Vasectomy, Kids, & LGBTQ Research

The time will come soon enough when J and I will be having a vasectomy shower. Ha, not really. We (apparently; I don’t remember being the origin of this joke but J insists I/we made it up) go around talking about our “little baby vasectomy.” So it’s happening soon.

I feel really good about the fact that I have a partner who feels the need to do this. I am of the belief that I don’t control him or his body. For me, it seems somewhat similar to being in control of my decision to get an abortion. What if I was with someone who really wanted kids, and even if we both decided that “now wasn’t a good time to get pregnant,” wanted me to follow through with an unplanned/unintended pregnancy? I would want the choice and control to get an abortion if I didn’t feel ready to have a child. I don’t want kids right now, but let’s say I did. Even if I wanted kids, I don’t think that I, as J’s primary partner, really have the right to instill control over his body. I think we, as primary partners, could join together in a conversation about what we each want long-term and what we want to be priorities in our lives, and then go from there. I don’t think that I get some sort of ultimate say over how he controls his fertility.

I also feel really good about the fact that if I change my mind about wanting kids or raising kids, I would want to adopt. Ethically, it feels like the best thing to me, given all of the kids who are in foster care and are put up for adoption. J feels similarly.

Also, ideally, if I were to raise children, I would want more than one other co-parent. Yes, I think this could complicate relationships and life logistics. But I watch friends and family members and neighbors who are one- or two-parent households and it just looks so difficult. I would want more help. I would want more community. Three adults raising a kid? Four adults raising a couple of kids? Sounds way more ideal, sane, and humane to me (for everyone involved). In fact, reading a bunch of research this week on LGBTQ individuals and couples and their decisions to parent or not and how was really enlightening for me. Many LGBTQ couples end up raising children from previous straight relationships, parent children in their extended family (chosen and of origin), and use methods like surrogacy to create unique family structures. In addition, many LGBTQ individuals around the world have unique family relationships and structures that allow for more fluid and communal parent-child relationships.

I wish that more than condoms and vasectomies existed for male-bodied individuals wanting to be mindful of their fertility. Female-bodied folks have lots of options, and males deserve the same family planning mechanisms. Until then, J and I will be celebrating our little baby vasectomy.

PS: J’s urologist informed him, too, that vasectomy reversal is actually quite successful (“they” just don’t want that published too much). So in the rare event we drastically change our minds in the future, we can probably make some baby Ks and Js. ;)

More on Enneagrams & Stories

I meant to tack on another train of thought to my previous/most recent post:

Becoming attached to stories happens in lots of ways. In the context of open relationships, it is common to hear someone say “I am a jealous person, so X, Y, Z is hard for me.” Say that over and over, and you really start to believe that. How is anything else possible then?

Putting aside our thought patterns and stories can be so uncomfortable. Giving space to alternative possibilities is scary. Trying to imagine other possibilities is a big unknown. But if you practice thinking new thoughts, or trying out new stories that explain you, you will be surprised at the wonderful outcomes you experience as new.

The Enneagram, Therapy, & Relationships

We get attached to our stories about ourselves, about our partners and friends and family, and about the world. What happens when that story changes? Paradigm shift.

If you have never taken the Enneagram, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can find a free (unvalidated) test here (that website also offers a scientifically validated test for $10).

This website offers another $10 validated test; the instructor I had for a Enneagram workshop this week prefers this test- he actually said that this is the only test that has accurately reflected his personality (all other Enneagram tests says he is an 8, but “knows” he is a 4; this test says he is a 4).

So. I have always scored as a 2. Called the Helper, Giver, Connector, the 2 is concerned with giving (their attention goes to other people’s needs), which is lovely, but the underbelly of it is, giving in order to receive. At their best altruistic and at their worst emotionally manipulative. Tend to try to perform for others really well in order to get approval, love, and appreciation. When stressed out, they become more assertive and aggressive and when in good space, they become independent and creative.

Up until yesterday, J has identified as an 8- the Challenger, the Protector. Strong energy, concerned with fairness and justice, afraid of someone else or something else controlling them, desire for autonomy. At their best powerful and fair leaders, at their worst aggressive and maybe even violent. Trying to figure out how and if they matter. When stressed out, they become withdrawn and secretive, and when in good space they become compassionate and open-hearted.

This is all interesting to me because these are the stories that I have been telling myself about J and I: this is me. This is him. And because of how we are, we relate to each other in these ways. This has meant telling this particular story:

J (as an 8) is afraid of someone else controlling him. So when I (a 2) am most afraid of not being loved, try to illicit more love by getting clingy, J hides and withdraws, and we enter into a downward cycle. 

But more recently (and especially yesterday when I came home from my workshop) J has been questioning his 8-ness. A lot of the characterization around force and anger doesn”t resonate as much with him. Taking the second test I provided above led him to realize that he thinks he is actually a 3 (which years ago in college he determined to be a close second to being an 8).

