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Monogamy and Infidelity May 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Nature, People.

I’m not convinced that humans are hard-wired to be monogamous.

We don’t have just one “friend” and maybe we aren’t meant to have just one “lover.”

Rather than being an aberration of nature, sexual infidelity may be “normal” human behavior.

It’s a question of “nature” vs. “nurture” in my mind.

We are socialized to look outside ourselves for someone to “complete us.”  We are conditioned to believe that, once we walk down the aisle with our mate, we will live “happily ever after” in a committed relationship.

But maybe that image is nothing more than a fairy tale of epic proportions.

Statistics about marriage, divorce, and sexual infidelity tend to disprove the notion that marriage is the pathway to happily ever after.

Moreover, a look at marital and sexual relationships through the ages tends to negate the idea that sexual allegiance to a single partner stems from human nature rather than from social conditioning:

* In matriarchal societies, maternity mattered.  Paternity did not.  Women ruled the roost.  Men were “worker bees” and sperm donors.  It didn’t much matter who fathered whom.

* Over time, matriarchal societies gave way to patriarchal societies and spiritual practices and beliefs gave way to organized religions.  The church played a central role in setting and establishing the “norms” for behavior.

* In early Christian times, the church actively discouraged marriages.  Church leaders didn’t want early Christians to have an allegiance to anyone or anything other than the church.  (They also discouraged direct personal relationships with “God” . . . preferring the role of intermediary in our quest for meaning.)

* Years later, church leaders did a flip-flop, encouraging monogamous relationships between “man” and “wife.”  Societal conditioning followed suit.

As the issue of paternity rose in stature, men who strayed were chastised . . . with a wink.  After all, “boys will be boys.”  In contrast, women who strayed were branded . . . with Scarlet Letters.

The double standard was born.

In the past century, as women have risen in stature, from “chattel” owned by their husbands to individuals in their own right (with rights of their own), society began to frown on the double standard.

What was good for the goose was good for the gander.

If women are to be faithful to their husbands (so that paternity is clear), husbands should reciprocate by cleaving only to one woman.

These days, in many modern societies, we applaud fidelity, loyalty, and committment in marriages under the umbrella of “family values.”  We frown upon sexual infidelity and view “cheating” as a supreme betrayal of trust and allegiance.

Maybe we’re being too hard on ourselves.

Monogamy is socialized human behavior . . . but is it human nature to stray?

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Infidelity (Life’s A Beach Journal) * Monday Morning Musings (View from the Side) * Eat, Pray, Love . . . Tie the Knot? * When God Was A Woman * The Ego of Man (Woman Wielding Words) * Arnold Schwarzenegger Could Face A $200 Million Divorce * Shocking Moral Decay (Greg Camp)


1. carldagostino - May 23, 2011

The reason Paul advised not marrying was that he was adventist believing the Second Coming was at hand and marriage would get in the way of preparing ourselves. What I find particularly interesting is that some birds mate for life.

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

But many species do not. In many corners of the animal kingdom, to ensure survival of the species, the strongest male (the alpha) mates with many females.

All other males and their gene pools die out.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011
2. Lisa Wields Words - May 23, 2011

Another symptom of a society ruled by masculine ego and fear.

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

I tend to agree. Matriarchal societies encouraged entire villages to raise the children while the men tended the fields or hunted game for the good of all.

Patriarchal societies based on the notion of monogamy encourage divisiveness and competition . . . rather than cooperation.

3. vixter2010 - May 23, 2011

I wouldn’t like to be cheated on and wouldn’t want to cheat! I hate the double standard, just look at all the footballers who cheat and they’re are seen as “men” for doing it!

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

I expect that’s because we’ve been conditioned (i.e., brainwashed) to view sexual “infidelity” as “cheating.”

If you have more than one “best friend” . . . do you view it as “cheating” to spend time with one and not the other?

In matriarchal societies, women didn’t look to men to “complete them.” They knew they were already complete. Men were sperm donors and worker bees. Women raised children and fostered friendships with other women to satisfy their emotional needs for connection.

