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The Wall-Nance-Trembath clan enjoys full group activities at either house. Photo by Joshua Huston

Where we live: The close-knit polycule

Living a ‘beautiful chaos’

Dusty Wall and Greg Nance met sailing the seas—the pirate seas, to be exact. In 2020, the two men noticed each other on a “Sea of Thieves” livestream channel and immediately befriended one another. For the uninitiated, Sea of Thieves is a shared-world digital adventure game. 

Greg is married to Tiffany and has two kids and usually played Thieves with his wife until that point. So, in a natural progression of their friendship, Greg introduced Dusty to Tiffany. 

An unconventional decision

This is where the story becomes slightly less conventional: Tiffany and Dusty really hit it off. Eventually, they and Greg agreed to enter into a polyamorous relationship and become a polycule: Three or more people connected romantically. 

Dusty became Tiffany’s romantic partner while Tiffany remained married to Greg. Dusty, his wife April, and their two kids moved to Washington from the California Bay area to nurture and support the polycule. 

How it works

Logistically, there are two primary residences in this polycule. The couples shuttle between the homes. That means, at times, Tiffany and Greg spend the evening cooking together at the Nances’ house in Issaquah. At other times, Dusty and Tiffany spend time together at the Walls’ house in Tacoma. You will also find Greg spending time with his romantic partner Tasha Trembath, at the Nances’ house. 

Greg and Trembath met in 2021. In private practice as a marriage and family therapist, Trembath currently lives in the Nance house. Following her and Greg’s decision to extend the polycule and in the midst of skyrocketing housing costs, Trembath moved in last year. 

Greg describes the two-family polycule in two words: “Beautiful chaos.” The families share multiple calendars to track all the kids’ various activities, including sports practices, dance, and saxophone lessons. The calendars include the adult responsible for pickup on any given day. 

How parenting works

The Nance children include 12-year-old Kat and 7-year-old Reyna, while the Wall children include 12-year-old Jamie and 14-year-old Moo. Each adult member of the polycule participates in parenting in a symphony of coordination.

Like any parents or guardians, they rely on each other and show up to as many of the childrens’ extracurricular activities as possible. The Nance children sleep at the Nance house while the Wall children sleep at the Wall house, although they occasionally hold joint family sleepovers. Trembath attends as many activities as her schedule allows and is fully incorporated into the family. 

Beyond attending events, all adults also participate in parenting the children: “Our kids are lucky and have a lot of parents in their ears all the time,” says Greg.

Dusty says one of his favorite aspects of the polycule is the four kids spending time together. The families get together as much as possible for activities such as mini golf. The five adults of the polycule enthusiastically nod their heads when they collectively list the various sporting events, concerts, and recitals where the children will show up to support one another. 

What the kids say

When the parents broke the news to the children, the children surprisingly didn’t have much to say. Greg credits their reaction primarily to the straightforward way the adults navigated the conversation: 

“I think a big part of that is not ever having sat the kids down for a big talk about how things are going to change. It was pretty matter of fact: ‘Mom and Dad love other people, and you’re going to start seeing expressions of that love in our family.’ We were very intentional about the language that we used, keeping it age-appropriate while still being very direct. They honestly didn’t have a lot of questions about it.” 

Moo’s response to the question of how she likes the setup was likewise direct: “It’s fun because I have a second family and we all get to go hang out. And anytime we get to do something, I’m like, ‘Are the Nances coming?’ Because it’s ten times more fun if they do.” 

The children are accustomed to being part of a large family dynamic. As Kat points out,  “Sometimes it’s sad and there’s literally no one in the house. Most of the time, it’s fun because the more, the merrier.” 

Finding space

The couples manage to find time with their romantic partners no matter which house they choose to stay at for the night. Dusty explains, “We have shared space [at my house in Tacoma]. When I go over to the Nances, I’m staying with Tiffany. [In Tacoma], we have a bedroom downstairs where Tiffany and I can stay. We have some pretty nice living arrangements in our two houses, going back and forth. And we host things where the whole polycule comes over as well at either house. And that’s always nice.” 

While polycule relationships don’t always result in co-housing, the Nances, Walls and Trembath say it makes sense for them and boils down to two factors: time and finances.  

From three to two to one

The polycule used to have three residences before downsizing to two. Their goal is to have all the adults and kids in one residence. But finding the right house is challenging: With many adults comes many social-emotional needs. 

“I’m an introvert” says Trembath. “It can be hard when there are so many people and there’s not a space [for] quiet time.”  

Read more:

Where we live: Buying our first home with ARCH

About the Author

Joan King

A national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) conference presenter and consultant, Dr. Joan King has a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, an MA in English, and a Doctorate in Education. Her articles regarding Asian American voices have been published in TinyBeans.com, Mochi Magazine, Memoir Magazine, and Writerly Magazine.