Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carpool, or caravan?


By this point, you've probably gotten the idea that I like to play with imagery and analogies when looking at poly. One of the ideas I had this past weekend was surrounding the complications of poly in long-term planning. How does one do that with their partner(s)?

In the usual conventional marriage, there is a tendency to wrap things together, to make retirement plans, children, housing decisions, bank accounts, etc, into a single package. This is like "carpooling". You are in a vehicle with someone else, going to the same destination by mutual consent.

In a poly model, what might work more easily is a "caravan". You and your partners do decision making together, decide on a destination, but you take separate vehicles, either following the same route, or heading towards a given destination by whatever route seems most viable to each of you.

The advantages in carpooling are that you get to expend a little less individual effort, as it's easier and less time consuming to manage resources in concert. There isn't as much duplication of effort, and it's nicer to either take turns driving, or let the person who enjoys that task handle it.

The downside is that if you find that there is something that you don't agree on, it's a little tougher to get out of the car and find alternate transportation to a new destination. This is why you often find financial planners recommending that couples have a "His", "Hers" and "Theirs" monetary strategy, for example. This can simplify things in the event of a split, either in the relationship, or on a specific issue.

When one is part of a caravan, there is more autonomous capacity to stop and take a break when one wants/needs to, to use the type of vehicle preferred, and to plot an independent course toward a given destination. You just get to do it alone, and under your own steam.

For PG and I, we've opted to do a lot of carpooling together. Our financial and parenting philosophies are closely aligned, so there isn't a lot of risk getting in that car together. S, PG, and I have opted to carpool on housing. That "destination" fits our needs. There may be times where we discuss which route is best to get there, or if one of us needs to take a break from driving for a while, but we're still going to same place in the same vehicle.


S talks about going back to school again for his doctorate. This would involve some significant changes in life, and it's probably one of those things where I'll be happier driving a back-up vehicle than being in the same car with him. Supportive, but not in a directly responsible way.

I like to date in concert at times, while PG prefers a more independent vibe, so while we both have a destination that involves outside connections and relationships, we take different vehicles to get there. This works better for each of our personal preferences.

Whether you choose to move on the same path in the same vehicle, or to follow your own inspiration to similar places, the goal is still to remain informed and in sight of each other. In the event that there is a breakdown in transportation, it's comforting to know that you will either be with your personal team, or that someone will be pulling up shortly, offering a safe ride to the next destination.
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