Monogamy and Fidelity

My dear online friend and delightful fellow blogger, MrMary, has quite the intriguing post up at his place today. I highly recommend checking it out;

As I said on his blog, my own views on monogamy and fidelity are not typical. For example, I recognize that marriage laws (in the USA, Canada, and UK at least) are currently very woman-centric. Though there’s little doubt in my mind that I *could* wed a man and then proceed to frivolously divorce him, I find the very idea morally reprehensible. That, and my readers know I enjoy my freedom too much to entertain ideas of monogamy.

Which brings me to the concept of fidelity…I find it weird to live under the assumption that you can find “The One” man/woman who will make your life complete. For one thing, you should never look for someone to be your other half, as you’re essentially saying that you are somehow incomplete alone.
Bullshit, honestly.

Human beings are, in my opinion, not naturally monogamous…there are few animals who stay with a single partner their entire lives. It’s a strange idea indeed, that we should be any different, and I feel that both men and women should be able to have numerous consensual partners in their lives (if that’s what they wish *and* they do so responsibly). The issues come up when people actually “cheat”, don’t use proper protection, are subjected to abstinence only education, or use sex as a tool/bargaining chip rather than accepting it for what it is.

So, those are my views. How about yours?

32 thoughts on “Monogamy and Fidelity

  1. Different strokes for different folks.
    I totally don’t “get” the desire for non-monogamy. By that, I mean that I can get it intellectually. But I can’t get it experientially. It’s okay with me if you aren’t monogamous. But in my own experience, I find it completely unappealing.
    I can’t get interested in sex unless I am deeply connected to someone, and in a soulmate type relationship. And I can only be in that sort of relationship when it is monogamous.
    That said, I don’t think that everyone is the same as I am. People need to do what works for them and their relationship.

  2. @BroadBlogs

    I am also the type who needs an emotional connection before feeling like I could actually engage in sex with someone else. (Casual sexual attraction is another thing entirely.) As I concluded in my last post, I’m probably one of the few who could truly be happy in a single sexual relationship for most of my life.

    However, I still believe that marriage laws need to become more equal if the institution of matrimony is to survive. And, of course, just because I’m not the sort to indulge in extraneous promiscuity doesn’t mean that I’m against others doing so (with proper protection from pregnancy and STDs).

  3. Men do not typically want their women to have sex with other men. Lots of biological reasons for that (which exist in the animal kingdom too). Most men do not want to be cuckolds. Male homosexuals, by contrast, do often partner up for longterm while having lots of other sexual relationships in an “open marriage” type of situation.

  4. I take a child-centric point of view; they are the future. If one, for simplicity’s sakes, ignores the possibility of abortion, then we must accept the possibility of pregnancy with the (hetero) sexual act. No form of birth control is 100%, and from the studies that I have read of, it appears as if a woman’s body will do its best to get pregnant if at all possible.
    From this, I then look at the life outcomes statistics for fatherless children, and they are decidedly poor when compared to traditional two-parent outcomes for children. It is simply a demand of both developmental biology and good social policy that we support monogamous and committed relationships, for the sake of children (best life outcome and emotional health chances), women (committed husbands to provide/care for them and the children as/when necessary), men (committed wives to care/provide for them and the children as/when necessary), and thus society.
    Sadly, the feminist animosity towards the family has resulted in a perversion of the family “justice” system, in which the father is, by feminist definition, an oppressor and abuser who has no value other than a coughing up his pay check, regardless of whether or not he is included or excluded from the family.
    Do away with abortion, no-fault divorce, institute mandatory DNA tests to confirm paternity in all births, and make equal and joint custody/parenting in divorce the legal default position, and watch what happens.

  5. True, though women typically do not want their men to be with other women either. He could theoretically bring STDs into the marriage bed (if no protection is used) and he could sire illegitimate children (if birth control isn’t used), who could then threaten to take resources from the original woman and her offspring.

    But in typical modern society, where we have preventive methods readily available, I see fewer reasons to demand such things. But, that’s just me, and I know my views aren’t held by many.

