Comment Columnists / Three’s company for polyamorous Edmontonians

By Mindelle Jacobs

Last Updated: February 5, 2011 12:00am

Marilyn, a stay-at-home mother and polygamist has a dilemma.

Who to sleep with on Valentine’s Day? Her husband or her boyfriend?

I’ve covered some strange stories over the years but this is one of the most mind-blowing.

I’m sitting in a Jasper Avenue cafe with Marilyn, her husband, Harry, and her other lover, Bob. (I’m using pseudonyms.)

The three plan to go out for a Valentine’s dinner together next weekend, but who gets to have sex with Marilyn?

“I don’t know. I haven’t been told yet,” quips Harry.

Retorts Marilyn, pretend-checking her PDA. “I make no promises. I have no idea,” she laughs. “Probably nobody,” she says seconds later, since Valentine’s Day is a Monday and she’s got to be up early to get the kids to school.

Harry says he’ll likely give Marilyn a big bag of cinnamon hearts for Valentine’s Day. As for Bob, he maintains he’s not into “greeting card” holidays and won’t feel snubbed if Marilyn hooks up with Harry for the night.

Marilyn e-mailed me after reading a recent column I wrote in which I criticized a law professor for urging that polygamy be decriminalized.

“As a mother and wife, I firmly believe in the protection of women and children,” she wrote. “As an individual who identifies as polyamorous … and is involved in a consensual relationship with not only my spouse but also with another man, I strongly disagree with (the ban on polygamy).”

She wondered if I’d like to chat. Well, sure. After all, you don’t (knowingly) meet polygamists every day. The back story is that Marilyn and Harry have been married for 12 years. Harry and Bob have known each other since junior high.

A couple of years ago, Marilyn met a polygamous trio (a man and two women) and, as she explained: “Something just resonated with me.”

She compares her awakening polyamorous sensibility to someone realizing he or she is gay. “It was a very interesting process coming out to myself,” she says. “I realized something very deep about myself — that this kind of relationship makes sense to me. This is who I am.”

Marilyn bumped into Bob one day and opened up to him about her feelings. She wondered if Bob was interested in experimenting with polygamy, or polyamory, as she prefers to call it.

“It kind of weirded me out in some respects,” admits Bob, who is separated and raising kids of his own. “It’s not something I ever expected to pursue.”

Marilyn thought she’d better ask Harry what he thought of her taking on a second husband, so to speak. “When I told him, I was in tears because I didn’t know what it meant. Was this the end of my marriage? I had no idea how he’d react.”

Recalls Harry: “It would be untruthful to say that I was completely happy with the situation.”

In the end, he decided he could live with another man in the picture because he loved Marilyn. Not that he isn’t jealous sometimes. “Everybody has their moments of inadequacy,” he says.

All in their mid-40s, they’d be unremarkable in a crowd. No Playboy Mansion looks. Just middle-aged people with a bizarre lifestyle. The trio don’t live together, by the way, mostly for financial reasons. Marilyn just stays at Bob’s house occasionally. They sleep together about once a week.

“Unless someone’s going to hand me $1 million, a large house with enough rooms for all the animals and all the children, (one happy polygamous household) is not going to happen,” says Marilyn. “So (Bob) has his house and we have our house.”

The kids in the two households are too young to know what’s going on but they may figure it out one day. “If the legalities of this were different, I’d probably be much more open with my children,” says Marilyn.

She’d like polygamy either legalized or the Criminal Code section narrowed so proof of exploitation is required for a conviction.

Sorry, Marilyn. While I can’t imagine the police busting up your polygamous party, I don’t want Canada to be a beacon for the cause. Overall, polygamy causes immense harm to women. Why encourage it?

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