The New Monogamy

June 16, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The New Monogamy

Today’s marriages carry a heavy burden of responsibility. No longer required for legal,procreative, religious reasons, it now must  provide top notch” till we both shall love” emotional and physical intimacy, healing all our childhood wounds and disappointments, companionship, co parenting, domesticity, socializing, career development and physical fitness. A tough order being so central to another human being – especially when most of us don’t know  much about marital empathy and intimacy. It’s no wonder  many are floundering.

A profound change is occurring in our society regarding marriage. The rules for fidelity for some folks have become more fluid. Not only can people live together without marriage and be in a relationship, they can live in separate homes and be in relationship. Religious, legal, cultural factors no longer require marriage for procreation and child rearing, financial stability, physical protection, or sexual satisfaction. Remaining single is an option today more than ever. Friends with benefits is a legitimate kind of relationship for some people as is hooking up and one night stands.

According to Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and researcher, affairs have always been with  us. Their prevalence and particulars are now more available to scrutiny. Newspapers, magazines and social media  provide full details plus pictures. Researchers ask  questions to find out what is going on in our private lives. And even though most people say they think affairs are bad, they confess indiscreetions of their own over the course  of their marriage. Some research indicates 65% of married men cheat, 55 % of married women have an affair in their marriage before the age of 40.

Our cave men and women ancestors negotiated sex, safety, food , shelter , companionship, child rearing. The men hunted  for game, the women searched for roots, seeds and grains. Together they sired and birthed and raised children within a small community. According to researchers ,  men were keen to spread their seed on one hand  and uncomfortable raising other men’s children. Women are the only species that conceal their time of fertility making it difficult to tell when copulation would most likely result in offspring and exactly which male is responsible for the child. All other species display this fertile time some times flamboyantly.  And are rewarded with much sexual attention from their male counter parts.

Explicitly people believe affairs are bad. Or BAD for women and ok for men or bad for their partner , but not for them. We are  uniquely capable of double think as a species. Implicit beliefs are part of every marriage and every individual’s life history. ” You can’t trust women. They’ll always want more than you can give. ”  “All men are dangerous. ” ” Eventually I’ll be left. What’s the use of opening up. ” etc.,

What do we do about this in marriages that we want to keep rich and alive? Stay tuned for more ideas next time.


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