I read the particulars of two big city weddings to understand the details of a “polyamorous union.” Rather than a traditional bride and groom standing together, there is also another person sharing recognition, a woman in the triangular relationship or a groomsman who is more than a friend of the bride’s.

The first write-up included a photograph of a wedding party, a traditional bride with a bouquet trailing flowers to her ankles and a groom in what looks like a palace guard outfit from another century. The groomsmen were balancing sabers.

My eyes caught and held one sentence. The parents of the bride “weren’t completely on board.” The only reality making the scene more complicated would have been children in the wedding party. In another write-up, there is a child, a young girl no more than 4 years old, the daughter of the couple marrying.

In one quote, the groom’s girlfriend explained a non-monogamous relationship.”Being in a relationship with the groom obviously offered some awkwardness, but seeing my boyfriend marry the love of his life was the most beautiful thing,” she said.

When there is a societal leap for change, I always think of my mother’s grandmother, the most proper woman I have known. She sighed over tradition gone awry, explaining to her husband, the judge: “The world’s gone off and left us.”

In one reported ceremony, (white dress, six bridesmaids), one of the bridesmaids was one-third of a polyamorous relationship and involved with the groom. He admitted he did kiss his girlfriend a time or two, but he mostly “spent the entire night by his new wife’s side.” (You cannot make this stuff up!)

Consensual non-monogamy, (a mouthful), brings with it a rash of questions. Does a wedding involve all three participants, (bride, groom and additional love interest), and what is the point of having a formal wedding ceremony?

One former bride, married for six years, explained she is very committed to her “family unit,” though she and her husband are in a three-person relationship.

There are wedding glitches, of course. One set of parents arrived for their daughter’s wedding, definitely in the dark about her relationships, a husband-to-be and a male companion on the side.

A wedding planner was quoted in describing a consensual non-monogamy event she directed as “inclusive.” “Two women in a relationship served as bridesmaids, one man acted as best man for the groom with whom he was involved after giving the bride away,” she remembered.

One of the brides described her relationships with her groom and his girlfriend as “open and not possible for a neurotic or paranoid person.” A groom, whose ex-boyfriend designed his wedding suit, believed a non-monogamous relationship is “freedom to access love in different forms.”

I hate to be a skeptic, but I wouldn’t bet on sustained starry-eyed polyamorous relationships.

Suppose a former bride of a groom and soulmate of a boyfriend finds herself a mother. Who steps aside as decisions are made for children? Who is the provider-in-chief? How do teenagers fit into a family with a father and a very attentive “uncle”? Who saves for a rainy day?

Who has energy for date nights after two soccer games and carpooling to cheerleading practice? How does a polyamorous relationship fit into sustained values for children?

In a long-term traditional marriage, “forsaking all others” binds up wounds, dries tears, fills a chair in a hospital room, promises devotion through aging and the tenderness of a hand to hold.

It is a hand, familiar, its palm a map of decades of life together. It is enough!

Judy Elliott is a longtime

resident of Marietta.


Recommended for you