— -- Dani and Melinda’s home is a little more crowded these days, filled with the two of them, their husband Jon and their two babies, Ella and Oliver.
These two moms and one dad are polyamorous, or as they call it, "a triad."
Dani and Melinda were a lesbian couple living together in northern California. But four years into their relationship, Melinda said she began to realize she also desired a man. At first, Dani wasn’t sure about sharing her partner with a man.
“I kind of call it the ‘mano-coaster,’ the notion of Melinda needing to fulfill that need,” Dani said. “Melinda has probably been the most emotionally painful experience of any of my relationships. ... I was obsessed with her and when she was not as obsessed with me as I was with her, of course that hurts.”
"[But] we got really serious," Dani added. "And she was really direct, like 'I want a family, I need a man, and we need to make this happen.'"
So, the two women created a list of qualities that would make up their ideal male counterpart and started looking.
“We didn’t want a feminine man, just because we’re both very feminine, so we wanted someone that would hold that role of masculinity,” Melinda said. “In walks Jonathan and we’re like, ‘wow.’ All of the sudden we’re recognizing this beautiful man.”
From the start, Jon said having two women was “very fulfilling” and the three of them would have sex together often.
“It was very active," he said. "It was very shared."
But this triad said their unusual relationship wasn’t just about having sex with each other.
“It’s about family," Dani said. "It’s about working together as a team, it’s about accomplishing your dreams with people, with your partners.”
A strong family unit has been their goal since exchanging vows in an intimate three-way wedding ceremony last year.
“I’m married to Jonathan, he’s my husband. I’m married to Danielle, she’s my wife,” Melinda said. “I’m going to be committed to them with my heart and my body.”
Although their union is not legally recognized by the state of California, Dani said that marriage for the three of them goes "way deeper than a piece of paper.”
The family's two children, Ella, who is Dani and Jon's biological baby, and Oliver, who is Melinda and Jon's biological baby, were born just five weeks apart, which Dani said has been helpful because there’s natural teamwork between the three parents.
“I can double breast feed while Melinda is making food and Jon is cleaning the house,” Dani said.
For them, it’s about sharing parenting responsibilities equally too, balancing work life and family time. There’s almost always a parent watching the two children.
"There is always one of us that is able to be present with the children," Melinda said.
As hard as it was for her to come out as gay to her family, Dani said it was even harder to explain to them that she was in a polyamorous relationship.
“My family was a little shocked when I said I wanted to be with women from this point on, but they were fine with it, and they got used to it,” she said. “There’s a huge poly community but unfortunately a lot of them feel like they can't be open, to be closeted. And that goes to show you it’s a lot harder to be poly than to be gay or lesbian.”