DISCLAIMER: I just wanted to state emphatically before I continue that I am not against monogamy at all. I am in a monogamous relationship myself and have been for a while. What I am doing is raising questions nothing more nothing less.
Monogamy in Chimps
In college Bio I read something like this statement taken from the wiki on monogamous pairings in animals: “In species where the young are particularly vulnerable and may benefit from protection by both parents, monogamy may be an optimal strategy.” This idea that monogamy is an evolutionary strategy got me thinking. Our post-literate technocratic society is very different from the wilds of the Serengeti Plains, so then is monogamy the still an ideal strategy?
Talking about monogamy today is like sailing through the Symplegades, those clashing rocks Odysseus and crew meet on their legendary peregrinations. There are so many knee-jerk reactions as opposed to thought out responses. I thought with this being the case to look at our closest evolutionary ancestor the chimpanzee. There are many similarities between us and chimps. For example:
Primatologist have identified temporary monogamous pair-bonds between males and females (bonobos and chimpanzees) that last anywhere from several days to a few weeks, and they call these romantics trysts “consortships.” While these consortship lasts, the couples show all signs of what we know as “falling in love”. They gaze into each other’s eyes, kiss hold hands and wander off into the forest to be alone together. When they return to the group the female is often pregnant.
There are more things in common.
- Mating occurs throughout the year and there is no evidence of a birth season
- The majority of chimpanzee reproductive behavior is promiscuous
- Restrictive mating, where the dominant male restricts other males from mating with estrous females
- Consortship mating, where an adult pair leave the community for several days to weeks
I bring this up because sometimes we tend to forget that we are animals and that a lot of the things we hold to be special and almost sacrosanct like holding hands. gazing into each other’s eyes, and monogamy have a biological and evolutionary basis. As much as we advocate self-restraint and the regulation of sexual desire, statistics show that it’s generally unrealistic.
The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage
According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.
- The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
- The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
- The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
Where We Mess Up
I’ve been thinking about some issues that need to be addressed.
The way I see it, I do not own my significant other. I also do not control her emotions or her sexuality. I cannot get upset if she find some dude walking down the street to be hot. That’s biology. All I can do is articulate what are the boundaries in our relationship and continue to act towards her in such a way that she wants to stay with me of her own volition. If those boundaries are crossed then the actions will have consequences we have discussed and agreed to abide by.
I don’t think we talk enough and at the beginning of our relationships. As a result we have problems with infidelity. Which is worse: someone (man or woman) before getting into a serious relationship saying: “I’m looking for a long-term relationship but I want some flings on the side” or suppressing that need and then sneaking around to fulfill that it? I mean look at the stats, it’s going to happen in 41% marriages, why not be honest at the onset. No one has a gun to your head saying you have to accept anything you don’t want to.
It’s not about Forever
People change over time. Forever is an abstract concept, nothing last forever. Soul-mates are an abstract concept too. When I look at the news everyday, I always find myself wondering if people actually have souls. I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no such thing as a soul mate. If you are lucky you get a mate, for an unknown amount of time.
The Focus of our Happiness
Therapy helped me realize that I made many important life decision with the aim of pleasing and making my parents happy. This is one of the worst fucking things I have ever done. I’ve concluded that each person in the relationship should have themselves as the focus of their happiness. I’m working hard to get the things I want in life that will make me happy. Mrs. Mary empowers me to do so. I in turn empower her to do the same for herself. I support her art work and whatever she needs to get where she needs to go with her career life etc. I cannot have my happiness dependent on someone else’s happiness. Quite often we have no idea what will satisfy us or make us happiness in life, why should someone pin their happiness on something we don’t know and cannot conceptualize?
No one is under any obligation to do anything for anyone. What I mean to say is that for instance, I take care of my significant other because doing so makes me happy, not because I feel obligated. I’m old school, being able to provide for her is fulfilling. I’ve always tried to do the things that I wanted to do and not the things I was supposed today because I value sincerity. A lot of people get married because they feel obligated to do so. A lot of people give gifts because they feel obligated to do so. I don’t work that way.
I think ultimately what is at the root of many issues with monogamy and marriage is that we neither see ourselves nor accept ourselves for what we are.
What do you think ?
My Blogger in Arms, TarnsZ has written a post similar check it out: Monogamy and Fidelity