A rational observer will notice that human beings are not naturally a pair-bonding species. In our culture, about 50% of married women and about 70% of married men will have extra-marital sex at some time during their marriage. Some sociologists and other researchers theorize the percentages would be much higher, if not for the religious connotation of "sin," the religion-based laws about adultery, and the stigma associated with peoples' natural sexual preferences. Monogamy over an extended period of time appears to be an unrealistic expectation, one that causes huge amounts of human suffering, pain, and of course, legal fees. For many married people, monogamy is a form of sexual slavery.

The institution of marriage is inherently flawed by the idealistic fantasy of monogamy until "death do us part." Why not improve marriage to become a secular contract of partnership that does not require monogamy? Instead, monogamy could be an option that couples could add to their contract at any time they want, especially during times when they want to have children.

An important part of a non-monogamous marriage contract would be each partner's responsibility to keep the other informed of his/her sexual contacts, with an emphasis on safe sex. An important part of freedom from monogamy is a reduction over time of the notion that marriage implies "ownership" of the spouse. One beneficial end result might be a significant reduction in domestic violence.

Tags: marriage, monogamy, secular

Views: 648

Replies to This Discussion

I like your description of the nuclear (monogamous) family as "frikkin' fissionable." One of my biggest complaints against monogamy (until death mercifully ends it) is that it's a form of sexual slavery. Oh sure, when love is young and starry-eyed, people in love cannot IMAGINE ever wanting to love another person. But almost invariably one person grows and changes in a direction different from the other. One person, for whatever reason, loses interest in sex, but the other still has needs. And so forth, with a thousand different variations of the story. And when you're locked into that contract you made, and your spouse won't have any part of being open-minded, then the slavery part becomes very real to you. The suffering grows to be an all-consuming part of your life.

I see the most prevalent underlying reason for this inflexibility in our society as religious conditioning. For centuries, preachers in their pulpits have been waving scriptures and condemning those who stray from the straight and narrow, while so many holy men--humans that they are--get caught with their own frocks down. And frankly, I laugh my ass off whenever I see one in the news who got caught. I dearly love to see hypocrisy exposed.

This "forsaking all others...til death do us part" crap is responsible for an immeasurable amount of human suffering. My advice is: Don't ever let a friend make such vows. Instead, beg them sit down and make an honest contract that provides for one or both partners future needs for outside intimacy. Since we already know it's going to happen in at least 75% of the marriages, why not plan for it?
I think you will find this is why they made it a "law" that wives slept with their husbands. Marriage was a contract where men were expected to remain faithful to ONE woman, and raise their children appropriately providing the support needed to do so. This was in exchange for sex, companionship and Housewifery. Society was built on this, and without it we probably would be no where near as successful as we are. The mistake we've made is in assuming that marriage was intended to trap women and men, it wasn't.

In this marital contract however, they didn't of course cater for the wives intimacy needs because quite frankly a male dominated society(and religion) would never have understood WHY these needs were so important to women. They just chatted too much, so were taught to not "bother" their husbands with frivalous talk. Intimacy for a female is verbal communication and emotional(rather than physical) intimacy. So there was a bit of hypocracy going on there.

I am in support of Monogamy and think that sleeping around is revolting. I would never stay with some-one who did that. BUT, that comes with a rather large caveat. Intimacy IS a huge reason why we choose a partner, so both physical and emotional intimacy needs must be met. In other words, if I didn't fullfill my partners needs in a creative , fun , energetic way in bed then I probably wouldn't have much of a right to complain if he stray's. We all need to feel loved.

I think often women do not understand how important the physical side of a relationship is to men. They just see it as "male rutting pig", "lecherous man", "never stops thinking about sex" "Doesn't understand priorities" etc etc.

How would a wife feel, if her husband spent 20 years with her, and they never had a conversation? She'd wonder why she was married wouldn't she. Is it any surprise, men feel the same way? I truly feel badly for men that are in this situation, and as such baring extenuating circumstances, I don't think I'd ever turn my partner down. You have to take care of your loved one after all :)
I'm happy to find a woman with such a good understanding of the male animal. From my experience, you're in a minority of women. Most seem not to understand that men are "wired up" neurologically to perform their biological job of being the semen carriers. We are driven--at some very deep level that we, ourselves, don't understand very well--to provide semen to all the women of the earth. Of course, we also have a very thin veneer of civilization that prevents us (in most cases) from attempting to do exactly that. But therein lies a deep-seated facet of nature that goes against the societal rules in which we live. It's a huge conflict...and it traps a lot of men...ruins their lives, breaks up families, and spreads misery into the extended family and circle of friends. Hopefully this monogamy "law" will fade away into some more practical and workable pattern for partnerships in the future.
Unfortunately pretty much every other "practical and workable" pattern for partnerships has been tried by human societies already, and they didn't work. Each variation on the same theme ended up with humans treating each other dreadfully.