4. Cindy - May 23, 2011

My husband has a theory (shared by many anthropologists) that the male of the species is ever searching for a ‘better’ specimen to mate with.
I’ll chop his gonads off if he ever tries …

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

And he knows you’ve got the kitchen tools to follow through. 😉

Women can only procreate until their mid-forties (or so). Men are capable of procreation long past that point.

It’s not surprising to me that so many older men “stray” in order to prove their virility and increase the likelihood that their genes will survive.

viewfromtheside - May 24, 2011

Interestingly though it’s male ageing that is often the cause of Downs syndrome babies.

As husbands are usually older than women it went unnoticed until some smart eresearchers realised there was more than just the mother to be evaluated.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

I didn’t know that, Sidey.

Maybe men and women should BOTH stop procreating when middle age approaches.

5. Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 23, 2011

You of course know that I would quibble and disagree with some of your points here, but I won’t rehash our ongoing conversation. In “early Christian times” there was no “the church,” church being people gathered together to worship God, Whom they came to know through God’s human image, Jesus, and to serve the needs of others after the example of Christ. Paul would address his letters at times to individuals, and “the church in your house.” Your third asterisked* point says the church discouraged direct personal relationship with God. Much to the contrary, the people who called themselves Christian were specifically encouraged by one another and their growing understanding of God, to develop and deepen their personal relationship with God.

As far as monogamy goes, I just don’t know if it is nature or nurture. It might have come about conditioning and/or need and circumstance over the millenia; my only problem with betraying the promise of monogamy made at marriage to one another is exactly that – betrayal. If monogamy is not for you, and you know that out the outset, don’t make the promise to be monogamous. If perhaps one finds out later that monogamy is not the way to go, then by all means,sever the relationship, and move on! Don’t make the same mistake again and again – as so frequently happens. Share your life with someone of like mind for as long as you will, then move on and spread (or develop) your seed wherever your desires or whims take you.

Whether nature or nurture, monogamy is a commitment. It might not be for everybody, but it’s best to find out beforehand, IMHO.

The whole issue of monogamy, polygamy, marriage, etc. is so interesting and complicated – primarily, I think, because it involves so much emotion and ego,and so many of the intangibles of life. Great post, Nancy!

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

As with most of my posts, I’m less concerned with being “right” than I am in getting people to think about things from a slightly different perspective.

When I said the “early church leaders” . . . I meant just that ~ at some point, churches became buildings with priests and ministers and pulpits and confessionals. The congregation began to be led (like sheep) and were discouraged from straying from the fold.

As to when the shift occurred, I couldn’t say.

The church as an “intermediary” is substantiated by the rote memorization of prayers like “Our father . . . who art in heaven . . . ” as well as by Catholic confessionals where a priest intercedes on “god’s” behalf to listen to the confession and offer forgiveness.

Most people are brainwashed by church and society into believing that marriage must involve vows of sexual fidelity. We are taught to look to our spouse for emotional, physical, and sexual fulfillment.

It’s a tall order . . . which is why we so often fall short.

6. earlybird - May 23, 2011

Mating for life (or for any length of time come to think about it) has never worked for me.


nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Monogamy is a tall order for most people.

We change and grow over time. Careers that worked for us in our 20’s may not work for us in our 40’s or our 60’s. The same is true with relationships.

Most of the girlfriends and boyfriends I had in my teens would not be on my Top Ten list today. Same for my college and law school chums.

Friends who grow in the same direction stay friends. Other friends drift away. But marriage bonds don’t allow for easy dissolution. We are encouraged to stay together even if we are not happy. I think that is a mistake.

We are here to be happy. If our spouse allows us to grow and develop and explore . . . Yay!

If not, I’d choose divorce over stagnation.

earlybird - May 24, 2011

every time.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Yup. It’s my job to “be me.” Not to be what someone else wants me to be. 😀

7. viewfromtheside - May 23, 2011

Some people do well as a couple for life, others not. Who is to say there is only one way for people to live? Certainly not me 😉

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Thanks, Sidey. I agree.

Some marriages are meant to last. With others, the best we can hope for is serial monogamy.

viewfromtheside - May 24, 2011

How about multi-party marriages? In which everyone commits to raise the children together?

