A Zimbabwean woman living in the UK recently dominated headlines when she opened up about her unconventional set-up in her home. In what some might say is progressive, 33-year-old Maria Vogel Butzki shares her home with her husband, who is the father of her two children, as well as her lover.
From the outside looking in, this arrangement may seem like an explosion waiting to happen, but the trio disagree saying that they function like a well-oiled machine instead.
Maria started seeing Peter Gruman when she and her husband, Paul Butzki, were on the brink of a divorce. While separated from her husband, Maria says it suddenly dawned on her that she couldn’t live without him, but she was also not willing give up the new-found love of her life. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the two men met and got along. They soon made peace with the concept of “sharing” her. Maria admits that she’s actually had to contain her own jealousy a few times, especially when Peter and Paul go on their fishing expeditions together.
The idea of a woman living with two lovers sounds like a fairytale. But perhaps it’s a victory to those who despise society’s double standards wherein it’s more acceptable for men to have extra-marital affairs and women are criticised for it.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the two men met and got along. They soon made peace with the concept of “sharing” her
Whether we care to admit it or not, the 21st century is seeing a rise in unconventional relationships, such as the example of a lesbian who chose to settle down with a gay man so they could have children together and raise them in a nuclear family environment.
In an age where talks of monogamy being unnatural and even unrealistic come up, the discussion on whether polyamorous relationships or “ethical cheating” could be the solution to infidelity becomes a pressing one. A polyamorous or consensual non-monogamist relationship “is the opposite of cheating,” says renowned clinical sexologist Dr Eve, who recently spoke on Talk 702 on this form of dating. “It’s about people who do not want to cheat; people who are attracted to each other.”
But what happens when it comes to the practicalities spending quality time and creating intimacy within a polyamorous structure? In Maria’s example, Peter sleeps on the couch downstairs, while Paul has his own room. Maria shares her room with her eldest daughter. “The three of us never share a bed. Although I have a sexual relationship with each man, that side is kept very private. If Paul is out, then Peter and I might make love and vice versa. But both men turn a blind eye and we never discuss it with one another,” explains Maria adding that a threesome is not even an option.
What we’re saying is that instead of allowing cheating to happen, let’s rather have honest and open discussions about it
At the first Non-Monogamy and Contemporary Intimacies Conference held in Lisbon in September 2015, the University of Lisbon gathered 120 delegates from around the world where new forms of intimacies were discussed, particularly how the polyamory movement should be formally recognised as a new form of a relationship by society, complete with rights and policies that will protect those who choose to participate in it. “What we’re saying is that instead of allowing cheating to happen, let’s rather have honest and open discussions about it,” says Dr Eve.
Monogamy still remains the ideal that everyone aspires to even though some people struggle to abide by its rigid rules. And, unlike with polygamy which only favours men, in polyamorous arrangements women have as big a right to engage with many partners.
Yet, even with such a promise, there’s still a huge portion of the population that feels that polyamory will destroy the natural order of things. The basis of our discomfort in including people within an exclusive relationship is informed by our various religious beliefs.
But the question remains, if monogamy has repeatedly failed to unite couples without there being someone who walks away with a broken heart, why do we continue to put it on a pedestal?
We’d love to hear your opinion…