  6. There are forms of birth control that are extremely close to 100% though…tubaligations and vasectomies come to mind, and proper consistent condom use is somewhere around 98%. Combine condoms with birth control pills or injections, and you have almost no chance of pregnancy.

    I agree that a multi-adult household works best for children, even moreso if one has an extended family close by. This goes for both homo and hetero families.

    I wouldn’t want to do away with abortion, but would be fine with the DNA testing to eliminate paternity fraud and make joint custody the norm except in extenuating circumstances.

  7. Biology is biology, Sophia…regardless of birth control.
    While both males and females have an aversion to sharing their mates in general, male aversion to sharing their mates is more visceral (probably reproduction related). By contrast, women tend to fear more the loss of a mate’s attachment (probably resource related). A woman fears losing a man’s affections to another woman. It isn’t an accident that few societies in human history have engaged in polyandry whereas many have engaged in polygamy.

  8. Agreed, biology is biology. But humans are capable of using our rational minds to overcome our instincts…or at least, I should hope the majority of us could. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons for the way society has been molded, only that at this point in history, we can take stock of *why* our ancestors acted as they did and decide whether we need to continue with those traditions.

    Who knows? With the probable advent of male birth control pills, we may yet see even more traditions being questioned and overturned. The future holds many possibilities, some easier to deal with than others.

  9. Personally, I feel that if you enter into a marriage it will be better if we follow monogamy and fidelity so as to have less chaos in this world (even though I know that the extra marital affairs are still galore and infidelity is always lurking around, but still there will be some control) and as Nav said for the sake of our children too. If not, then it doesn’t even matter.
    But yes, the laws are very women centric and try to give them an extra advantage which a lot of them misuse.

  10. Random Thoughts …
    I feel that at the end of the day each couple has to do what works for them. I don’t feel that everyone is wired the same way. I also feel that if some of the stigma associated with certain acts were not there, things would be a bit different as well.
    Primate biologists deem monogamy to be an optimal strategy in species were the young are born particularly vulnerable. The language of that (optimal strategy) is interesting to me. Living in america today for example is quite different from our hunter gathering ancestors faced in our remote history. Not everyone wants to have kids or have a family. Not everyone is religious etc. Is monogamy still an optimal strategy for our time and the direction our society is heading?
    I think these changes force people to rethink certain traditions which I think is sensical. Divorce laws are something we really need to changed. They make me feel like a lottery ticket. Also in 2006 a survey found that 32% of workers said they had an “office husband” or “office wife”. Many people work longer and longer hours away from home and these socio-economic changes will and do affect monogamy.

  11. @KG

    Understood, but why would it have to be chaotic at all? People have affairs because of the taboo of having more sexual partners once you’re married. But, as MrMary said, what if those taboos didn’t exist anymore or were changed? I 100% agree that the children need to come first…at no point should someone’s affair break up a marriage or take resources away from the offspring. But what if people knew their husband/wife would always come home to them (STD free, of course) and anyone on the side was just for release/fun?

  12. @MrMary

    Yes, precisely. I’m wired for long term relationships and few sexual partners…someone else may be wired for short term relationships and many sexual partners. If, by some weird chance, someone like that falls in love with me, do I really have a “right” to demand that they change? I honestly don’t think so.

    Also agree on the social stigma aspect. I think when people talk about these things they are reacting to the “typical” presentation of it; the husband who has unprotected sex with other women whenever he travels for work and brings home diseases to a loyal wife, or the wife who destroys her family by falling in love with a man at the office and divorcing her loyal husband…or maybe not even divorcing, just using the husband as a cuckold father. *These* are what should be scorned and avoided, not having an open marriage with honest communication.

    I don’t know if monogamy is still the optimal strategy in our part of the world. The divorce rate continues to hover between 40-50%…people seem to be engaging in “serial monogamy” anyway. Would changing the taboos about open marriages actually lower the number of divorces? I think it would, at least for some of them.