So, Monogamy was what we ended up with as it was the only social construct that kept human society stable. That meant a sacrifice for men that women were required to take care of.

Sad isn't it?

I honestly believe however, that if women can understand how they are making their men feel a lot more of them would make an effort. It's difficult to get women to listen to and acknowlege this however. We are pretty defensive about this subject as a result of history. And I certainly don't want to bring back "laws" that require women to sleep with their men. It would be great however, if they could choose it. When they do, they often find themselves acutally enjoying it again!!!
LOL, nice one!
Monogamy wasn't something that was created out of thin air to repress and control the masses. It was a social construct created after many thousands of years of experimentation in a growing civilization. Quite frankly, the modern civilized world was based on it.

There are many good reasons for Monogamy. There are problems with it and there alway's have been. People get the wrong expectations. And women especially seem to get furious when men show a bit of interest(even just looking) at another woman. Men will alway's find other women attractive, and will desire to sleep with them. Women will also find reasons to stray.

But if you understand the very good reasons for monogamy, it can help you to stay in a healthy (monogomous) relationship.

Polygamy, is horrible, and open marriages, although they can work usually don't, for very good reasons.
As one who was raised deeply entrenched in the Mormon religion, this question has for me perhaps even greater significance given Mormonism's polygynous foundations, early practices and still-present (though now highly understated and passed-over) doctrinal beliefs. And as I studied my way out of Mormonism and as its fraudulent foundations were revealed to ever greater and greater degrees, I explored also the questions of marriage and how we in Western societies arrived at the current monogamy monopoly we all are forced by law to live under.

When viewed historically, in most ancient cultures monogamy was the exception rather than the rule. Polygyny was far more common whether in legally established marital "institutions" or in more laissez faire societies without marriage as a legal institution. The basic nature of males and females generally seems to lend itself to this. Oh sure, there have been quasi-monogamy societies such as in ancient Greece and Rome. Yet even here it was not viewed as it is today where the man, in particular, was legally or societally limited to only one sexual partner for the rest of his life.

So... what changed? What caused monogamous marriage to not only become the dominant marital option but also the only legal one available? Was it because Humankind just naturally progressed to regard monogamy as the best marital option? Hardly! As I have found, it resulted from the dictatorially mandated decrees of Catholicism after Pauline Christianity merged into and with the failing Roman Empire... and gave birth to the bastardized form of unnatural marriage forced upon us ever since.

In ancient Judaism, from whence Christianity sprang, polygyny was entired accepted and allowed... while adultery and fornication were frowned upon severely... usually followed by a fatal stoning! After all, if a man could marry and support as many women as were mutually desired, then he is accepting both the responsibilities and the privileges of those wives and, thus, is acting honorably so far as this is concerned. Only a dishonorable man in such a maritally free society would seek to dishonor another man's wife through adultery or to only use a woman for sex, as in fornication. Never was the intent that a man have only a single marital and sexual partner for his entire life... but it was the intent that he act responsibly and provide for his sexual partners.

In ancient Rome, from whence Catholicism eventually sprang, a man could only have one legal wife... true... but, he could have as many sexual dalliances and liaisons as he liked. He could even have as many sex slaves as he could afford. Hell, if he wished (and it was pretty common) he could even have children by his sex slaves who also became his sex slaves. All of this was completely legal and socially acceptable. Thus, under this culture, a man could only have one wife but could have as many sexual partners and slaves as he could support/afford. While horrifying to us, today, yet this was the culture then and, frankly, thrived for far longer than we have in our far more "progressive" society that teeters on the brink of destruction. Nevertheless... the end result was... in essence... the same as under Judaism: Never was the intent that a man have only a single marital and sexual partner for his entire life... but it was the intent that he act responsibly and provide for his sexual partners.

