By Tom Midlane @goldenlatrine
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Videographer / director: Howard Shack
Producer: Tom Midlane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus
Leo Barillas, 35, Mary Barillas, 31, and Kimberlee Slagle, 29, live together as a ‘thruple’ in Washington State, USA, with their four children, aged between 4 and 11.
Mary and Leo are childhood sweethearts who first got together at high school when he was 15 and she was 13.
But 16 years later they met and fell in love with partner Kim – and the trio have been inseparable ever since, sharing both a bed and parenting duties.
Kim said: “Having an extra body is so useful for parenting, it just means you’re splitting the work between three rather than two.”
Leo and Mary married in 2005 and had two children.
Since they got together at such a young age, the pair decided to explore together – occasionally inviting another partner to join them in the bedroom, although with no plans to make that kind of arrangement permanent.
However, in 2016, when their youngest daughter was 11 months old, they met single mother-of-two Kim at their Crossfit gym, who a year earlier had exited a nine year relationship.
Leo said: “We weren’t actively seeking a third – my wife and I were more open to adding an extra occasionally - not to “spice things up”, because it was spicy anyway – but we were together from a young age, so we didn’t get to explore things, so we decided to explore things together.
“Kim came into the picture as an athlete at the gym, we trained her and got to know her. Every morning we would chat and we became friendly and would have her over socially, then that progressed into a sexual thing.
“It was actually Kim who said “I don’t know if I can come and hang out at the weekend because I’m growing feelings for you both of you.”
Kim added: “I understood that they were a married couple but I could feel my feelings changing and so I started to pull away.
“It was incredibly hard for me to tell them how I felt – it was a scary moment for me.”
The three of them talked it over and proposed the idea of becoming a triad. The following week they went to Vegas and made it official.
However, neither Mary or Kim had ever been in a relationship with another woman.
Mary said: “When I was younger I remember at one point telling my mom that I was bisexual and mom was like, ‘No, you’re just bi-curious because you don’t know.’
“When we first met Kim I was terrified because I just assumed that she was solely going to be attracted to my husband and just want to be with him.”
The threesome admit there was a bit of an adjustment, with Leo confessing that he felt “like a third wheel” initially and feared he was going to lose his wife to another woman.
Leo said: “At the beginning it was kind of a weird thing, the jealousy was on my part because they were really close to each other and I didn’t know how to deal with that.
“I sat down with them, and I told them “hey, look, this is not what I signed up for, I felt like, one, I was losing my wife and two, I didn’t have a girlfriend, because they were hanging out all the time.”
However, the trio credit good communication with keeping them together and after talking things over they settled into a happy groove.
Leo said: “Because we were all in the same boat, it was a learning curve for all of us. We’ve learnt that if we do have arguments, it’s better to hash it out with just one person rather than as a group.”
The triad also say that most people have been accepting of their life choices.
Mary said: “When we go out the three of us holding hands, guys often give Leo all the kudos, and tell him he’s lucky!
“We did have a former business partner who was rude and asked how their relationship would affect the kids and our business, but she was old and very religious.”
Family members have also come onboard. Kim says her mother gave the relationship her blessing prior to her passing and although her grandmother says “I believe in a man marrying a woman”, she adores the thruple and their children.
Leo also recently told his “very traditional Latino” mom, 71, about his unorthodox relationship – and was relieved to get the thumbs up.
Leo’s mom said: “I was like ‘that’s not my life, it’s their life’ and if they are happy, then I’m happy.”
Aside friends and family, the three used social media to disclose their relationship to the world and do still receive a lot of negativity online, according to Kim.
Mary added: “I think that was the hardest part for me, to deal with people saying that we’re going to mess up our kids.”
However, their children seem happy with the arrangement. Keagan, 11, said: “I like it better having three parents because you have more people to talk to.”
Mary stresses that the threesome are just like any regular couple, spending their days at the gym and having family movie nights and dinners.
Mary said: “We just use the word thruple just because we are very similar to a couple, there’s just three people.
“I think that we live a very normal life. We all work, we all try to stay fit, we have children, we don’t live these insane lives. People think that it’s orgies and drinking all the time and it’s really not like that.”
Mary and Kim are both also keen to each have another child, and have hatched plans to get pregnant simultaneously.
Leo said: “I was done after two kids, but Kim wants to have a child with the person she loves, so now we’ve come to a compromise that they would get pregnant at the same time and do it in the hospital.”
Mary and Kim are also planning to have simultaneous boob jobs later this year.
Mary said: “We both lost a decent amount of weight, we’ve had kids, we’ve been eating clean, but we have “sad mom boobs” and we want rid of them.”
Follow the triad on Instagram @pnwtriad16