Evita Sawyers writes about the Everitt triad after their recent committment ceremony.
“What was your favorite part of the commitment ceremony?” I asked each member of the Everitt Triad. Sonya 28, Shallena 40, and Cliff, 40 recently tied the knot in a beautiful spring ceremony accented with coral, grey, and crème colors and delicate calla lilies. Shallena replied that the ceremony itself was her favorite part, while Sonya chose walking down the aisle towards Cliff and Shallena as her favorite memory. Both women mentioned seeing each other in their dresses because, while they both got custom gowns made of the same fabric, neither had seen the other one’s gown until the day of the wedding. Cliff’s answer was seeing Sonya with her father during the Father/Daughter dance. “Seeing Sonya with her Dad and knowing that he accepted us and approved of our union was very touching to me as a man.”
The Everitts have been a triad for four years. Shallena and Cliff were married for 14 years prior to meeting Sonya in summer of 2013. For edification purposes, a triad is a polyamorous dynamic in which three persons are all romantically involved with one another, creating a “triangle of love” if you will. The relationship started with Cliff and Sonya interacting in a Facebook group online, although Sonya and Shallena were the ones that went on a date together first. Sonya was only interested in Cliff first, but the relationship evolved. “Sonya was consistent,” Shallena said when I asked what made Sonya a match for them both.
Triads, especially Female/Male/Female ones, catch a lot of flak in the polyamorous community, with terms like “unicorns” and “unicorn hunters” being words that bring up negative connotations of couples preying on defenseless single bisexual women to force into relationship captivity. I have my own difficult experience when it comes to triads. Mine ended after a challenging two years together in 2016. Ironically, they are the most sought after dynamic and the one most publicly depicted. With the running narrative of triads being nearly impossible to maintain, especially within the black community, stories like the Everitts are rare.
“Cliff played a trick on me before he asked me to marry them, so I was mad at him,” Sonya laughed as she remembered the proposal. Cliff told her right before he asked that they wouldn’t be having a ceremony to throw her off the scent. “I like practical jokes,” he chuckled. Shallena did all of the wedding planning, with Cliff and Sonya pitching in where they could. “One of my biggest concerns was what the officiant would be saying,” Shallena told me, adding that she wrote the speech herself by tweaking a traditional wedding one she found online. The trio’s children, four girls and one boy, were all a part of the ceremony, and all three of their families were in attendance. “We’re out to all of our families,” Shallena said. For the honeymoon, they enjoyed a cruise to Bermuda. When asked what was next on their journey, they answered that getting the legal paperwork to recognize Sonya as their partner. They adamantly stressed that they would be having no more children.
I asked them what advice they would give to people seeking to build triads that weather the years of life, and they echoed what most polyamorous veterans would say: communicate, be patient, have realistic expectations, and be vulnerable. Shallena had a message especially for “wives” in triads: relinquish some of the control and enjoy the relationship that they are building with their new partner as well as the one that is being built between that partner and her spouse. “You’re building an entirely new relationship, not just adding on to the existing one,” she says. This was a personal struggle of mine during my own triad so I could definitely agree with her admonishment. “Believe that your relationship with them is special and has value,” Sonya advises.
As we laughed and talked, I was struck by how “normal” it all was. They were just a family in the middle of the evening routine: putting laundry away, dealing with the children, working together. It made me nostalgic myself for the family that I had once created. What I saw was simply people that loved each other that had decided to link themselves to one another and go through life together. Not much different from what people search for in monogamy, huh?
I want to thank the Everitt family for talking with me and for giving us a glimpse of a poly “Happily Ever After.” I’m also thankful for the opportunity to write this. Black love, abundant black love, in all the forms it comes in, is a beautiful thing.