The cover story of yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, titled “Infidelity Keeps Us Together,” presents a strong case for couples who agree that monogamy isn’t the end-all, be-all to maintaining a successful relationship. “Treating monogamy, rather than honesty or joy or humor, as the main indicator of a successful marriage gives people unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners,” says the article, explaining the views of Dan Savage, who writes the popular sex-advice column, Savage Love.
“The mistake that straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectations on men. Men were never expected to monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitarian and fairsey,” Savage, who is gay, told the NYT writer. He maintains that the feminist revolution, rather than giving women the “same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” instead imposed on men the “confines women had always endured. And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”
It is unrealistic to ask our husbands or wives to be all things sexually for us, Savage asserts. Although he still thinks monogamy is the right choice for many couples, it isn’t necessarily the only choice or the superior choice. Couples should discuss how they want their vows to work, Savage explained to the NYT writer. If a couple wants to be exclusive, then they have to be extremely “good, giving and game,” he added. “If you are expected to be monogamous, then you have to be whores for each other. You have to be up for anything.”
Those who are about to make commitments need to look at the failed monogamous relationships all around and talk together about what it will mean if either of them should cheat. “They should place a higher value on the relationship itself than on one component to it, sexual exclusivity,” Savage said. That’s apparently what Hillary Clinton and Silda Spitzer decided to do, even it’s unlikely they talked about the subject of monogamy when they married.
The older I get, the more I agree monogamy isn’t what it’s cracked up to be; at least, not for everyone.