Episode 4: Getting Married as a Triad

Can you get married to the two loves of your life at the same time? That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.


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Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript


I’ve recently started a triad relationship with the two men that make me the happiest I have ever been. As of recently I started thinking about the future and was wondering how marriage would work. I’ve tried my best to find the facts online because figuring out how things would work out is key to our future together. If you can help me find answers to what would work then please get ahold of me as soon as you can. Thank you.


I'm not sure if you're in the US or the UK or Europe or where you are because obviously that's gonna completely depend on that. Now just for the sake of this episode, I'm going to assume you're in the US and the thing I'd say is that, from what I know of marriage in the US, and when I was between the ages of 15-18, I was involved in a lot of marriage equality activist work for same-sex marriage rights. I learnt there that there are 2500+ federal rights associated with federal marriage. Now the biggest reason in the US why was important that the federal government have a marriage available for people not just heterosexual couples was because the options you can get in other states like civil unions in Vermont and domestic partnerships in California and reciprocal beneficiaries in I think Hawai’i — they were not federal marriage.

So you would be married on your state taxes but you wouldn't be married on your federal taxes and it created a lot of problems for same-sex couples who had those benefits in those states but didn't have full federal marriage. Even though, I mean marriage as an institution I mean… I could do an entire hours long podcast about this. Marriage as an institution has really changed from how it first began which was about property rights and about exchanging people for property or seeing people as property. We use the word husband and it comes from animal husbandry, the idea that the wife in this situation is in some way similar to livestock.

It has not the best history but it's changed and, well, in this culture that's the history of it but it changes and it develops and it moves and it exists in different forms in different cultures and our culture it now is more about love and a partnership then it is about property exchange. But it still comes with all of these attached benefits and rights. You know the things you normally hear about when we talked about the importance of marriage equality was talking about visitations in hospital when someone’s sick. We talking about wills and other important legal documents wherein someone you were married to would automatically be assumed the more or less the next of kin. And especially for LGBT people where are they may not get along with their families the idea that a family can supersede the person that they love. There are horror stories out there. You can find tons of them.

So marriage is set up as… first of all, it’s not just a religious institution. You can get married non-religiously in a courthouse. There are religious ceremonies involved and it does have within different religions some type of symbolism. I'm not denying that, I'm just making that clear. So when you say you want to get married,  there is technically nothing stopping. Like just because there is no federal recognition of it, it did not stop same-sex couples from getting married. There are plenty of same-sex couples before marriage was legalized in the whole of the US who considered themselves married.

Marriage as a meaningful act of love can happen whenever and to whomever and however many times you choose. So you're free to do that. Now. Whenever you want. Whether or not the government is going to recognise it in the US as far as I know there isn't such a thing and there is a history around this… I mean there's a whole history of Utah becoming a state and the issue with mormons and polygamy and the reasons behind that I think might be central to the language of the way the law is now. But at present to the best of my knowledge, I could be wrong, there really is no way to federally marry more than one person. In fact, I think that's a crime. I think it’s bigamy. I'm not a lawyer but I think you're not legally allowed to be married to more than one person at the same time so it's not possible.

However one thing within— you know when we're talking about marriage equality, the reason it was so important is not necessarily because some people felt like their relationship had to be recognised by the government to be valid. It wasn't necessarily about that was about those 2500+ federal rights that were really important. Because without those you had have a really good lawyer to be able to form these contracts and things that you would need. And even then the right of the next of kin could in some states depending on some jurisdictions supersede the rights that any lawyer could create through contracts.

But a lot of same-sex couples, before marriage was legalized in the US, did try to get a little bit closer to what marriage would offer them by having the privilege of being able to afford a lawyer who could write up the right contracts for them so that they wouldn't be in in certain situations. Now, it depends on what you want out of this. If you need those legal rights, I suggest you talk to a lawyer. Talk to a lawyer about… think about what does it mean? What does it mean in terms of hospital visitation? Was does it mean in terms of property rights? Think about what it is that you want and a lawyer could advise you about what your legal options are and what kind of contracts they could set up that might give you the legal facsimile that might be closest to marriage that you might be seeking.

