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: 652

Replies to This Discussion

I was not raised religiously. I am not from a community that was pervasively religious. I have never desired anything but a monogamous relationship and have been in the same monogamous relationship for several years (my only sexual partner). I find your premise flawed.
But we are all raised in religious societies, even myself as a third generation atheist have some evidence of influence from my catholic leaning formative years society... I don't necessarily like it, but I do like to question these values :)
None of my friends or family were religious. Religion was maybe some background noise, among other background noise (like consumerism, sexual pressure, etc), but not enough to "brainwash" a person. Saying that a person's views are just a by-product of religion (or of living in society with religion as one of its background themes) is dismissive. Religion is not the only reason for wanting a one-on-one relationship, nor is it the only reason some people aren't interested in casual sex.
Religion is not the only reason for wanting a one-on-one relationship, nor is it the only reason some people aren't interested in casual sex.>> P.R.Girl, I agree with you completely. And, we have a society and country where we are free to choose a religion or eschew religion altogether. However, a major point of this discussion is that the cultural norms and legal framework in American society descended from religious belief systems. And many of those beliefs cause suffering and unhappiness for people who do not want to live under the influence of those beliefs.
Reading all the responses to this initial post have been more than interesting. What surprises me most is how most people don't "respond" to what I wrote or suggested, but rather choose to share their own experiences and thoughts on monogamy versus other concepts...which is great! I love the variety of thought. Some people assumed that I'm advocating for a polyamorous or even swinging lifestyle. Not necessarily so. My chief purpose was to lament the plight of a person who is still sexually energetic but trapped in a sexless marriage. People and relationships change over time. In many marriages, one or the other person can not or doesn't want to participate in sex, even though the two people love each other and want to remain partners. But the rules of our society and our religions don't allow for the would-be sexually-active partner to have an acceptable sexual outlet. This means that otherwise kind and loving people are shocked and horrified at the idea of their spouse having sex with another person. And even though they may recognize at some level that their jealousy and possessiveness causes pain and suffering, any alternative is unthinkable--all because of our religion indoctrination. This is the Evil Influence of Religion that I want to put before the secular thinkers who visit this website.
Well! why didn't you come out and say so :)

Didn't we already ask that very question here :
http://www.atheistnexus.org/xn/detail/2182797:Topic:358734

I see for some reason the thread is not delivering on the promise, but I remember posting to it over a month ago???

IMO sex with a new (from a couple perspective) partner can lead to love and closeness, to the exclusion/detriment of the previous partner. Sexual/homonal pleasures can translate to an entire new state of mind and outlook upon a loved one, to the point where love is no more. There is certainly a heightened risk of relationship loss when moving to new sexual partners, therefore the whole debate on the validity of polyamorous relations.

In our Western social context, where love marriages and serial monogamy are the norm, it's not so much religion per se, as EXPECTATION that will be the fall of the relationship. As Western individuals, religious or not, we tend value loyalty in the couple context, our ethical system considers loyalty a "good" thing. So even tho loyalty may be a fabrication of religiosity, we are nonetheless stuck with it, until we as a society devalue loyalty.

Those of us who aren't so bent on loyalty tend to not get into relationships to begin with. I don't think you can have your cake and eat it too :)
I look at how people think infidelity is the absolute worst thing in a relationship. I have never thought this, although if you agreed on an exclusive relationship, it is hurtful, and even in a polyamorous relationship when my ex lied to me and hid things from me, I felt betrayed. Still, there are much worse things than infidelity. The partner could otherwise have a great relationship, and having sex with someone else doesn't negate or make the relationship a lie. It is still worse to have a physically or emotionally abusive partner.

In a monogamous relationship, if one partner doesn't want sex anymore, there are a few unappealing options. You can talk about an open relationship but a lot of people wouldn't consider it. You can try to get them to have more sex--but "reluctant sex" can also cause problems for couples (one feels pressured and associates sex negatively, the other feels undesirable and like their partner is going along with it). After that there's cheating, or breaking up. Polyamorous people sometimes get messages from monogamous people trying to cheat on their spouses. They sometimes give a sad story. But I still don't want to deliberately get involved in drama.