I sometimes wonder if we are moving back to a form of matriarchy, with so many singke mothers, it seems the importance is back with ‘who’s your mother’.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

People keep saying it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe they’re right.

If so, instead of insulating ourselves in “nuclear families,” we should join communes or “intentional communities.”

8. Greg Camp - May 23, 2011

As far as biology is concerned, you’re probably correct. I do hope that we can rise above mere biology. What is “natural” is certainly worth investigating, but the power of choice is what makes us human, and too many are ready to cede that on any excuse.

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

As soon as we accept societal conditioning without examination we have ceded our “power of choice.”

Free Will means nothing as long as we allow ourselves to be brainwashed and conditioned into conforming to a norm that obviously does NOT work.

9. Debra - May 23, 2011

1. I think there is no normal….it is only what ‘society’ tells us is normal. And what we accept for ourselves that is ‘normal’

2. I am not the same person as I was in my 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s. So how can I say anyone else is the same person now after time has flowed by?

3. Maybe the best thing is for no ‘marriage’ vows…then no one can break them…and also…it is only when something is denied…that it becomes the thing one craves.

4. What would hurt is the lying and deception. I do not tolerate that well in anyone.

5. I do not know the answer and then maybe there is not one answer.

Be well Nancy:)

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Excellent points, Debra. We are not intended to be cookie cutter versions of each other.

When we allow “society” or the “church” or our “parents” to tell us how to live our lives, our lives are no longer our own.

We have traded our Free Will for the Tribe’s approval. We become Gingerbread Men and Women instead of real live autonomous human BE-ings.

I agree with you about lying and disception. But we are socialized to lie to protect people’s feelings. We are encouraged to be “nice” even if we have to sweep the truth under the rug.

If we were encouraged to tell the truth, we would no longer be slaves to the opinions of others. We would be able to stand on our own two feet. We would stop looking for someone else to “save us.”

We would hang out with each other as long as it was mutually beneficial to do so . . . and then we would go our separate ways. We would expect it rather than being traumatized by it.

There would be no need to lie about sexual desires because they would be an accepted part of who we are.

10. Maggie - May 23, 2011

I don’t think people should choose marriage partners or significant others to “complete” themselves. You can never find complete fulfillment in another person; that’s something you only find inside yourself.

I believe that once we are in a committed relationship, if we feel the need to “cheat” or commit “infidelity” because we aren’t satisfied in the relationship, the mature thing to do would be to just break up (or divorce) and move on, rather than stay in the relationship and “cheat.” I personally disagree with divorce as a solution to a couple’s petty problems (or for couples who don’t want to put forth the effort to work out their problems), but in some situations it may very well be preferential to staying with someone who is making you miserable.

We’re conditioned to believe that we NEED a significant other (or series of casual flings) all the time and that we NEED to be in some sort of relationship. I’m not sure why everyone seems to be so afraid of being alone…

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Wonderful points, Maggie. I agree completely.

We should be honest about who we are and what we want out of life ~ especially with our spouses and significant others. Instead of sneaking around, we need to sit down and have a “heart to heart” conversation about what’s working and what isn’t. If it can be resolved, great. If not, we may need to dissolve the union.

Many people stay together out of fear of being “alone.” When we are not willing to risk anything . . . we risk everything.

11. kateshrewsday - May 23, 2011

Amazing debate you have sparked, Nancy.
I cannot help the fact that when I met an intellect and spirit very similar to mine the world went from black and white to colour. I don’t know what the future holds but whether I chose it or not, my life improved immeasurably when I had another mind like mine close by. It is not modish to admit need: but I fear life might be monochrome without this mind on which, right or wrong, I have come to rely.

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Oh, I wouldn’t trade in BFF for a newer model either. It’s not that he “completes” me . . . but he’s my biggest fan and tons of FUN.

When I wanted to leave the practice of law, he’s the only one who encouraged me to put my happiness ahead of my paycheck. Others wanted me to “play it safe” and “abide by the rules” and “stick it out.”