As seen above, both cultures fully accepted and embraced the male's natural desire to explore and enjoy sexuality with more than one mate. Likewise, as can also be seen historically, women were also permitted in most cultures to enjoy sexuality with other women, as well (yes... even in Judaism). While there were restrictions against women having extramarital sex with men who were not their husbands, this was more the result of wishing to ensure that the children resulting from such were not ... well... bastards. While this is certainly the result of patriarchal misogyny yet it was fairly common throughout most ancient societies and, in some respects, somewhat understandable as otherwise it would not have been possible to know who the father was of any particular child if the woman was freely promiscuous.

And this worked marvelously well for thousands upon thousands of years... until...

Beginning in about the 4th Century CE the collision truly began between Christianity and the Roman Empire that resulted in the "shotgun" "marriage" of the two. And the resulting Roman Catholicism, which came to rule the Western world, simply took a piece of both Jewish and Roman marital laws and amalgamated them together into what we have today.

The Church, being by this time the anti-sex totalitarian secular and religious authority it was then, took the most repressive aspects of both culture's marital traditions and forced them together. The result: Roman monogamy was combined with Judaism's absolute prohibitions against any form of extramarital sex.

Thus, from that time forward... a man could only have one wife (the Roman component)... but absolutely no extra-marital sex (the Jewish component).

This resulted in a completely unnatural and unprecedented marital structure that forced men and women into a completely bastardized form of marriage that has been the bane of Human Western society ever since.

Thus... yes... Monogamy is indeed the evil bastard child of its two unlikely parents: The Roman Empire and Pauline Christianity. And, thus, it is entirely unnatural and has forced us into the fatally contradictory sexual and marital environment we all find ourselves. A cultural bi-polarity that is equally and at the same time both sexually obsesed and repressed, maritally successful and a complete failure, and increasingly psychologically twisted into a society that both loves and hates itself.

Well... after all... what could you possibly expect from a culture that religiously is founded upon the self-destructive belief that all that is flesh is evil and all that is spiritual is good?

As we are defined by religion to be half flesh and half spirit, then we are equal parts both good and evil. Thus we, in equal parts, must both hate and love ourselves. Small wonder then that progressively throughout the past two millennia we, as a society, have become increasingly spiritually, emotionally, sexually and psychologically... schizophrenic!

Okay... got off on a bit of a tangent there, admittedly. Sorry.

The point to all of this is ... the only reason why monogamy has such a complete monopoly here in the West is entirely due to the very cultural collision to which I referred between (Pauline) Christianity and the Roman Empire.

We must continue to fight for our legal rights to be who and what we truly and naturally are... or should be: free to explore marital relations however we choose and not as mandated and dictated to us by either Church or State.

Anyway... just a few thoughts from a fellow schizophrenic for y'all.
thank you, that was a beautiful essay ;)
Let me echo the compliment: That is a great essay by Khemin. The historical background makes it a lot easier to understand where & how this insane system of monogamy was foisted upon us.
Divorce
This may seem contradictory given my previous comments, but in the context of "monogamous child rearing" I am against divorce. Frankly I don't give a hoot what un-reproduced people do with their marriage contracts, but when there are children involved, especially pre-teens, given that our social structure is entirely based on monogamous nuclear families, I see divorce as a cop-out. Maybe people who intend to reproduce should marry according to Victorian era rules, marriages of convenience instead of love. People agreed to STAY together, but in those days both mates dabbled in extra marital affairs, but the agreement was still to STAY together.

In my ideal world, I would completely ban marriages, altogether. I really don't see the necessity of any contracts between individuals with no intent to reproduce. I don't see why companies should share healthplans with 'significant others' no matter what the sexual orientation. I don't see why there should be favourable taxing schemes for couples, versus singles. "Stay at home" parent means exactly that, 'parent' not 'significant other'.

Once reproduction is in the picture however, given the paradigms our society functions with, when one chooses to be a reproductive member of society, one should bear that responsibility to the fullest, with no regard for "falling out of love" or "being annoyed" by our significant other. Parents who are having difficulties accepting their togetherness and roles as parents should have to go to counselling. Extra marital affairs should have no bearing on the family unit's ability to remain a functional family. Once someone chooses to add a life to this planet, one should put that child's health before all other considerations. Taxing schemes and "perks" to significant others and family members of course have their place in this context, no matter the sexual orientation

I am generally against the very existence of marriage contracts, but once one BUYS INTO this contract concept, just be responsible and stick to it... Contracts are entered into entirely too lightly.
I absolutely agree, TNT666; if children are in the picture it's a whole different ballgame... and should be.

