Non-traditional arrangements
June 15, 2017 11:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for stories about people who love each other and cohabitate and whose relationship is in some way unusual — such as the line marriage described in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or the gay man who lives with his female best friend in this New York Times piece. Where can I read about other such arrangements?

I'm looking for compelling personal accounts, not links to Wikipedia. All media are welcome, fiction or nonfiction.
posted by actionstations to Human Relations (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Is this what you're looking for? It's the story of a 3-man marriage.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:40 PM on June 15, 2017

I'd say Ursula K. Le Guin's sedoretu style marriage is one of the more well-known in science fiction -- it was the first I thought of, at least. It serves as a framework for some of her short stories, but there's an excerpt from "Mountain Ways" here. (It's about halfway down the page.)

It's also become a decently-sized trope in AU fanfiction (not just for Le Guin's works), so here's the Fanlore wiki page on it as well with a few extra details.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:26 AM on June 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

You might want to look for accounts of Boston Marriages. The link from that 2001 MF post still works but there're lots of other accounts around too, plus this book with a slightly different slant: Boston Marriages: Romantic But Asexual Relationships Among Contemporary Lesbians.
posted by paduasoy at 3:58 AM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham is about a polyamorous triad.
posted by sockermom at 4:19 AM on June 16, 2017

Tove Jansson's Fair Play is a lovely novel about two old artists who live and work together.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:16 AM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Becky Chambers' novels also feature a variety of different relationships and cohabitation ideas.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:17 AM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've always been touched by this account of two gay bachelor Minnesota farmers who were "best friends" for decades.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:20 AM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dennis and Linda Anfuso.
posted by foxjacket at 6:45 AM on June 16, 2017

You might want to look into the Bloomsbury circle. There were many famous "triangular" relationships- especially Vanessa and Clive Bell's open marriage, and particularly their relationship with Duncan Grant. Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson also had an open marriage so they could both pursue same-sex relationships. I'm sure there are many books out there about the Bloomsbury Circle and their radical approach to relationships.
posted by mymbleth at 6:57 AM on June 16, 2017

Jo Walton's novel Lifelode is about a family whose basis is a permanent foursome. It's basically two primary het couples who are secondary to each other. They live together and all manage the estate and raise their collective children and take other lovers.

As mentioned, Ursula Leguin is a good source for this in fiction. The story "Coming of Age in Karhide," which appears in the anthology The Birthday of the World, was the first thing that came to mind.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2017

There's a woman character in Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife books who has two husbands (they do this for practical reasons, but seem beautifully happy together)- they aren't the main characters though, more part of the world-building.
posted by Coaticass at 1:34 PM on June 16, 2017

Nonfiction: Cole and Linda Porter (as depicted in 2004's De-Lovely).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:29 PM on June 16, 2017

In The Giver, the marriages are essentially arranged and sexless and dissolve once the children are raised and out of the house.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2017

A friend recommends Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse stuff.
posted by Artw at 5:16 PM on June 17, 2017

I haven't read Marriage of a Thousand Lies (yet), but it looks fantastic.
posted by dizziest at 4:31 PM on June 18, 2017

The culture in Courtship Rites features six-person marriages (not really discussed in this wikipedia link).
posted by Occula at 8:29 AM on June 19, 2017

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