I was in college I was first confronted with “marital infidelity.” I was attending a conservative Christian (evangelical) college as well as a conservative church, and the case involved a married couple that I was close with. I was shocked, naive and unprepared as I was at the time, living within a conservative religious bubble.
It was all pretty intense, I recall, not the least of which was due to the fact that it was the woman who had done it. (Submerged as I was in the evangelical bubble, even way back then I could see the sexism at work. Some people were extremely pissed at her, over-the-top kind of anger, and I could tell that some of this rage was aimed at her, due to her gender.) The couple tried to make things work, but eventually the marriage terminated.
Recently I witnessed with another case of “infidelity.” This time, it wasn’t within a conservative Christian sub-culture, but nonetheless there was big drama, as there always is, and it all just kind of made me once again ask the question, is monogamy overrated?
Some people seem oriented toward monogamy. It suits them, which is cool, and I’m not saying that monogamy doesn’t work for some couples, but does that mean it should be the norm?
Much of our standards for monogamy seem to have been inherited from religious beliefs, but even the biblical text tells tales of more flexible sexual arrangements, i.e. the practice of polygamy.
When I question monogamy, I’ll often get raised eyebrows, or sometimes it’ll just be said, straight-up: “Typical male, you just want to screw around.”
“Hold on,” I’ll usually say, “I’m not suggesting we all follow our cocks, like Donald Trump.”
The truth is, though, that I used to have the same kind of skepticism, years back. Then I started talking to people who were questioning monogamy and I started coming across thoughtful articles — but literally every one of these people who were questioning monogamy were women.
Far from being an excuse for misogynistic men to fuck around, it’s women who, for many years now, have been quietly discussing healthy and ethical forms of non-monogamy. And that’s the thing that really started me thinking more deeply about it.
Over time monogamy can be brutal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the hippies were right, and free love is the way. I mean maybe it is, or maybe it’s not. Maybe it just depends on the person and the couple. The question I actually have here is whether many long-term relationships would be better served if they were not locked into monogamy.
Conventional wisdom says that monogamy is the highest expression of love that two people can have, but I’m wondering if openness, flexibility, and communication might actually be a healthier basis for a relationship. If so, then maybe some of the drama of “marital infidelity” could be avoided.