I think the result for me might be a similar experience to someone extremely identified with their astrological sign finding out that they were actually born in a different month. You mean I’m not all of these things that this map says I am?

The truth is, we have all of these characteristics and tendencies within us. Identifying prominent traits and worldviews can be quite helpful though in figuring out how to relate to other people.

So now, I am adjusting to thinking about J as a 3. Which actually makes quite a bit of sense to me. 3s are often concerned about goals, tasks, image. They become apathetic and withdrawn when stressed out and committed and security-oriented when in good space. This description also sounds like J to me. And really, the story that I told above about our downward cycle, still applies: when I get stressed out and try to “get love” from him, he shuts down and becomes apathetic, which further stresses me out. We have learned how to stop this cycle if we can, but it’s work. I thank this tool for providing some much needed insight into our relationship dynamics, even if J is a 3 and not an 8 like he/we originally thought.

Anyways, I think the Enneagram is a super useful tool for self-growth, self-awareness, and I think it can add a really awesome dynamic to relationship growth if all people involved are willing to look at both their light and dark parts of self. And, for all of my personal friends out there reading this, if I keep talking about the Enneagram and I start to bug you, just tell me. I’ll shut up about it eventually :)

Recent Articles From J

Here are some articles and blog posts J sent me recently… 

This is a fabulous article on foundations for relationships, and how regardless of structure, people would benefit from working on recognizing these foundations… and then leaving the structure to do its thing without judgment:
Why you shouldn’t (and should) be monogamous

This one is fabulous!! It’s great to see the different types of monogamy delineated so clearly. Also, I hadn’t come across the phrase “activity monogamy” before although J and I have certainly experienced the effects of (me) identifying with it before:
The Four Monogamies

Researchers investigated the possible link between attachment styles and fantasy frequency and content. I’m a little skeptical about the generalizability (is that a word? ha) of the study, but it’s interesting for sure:
An Inside Look at Fantasies

This last one is especially interesting as it was written on a Christian blog, discussing the fear that gay marriages will redefine straight marriage as nonmonogamous. J said the comments that people left fascinating.
What You Should Know About “Monogamish” Relationships

The Husband Swap

J recently read The Husband Swap by Louisa Leontiades. Because he isn’t as into blogging, I decided to interview him about the book and type up his responses instead :)

The basic premise of the memoir: the author and her husband adventure into the world of open relationships and polyamory.

J says Leontiades’ story is the classic “why you don’t open up a struggling relationship” example. J sees through the author’s description that there was very little wrong with the open relationship itself. Instead, the people within the relationship were not happy with each other and wanted different things leading to dramatic experiences.

Leontiades and her husband decide that they want to meet another couple to explore nonmonogamy with. The other couple they end up exploring with also struggles within their coupled relationship (serious mental health issues plague the other woman). J mentioned that it was really interesting to see the different relationship dynamics the author experiences with each man (her first husband and with the other man)- in the fashion of Arianne Cohen’s The Sex Diaries Project, the author has more of a lovers relationship with her first husband and more of an aspirers relationship with the other man.

SPOILER ALERT: The author and her husband are not together at the end of the story. Both couples end up divorcing and actually “swapped partners.” The author has been with the other man from the other couple, married for seven years, has children with him, and they have an open relationship. (Her ex husband and the other woman were also together for a little time.) J was quite shocked to read at the end that Leontiades and her new husband still have an open relationship, given all of the drama that the two couples went through together. Pretty interesting, yeah? It definitely speaks to the potential fluidity of relationships.

This story is a pretty dramatic example of open relationships. J doesn’t see the story as a very positive representation of open relationships, but the author doesn’t blame the relationship structure (she blames “messy” individuals). Leontiades gives a great deal of insight into her emotional world, which is helpful and insightful into the dynamics of her particular story. In fact, the story made J question if poly relationships can ever really work, as the story represented a pattern that he has seen between me and other women we have been in relation to (situations spiraling out of control between the women involved). (However, I have to say J in response: this is blaming the “failure” of poly relationships to the structure and not the individuals in relation to each other. To which I also say: I have been a “messy” individual myself, as you well know. And my internal world has become a lot cleaner in the past couple of years, and in the past year in particular!)

J doesn’t know if he would recommend this story to others; it definitely is not for the poly/open faint-hearted, and probably not the best for someone just exploring open relationships (it sounds like it could scare people away! ha!). It also has little to no advice or how-to structure; it really is just a personal story. It is awesome to have another memoir out there about open relationship experiences (we both really love Jenny Block’s Open) and we hope to read more and more as people have the courage to share so publicly their experiences.

LGBTQ & Family Therapy

I just had to write a brief post saying that this class today rocked my socks!! I am so glad I am taking it. Even better:

My textbook includes a chapter on poly-families, and the blending of LGBTQ and poly dynamics within families.


My professor has a guest lecturer coming in to talk specifically about poly and (maybe) BDSM relationships.

I am so excited! And feel so lucky to be in a more progressive town with a more progressive marriage, couples, and family therapy program. I feel like I am in such a good place!