CASS KING AND JOHN WOODS, BOTH 36
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Cass and John, who work as a traveling musical comedy duo, are polyamorists — literally, people who love many people. By mutual agreement, they're both free to have sexual and romantic relationships outside their marriage.
"When John and I started dating, we never actually committed to monogamy," says Cass. "We always said, 'If you want to go on a date with someone else, just tell me.' And we never committed to monogamy in our marital vows either. We got married five years ago because we love each other and we knew that we wanted to make a lifelong commitment to each other. But being polyamorous means that we can also express the fullness of our love and affection for our friends and lovers without restriction."
What marriage means to us
"There's so much more to marriage than monogamy! There's the decision to live our lives as partners in all of our decisions, big and small. There's the growth from knowing someone for so long and learning to allow for the grumpy times along with the great ones. There's the amazing solidity of knowing that I'd do anything for John's well-being and that he would do the same for me. What do we get out of being married? What does anybody get from a good marriage? Trust. Faith. Partnership. Unconditional love."
Love is all around
"It's funny how it's easily understood that my love for my aunties doesn't diminish my love for my mother, but it's less acceptable to say that my love for my boyfriend doesn't diminish my love for my husband. It's like somehow the sex changes everything, confers an ownership on my love and on my body. I don't believe in that. Polyamory offers us so many opportunities for emotional growth. We live as strong, fulfilled individuals, and we have more to bring to the relationship because of it. Every day we choose to be together."
REBECCA STEPHENS, 41, AND JIM STEPHENS, 38
Rebecca, a pharmaceutical sales representative, and Jim, a psychotherapist, have been married for 12 years and have always known they didn't want children.
Child-free and proud to be
"When someone asks me if I have kids, I often feel almost apologetic when I say no, like I have to provide a 'good enough' reason or they'll take pity on me and assume I can't have children," says Rebecca. "But I just don't have the gene for wanting a child, and I don't think having a child would improve our relationship. I usually tell people that we've chosen to go the dog-and-cat route and leave it at that."
Just the two of us
"Being the only people in this relationship, we are each other's first priority, emotionally and otherwise. We are more communicative and can lavish attention on each other — something we might not be able to do if we were always focused on baths and homework. We also like that we get to live a bit more whimsically without children. We can take bigger career risks — I had my own business for a while and Jim started his own practice two years ago. We travel a lot, and we go out even more than we did when we were single."
"We don't need to watch our children grow to measure how far we've come as a couple. On our anniversary, we always think back to what we were doing 'this time last year,' and inevitably there was something we were struggling with, whether it was new jobs, a new move, or something trivial, like when our AC died in August. It helps remind us that we can get through things together and eventually look back and laugh."