2009, but the state Supreme Court overturned the verdict in June.
Martise and his lawyer didn't immediately return messages Tuesday.
OUR strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.
We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.
How many rapes occur on our campuses is disputed. The best, most carefully controlled study was conducted for the Department of Justice in 2007; it found that about one in 10 undergraduate women had been raped at college.
But because of low arrest and conviction rates, lack of confidentiality, and fear they won’t be believed, only a minuscule percentage of college women who are raped — perhaps only 5 percent or less — report the assault to the police. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of college men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large, escaping serious punishment.
Against this background, the federal government in 2011 mandated a ramped-up sexual assault adjudication process at American colleges, presumably believing that campuses could respond more aggressively than the criminal justice system. So now colleges are conducting trials, often presided over by professors and administrators who know little about law or criminal investigations. At one college last year, the director of a campus bookstore served as a panelist. The process is inherently unreliable and error-prone.
At Columbia University and Barnard College, more than 20 students have filed complaints against the school for mishandling and rejecting their sexual assault claims. But at Vassar College, Duke University, The University of Michigan and elsewhere, male students who claim innocence have sued because they were found guilty. Mistaken findings of guilt are a real possibility because the federal government is forcing schools to use a lowered evidentiary standard — the “more likely than not” standard, which is much less exacting than criminal law’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement — at their rape trials. At Harvard, 28 law professors recently condemned the university’s new sexual assault procedures for lacking “the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and for being “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”
Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?
Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.
Consider the illogical message many schools are sending their students about drinking and having sex: that intercourse with someone “under the influence” of alcohol is always rape. Typical is this warning on a joint Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith website: “Agreement given while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not considered consent”; “if you have not consented to sexual intercourse, it is rape.” ...
On New Year’s Eve in 2005, Christy and Mark Kidd — six years into living in New York City, but still lonely — found an ad in Time Out for an all-you-can-drink bash. Despite several dubious specifics, including a Garment District location, house music and a $100 admittance fee, they went.
It was sleazy setting replete with red-velvet curtains and moist air. Down a hallway, they came upon an empty room lined with wall-to-wall mattresses.
“It was a relatively normal party,” Mark says. “Except we realized everyone in the back room was having sex.”
They wanted in. It would take longer than you might think.
Their new book, “A Modern Marriage,” is a chronicle of Christy and Mark’s lives as swingers: the group sex, the jealousy, the secrecy, the STDs and hygiene issues, the emotional and psychological dangers.
“The whole situation caught us off-guard,” Christy says.
“We were very naive,” Mark says.
Christy is now 43; Mark is 42. They’re native Texans who describe themselves as otherwise square: conservative accountants who live in Kips Bay, whose preferred drink is Dr Pepper and who didn’t know what constituted an orgy.
Both had unstable childhoods — Christy’s mom has been married five times; Mark’s, four — and say they’ve spent their lives searching for the stable relationship they share.
They’ve been married for 14 years, and swinging, they insist, has made their marriage that much stronger.
“This is a love story,” Christy says. “We’re normal. We have the same issues other people do.”
Until today, their friends and family have had no idea — but the time has come, they say, to share it all.
“We’re by no means trying to get people to become swingers, but there’s another way to live that can be amazing,” Mark says. “I would like to think we can touch people’s lives.”
At that first swingers party in 2005, Christy and Mark reacted with revulsion and excitement. The book is written in her voice only; they worried that a man’s perspective would be “too creepy.” ...
Federal Judge Jeffrey Sutton evidently didn’t get the memo.
The all important memo is a joint product of various elitist judges, activists and editorial boards.
The memo packs an authority suggesting it might have been brought down from Mount Sinai and lugged about in an Ark of the Covenant.
According to the memo, you don’t mention polygamy and such when the topic under discussion is same-sex marriage.
It is forbidden.
It is not politically correct to do so
If you do so, you run the risk of ... well, who knows what? Maybe of being felled on the spot by a bolt of lightning. Or at the very least of being vilified as a backwoods snake-handling fundamentalist or a homophobe dragging a red herring across the path of rational dialogue.
Judge Sutton out in Cincinnati and a fellow Sixth Circuit jurist opined, against the grain, that setting the rules for marriage falls within the jurisdiction of the states, not the federal government. So it has been through historical epoch after epoch, the two George W. Bush nominees noted. A Bill Clinton-nominated judge held to the contrary.
The 21 ruling, involving cases from four states, departs from other more fashionable court auguries. Thus it likely will bring the gay marriage issue before the (trumpet flourish here) Big Court.
In the midst of this party-pooper decision, Judge Sutton proceeded to commit his egregious, politically incorrect faux pas. He brought up the no-no of polygamy and such.
If after countless millenniums marriage can be redefined to include same-sex couplings, then why can’t it be redefined by judicial decree to include other arrangements? Why not also, besides polygamy, maybe polyandry, polyamory and what-have-you?
If, as the activist litigants argued in the Sixth Circuit case, it is “constitutionally irrational to stand by the man- woman definition of marriage” after eons, said Judge Sutton, “it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage.”
Altering the definition of marriage dating to “the earliest days of human history” is better done through the democratic legislative process than through judicial fiat, he added.
Elsewhere, another federal judge already has ruled that a Utah law criminalizing polygamy violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of association and the right to due process of law.
Polygamy, of course, has ancient roots – Abraham, Moses, Jacob. Gideon, David, Solomon, et al., not to mention Mohammad. Polygamy pressure groups are making their voices heard through organizational and legal advocacy.
So are advocates of polyamory – cohabiting arrangements involving multiple participants. Hey, the polyamorists even have their own 501(c)(3) advocacy organization to promote themselves and contest the “monocentric dominator culture.” ...
CBC fired host Jian Ghomeshi after he showed them a video depicting bruising on a woman he had dated, apparently caused by a cracked rib, sources say.
by Kevin Donovan
CBC fired Q radio host Jian Ghomeshi after he showed them a video depicting bruising on a woman he had dated, apparently caused by a cracked rib, sources have told the Star.
The video was on Ghomeshi’s phone. The scene was the King Street West offices of Denton LLP, a law firm retained by Ghomeshi, who was facing allegations that his alleged rough treatment of women was about to become front-page news.
Leading up to the weekend of Oct. 25-26, with Ghomeshi’s professional future hanging in the balance, two CBC executives were invited to the Denton offices to hear and see Ghomeshi’s side of the story.
When CBC executives Chris Boyce and Chuck Thompson left Denton on Thursday, Oct. 23, they reported to their bosses that it was “much bigger than we ever thought,” a source told the Star. Ghomeshi was put on leave of absence that day.
According to sources, the CBC executives were shown a variety of information, including a video and text messages, by the Denton lawyers in attendance at the meeting.
Sources say the video is of a woman whom Ghomeshi had dated in the past 10 years. The video shows bruising to the woman’s body (she is partially covered in the video). And information provided to CBC that weekend, including text messages Ghomeshi had on his phone, refer to a “cracked rib.” A large bruise could be seen on the side of her body. ...