Uniting together as a couple to make things happen can be difficult. It becomes more difficult the more people that are added to the relationship. How to manage the direction of your lives becomes a task in unto itself.
As humans we all have our own desires, needs and baggage that we bring to any relationship or situation. These are coloured by the lives we have led, the families we were raised in, and the cultural norms that were implanted in us. There are drives such as love and belonging that we all share, but how we seek those needs is different for different people. So how do we become a unit without losing ourselves.
For us, we have developed several systems to make sure that we all have a voice.
Once every four weeks we unit as a family to discuss what we have done in the previous month and how we would like to move forward. In this meeting we can bring up anything we would like to discuss or change without judgement. This is where we develop and adjust budgets,
For a long time we tried managing the housework on what could be considered an honour system. We did not track anything – as a result we ended up repeating tasks more often than getting them all done. We developed a task list for each person and weighted it with an allowance system. This creates a system that not only ensures that we get our business done, but also to reward each other with funds to have fun with.
We all have a vote. Some decisions need to be made quickly and a simple yes/no vote suffices (i.e. Do we go out for dinner?). For more complicated issues we use a ranking system: list ten items that the family would like to do and each person ranks the items from 1 – 10 as they see the priority. The averages of the votes/ranks determines which items have the highest priority. The system therefore makes the decisions, thus there are no hard feelings that could emerge from a vote that turns into two against one.
We have leveraged several documents to assist us in managing our relationship. Because we are not all covered intrinsically by the law (Common law is useful for couples, but does not currently extend any further), we developed documents to create agreements on how we would manage money in our relationship and how to divide our assets if necessary later on. Task lists allow us to lay out what needs to be done, and to track if someone is falling behind. Documents assist in giving not only agency to members of the family, but also can be used to decide on how much personal funds any individual has access to for fun purchases.
Over the past eight years we have managed money in a variety of ways, both successfully and unsuccessfully. It became necessary with time to appoint one person to manage the money as with all of us trying to do it ourselves, we did not have a proper overview ever to give us the context of what was happening. We created joint accounts to manage the money that takes care of the household bills. We have our own personal accounts for our allowance where we can save and make personal purchases.
Making any relationship work is an ongoing journey. In a polyamorous relationship that is built on equality, this can be more difficult as there are more needs and desires to contend with. Create systems to manage your family that gives everyone a fair vote and the mechanisms to make decisions that take everyone into account.