Monogamy – Is it Really Good for Us?
Last year, The New York Times’ columnist Ross Douthat made a bold prediction about the future of marriage in the USA. He suggested that, according to the rate at which Americans’ acceptance of open relationships is shifting, polygamous marriages may well be legalized by 2040.
What does this change equate to in numbers? Well, the amount of people who admit to viewing polygamy as a moral lifestyle choice is double what it was in 2001. Back then, only 7 percent of Americans felt this way – but this has swelled to 16 percent in the 15 years since.
Of course, while the prospect of polygamous marriage becoming legal in America seems far-fetched to some, it is an established reality in many other countries. In 57 of almost 200 sovereign states, people are legally entitled to marry multiple partners at the same time. Countries like Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Afghanistan, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, and more all recognize polygamous marriages (or ‘polygyny’) as legal.
Western Values VS Nature?
Should polygamy be embraced by Western culture? While some people will likely never agree to it, there may be grounds for more open relationships considering the amount of marriages ending in separation.
Around half of marriages in the West end in divorce, and sex with other partners is classed as the most common cause (in multiple cultures). Research has also demonstrated that between 20 and 60 percent of married people will engage in extramarital sex on at least one occasion.
Of course, this number is actually believed to be higher, with respondents to the question expected to downplay their infidelity.
Really, the concept of ‘cheating’ on a partner is viewed as immoral by many, but should it be? Various studies over the years have concluded that aspects of human behaviour demonstrate a natural inclination towards having multiple partners, such as the discovery that women’s tendency to make excessive noise during intercourse is to attract other potential mates.
This is, obviously, unconscious, but if true, it helps to prove the theory that humans are not designed to be monogamous. There is also evidence that males’ sperm count increases when they are away from their partner, indicating a natural propensity to spread seed amongst multiple partners.
Could Affairs Save Committed Relationships?
If we are supposed to have multiple partners at a genetic (and, perhaps, deep-rooted psychological) level, then having an affair may be the best way to indulge sexual needs without having to leave your spouse. In a committed relationship, intercourse has been shown to become less and less important, as emotional intimacy replaces physical intimacy.
If one partner in a marriage has a higher sex drive than the other, a lack of intercourse can easily lead to feelings of resentment – and, ultimately, the end of the marriage itself.
By having an affair with one or more other partners, the husband or wife with a greater appetite can indulge their impulses outside of the marriage. This will give them the physical connection they need, and allow them to focus on the emotional pleasure they get with their spouse.
With this in mind, extramarital sex may well be the solution people with a voracious appetite need to stay happy in a committed marriage. Rather than letting their urges build and build in a partnership with no physical intimacy at all, until a separation and potentially-expensive divorce is inevitable, taking care of basic urges elsewhere is a logical choice.
Western society as a whole draws a very close line between sexual desires and emotional happiness. Intercourse is, of course, a physical act that relieves tension, releases endorphins, and exercises the entire body. Emotional intimacy is much deeper and more complex.
It is possible for one to exist without the other.
Accepting this fact, and embracing the idea that monogamy may run counter to our mental, physical, and emotional make-up, could well be the solution to many unhappy relationships.