How this polyamorous couple makes their marriage work
'Just because it doesn't look or sound 'normal,' doesn't mean that it can't be wildly beautiful'
Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders have talked about sex and relationships more than most couples.
That's partly because they co-host Turn Me On, a podcast they describe as "a no-holds-barred conversation about what it is to be a sexual being in the world."
It's also because they're a married, polyamorous couple, and in the last few years they've been navigating the rocky terrain that comes with opening up a committed relationship. Polyamory is a form of non-monogamy in which individuals form intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.
Today MacLean has a long-term boyfriend. Saunders has a long-term girlfriend and casually dates other people.
"Together the four of us have a very platonic and supportive relationship," said Saunders.
He recognizes that their marriage is not a conventional one.
"I also feel like it's important to remind people that just because it doesn't look or sound 'normal,' or doesn't fit inside a particular box that that you're used to, doesn't mean that it can't be wildly beautiful and work really well, and be super valuable to the people involved."
Here are some of things that have helped keep their marriage on track.
Put it on paper
Bryde MacLean: "[Before opening up our marriage] we wrote up a contract [which is on our website] in as much detail as we could about all the potential concerns we had. Don't talk about our problems with other people, don't criticize each other with other people, have lots of respect and no sleep-overs... We pretty much reviewed and edited that, almost every day, if not once a week, for the least the first six months to a year. It really helped us define what we were doing as we went."
Bryde MacLean: "I remember the first time Jeremie told me that he was in love with somebody else. That was really, really challenging. After a couple of weeks of them hanging out a lot, I had to ask him, to ask them both, if they could take it a little slower, if they could limit the number of days per week … Neither one of them wanted to do that, because you're in the the energy of a new relationship and it's exciting … But they did and it was really respectful. It's really important to be trustworthy."
Jeremie Saunders: "It was always an experience that we were doing together, not separately, even though we are separately seeing other people, we're doing this as a team."
Choose your path
Bryde MacLean: "It doesn't have to be ... one path fits all. And if you choose monogamy, that's fantastic. You've just got to choose it. If it's something that you just fall into, because that's all you've ever been taught, then you might feel like something's wrong with you if it's not working. It's just important to recognize that there are there are other choices and they don't have to threaten one another."
Jeremie: "My parents are super cool and they've always been very supportive. We struck gold with the people we've chosen to surround ourselves with, because they've all been extraordinarily supportive and understanding and excited for us."
Bryde MacLean: "In Jeremie's family, Bekah (his girlfriend) and I will both be over for Christmas and birthdays… That evolution has been really nice."
Listen to Jeremie and Bryde's full interview by clicking the listen button above.
Jeremie Saunders lives with Cystic Fybrosis, and launched another podcast with his friends, to open up conversations about serious illness. Learn more in the CBC Docs POV documentary, Sickboy.