As if we needed the Ashley Madison data breach to tell us that infidelity is rampant in marriages. Studies are consistently showing that 70-75% of men and women will cheat on their spouses at some point during their relationship. And the consequences are severe… over half of marriages end in divorce… with infidelity and sexual incompatibility cited as one of the top reasons.
Clearly the traditional monogamous, till death do we part, relationship model is not optimal.
An increasing number of couples – with full male and female consent – are beginning to wonder if at least part of the problem is not our cultural fixation on sexual monogamy.
Thus the rise of ethical non-monogamy.
More and more couples are starting to feel that while they would like to be emotionally and primarily connected to their spouse for the long haul, that long term commitment would be made easier is they could get a little something on the side.
As a cultural phenomenon, it makes good sense. The argument for long term relationships is clear – stable child rearing, steady and comfortable companionship, social stability. The argument for sexual monogamy is less evident – in an age of condoms and birth control, having sex outside your relationship – if it doesn’t undermine the stability of your relationship – is pretty low risk. And, given our innate desire for variety, pretty high reward.
For individuals in a relationship, a little sexual extra-cirricular – either with your partner or separately – can keep your sex life interesting, quench your thirst for variety and allow you to appreciate and enjoy the other 90% – the non-sexual part – of your relationship.
Is it really that different from having a friend you play chess with because your husband just doesn’t like chess? Well, yes it is. But only because we hold sex on just an arcane, stigmatized pedestal.
So, I am becoming convinced…. a more open attitude toward open marriages may be just what the institution of marriage needs. There is, of course, no one size fits all approach. For some it may be a an occasional three way with a sex worker. For others, swapping and sharing with other couples but with everyone still together (same room swapping as the swingers call it). For still others, regular dates and sex with others all on your own. The common thread… permission to indulge in your desire for sexual variety within bounds that you both agree to.
Is this a panacea? Of course not. Many relationships are, and will always be, destined to end, or be unhappy. But I am convinced this could be a step in the right direction for many. And what have we to lose… the status quo is obviously not working well.