    It’s strange that you say current divorce laws make you feel like a lottery ticket…I’ve spoken to 3 divorced fathers in the past 2 months, and each one of them said the same thing, exact words. I feel for cis men who want marriage nowadays, seems like a losing strategy for a good number of them. Not to say there’s no “good women” out there…obviously there are. But airing on the side of caution is becoming a preferred and valid way of doing things.

  13. Ideally an open marriage as you had mentioned. If both the parties agree to it and the children are not affected, then it might be OK, but since I don’t know the dynamics of how it might work, I am not sure of it. There is no nice way of saying it, but still. Before my marriage my ex wanted to have some fun and I was OK with it because I knew his needs and if I am not able to give that (being slightly traditional and all) I didn’t find any harm in him getting some (not the mention the criticism I had to hear from everyone because of my acceptance). But the bad part of it was, later he accused me of infidelity just because I was OK with his. So, yes it takes a two equally minded people to have that otherwise things can go down pretty fast and for worse too.

  14. Tarnished: “By the way, I like your avatar/picture. It’s very different, the colors are awesome.”

  15. Tarnished: “Understood, but why would it have to be chaotic at all? People have affairs because of the taboo of having more sexual partners once you’re married. But, as MrMary said, what if those taboos didn’t exist anymore or were changed? I 100% agree that the children need to come first…at no point should someone’s affair break up a marriage or take resources away from the offspring. But what if people knew their husband/wife would always come home to them (STD free, of course) and anyone on the side was just for release/fun?”
    Just as sex is the glue in a marriage/ltr, sharing intimacy with another person creates an intimacy with that other person. People are the products of their habits and environments. Habits create an association. Think Pavlov. Husband or wife goes off to sex another person, becomes close to that other person. They start to want to be around that other person and share feelings/secrets with them. This is inherently divisive to the marriage. People aren’t androids, nor are they goats.
    I’ve known many people in “open” marriages and (sorry, just being honest) once a spouse is willing to share it usually means they have less of an interest in their spouse than they have in getting a potential piece of tail on the side. I’ve seen lots of Lifestyle people in “open marriages” falling in love with the other person and leaving their spouses.

  16. Sorry for the triple post, but just to add a bit more regarding this portion: “I 100% agree that the children need to come first…at no point should someone’s affair break up a marriage or take resources away from the offspring.”
    Sharing intimacy with another person is going to leave a mark.
    The relationship is not going to be the same in the home, regardless of whether or not the person “comes home at night” to his/her family. Outside intimacy leaves a mark just as continuous significant deception would also leave a mark. It’s like inviting poison into the body…with the rationale that a little bit of poison doesn’t hurt.

  17. @Liz

    Ok, I see where you’re coming from now. I don’t agree or condone what the people in your examples did…in my mind, they lack a strong sense of loyalty, or maybe have a undeveloped moral backbone. The person you are married to comes first. Always. The only time they shouldn’t is if they are abusive, in which case you need to get away from them.

    Mistresses or studs should *not* get the majority of your time. They should *not* get your resources, whether this is money, gifts, living quarters, etc. The two of you should take precautions to avoid illegitimate births, and use protection/abstain from sex outside your arrangement to ensure no STDs affect anyone in the relationship.

    And most of all, you shouldn’t ever expect the married spouse to leave their marriage, and the stud/mistress should make it very clear that they will not accept a committed relationship from said spouse. I agree that most people would probably not be able to do this…they would “fall in love” rather than just acknowledge love in a rational way. But for those who *can* function as such, I see no reason they should not.