In short, BFF encourages me to be me . . . in all my many permutations. And, quite frankly, that is far more important and valuable to me than his sexual fidelity or infidelity.

12. Piglet in Portugal - May 23, 2011

I think in this day and age where aids is rampant in some countres, monogamous relationships def are a good idea. I also believe it is down to personal values to be loyal to one person at a time.

I know some religions allow a man to have more than one wife, but why can’t wives have more than one husband?

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Good question, PiP! A Queen Bee has as many mates as she wants. 😉

Actually, I think it’s because a man could have 7 wives, all barefoot and pregnant simultaneously . . . so each would serve a “purpose” in survival of the species. The reverse is not true.

Here’s an interesting question:

If monogamy offers “safe sex” . . . why do we have an Aids epidemic?

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

BTW: I agree with you about STD’s and AIDS.

Even if BFF didn’t care who I slept with . . . I would not start “sleeping around.” At this stage of my life, sex isn’t worth dying for. 😀

Piglet in Portugal - May 24, 2011

I think we have an aids epidemic initially through ignorance and now aids continues through laziness and “it won’t happen to me attitude” Our son recently visited a country known to be rife with aids on business. I said to him “Don’t get drunk and putting it around” he was mortified. LOL

Now I like the idea of more than one man. No, not for sex, but to wait on me hand and foot.
“Queen bee” sounds good…and of course there’s always birth control 🙂 Dream on Piglet!

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

I agree with you completely, Queen PiP! I want an army of WORKER BEES . . . 😉

So true about the AIDs epidemic. People discount the future as it relates to them. Even people in monogamous relationships are will to embrace the potential of death “down the road” for a few minutes of pleasure today.

That’s living FOR the moment. And it’s a dangerous and reckless way to live.

Very different from living IN the moment ~ when we become more mindful of our choices rather than less. We evaluate our actions and make choices based on what we really want . . . happiness and the avoidance of self-created suffering.

13. oldancestor - May 23, 2011

I think it’s important that both partners in a relationship are OK with sexual openess. Perhaps loving companionship is the trade off for not being able to sleep with whoever one wants. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Th eproblem is that people often get emotionally attached after the intimacy. What my start out as “experimenting” can turn into a torn home.

Despite my sometimes lacivious comments on PFC, I have been in a monogamous relationship for 14 years. Not that I haven’t found other women attractive (and I’m sure Mrs. OA has had her attractions), it’s that I don’t want to wreck my home and hurt my son. I would forgive my wife if she had a moment of giving into forbidden passion, but I certainly wouldn’t like it.

That said, biologically, we are not meant to have only one lover at a time. Sorry to get graphic, but the human penis is shaped the way it is to scoop out the sperm of the previous male who ejaculated in the woman. It evolved that way for a reason.

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Good point (pun intended). 😉

I wrote this post because whenever a public figure gets caught with his pants down, the lynching mobs appear. Complete strangers to the relationship get angry about the infidelity. They superimpose their relationship insecurities and anxieties on a marital relationship that they know NOTHING about.

That seems like a lot of wasted energy to me.

Extreme hostility arises in many cases because of a deep-seated fear that, if sexual infidelity could happen to Maria Shriver or Mrs. Tiger Woods, it could happen to them in their relationship. (Or maybe because it already has happened and they didn’t get the “happily ever after” they expected when walking down the aisle.)

In any event, these self-appointed “sheep dogs” find the reality of sexual infidelity so alarming and “abnormal” that they start nipping at the heels of miscreant sheep who don’t conform to the norm . . . a norm which is nothing more than societal conditioning.

Maybe we would be better off if we didn’t care so much about what celebrities do behind closed doors. 😀

Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 24, 2011

You can say that again and again and again. WHen was it decided that ANYVODY’S personal busines was automatically EVERYBODY’S public business? I wrote about that when the Tiger Woods “scandal” broke out.

To show how out of touch I have been lately, I didn’t find out about Arnold and Maria until last Friday! And my comment still is, “What business is it of mine?” Relationships are always a two-way street. ALWAYS! And only the actual parties involved know both or all sides (and sometimes not even them!). I wish I understood why so many people feel it is their right to know or comment on things about which they know only what they are told by 3rd and 4th and 5th parties, i.e. the media, without acknowledging that they really know nothing, and therefore should keep their damn traps SHUT (and their keyboards untouched)!

