Geez, we haven’t really seen these two since Summerfest. Let’s take another look at their successful married life.
Annie: Birch, about your parents . . . They’ve been in a plural marriage all your life, right?
Birch: Right — but Annie, I’ve already told you we don’t need to —
Annie: I’m just curious, is all! Don’t they ever get jealous? How do they deal with it?
Birch: Well . . .
Annie: — oh, gosh, she’s dapper.
Ohh, he’s handsome!
Would you look at her.
Ah, they’re so cute . . .
Annie: Wow . . .
Annie/Birch: . . .
Annie: What were we talking about?
Birch: I forget. You know, we should eat at this place more often.
Sending up some questions here.
Is a plural marriage an open marriage?
Are they romantic or physical as well?
Is a marriage like Birch’s parents different from what is shown on the show “Sister Wives”?
…I hope to hell it’s different from Sister Wives.
Please remember, I’m still learning context for a lot of this.
A plural marriage [assuming it is a group marriage as that is the term I’m familiar with] isn’t necessarily open or closed, it depends on what the people in it want, it just means that everyone is married to everyone, in contrast to one person marrying one person in monogamous marriages.
Open marriage is “I’m married to this person, but I can have sexual relationships with other people.” (Within whatever limits and rules they’ve agreed on.)
Plural marriage is “I’m married to 2 or more people.” Which could also be open, or it could be “these 3/4/5/etc people are exclusive with each other.”
Like with any kind of marriage, plural marriage can be as healthy or unhealthy as the people involved. Mormons like in Sister Wives are limited to a specific kind of plural marriage (one husband + multiple wives + everyone is supposed to be heterosexual), and there tends to be a lot of religious baggage involved. Groups like Birch’s parents have a more egalitarian approach.
That Mormon example doesn’t look fair. The wives would need to be bisexual for it to work.
It’s “fair” if everyone involved is satisfied with the terms!
For some polyamorous groups that means everyone is equally attracted to everyone else and has equal amounts of sex, but if another group is happier with a different arrangement, that’s fine too.
(…Mormon polygamy is associated with a lot of problems, but for other reasons.)
I’m polyamorous in real life and am pretty much at the point of considering myself to have two husbands, though one of them has to spend most of his time living on another continent since neither the UK nor US laws recognise plural marriage. The only way to move my American in with us permanently would be to divorce my British husband, which is a solution which none of us are happy with.
I am bisexual (and also have a girlfriend), my men are heterosexual. My British man is also monogamous, the American is probably polyamorous. Neither of them have ever had serious relationships with anyone else. The two of them are genuinely very good friends. They’re both introverted, antisocial nerds but actually enjoy each other’s company most of the time, which is why it’s worked out. I’ve had other boyfriends in the past who haven’t got on so well with my husband, which dooms the relationship to failure in the long run. I mean, I’ve been with Richard for 20 years. He’s my best friend and my carer. He isn’t going anywhere.
I explain the situation to people by saying “I have an open marriage”. However, that’s just a shorthand. Really, my dance card is full, I have no time or energy for any more partners. I’d be very leery of trying to add anyone else to what is currently a stable, happy situation. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it if the right woman showed up, but we’d need months and months of negotiation first.
I feel like I’m missing some context here in past discussions of the exclusivity of their relationship… it does cast a new light on Birch warning off Ivy, although I can’t say I’m sure exactly what sort of light.
Being okay with polyamorous relationships doesn’t necessarily mean you’re okay with being in one yourself. You may be someone who can only spare the energy to love one person, or you may have trouble forming relationships with people unless you’ve known them for a long time. If, for example, you have a friend or relative in an open relationship, you can support them without being in such a relationship yourself. There’s also instinctive reactions to things- Birch could have been feeling protective of Annie because of the danger she was in and that was how it manifested- and just a simple “I understand this is okay on both a logical and emotional level, but it’s not okay for ME, and a poly relationship is one where all involved parties are okay with it and I’m not okay with my wife dating a fifteen year old girl”. Also- in this universe, the fact that they’re discussing this means Poly relationships are normal but not common – people won’t object to them and it’s a subject that some couples might discuss, but most relationships seem to focus on two individuals before they even consider a third. (IIRC, it was mentioned somewhere that Birch’s parents started off as two before it became three an amount of time later.)
TL;DR- Being okay with other people having a thing doesn’t mean you have to have it, and you should discuss with the relevant parties before anyone else gets involved.
I’m bisexual and so is my boyfriend, and oh my God we do this all the time. This is us.