A ZIMBABWEAN woman in love with two men came up with an unusual solution… she got both to move in with her.
Maria Vogel, 33, originally from Bulawayo, now shares the family home in Barking, London, with her children Laura, 16, and Amy, 12 and the two men in her life Paul Butzki and Peter Gruman.
Maria, who grew up in Saurcetown and did part of her secondary education at Northlea, was 15 when she met Paul in school and she fell pregnant with Laura two years later.
Maria told the Daily Mirror: â€œPaul was out of work for six months and it put a strain on our Ârelationship. The stress led to less sex and we grew apart. Although we carried on with life â€“ cooking, cleaning, looking after the childÂren â€“ weâ€™d lost our intimacy. The relationship was more brother and sister than a couple.â€
Peter, who was also married at the time, recalls the same instant attraction. â€œIt was like a bolt from the blue… love at first sight,â€ he says.
Soon the pair were meeting secretly. â€œWeâ€™d meet at the local pub for lunch,â€ says Maria. â€œOne day he put a hand on my leg and my whole body began trembling with desire. I knew it was wrong but soon we were sleeping together.â€
Their affair carried on for a year before Paul stumbled on messages between them on Mariaâ€™s phone. She managed to convince him they were just friends. But a few months later her lover left his wife and moved from Luton, Beds, to be closer to Maria in Barking.
â€œI grew even closer to Peter,â€ says Maria. â€œPaul had to go away on business for a few weeks and so Peter took the children shopping, Âspoiling them rotten with gifts.â€
But on Valentineâ€™s Day in 2010, Maria says she could no longer cope with the secrecy. â€œI began to feel more and more that my future lay with Peter,â€ she says. â€œSo I confessed my affair to Paul, and moved out to stay with Peter.â€
Over the next few months Paul and Maria took turns to have the children. â€œI felt bad about tearing the family apart,â€ says Maria. â€œSo after work Iâ€™d go and clean and cook for Paul and the kids and then go home to Peter.â€
So when the two men struck up an extraordinary friendship last year, Maria â€“ tired of to-ing and fro-ing between her husband and lover â€“ came up with the perfect solution… and moved Peter into the family home with Paul.
â€œWhen I left Paul there was a huge hole in my life. But the thought of never seeing Peter again was heartbreaking. So living with both men is the only way.â€
Incredibly, the men agree. Paul, a railway assessor, says: â€œPeter is a great guy. When Maria first had the affair with him I was just heartbroken. But as I got to know him, I realised we have so much in common. We both adore fishing, and heâ€™s like a surrogate dad to the kids.â€
Peter, a construction site manager, adds: â€œWe all get on so well. It doesnâ€™t feel as if Iâ€™m Âsharing Maria. Thereâ€™s no Âjealousy… it feels as if we are a team.â€
She says: â€œThe three of us never share a bed. Although I have a sexual relationship with each man, that side is kept very private.
â€œIf Paul is out, then Peter and I might make love, and vice-versa. But both men turn a blind eye and we never discuss it with one another.â€
â€œSome people are shocked, mostly because they get the wrong idea and think itâ€™s some sort of threesome,â€ she says. â€œMost people seem to think I should just remain with Paul, but those who see all of us Âtogether think differently.â€
She adds: â€œThere are huge benefits to living together. For example, as Paul and I leave for work early, Peter is often able to take the children to school.
â€œUltimately the children benefit from three adults able to help with school work or give them lifts. Financially too, it makes sense as the bills are split three ways.â€
Ironically, Maria is now the one who sometimes gets jealous. â€œIâ€™m left on my own when the pair of them go on a long fishing trip,â€ she says.