If you just want to have nice ceremony where you have a triad marriage, no one's stopping you from doing that. You can do that yourself. You might not be able to do it in a courthouse. You might not be able to have a marriage certificate officiated by any state recognition but that doesn't mean that you're not married in the sense of your heart if marriage to you means devoting and loving someone and pledging commitment to someone then you don't need any state’s recognition for that. That can be done however you want.

So yeah. I’m not quite sure what your what you're searching for and what's important to you with this question but from what I know I have yet to hear of any country really where triad marriage in the way you are asking about it is legal. There might be countries and places I don't honestly have any knowledge of that may have polygamy as an option. Like polygamy is possible in some place legally but I don't know if that is the same as it in terms of like the equitable distribution of property between three or more people, if that is actually what that is. I'm not making myself clear about it but I don't think— if you're talking about 3 people who are all married to each other there are allowed to see each other the hospital when you're sick. There's some sort of agreement about wills… See, that’s the only of those 2500 federal rights in the US that I can think of off the top of my head. There’s just so many. If that's what you're looking for I don't think that exists in the US, the UK or anywhere in Europe that I know of.

And maybe that’s something you want to push for. I think I have a lot of personal feelings about state recognition. Growing up and fighting for marriage equality and seeing you know the reality that— I grew up with my— a bit of a personal story— I grew up with my dad's name not on my birth certificate basically because in the laws of the state that I grew up in you can't get custody of the kids from your previous relationship if you were divorcing and you were an adulterer and I was proof of adultery. So his name wasn't on my birth certificate and in where I was in America, a name change was about $300 or was very expensive and a marriage was about $30 so in order to get my name updated so it was my dad's last name and get him added to my birth certificate, my parents got married instead of having my name change. My parents didn't really have a relationship. They weren't together but they got married because it was $30.

So I've always kind of grown up and seeing this fight for marriage equality, seeing so many people who have this emotional tie to what is a government recognition and then also seeing people say, “It's not about the emotions. We’re married. Screw the government. We don't care. It's just about those rights. It’s a legal equal rights issue.” And also to kind of feel like there a lot of situations as well but I've seen people in especially when it comes to immigration that was a very other big aspect of marriage equality that's really important in a lot of countries which I fail to mention… but you know seeing how important that is and how that sometimes requires you to get married in order for the government to think that your relationship is worth keeping you in a country or allowing you to stay. I have a lot of feelings about… I don't personally… I mean I'm not personally that interested in in marriage because I've seen it be used as such a big tool for oppression and I just feel like you know if I wanted a commitment ceremony or something like that which I am interested in that… I can do that myself. I don't need the government to recognise that and I feel very meh about governmental recognition of my identity.

I feel hesitant to say that the government recognising my identity or aspects of my identity, or aspects of my experience and that makes it more valid or legitimate. And I don't want you to feel that way. You know you have your own feelings. Do what you like. But you know if you love these people and they love you and you want to get married and you don't need the federal bits… fucking do it. You don't need a government to do it. You don't need a freaking court. Write up your own marriage certificate. Go to fucking Kinkos— sorry Kinkos is like a copy print place where you can go to get stuff printed and made like Snappy Snaps is in the UK. Go there and be like, “Build me a certificate”. Why the hell not? You don't need you don't need any kind of official recognition however in acknowledgement that maybe those rights in and visitations and immigration another aspects of marriage— that might be why you're actually seeking this, I don't think unfortunately it's a possibility for 3 people to be married in the US or even in any European country that I've heard of. Could be wrong. Happy to… if I get emails, if I'm wrong, if somebody out there knows of a capability or a place where this is possible please do email me and I will gladly release of follow-up episode.

But yeah there's no place that I know where that's currently possible. So if you're looking for federal rights and federal protections or government protections or wills or anything like that, I would just suggest you speak to a lawyer if you have the privilege to be able to hire a lawyer. Speak to one and see what kind of contracts you can draw up and see how that goes. Sorry to ramble but basically I just want you to know that it doesn't matter if if someone doesn't federally recognise something that— Your love’s legit and if you want to have a ceremony, have a freaking ceremony. I hope that helps and good luck.

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