There! I feel much better! 😀

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Not only do they “make it their business” but they weave elaborate fantasies about the wronged party . . . creating an “angel” and a “villain” instead of seeing two human beings who may no longer belong together for any number of reasons.

Taking Charles and Diana as an example:

They got married and had two great kids together . . . awesome. But as the playing field leveled between them, they realized that they weren’t compatible.

So they quite sensibly parted ways ~ it’s stupid to stay together if you aren’t adding to each other’s happiness.

I expect that both Charles and Diana were happy to get on with their lives after the split ~ Charles hooked up with Camilla and Diana enjoyed time with Dodi.

Nevertheless, Charles became the villain and Diana became the sacrificial lamb in many minds . . .

Even now, 10 years later, people attempt to lay the blame for her death on his shoulders, saying things like:

Princess Diana would probably still be alive if not for Prince Charles’ infidelity.

Comments like that are complete and utter fabrication and fantasy. A desire by the Ego to feel important and involved in the lives of the rich and famous.

We don’t know what happened behind closed doors. Charles may have done his best to make Diana happy . . . all for naught. Likewise, Diana may have done her best to make Charles happy . . . all for naught.

Because they were not meant to be together.

14. Tammy McLeod - May 23, 2011

Or do we say to our first born that I love you so much, I’ve decided to have another? Yes, we do! You are on to something Nancy!

nrhatch - May 23, 2011

Good point, Tammy.

We are able to love more than one child, and foster multiple friendships, why shouldn’t we be able to juggle more than one “significant other”? 😉

15. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson - May 24, 2011

If science is going to keep us going longer and stronger, the idea of mating for life is completely unrealistic.

Back in the day, when the life expectancy was 30-40 years, when women commonly died in childbirth, when people keeled over from the flu and viruses, mating for life wasn’t nearly as challenging as it is today, now that we are living well into our 80s. People can change a lot in 50 years. Why do we insist on enforced monogamy? It’s a great question.

That said, I’m 16 years into my marriage, and – for the time being, I believe I will keep him. 😉

A great read on this topic is MATING IN CAPTIVITY. Highly recommend it.

Non-sequitor: I found you via Kristen Lambwhere I saw you mention something about a twit who couldn’t twitter. I just wrote a post (not yet posted) called the “The Twit who Couldn’t Tweet” – It’s about how I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out how to deal with Twitter; it feels like like a time suck to me, but everyone keeps insisting I need to be there.

If you care to visit me, my blog is called (get ready) “Lessons From Teachers and Twits.” I’m an educator at the college level, but I’m also the Chief Twit in Residence.

carldagostino - May 24, 2011

“People can change a lot in 50 years” Really? RSJ, now that’s funny !

Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson - May 24, 2011

Carl, sometimes I feel like we are married. We follow each other around enough! 😉

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Thanks for a wonderful comment, RSJ.

Like you, I’ve been happily married to my BFF for 27 years next month . . . and wouldn’t trade him for the world.

It helped that we were both a bit more mature when we decided to marry ~ it wasn’t a teen-age romance that one or both of us outgrew.

Also, we discussed the “tough” issues BEFORE getting married to make sure that our expectations for marriage mirrored each other’s.

Finally, we worked out issues with each other as they arose instead of wasting time bitching behind each other’s back.

But the real secret to our happiness is that we never expected the other to change to suit our own selfish desires. We accept each other as we are . . . and encourage each other to grow, change, and evolve.

I’m not on Twitter, but I’ll check out your article.

LOL @ Carl. Even when we are determined to stagnate, we change.

16. granny1947 - May 24, 2011

Good grief…one man is more than enough trouble…I don’t need another!!!

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

One is enough for me too. BFF is no trouble, but I like one-on-one relationships. A love triangle would make me dizzy. 😉

You might enjoy this quote:

A woman without a husband is like a fish without a bicycle.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 24, 2011

I think the original quote was “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” No matter – they both mean the same thing! 😀

I love all these comments – almost as much as the original article.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

I suspect you’re right, Paula.

