Polyamory: Redefining love's boundaries

8:34 AM, May 26, 2011   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The United States legally defines marriage as -- "one man and one woman." But what if that definition of love is not enough? That's the case for members of one West Michigan group. They want to define love for themselves -- instead of the government doing it for them.

Social movements often are "the pursuit of happiness" -- whether for religious freedom, women's equality, or voting rights.

Today's debate is to legalize gay marriage. However, changing the definition of marriage for one group, could redefine it for others -- at least that's the hope for one family.

Like most couples, for Mike and Claire, it started with "I do." In time their love grew for each other and for another couple. 

This married "quad" is redefining commitment. Its called polyamory.  Claire says, "Polyamory means many loves, the ability to love more than one person." 

Claire and Mike met Emily and Victor by chance online -- both liked each other's blog responses on relationships and the four agreed to meet.

Victor says, "We were just like they're really great people, let's see more of them, we started to, and it just grew from there."

There was an obvious attraction, when a conversation opened up all agreed to make the friendship-- intimate.

Mike says, "You challenge yourself and say okay, I don't like this but I'm going to let this happen, you realize your world didn't blow up, your relationship didn't end, and everyone is happier and you go wow." 

Now 20 months into marriage, the newlyweds try to balance their affections.

Mike says, "What happens as far as sleeping arrangements, is Claire and Emily switch beds every other night, but Claire and Emily also sleep together too one night, because they need that bond as well."

As for the men, they are emotional spouses, but don't share beds. Like any other relationship, sex is just one aspect of daily life. The quad pools everything-- finances, chores, and decision making. 

As a group--they also do something society, even family, are deeply critical of-- they raise two children. It's the reason this family does not want to be identified.

Claire says, "It actually bothers me deeply when people say my children are going to be negatively affected by my relationship, I think they really don't have a clue what goes on here."

Claire and Mike had the kids before the quad met. Claire says raising them as group means more homework help, love, and attention. Plus a divorce-free home.

"They're being raised with open minds, questioning minds, and I think they'll be better for it in the future."

While this quad isn't ready to show their faces a polyamorous trio is. Michael and Katie live together--but both date Monica. They're coming forward in hopes of making a social change.

Katie says, "As long as you're not infringing on anyone else's rights you should be able to do whatever is right for you."

They're speaking for others who want the government out of people's personal lives.

Katie says, "I don't think the government has any part of a relationships, who you love, regardless of if you're gay or straight, love one person or 100, the government shouldn't be able to put a name on that."

The quad shares the same view--they want marriage redefined--

Emily says, "I'd like to say I'm legally married to all three of them." 

That won't happen unless the law expands to include more than just 'one man and one woman.'

Emily says, "To push that on people even if that's not their definition of happiness is denying too many people what's supposed to be be our right as Americans-- which is the pursuit of happiness."

As marriage debates heat up the country will have to decide-- if we will allow others the freedom-- to define loves boundaries.

You can join in the conversation on this story on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/wzzm13.

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