SHE Books: The Husband Swap - Louisa Leontiades
Now, I pride myself on my lack o' Judge Judy-ness in the world, I high five anyone who dares to be different, who chooses a new path, who goes for something that others deem 'weird' or 'not right', (unless it's illegal and then I might give you the side eye) so when Louisa Leontiades of Postmodern Woman asked me to read her book, The Husband Swap, about her true-life experience of polyamory, I thought I'd instantly be fist bumping Louisa for being so open + honest, but I'm not going to lie, as someone who's in a high vibin', long-term monogamous relationship, for a moment there, that was much harder than I'd anticipated. It brought up lots of questions for me like 'how is it possible to love more than one person?' + it led to some very interesting convos between the Viking and I (he cared VERY much about the practicalities, like, 'who pays the bills?')That said, I do fist bump Louisa, I also give her a big hug and kiss for being so open + honest. She's brave + badass. I'm GLAD her story challenged me, if I didn't want to be challenged I'd read freakin' Danielle Steel novels, right? We all need our perspectives challenged + our hearts opened by the real stories of women and their experiences. Louisa is a powerful storyteller - emotional, curious and crazy amounts o' honest, and she sheds much-needed insight into a world most of us have only experienced through press stories, or if, like me you have a girl-crush on Chloe Sevigny, and have watched back to back Big Love.
Louisa and Gilles love each other. There’s a problem in paradise, though: their marriage is going nowhere. Together, they decide to explore polyamory, the idea that it’s possible to have more than one lover–and more than one love. They fall in love with another couple and, embarking on a life-changing course, try to make it work as a quad.
Their journey liberates them from the constraints of their unhappy marriage and propels them into a world where they embrace a new way of loving. But this liberation comes with a price. They are challenged in ways they didn’t expect, and the experiment takes them to a place they didn’t anticipate. They must learn to accept a new understanding of relationships, each other and themselves.
I spoke to Louisa about what made her write the book, why she felt the need to be so honest and I found out who really does pay the bills in a quad relationship...
What made you want to write and share so candidly? My writing was initially driven my subconscious, a desperate need to process and analyse my emotional pain. A drive, I now believe we all have in some way, to heal by way of self-expression. As it started off as my journal, there was no need to write anything other than honestly and even then I realised that much of the time I was writing from a place of denial. It required me to go deeper and deeper into my subconscious to try and make rhyme and reason of why I was feeling what I was feeling. It’s led me to a place where I’ve delved into our psychology, our neuroscience and our inherited society values. Only by going deeper and deeper have I realized the enormous healing power of of being honest. As to why I share...I found things about myself and about our humanity which are difficult to accept. Drama, shame, destructive manipulative behaviour. But I had to accept these things if I was to let go of them. Denying them wasn’t doing me any favours. In doing so I’ve found compassion for myself and others - because compassion does’t work by halves - even those who are termed the worst kinds of offenders - abusers and rapists. As someone who has been both abused and raped, I never thought I would say that. When you find compassion and finally grasp how much pain there is in the world and how those in pain are the creators of so much more pain, you will do anything to alleviate it, including making yourself extraordinarily vulnerable. Paradoxically there’s huge power in this.
I've always thought that in order to enter relationships with others you'd have to have steely self-esteem, but you go there + say that it definitely challenged you - how? Your emotions have got to take a pounding, surely? I’m not sure anyone knows they have good self esteem if they aren’t faced with challenges. Many people, despite the best intentions from their parents have had their self worth systematically destroyed, if not directly by their parents by the establishment. And the way they protect themselves is not by growing through challenge, it is by putting up barriers against them. So I didn’t know about my low self esteem before I met those challenges because in the past I had done everything possible to avoid challenge. To justify why I should not face them. All I knew then when I went into polyamory is that I wanted to be loved and love more. But - as one of my favourite authors puts it - love is disruptive. Multiple love is like, exponentially disruptive! there are tons of challenges and it is less easy to hide from them than it might be in other situations.
You also speak of the multiplication of love - not just sex and all that good stuff - but how it becomes a tribe-like way to raise kids, how do you allow that love in so openly? Does a lot of inner work have to take place first? I can only speak for me. I’ve seen other examples where people fit easily and naturally into polyamory/tribal settings. But for me it took an enormous amount of work (see above!) And that still continues (I hope forever!)
The Viking wants to know about the practicalities - how do you manage finances with four people?! I think it depends on the commitments you have. For example I share a house and kids with one partner and we know that a certain amount of money is allocated to that. Above that, we have a disposable income which is allocated as we see fit. We discuss bigger expenditure and our partner(s) contribute in terms of shopping, food etc. Actually our dining room table in one of our places was bought by another partner because we needed a bigger table for all of us…!
This isn't just your story, you share analysis and insight into a world so often judged by others, why did you feel this was so important? Because I judged polyamory once like others do now. And for me, I realised that it was a combination of entitlement, possession, low self-esteem slut shaming, sex negativity and a ton of other rubbish. I was in a lot of pain and I unintentionally hurt those I loved. That’s not something you want to do again. So what’s now left after getting rid of that, is sex positivity, a belief in the right of people to choose, and the extreme importance of consent. That means that relationships between consenting happy adults can be anything from strictly monogamous, to monogam-ish, swinging, polyfidelity, or relationship anarchy. We all want to leave this world a little better than we found it, and especially now I have children what I want for my kids is that they are supported in their right to choose the relationship that makes them the happiest they can be.
To get your copy + to find out more about Louisa, visit: www.louisaleontiades.com