Because I’m delighted with my husband who is also my Best Friend Forever, it’s not a quote that I’ve shared very often.

Most of my posts just skim the surface . . . to give visitors a place to “hang their hat” before heading to the comments.

The comment threads are what I enjoy the most!

17. eof737 - May 24, 2011

It is a human quality to stray; not everyone does. That is why I like the idea of cultures that encourage multiple wives. You love em, you marry em. 🙂

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

My problem with “harems” is that the man is on a pedestal and his wives are relegated to second-class citizens . . . all competing for the cock’s attention.

Better than harems (for me) would be no “nuclear families.” Instead, groups of people would live in communes or small villages raising children collectively without much concern about paternity. No “ownership” of wives or husbands or children.

People contributing what they can for the good of the group. The group pitching in to help those on tough times. You know . . . people caring and sharing. 😀

18. William D'Andrea - May 24, 2011

There is too much harm, pain and all around suffering caused by infidelity; that you so lightly toss off, in your usual dismissal of everyone you disagree with, as being “unenlightened”.
You mention Arnold Schwartzneger (I have no idea how to spell it)and Maria Schriver, and Tiger Woods. I remember what happened with Donald and Ivana Trump; Prince Charles and Princess Diana; and who can forget President Clinton who “…did not have sex with that woman”, and didn’t know “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” There was a lot of real pain and everlasting harm in all of these things.
The most everlasting pain was what happened with Princess Diana; who would probably still be alive if not for Prince Charles’ infidelity.
Now I’m an unmarried fellow, with some idealistically romantic notions about marriage; that are probably foolish. However, if I had someone like Princess Diana waiting for me back at the Palace, I wouldn’t be looking anyplace else.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

I’ve just re-read my post and all the comments I made and don’t see a single instance where I lightly tossed off anyone’s pain and suffering.

Maybe you could enlighten me?

I wrote this post because whenever a public figure gets caught with his pants down, the lynching mobs appear. Complete strangers to the relationship get angry about the infidelity. They superimpose their relationship insecurities and anxieties on a marital relationship that they know NOTHING about.

That seems like a lot of wasted energy to me.

Hardship is inevitable. Misery is optional.

Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson - May 24, 2011

Oh, I think a lot of the finger wagging is because the public figures got CAUGHT doing what many people WISH they had the guts to admit they WISH they could be doing.

The Scarlet Letter, indeed.

In that book, Hester was the one with the power. And she kept her mouth shut. 😉

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Oh, I agree, Renee!

Some of the people who criticize and judge others are supreme hypocrites who just haven’t gotten caught yet.

Some are people who like to point out the short-comings of others to feel better about their own lives ~ they compare their self-righteous selves with others to feel superior.

Some have unprocessed anger and resentment in their relationships that spills over when they see a parallel situation.

Or they have secretly fantasized about being with the “wronged party” (Maria, Princess Diana, etc.) and view the cheating spouse as a “dirty worm” for not cherishing the object of their fantasy.

I could go on . . . but I’m sure you get my point.

Bottom line: Whatever their inner motivation for sounding off about the situation, they are wasting energy getting angry about something that is (1) out of their hands, and (2) none of their business.

They create unnecessary suffering in themselves and others with their righteous indignation ~ often disguised as “care and concern” for the wronged party.

The world would be a better place if they would stop judging others and just go on about their own business. 😉

19. Pseu - May 24, 2011

One more year until the Silver Wedding and I’m not for trading in my model 🙂

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Me neither! Best decision I ever made . . . (or maybe the 2nd best, with the first being the decision to STOP practicing law).

Both decisions have added immeasurably to my happiness in life.

20. stockportartgallerywritersgroup - May 24, 2011

Re: Our Father – it wasn’t the church, but Jesus who told us, that’s why it’s called The Lord’s Prayer. It is a guide to how to pray.

On your post:

I have been with Paul for 29 years and never felt the urge to stray. We haven’t got a perfect marriage but we value it enough to work at it. We spent weeks apart for several years but trusted each other enough for it not to be an issue as far as fidelity was concerned.

