A leading Australian sexologist has opened up about living, until recently, under the same roof as her husband, their two sons, and her boyfriend.
On this week’s episode of the Parentkind podcast, Tamica Wilder – who is based in the Byron Shire and, through her work as a sex coach, helps moms who want to reconnect their sensuality, joy and pleasure – told host Maggie Kelly about what some might view as an “unconventional” living situation.
“When I met the father of my two kids, one of the first sentences that came out of my mouth was, ‘Yes, I want to be with you, and it won’t be just you’,” the 37-year-old old recalled.
“I was very clear from the beginning of our relationship that I had polyamorous or open-relating values, and that was something that was non-negotiable in terms of my relating style.
“And so that kind of flung us into a whole world of not fully understanding what that meant at the time, and it really seemed like the more freedom and agility we gave each other, the closer and closer we became.”
After the birth of her and Harry’s* two sons and “almost 11 years” of being “together in that way”, Tamica met Rob* at a 2018 festival in northern NSW, Australia.
“I met this person who’s my partner now, and I came back home to the father of my kids, and I told him all about this person that I’d met. And I’d said, ‘I’m not willing to not see this person again. There’s something there with us, and it’s a thread that I want to follow,’” she said.
“And so [Rob and I] kept relating, long distance, for a while, and then he eventually moved down to Melbourne and into our family home.”
Tamica made it clear that it didn’t happen overnight, describing Rob’s transition into the household as “a gradual process”.
“I think we actually hung out with the kids once or twice on our own, and then the two dads hung out on their own, and then it would be all five of us and we’d just kind of stepped it in gradually,” she said.
It was also important, she explained, that she, Rob and Harry have “lots of conversations”.
“The communication in the open-relating piece is huge. A lot of people find it quite exhausting, and you’ve gotta be really on top of it – making sure that you’re digging into unsaids, and really speaking to what your needs are or that you’re not overriding your boundaries, and really taking care of yourself and each other. It’s a lot.”
Tamica said that during the time all five of them were under the same roof, the house took on a life of its own.
“It’s just the same as a regular relationship, but with extra people. There were some days we’d look at each other like, ‘Oh my God, this is awesome’,” she said.
“That might be a night where we’re making Mexican and the kids are happy and we’re having friends over and we’re just grooving altogether. And then there’s other days it’s like, ‘Eurgh, what the f–k are we doing? This is hard.’
“The kids loved having two father figures, actually. It was like three parents to two kids, which is amazing, like you can imagine having an extra – someone’s playing with them, someone’s finishing up their work, and someone’s cooking dinner.”
It’s important to note, of course, that she, Rob and Harry were not a couple – it was Tamica having two relationships, with two separate men, simultaneously.
After living together through Melbourne’s almost two years of lockdowns, however, she knew that something had to change.
“There’s no crescendo – there’s no moment where it was like, ‘This is the icing on the cake’. I just knew that I wanted to continue living in my relational values, so it was like when something difficult comes up, I either navigate that or I stop being in this type of relationship,” Tamica said.
“And my choice was always to navigate, to always weather the storm, to always uplevel again and get better at how we were doing it. There were times when the family and the relationship and the intimacy and the friendship and flow and connection and conversation inside the family unit was far more important and prioritized over other times or other people or other things.
“And then there were other times where I would have a relationship with my boyfriend but then also I would want erotic connection or sexual connection with another couple of people, and that was for me. Maybe I wanted to have a certain type of kink play with a certain type of person that I know could give me something. And then I would go on dates with a woman, if I wanted a certain type of something. So there’s all different types of connection to navigate, and yes it can be hard to juggle.”
Ultimately, she moved with her two sons up to the Byron Shire, where they now live together with Rob.
“We’ve just changed the configuration, we’ve changed the living configuration,” she said.
“And the boys’ dad is here, like all the time, we’re all really close friends, my boyfriend and the boys’ dad, they hang out and go for walks and give each other hugs.”