I have come to believe that I have some “nontraditional” views on monogamy. I’ve mentioned things here and there throughout lovesexandmarriage, but I’ve decided to put it all down in one spot. It came across my mind the other day when I was talking to a woman I know about her marriage. She and her husband are in a bad place. They’ve been married for six and a half years, and things are worse now then they’ve ever been. There’s a lot of trust issues going on. She said something along the lines that if she knew marriage was going to be this hard, she never would have done it. I commented, without even thinking, “It’s because it’s not natural.” She looked at me questioningly, “What do you mean?”
Damn. Here you go again, LSAM, putting your foot in your mouth. See, this girl, she’s rather conservative. A stay at home mom. Very religious, almost fundamentally so, having just recently been “born again.” She lives in a traditional household. Her husband is a farmer. It’s breakfast at 8, lunch at 12, dinner at 5. The house, the kids, the laundry, dishes, groceries, etc, all her responsibility. Very 1950ish. So I knew I had to tread lightly here. “Well, I don’t want to offend you with my thoughts on the matter.” She promised me that she wouldn’t be offended. She said that she “envies” M and I, because we have such a “great” relationship. I told her that we, too, have our own problems and issues, but that we work very hard at our marriage. And that we’ve almost lost it before too. Marriage is hard. It takes work. It takes biting your tongue and giving up some of your own goals and desires. Compromising on things for the benefit of the relationship. I said that I’d never do it again though, if things don’t work out this time…
Because I believe that monogamy is not natural. And here is why. We are animals. We are primates. And most primates do not mate for life (Gibbons, which do, tend to be the exception). As a matter of fact, less than 5% of the animal population on Earth are truly monogamous. Now, some primates, and many other animals, form relationships. Some of them have, for lack of a better term, partners. This is referred to as Social Monogamy, but they still are not sexually monogamous. They partner, they may rear their young together, but they do not stop having sex with others. It just doesn’t happen.
And the few animals that do mate for life, such as swans, they don’t cheat. Hell, if a Black Vulture begins to act promiscuous, the other vultures, not just his mate, will attack him. This is the main thing for me. If we’re designed to mate for life, then cheating would not exist. Or it would be a rarity. But that is not the case. Cheating happens. All the time. I know a lot of people who’ve cheated. A ton. And I probably only know about a very small percentage of the infidelities that are going on (and, just in case you’re wondering, most cheaters don’t get caught. Six out of ten cheaters think they completely got away with it).
It’s hard to actually find a concrete number of people who cheat. For married couples (because this data is easiest to find), it seems to range somewhere from as low as 11% to as much as 60% depending on what you read. The higher percentages consider that many researchers feel people are still lying, even in studies, afraid to admit to cheating. And keep in mind, these statistics are for people who are now married, not people who have already divorced. My assumption is if you included this population, the numbers would be significantly higher. But that is just my thoughts. The fact remains that people cheat, and they do it often.
I believe that humans have evolved in such a way that we form attachments, we “fall in love,” for a brief period (about 5 to 7 years). This occurs because a human child takes so long to become self-sustaining and so much effort has to go into rearing in those first few years. Ask any single parent; they will tell you. It’s exhausting. Now imagine doing that in a world where you still have to forage for food, hunt for meat, find shelter, protect yourself from the elements and predators. With only one parent, the chance that a human infant would survive to the point that they could reproduce is slim to none. But add in a second parent, and suddenly the ability to survive increases exponentially. **I think this is a mutually beneficial thing, from a biological point of view. And I think both partners are designed to do this. I know there is a lot of talk about men spreading their seeds and women trying to protect their offspring for propagation of the species and all that, I think this is fundamentally different.**
But by the time a human child reaches the age of 4 or 5, they have learned how to walk, how to communicate, how to feed themselves. They no longer need the aid of two parents to survive. This is why I believe people “fall out of love.” And think about it. People talk about the “7 year itch.” I had always heard that “the fifth year” of marriage is always the hardest (it was, thus far, in mine, and interestingly enough, it was also the 7th year of our relationship). It seems more than just coincidence to me.
So what does this mean to me? To my marriage? Really, I don’t know. I understand it. I get it. I’d still be pissy (really pissy) if I found out M cheated. But it would be easier if it was a drunken
night out, some random person compared to an affair. I wouldn’t be happy. And one of us would definitely be sleeping on the couch for a while. But I don’t think it would break up my marriage. I think we would get through it, if we tried.
I remember M and I laying in bed one night. (Quick back-story: M and I lived together as roommates, became friends with benefits, and eventually moved forward, got our own place and got married. This conversation took place shortly after we got our own place). I said that if he was ever thinking about cheating, that I would like him to talk to me about it, preferably before it happened. I thought if I understood what was going on before it happened, then it would be easier to accept. Even now, I still believe that. I am not necessarily opposed to a somewhat open marriage. M and I do not have an open marriage, and I’m not even suggesting that we should. I’m simply saying that I can definitely see the benefits of one, as long as it is done with honesty, trust, and respect. (And I’m not glorifying here, I know it can also fuck up relationships. But that’s a whole different subject).
I don’t know. I think I lost the point I was trying to make. Hell, I don’t know if there was a point. I’m just saying, we live in this world and we have these ideals. And they’re fucked up. They are against our biological make-up. And yet we judge people, we criticize them. We feel guilt, shame, disgust. I think we’ve set ourselves up for failure…