When I look carefully at the many friends and acquaintances who've gone through divorce I find that, in the vast majority of the cases, all such probably would not have resulted in divorce were it not for men's natural sexual desires.

Most men (as in... say... 99.9%) are sexually aroused by sight more than any other single factor. Thus, we are to greater or lesser degrees sexually attracted to every attractive woman we see, period. This is the primary reason why men desire sexual variety to such a degree as we do. Yet under current marital laws, we can only have one wife. Thus, as men cannot be concurrently polygynous, we must either suppress, hide, and lie about such deeply foundational desires for the REST OF OUR LIVES (often while amassing and hiding porn as polygyny by proxy), or else deceive to the ultimate degree and be "unfaithful" by having affairs. The only other option is to divorce our wife, which frees us to again pursue other women until, if we wish to have a marriage again, marry the new wife (becoming consecutive polygynists) and inevitably beginning the whole cycle all over again.

This... it seems to me... circumscribes the foundational cause of the majority of all divorces: the male sexual drive for more than one female wife/lover/companion. And the sad result is usually more and more divorced women trying to raise children alone and more and more newly single men prowling the bars and streets and, often, preying sexually... and thus emotionally, too... on those same single mothers.

(I know I'm not speaking "PC" here; I'm stating things as I have observed them in the lives of my own family members, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances... and as likewise seen throughout the entire United States.)


Yet, were polygyny legal, at least there would be the option (should the husband and wife mutually agree, of course) for them to add another woman to their relationship... as originally marriage or quasi-marriage relationships were so very commonly practiced throughout the ancient world for thousands upon thousands of years.

In this way, men had in spades the sexual variety and the emotional love and companionship of women that so fulfills us still as men and as husbands ... and women had in spades not only the intimacy of a truly devoted husband and male soulmate who was content and fulfilled at home but also the deep bonds with a very close-knit group of other women that is also so very naturally desired by most women still today (yes... and that oft-times grew to include most gloriously the very deep intimacy between women that was also fairly common and socially accepted then, as well). And last, but certainly not least, such a close core group of women together with their husband helped each other immensely in raising their children and helping one another form a very deeply devoted and loving home environment together. This became the core "village" that raised the children.

Notice I haven't once mentioned any religious motivations, whatsoever. Polygyny, like monogamy too for that matter, should be expected to go wrong and become emotionally hurtful and damaging when such are mandated by religion or entered into primarily for religious or cult motivations. Polygyny, like monogamy or any other form of marriage or like-bonding relationships, ought to be motivated by mature and responsible LOVE... and for no other reason... and thereafter, maintained and nurtured constantly as all therein come to finally realize the true fulfillments possible in such relationships.

Am I trying to hold polygyny up as the panacea to end all of society's ills? Of course not.

What I am suggesting, however, is that there is a very good reason why polygyny has been so universally found in almost all Human societies from the Dawn of Human societies up to today (by latest estimate, approximately 85% of all societies still today are... polygynous) and that when freely chosen to be enjoyed by both a husband and wife in choosing to admit another woman (or more, perhaps) into their marriage as an equal with them, the potentials for fulfillment of all parties far exceed that in stereotypical monogamy.

Of course, so also do the potentials for discord and for unhappiness, too, if those in that poly marriage are not mature enough and emotionally responsible enough to handle such an intensely exquisite relationship.


Of course, this is not the only possible marital option to monogamy... yet today NONE of these are available to us legally.
Indeed, I have often argued, to the horror of friends, that we have always had a polygynous society, only today the law mandates that it must be serial instead of parallel.

I find quite attractive the idea that men of fortune can have several wives-mothers-of-children as long as he can afford to keep them happy. No male should spread sperm for which he can't afford the progeny :)

Ideally, any polygamous society needs to promote both polygyny AND polyandry, regardless of sexual preference :) Free choice according to the mate who can most afford it. I know I would if I could afford it... one man to talk with, one man for sex, one man for cultural outings, one man as eye candy to show off, hey why not, and a couple of soul sisters as well. Buyer beware, once a contract is entered...

But people need to respect contracts, to reinstate the value of honour, whatever the contract content is, according to whichever value system we adhere to. If we can't stand behind our own signature, what is our worth? If the contract seems impossible, then we should not enter into it in the first place. Of course there must always be leeway for exceptions.

Society and government should not have to bear the burden of our 'stoppages' of love!

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