How I Have Two Husbands

Lytenian and I have always had a very open-minded stance on love, romance, intimacy, and relationships. I asked him in our early days how he felt about cheating. I'd cheated before. My first love left me for cheating after we'd been together for nearly two years. At the age of fifteen I felt like my life was over. I tried very hard to conform myself to monogamy. I committed myself further. I resisted the urge. But it was painful, and it didn't feel natural to me.
Before reading more of this article, you may want to read my post about our imagined boundaries where I define what I mean by “love,” and by “romance,” and by “intimacy” which I believe are very important terms to define in relationships.

My Relationship With Lytenian

Lytenian has helped me a lot. He helped me release stagnant energy from my lower chakras that was causing me to fixate on sexuality. He helped me heal from previous traumas that reduced my more kinky desires. He accepted me so unconditionally that I stopped being the clingy, needy girlfriend/partner that I had been in the past with my previous loves. In other words, he helped me move through a lot of my developmental trauma – no small feat!

Raederle and Lytenian, 2014, in Florida (on a trip).
Lytenian listened to me talk about men and women I was attracted to. He forgave me when I did not-so-monogamous things, even long before we knew about polyamory. In 2011 I started begging Lytenian to let me sleep with my ex. He told me "no" at first. Not on the basis of jealousy, but on the basis that he believed it would be bad for my emotional health. Finally, I argued (after months of bringing it up on a weekly basis or so), "I just want you to trust my judgment completely." Lytenian chewed that over, and then finally said, "Okay."
Sleeping with my ex was over-rated, but it gives context to how easily we declared ourselves polyamorous in 2012, which you can read about here: How Lytenian & I Became Polyamorous.
But despite Lytenian being such an unconditionally loving sweetheart, we were really struggling by 2015. We spent more and more time arguing. I thought the solution was to travel more. Every time we traveled before, it helped. So from May 2015 to August 2015 we had a very long trip. We spent five weeks doing a permaculture internship, we spent months visiting friends and dog-sitting for friends out of town. It was during this time period that I almost gave up on him and then decided I didn't want to leave after all.

Chemical Sensitivities: Curse or Blessing?

In August of 2015 we came to an Eco Village in central New York on the way back to Buffalo, NY. Lytenian and I were visiting a polyamorous couple we had met at a polyamory gathering roughly a year ago. Lytenian decided he could leave me at the Eco Village for a week and go work on our apartment in Buffalo, which needed a lot of work. Due to my chemical sensitivities, I couldn't be around for the construction, so this posed a great solution.
But also due to my sensitivities, the arrangement had difficulties. On day three I was wandering outside with my neck-warmer pulled up over my nose and mouth looking for some way to escape the migraine that was coming on due to the barbecue occurring two houses down. The next door neighbor was outside working on building a covered bridge. I'd met Greg the night before. We'd played my card game, A Voice of Conscience, and we'd gotten along very well.
Greg saw the pained expression on my face and came quickly over to me asking me what was wrong. I asked if his windows were closed, and if so, could I stay in his house until the smoke dissipated? He rushed me inside, surprisingly understanding. I'm not used to people taking me so seriously, so quickly, so kindly. I was immediately touched. He led me to his guest room. He'd mentioned that he had a guest room the night before, and alluded to the possibility that I could stay with him if my friends’ futon wasn't comfortable.
I expected Greg to go back to working outside after showing me in, but instead, he stayed and talked with me. First about my chemical and smoke sensitivities, but then rapidly on to many other topics. He had been moved by things I said while we had been playing Voice of Conscience. He impressed me with his intelligence and perception. He offered me the room, and I gratefully accepted. When he finally left the room for the night, we'd been talking for seven hours.

Trust In Relationships . . . And Jealousy

Lytenian and I agreed over the phone that the longer I could stay away, the more work he could do on the apartment. He asked my opinions about various improvements he was making. I finally just said, "Use your judgment. I trust you." These words fueled his flame to life. His phone conversations with me carried a hint of his enthusiasm and joy each day. After we'd been apart for about a week, I'd met Greg's girlfriend. I exclaimed to Lytenian over the phone, "I didn't know she would be so young and beautiful! I expected her to be middle-aged and frumpy – like him."
Lytenian said, "It sounds like you're jealous."
"I feel jealous! But how can that be? He's twenty years older than me, and I don't find him attractive."
Lytenian directed me to breathe into my feelings. Finally, in tears, I said, "I thought I was the smart, pretty, young woman in his life."
I was confused. I didn't tell Greg about this. We just continued to talk each evening that he was not spending with his girlfriend or otherwise busy. He started giving me massages somewhere in there. He bought me a board game. He took me to the farmer's market. After two weeks, it was impossible for me to deny that I had feelings for him.
Greg's young girlfriend wrote him a break-up letter a couple days after that. Greg laughed it off. They'd only been together for a few weeks. Now I really was the woman in his life – and I was living in his house. I admitted to possibly having feelings for him, beating around the bush. I was nervous, and unsure how to handle the situation. I knew he was open to the idea of polyamory. We'd talked about it at length (among dozens of other subjects) in the couple weeks we'd known each other.

