by McKayla Skinner
CNN recently published an article entitled Rethinking Monogamy Today, challenging the centuries long pattern of monogamy in marriage. Instead of couples choosing to “break up, cheat or just ‘settle” when they have sexual differences, the article suggests an alternative that encourages couples to be “informed,” break social stigma’s, and try extramarital relationships, which they claim supposedly increase novelty and communication. Yet, the article does not consider critical negative complexities of non-monogamy, such as (1) the difference between novelty and the need to be known, (2) the fact that there is more to marriage than sex, and (3) that jealousy takes away from true honesty in marriage.
Novelty versus Need to be Known
Why is novelty a temptation for couples who have been married longer, or for those who feel their honeymoon passion has plateaued? Many may not realize that this plateau is meant to happen, and that it is part of a natural process. The brain excretes the same number of hormones that match up with their receptors, and overtime that honeymoon “rush” becomes more normal. This natural process is what many couples mistake as falling out of love, when they have not taken the next step towards deeper and more mature love. That initial bonding at the beginning of the marriage is not without its benefits. It helps establish the relationship, separating it from others, and helps the couple to weather the challenges of a new marriage. However, more full intimacy (emotional, psychological, etc.) comes with time, and is not found in mere novelty or through complicating the marriage relationship with more sexual relationships. The real need behind novelty is the need to be known, not just sexually.
More to Marriage than Sex
If one were to ask family psychologists, such as Alan Hansen from Canyon Counseling Center, they would tell you that most couples who struggle with sexual issues have deeper communication issues with intimacy, or the need to be known. In speaking to a group of young married couples, the psychologist presented a triangle method used in his practice emphasizing safety as the base and sex as the climax of marriage, with sex being the smallest part. When the foundation needs are met, then the sexual relationship flows naturally, but when sex is the base of the relationship couples are more likely to have an affair or break up.
Jealousy Undermines True Honesty
Hollywood is a main culprit that romanticizes jealousy in relationships, misinforming viewers about the proper way to build committed relationships. They fail to mention emotional baggage from having multiple sexual partners, and glorify the tension between love triangles, all the while promoting love in marriage as only a consumer’s market and withholding the responsibility of its “status, [or] office” to the community and family. The true face of jealousy brings deep pain into the heart of the spouse and the children. Jealousy truly does undermine honesty. The CNN article attempts to advocate for honesty in open relationships, encouraging couples to declare boundaries in their extramarital relationships. However, this is a misuse of honesty, and when couples are truly honest with themselves they realize that infidelity is not honest to the commitment they made to their spouse at the beginning of their marriage. Couples who want to strengthen their marriage should think about how they can get to know their spouse on a deeper level, what more there is to their marriage than sex, and what their responsibilities are as couple to their family and community.