Jealousy is an issue in non-monogamous relationships too. But sometimes I think that when people limit their lives because of jealousy, that only makes it more powerful. For instance, first off a couple decides they can't be more than friends with the opposite sex, because having sex would make their partner jealous. They still get jealous, and then decide they can't be friends with the opposite sex anymore (as directed in "emotional infidelity"). They probably still will have some jealousy, so maybe they will further limit their lives. I have some boundaries defined, but I don't expect to eliminate all jealousy from my life. Sometimes a person has to just deal with it and get past it.

Reading over your post again, I realize your views are pretty similar to mine. Whatever people go for, I just think they should be aware of all options and make an informed decision, rather than one-size-fits-all monogamy and "you're mentally ill/sex addict/irresponsible if you don't want monogamy".
I've already addressed your comments about sexless marriages in a post below, but just wanted to say I don't think our views on marriage, quite honestly have anything to do with some evil influence of religion. We forget that religion was created by man, meaning that humans came up with these ideas.

And it is those ideas I'm interested in, from a purely historical perspective. Why did they come up with the rules for relationships in the first place? Was it really about repression?That's sort of off topic and too big to debate here, I just think it has virtually nothing to do with religion and everything to do with evolving human societies. They just used religion(and God) to push ideals forward. Where did the ideals come from in the first place and why THOSE rules, and not others(Such as a free-for-all sexual society)?

As a secular person, I can still support "ideals" that are pushed by religious groups, if I think the ideal is better for humanity. I just don't think God has anything to do with it.

brother ed, this is what i believe essentially, and i think i (and my otherwise ideal  marriage) was a victim of this.

also, about discussions like this, i started a similar discussion to this one in the atheist singles group, and pretty much had the same (but worse experience). nobody addressed the question i posed in the initial post, but worse the people who responded staunchly believed in monogamy and effectively attacked me, including by putting in their posts untrue assumptions about my life and beliefs and things that i supposedly (but never actually) said in my posts. very saddening and discouraging.

Joe, in my experience here with North American atheists on this website, a great deal of converted atheists are simply godless Christians. So it would be to be expected that a great many would believe in monogamy, it's all they've ever known, it's the only value ever taught. This godless thing is well reflected in debates about the definition of 'atheist', most atheists here define atheist from its minimalist lowest common denominator. I think that's wrong and not dissimilar to saying one is anti-Hitler, but keep 90% of the Nazi value system. An atheist should equally doubt the very existence of god AND the validity of god's institutions. Monogamous marriage is most certainly a godly institution, nearly no biological or anthropological evidence of monogamy exists for humans and other primates. In fact, monogamy is more common outside of mammalian circles.

thanks tnt for a good way to look at it. truthfully, i all got me very depressed.

and even more, if you try to make a reasoned argument challenging it, its futile.

This is a nice segue into a stance that I have about the nuclear family. I believe the word 'nuclear' is appropriate here because the two-parent family is so frikkin' fissionable.

The times we were arguably best at collective survival - 70,000 years ago when there were only 2,000 of us, for instance - two things were very likely true:

1. We weren't monogamous
2. We were deeply committed to each other's survival

I would say that it is fine and dandy to somehow denounce monogamous commitment if you are willing to promote a broader commitment of adults to the welfare of children. If not, the mothers get stuck with all the responsibility because it's so hard to deny it - but, unsupported, the load is far too big for most to bear.

I, personally, am a serial monogamist and would, quite happily, stay with one mate if it were mutual. What I think is more of the problem is the myth of everlasting romantic love and the ludicrous idea that you ought to be able to get all your needs met (not just sexual) from one other person. Frankly, once I'm comfortable with someone, I don't need the chase to be satisfied.

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