Negotiations & Novelty

Lytenian and I negotiated how to handle this development over the phone. I came back to Buffalo with him for a time, but then went back out to be with Greg for another two weeks. Lytenian and I saw each other for roughly one week a month all autumn in 2015. Each time Lytenian and I were together it was sweeter than ever before. I appreciated him as I hadn't in years. Greg gave me a comparison that showed me the things that were unique to Lytenian that I loved so much. Lytenian reveled in how happy I was, how energetic and exuberant I was. He felt more loved by me than he had felt in a long time.
Greg lost his excess weight from my positive foodie influence. He started looking more and more attractive to me. I moved many of my things from Buffalo into Greg's home. Greg spent Thanksgiving with me and my family in Buffalo. (There was a raw vegan Thanksgiving potluck.)
In January 2016, Lytenian moved in with Greg and I, changing a room that had mostly been storage into his bedroom. The previous guest room became my bedroom. Greg struggled some with these adjustments. Heck, we all did. I suffered from a terrible fear that to "chase two rabbits" was to "lose them both" as the old adage says. (I allude to this difficulty in one of my most revealing and astonishing articles: I've Been Really Anal Retentive . . . Curing Chronic Constipation.)

Lytenian & Greg, 2016
Greg and Lytenian get along beautifully.
In April 2016, Lytenian and I attended the poly gathering again for our fourth time. This time, Greg went with us. Lytenian reflected that he found himself actually interested in finding a girlfriend, whereas before, he'd always just gone for fun. Because I finally have my emotional, physical and mental needs met, he feels freer to seek out his own highest truth, and highest joy.

Raederle, Lytenian & Greg, May 1st 2016
And May 1st 2016, Greg and I had a commitment ceremony. Friends and family came from all over, most of them driving three to seven hours to be with us for the weekend.
We exchanged vows. Greg added some humor to his at my suggestion, as a commitment ceremony is really a performance as much as it is anything else.

Greg's Vows


Raederle, I vow:
To trust you, as I have from the start, with both my lightest and my darkest selves
To give you, if not the fruit of my loins, at least the fruit of my looms,
and, perhaps someday, some forgeries from my forge
To plagiarize from you, even as I make these vows,
hoping that you'll recognize imitation as a form of flattery,
or, perhaps, in other words,
To strive to make you feel seen
To be open to loving all the parts of you, even the ones I have yet to meet
To seek new love between us whenever old love falters or dies
To be present with you when you express a desire to communicate with me
To strive for authenticity and transparency in all our interactions
To give you the benefit of believing that your actions are guided by your love for me
To allow myself to be softened and forgive even when I feel distressed or hurt by you
To keep trying to grow, and to let you remind me when I forget

Raederle's Vows


Greg,
I vow. . .
To always strive for complete authenticity and transparency in all of our interactions.
To consider your feelings and best interests in my decisions.
To honor and validate your grandest vision of your life, and yourself.

When I feel hurt by you, I vow. . .
To give you the benefit of believing that you would never intentionally wrong me.
To give you every opportunity to explain and make amends.
To allow myself to be softened and forgiving.

When love between us falters, I vow. . .
To let you know.
To listen.
To seek new love between us.

When we are apart, when we have new partners, when we feel distant, I vow. . .
To keep a space for you in my heart, and in my life.
To continue to build our love through compassion, creativity, honesty, and shared experiences.

I vow. . .
To lend my strength and support to you when you are feeling weak or overwhelmed.
To say "yes" to your fantasies, and desires, at all times that it does not conflict with my health.
To always listen when you express a desire to communicate with me.
To ardently seek the most complete, loving, and profound understanding of you.
To hold your priorities, values, and dreams as equally important to my own.

Greg, Raederle, Lytenian, April 2017
Lytenian and I can both honestly say, in full sincerity, that Greg has saved our relationship. He filled the needs that Lytenian was not fulfilling for me. He made it possible for Lytenian and I to continue to share our connection – without resentment! This has been miraculous and beautiful.
Many, many times Greg has helped "get in the middle" of my arguments with Lytenian and helped us see each other more clearly. And, in turn, many times Lytenian has mediated for Greg and I.
And that is the story of how I have two husbands.
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