"Group Marriage and the Future of the Family"
As the idea of responsible non-monogamy meaning full communication, consent, goodwill, and care among all stakeholders spreads, it's taking different forms among different people and subcultures.
For instance, although the swinging subculture goes back almost to World War II, it's changing. A lot of swingers are broadening away from the Lifestyle's traditional rules of no-strings-attached sex, emotional monogamy, and no falling in love. These days more swingers are specifying that they want a "friends first" relationship with another couple before getting into play. Falling in love is becoming more acceptable. This "progressive swinging" is polyamory in all but name, and it's becoming huge because swinging is huge (maybe 20 to 50 times larger than the self-identified poly community; does somebody have real data?) More about this in a future post.
At the other end of the commitment spectrum are long-term poly households sharing a home, finances, and lifelong goals and plans. Often they're raising children together. These are true group marriages in everything but legal recognition.
Deborah Anapol sees a bright future for this model, writing on her Psychology Today blogsite:
Group Marriage and the Future of the Family
Group marriage offers children more role models and more attention.
By Deborah Anapol, Ph.D.
This post is a response to The Monogamish Marriage: What If It's Not Cheating to Cheat? by Pamela Madsen
With the traditional nuclear family well on its way to extinction, we are faced with a question of critical importance: who will mind the children? Neither two-career nor single-parent families offer children full-time, loving caretakers, and quality day care is both scarce and expensive.... Even at its best, full-time institutional care (including public schooling) cannot provide the individual attention, intimacy, flexibility, and opportunity for solitude that children need to realize their potential. Serial monogamy presents children as well as parents with a stressfully discontinuous family life. Meanwhile, an entire generation is at risk, as divorce is an increasingly common fact of life.
While we don't yet know how polyamory impacts the rate of divorce, the little data we have suggest that it doesn't....
...Group marriages can mean a higher standard of living while consuming fewer resources. Intimate partners are more likely than friends or neighbors to feel comfortable sharing housing, transportation, appliances, and other resources. Even if partners don't live communally, they frequently share meals, help each other with household repairs and projects, and vacation together. This kind of cooperation helps provide a higher quality of life while reducing individual consumption as well as keeping people too busy to over-consume. Multiple partners also help in the renewal of our devastated human ecology by creating a sense of bonded community....
...One of the most common concerns about polyamory is that it's harmful to children, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Multiple-adult families and committed intimate networks have the potential of providing dependent children with additional nurturing adults who can meet their material, intellectual, and emotional needs. While parents may end up focusing less attention on their children, children may gain new aunts, uncles, and adopted parents.
More adults sharing parenting can mean less stress and less burnout without losing any of the rewards. In a larger group of men and women, it's more likely that one or two adults will be willing and able to stay home and care for the family or that each could be available one or two days a week.... It's possible for children to have more role models, more playmates, and more love in a group environment. Of course, these advantages can be found in any community setting, but people sometimes avoid intimacy with other adults in a conscious or unconscious effort to safeguard a monogamous commitment....
Read the whole article (March 22, 2012). It's adapted from Anapol's book Polyamory in the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010, 2012).
Also: Here's a roundup of research that has been done on children of polyamorous families.