He always says that to stray it would have to be worth the price he would have to pay in losing us.

I don’t speak specifically but generally, and I’m not talking about abusive or similar relationships, or saying it’s true of everyone with a failed marriage behind them, but I think many people find it easier to give up and move on to the next thing than to work through the problems. I think part of the blame for that is the unrealistic expectations foisted upon us by movies, novels, etc. Marriage is hard work and it requires the two of you to be heading in the same direction.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Excellent points.

All relationships require a give and take and open communication. People need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. They have to be willing to live and let live.

Many of us are not capable of sustaining a loving relationship with others due to all the “baggage” that we are carting around.

We want “them” to change to suit us . . . instead of changing ourselves and our expectations by realizing that it’s not their job to suit us.

21. nrhatch - May 24, 2011

For a terrific “rebuttal” . . . Shocking Moral Decay:


22. flyinggma - May 24, 2011

I’ve been mulling this over all day long. I think monogamy and fidelity are important in our society. There needs to be stability for children and nothing is more stable for them to come home to a home of two people who love and care for the best for each other.

After teaching for ten years and seeing the heartbreak in the children who suffer from their parents bad decisions I wholeheartly endorse monogamy and fidelity for a lifetime.

nrhatch - May 24, 2011

Thanks, Jeanne. “In our society” might be the key words in your post. You’re picturing two parents being better than one.

And I would agree with that.

But I think that three might be better than two. And four might be better than three.

What if kids could come home to an extended family of 12 or 15 loving adults ~ aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, etc.?

What if kids always had someone to care for them . . . even if BOTH of their biological parents died in a car accident or became alcoholics?

The insulated nuclear family is what allows two parents to make “bad decisions” that traumatize their kids for life ~ locking them up, starving them, beating them.

And it’s all done behind locked doors ~ hidden from prying eyes of well-meaning “strangers.”

Think about the book, “A Child Called IT.”

If we didn’t focus on monogamous marriages, we wouldn’t need to insulate families. Groups of families could pool resources. All adults could provide loving guidance and oversight to new inexperienced parents, etc.

Things might improve for the better.

* * * * *

I’ve enjoyed monogamy and fidelity in my marriage and highly recommend it.

I just think that when someone (especially a public figure) “breaks” their marriage vows, we need to be careful about judging them as a deficient human being . . . when it’s probably the human-ness in them that caused them to stray in the first place.

We cannot put ourselves in THEIR SHOES and say that we would not have done the same thing based on circumstances of which we have NO KNOWLEDGE.

And that’s why I wrote this post in the first place . . .

I’m not urging people to stray from marriages that are working . . . but I would like to encourage outsiders to a marriage to be a bit more understanding when one of the partners makes an all-too-human misstep or mistake.

23. Naomi - May 25, 2011

Interesting debate, Nancy. Monogamy in my experience yields untold treasure, but that’s certainly not to say it applies to everyone. Whichever path works for people, I hope it’s as happy 🙂

nrhatch - May 25, 2011

I’ve enjoyed monogamy and fidelity in my marriage and highly recommend it. BFF and I have been together for 30 years (married for 27) ~ and we’re still “best friends.” 😀

I grow annoyed at the lynching mobs that leap into the fray when a public figure “breaks” their marriage vows.

We need to be careful about judging people as deficient human beings . . . when it’s probably the human-ness in them that caused them to stray in the first place.

24. Tilly Bud - May 25, 2011

Hi Nancy.

The Stockportartgallery comment was me! Sorry, I didn’t realise I wasn’t writing from my own blog.


nrhatch - May 25, 2011

Thanks, Tilly. I didn’t know it was you.

I didn’t recognize your “hubs” by his given name and didn’t realize that you’d been together almost as long as me and BFF.

25. Booksphotographsandartwork - May 26, 2011

I’m not touching this one.

nrhatch - May 26, 2011

Fair enough. 😀

Happy marriages are a blessing. Unhappy marriages are a shame.

26. nrhatch - June 22, 2012
27. nrhatch - April 24, 2016

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