  18. “Do you believe this to be the case with affairs that are not deceptive, too?”
    Yes. Intimacy with another person outside one’s marriage is inherently divisive whether open or deceptive. It’s just different levels of divisive.
    Chemical (endorphines, dopamine, whatever feel good chemical releases associated with sex), behavioral, emotional ‘fixes’ from others rather than one’s spouse are divisive to the relationship with one’s spouse. That’s best case. Wore case, this still applies but one begins to associate bad feelings with one’s spouse and good feelings with the person he/she is having sex with outside the marriage. Because one is real life (bills, kids, real problems to include deaths in the family, sickness, job loss, ect), the other isn’t (just “fun”).
    A stable and successful, happy marriage needs the ‘good feeling’ bonds to get through the (often not good, being real life) realities. Or the marriage goes into decline and “little things” build. No one having great sex argues over the toothpaste. And if you’re getting great sex outside the marriage and only share kids and associated problems you’re sitting the middle of a train wreck in progress. Arguments over small things are a symptom, the problem is real shared intimacy is lacking (again, it’s like taking poison over time).

  19. Hmm, that’s a good point. Humans, just like any other animal, will naturally seek to extend their times of pleasure/eustress and decrease their times of pain/distress. I can see how someone without a strong sense of honor would become overly enamored of their stud/mistress and less so of their spouse/”real” life.

    Yet if they divorced their spouse and went to live with their side piece, then *that* would eventually become “real” life too. Studs and mistresses should probably be thought of as ‘vacations’, in this case. Fun, but never permanent.

    Or perhaps a polyamorous relationship would work better? That way both partners are taken care of.

  20. For example, the “rules” included here are excellent ones for any marriage, but are necessarily important for a poly relationship
    They aren’t excellent rules for marriage, Sophia. Marriage isn’t about having variety (number I) or unrestricted life choices (number II). And Percey Blyth Shelley died at 29. Transparency/honesty yes, trust (100 times more essential for monogamy and yes). Gender equality, no. Non-possessive, no…when you’re married and sign the papers and honor your vow you do “own” each other to a certain extent.
    Communicate/communicate/communicate? I could write a lot on that one.
    Obviously people who are married need to be able to communicate with each other but communication can be overdone, and more often than not that’s the case. Marriage counselors themselves have among the highest rates of divorce of any career field. It has been my experience that people who go to too much therapy end up divorced, and people who talk about their relationship all of the time are constantly miserable and split up eventually. Talking about one’s problems too much can create problems (this is habit forming too…people become accustomed to using their loved one as a ‘verbal sounding board’, the man interprets this as complaining, the woman interprets it as communicating…it’s toxic, and both are miserable).
    I’ve been married a long while and I don’t know anyone with a better relationship than we have. And we’ve been through a lot of life’s ups and downs. So I think I have a very good grasp on what works for a marriage. That isn’t the case with about 99 percent of the people who give relationship advice on the internet. I actually don’t know ANYONE on the internet with a better relationship track record than we have (not even Athol Kay of MMSL, I’ve been married longer). I know a guy (a neighbor, actually) who wrote a book on relationships and self improvement a couple of years back and he’d more messed up than almost anyone else I know.
    Anyway, I’ve blabbed long enough.
    Good luck to you Sophia! I do wish you happiness in life. 🙂

  21. Hola TarnsZ
    I was thinking a lot on this post and had some random thoughts.
    I think one of the biggest we face talking about these is the language. For example what I consider intimacy to be with my spouse is not what everyone considers intimacy to be across the board. We tend to speak of intimacy, marriage, fidelity and also relationships as is if they were absolute – unchanging, unvarying, immutable ‘things’ which they are not. They are unique in each case. There are commonalities of course. How you define intimacy within the bounds of your relationship with your friends with benefit is different to how I would define it with my wife, how a devout Muslim would define it with his wives, or someone in an arranged marriage.
    If you think about the term happy marriage, it’s quite telling. The term is testament to the fact that marriages are not, in and of themselves “happy”. Why else would a happy marriage be a reason to celebrate if it were so rare. (I’m just looking at the phraseology and language)
    I am a bit cynical as you know but I believe that we pretend to care for children and their welfare in public or the internet but we don’t really care for them. We don’t care for the children killed or orphaned by our Drones. In Pakistan alone, drone strikes have killed more than 800 innocent civilians and just 22 Al-Qaeda officers. Then there is the plight of the 14 million poor children here. I could go on but for me (emphasis on me) our words say one thing and our actions say something else.
    I think if the parents are committed to being their for the children they dont have to love each other or pretend to. That staying together for the kids thing more often than not fucks with the kids psychological development.
    jsut my $0.02 of random stuff

  22. I think this is going to be another topic where we agree to disagree, Liz. 😛

    The majority of pillars presented in said article are ones I’d look for in my own marriage, if ever a day came that I changed my mind. For me, the variety could be within the relationship, but I’d enjoy finally finding a woman who doesn’t drive me insane to have sex with either in or out of a marriage. Life choices is a difficult one…I could certainly live within a marriage where the other person fulfills sexual needs outside, but wouldn’t stay with them if they turned to drugs or alcohol. We agree on honesty, transparency, and trust…for obvious reasons I wouldn’t want gender roles in my house, but I’m aware that they work well for many couples. I don’t really know how to be possessive of another human being. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.

    I’m interested in some of the things you say about communication…I’ll have to do more research about marriage counselors and advice givers now! My FwB often complains about his job, but I understand that it’s just venting and throwing ideas around. People probably have to be in the right frame of mind to have such communication all the time.

    I’m glad that your marriage is doing so well. As I recall you have at least 2 kids, and are a military/military background wife. The very fact that you admit that marriage isn’t always peaches n cream speaks volumes…you and yours aren’t afraid to stand together and tackle obstacles! I would say I hope your marriage continues for many more years, but I know it will regardless of well-wishes or no. 🙂

  23. Thanks Sophia! Nope marriage isn’t always perfect. In our house we refer to such times as battle testing.
    I agree to disagree. (That was a cute ‘tongue’ emoticon I’ll try it an see if it works…) 😛

  24. @Liz

    Battle testing? That’s certainly a different way of putting it…seems adequate for military families though, I’ll have to see how the ones I know refer to it.

    Yup, I love the “tongue emoticon”. It’s kinda sassy, kinda funny, good for letting people know you disagree without being irrationally mad about your differences.

  25. @MrMary

    I think you hit the nail on the head right here, sir. There’s no true way we can say “doing X, Y, and Z will ensure a good relationship”. It’s just not possible, because we are so individualistic. Good example in this very comments section: Liz has a wonderful, long lasting marriage that adheres to gender roles whereas I wouldn’t be able to stay in one like that. Different strokes for different folks indeed!

    Such concepts as trust, intimacy, love, etc are good for making generalizations and everyday communication…but if I was able to “feel” your brand of intimacy it would probably be dissimilar from my own, or Nav’s or Spawny’s. Our life experiences shape us in so many ways…I’d frankly be amazed if anyone felt things exactly the same.

    I’ve seen so few marriages that could actually be labeled “happy” that I don’t even need a full hand to count them all. Personally, this strikes me as incredibly sad and slightly pathetic.

    I believe some people care about children, but it’s a dwindling amount. My own father was willing to use me as a bargaining chip in regards to his visitation rights, and the custody battles often just felt like he wanted to “win” the right to simply have me sit at his house all weekend. And everyone knows how much my stepfather “cared”…The fact that we are so willing to look away from people of all ages and sexes who obviously need help is disturbing, to say the least. I often wonder how people do this, and if my empathy levels are just abnormally high or if they’re normal and other people are just losing theirs?

    I don’t know…heavy stuff, man.

  26. Re: battle testing.
    It’s how we refer to past difficulties, not current ones (when they come up). 🙂
    A unit that has been battle tested has encountered difficulty and overcome. Units that have gone through such conflicts together and overcome are far more cohesive, stronger, overall better for it ultimately, and much better equipt to overcome adversity again if and when it happens.

  27. Hi Tarnished Sophia:
    ” But humans are capable of using our rational minds to overcome our instincts…or at least, I should hope the m̶a̶j̶o̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ minority of us could”
    Fixed it for you.
    The very topic you are talking about should be evidence that the majority of people, for the majority of the time, can’t out reason their instincts. Especially one as strong as sexual desire.

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