20 Reasons Monogamy Rocks

I read an interesting article in the New York Times about monogamy and how it’s going out of style. According to love guru Dan Savage, monogamy just doesn’t work for a lot of couples.

It’s an interesting viewpoint, and to some extent I agree with him. Some people don’t have what it takes to be monogamous. They lack the self-control and they just don’t value it in general. The problem is that these folks still seem to embrace marriage. This is problematic because they seem to mostly embrace marriage with folks who are good at monogamy. And when this happens, the folks who are good at monogamy get hurt.

At any rate, it seems as if the media champions stories about how monogamy sucks. That’s why I decided to write a post listing all of the reasons monogamy rocks.

  1. You can accidentally fart during sex and it’s not a big deal because it’s happened before.
  2. But you wouldn’t ever fart on purpose during sex because you know each other’s names and will be seeing each other again and thus can’t just conveniently pretend it never happened.
  3. You’ve already figured out what to do about the wet spot. In fact, figuring out what to do with the wet spot is so 15 years ago.
  4. You know how your bodies fit together comfortably—and how they don’t.
  5. You don’t have to worry about STDs.
  6. You know each other so well that you trust one another to take a razor to each other’s private areas.
  7. You’ve given each other so many orgasms that you can perform this role in your sleep and sometimes do.
  8. You will never need a paternity test to determine who the father of your children is.
  9. For women: you’ve long overcome your fears of him thinking your boobs are too small.
  10. For men: you’ve long overcome your fears of her thinking your penis is too small.
  11. If you call your spouse by the wrong name during sex, it’s because you are trying to be kinky and not because you don’t know your spouse’s name.
  12. You’ve tried all of the positions and you know which ones give you leg cramps and are therefore better left out of your usual repertoire.
  13. Because you’ve tried all of the positions, you have many memories to make you laugh and lighten up the mood in the bedroom. For instance, all I have to do is say “Do you remember the shower incident?” and my husband smiles.
  14. There is no walk of shame because you are having sex where you live and with the person you are married to.
  15. If you accidentally lose your panties under the bed, you don’t have to worry about the wrong person finding them–unless you happen to have a cleaning lady.
  16. If your spouse pulls a sex toy out of a drawer and wants to use it on you, you know exactly where that toy has been.
  17. You can send your spouse a text message with a photo of your package and not have to worry about your spouse forwarding that text to the media.
  18. You can challenge each other to push out of your comfort zones—for instance by exploring how long you can both hold out or how many orgasms she can have before she starts thinking about how messy the house is.
  19. If sex is just so-so on any given night, it’s not a big deal because there will always be another night.
  20. Sex is comfortable, and there’s beauty in that. For more on the benefits of comfort sex, check out this article.

What do you think the drawbacks of monogamy are? What are the pluses? Do you think we should legalize two different marriages? One for people who want to be monogamous and one for people who don’t?

52 comments… add one

  • Alexandra July 5, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Good post! Lots to think about here. Some people are not meant to marry young and shouldn’t. As you say, they will only hurt the person they marry if and when they stray. Some people marry the wrong person. I loved my first husband but he was not the right person for me. Now that I’ve found the right person, I’m happily married and I know my marriage is solid.

    Reply
  • Gay Edelman July 5, 2011, 6:48 pm

    Well said, Alisa. I am a BIG fan of monogamy. And I’m less generous than you about people who fail at it–it pisses me off, wondering why so many people have so much trouble saying no to themselves and interfering others about anything from another cupcake to betraying someone you vowed your fidelity to. I should be more patient, God knows. I am not perfect at lots of things. But loyalty? Slam dunk.

    Reply
  • Maile July 5, 2011, 6:51 pm

    LOVE this post ! #11 is hilarious, #16 is a scary reality these days … monogamy keeps sex safe, not boring, jmo.
    Trying various positions, learning your partner’s likes and dislikes through trial and error (and even the errors are often enjoyable).
    I love finding new ways to “tease” my husband … after over 20 years, it’s still a challenge, and lots of fun. Findind new ways to tempt, being more open … sex is not only for at night, in a dark room where you can’t see each other’s “flaws”.
    Love making happens all day, in the words, tone of voice, soft kisses, “accidental” caresses … and it continues into making love, sharing the most intimate part of yourself with someone you love.

    Reply
  • Laura July 5, 2011, 7:57 pm

    Love this post…..so true that is easier to experiment with someone who has seen you at your worst as well as your best. I think marriage is definitely work and a lot of people justdon’t seem to want to put in the necessary work.

    Reply
  • Rollercoasterider July 5, 2011, 8:08 pm

    Um…I don’t want Sweetheart taking a razor to my private area. I mean he’s Sweetheart and all and I love him, and I love him so much that I won’t let him do that–since I’d freak out and flinch!

    No I don’t think there should be two kinds of legal marriages. If a consenting couple want an open marriage it is not my job to judge. I am privately disapprove–okay I guess I just made removed the privacy by saying it here. But if they are consenting, why is it my business? But as you pointed out it is often not two consenting adults, but one cheater and a wishing-for-monogamy spouse.

    What are the drawbacks?
    Well, I guess you are experimentally limited.
    What are the pluses?
    Well, I guess you don’t have to worry about someone wanting to experiment where you don’t want to go…

    Reply
  • Sara July 5, 2011, 8:53 pm

    This is such a great list! Even my hubby says that these are some of the reasons we always give our single friends of why we’re so happy we “settled down” with each other. Just because you settle down doesn’t mean you settled, and I feel like we’re so much happier because neither of us could care less if a random burp or fart pops out now and then. In fact, we have such a good sense of humor with each other, that our best funny memories include various gasses, hahaha.

    Reply
  • Jomamma July 5, 2011, 10:23 pm

    You know, I read that article and thought it was very interesting but flawed. It struck me as if he were making the argument for people who were too lazy to work on their marriage or relationships to go out and cheat, and then argued that that would HELP their marriage? If monogamy is not for you, then you probably shouldn’t be married. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Reply
    • Maureen July 6, 2011, 9:06 am

      I read it too and agree. If one doesn’t want to be monogamous or isn’t willing to work on a relationship then don’t get married. This applies to same sex marriages as well.
      It’s like signing a contract to rent a car and then saying, “But driving the speed limit is boring and I might fall asleep.” Then you speed, get in an accident, total the car and try to get out of paying for the damage as you agreed apon in the contract. If you want to drive however you want best not to sign a contract to rent a car, buy one… then hope you don’t wreck your own car or get a speeding ticket.

      Reply
      • Tipper July 6, 2011, 10:21 am

        There’s nothing in a civil marriage contract, as far as I have seen, that states that one needs to be monogamous. If one enters into a relationship with the understanding that it will be monogamous, and always will be, that is one thing. Breaking that contract, whether through cheating or asking to open up the marriage, is going to be a major blow. But if you establish your marriage with the understanding that it will not necessarily be monogamous, or with the understanding that the relationship may change (assuming you and your partner feel comfortable and secure enough to ask for and work on change), your contract remains intact.

        It sounds to me like getting married because one wants to enforce monogamy is a bad idea. There are plenty of other reasons people get married that sound a lot more honest, such as for the tax breaks or ability to visit one’s spouse in the hospital without issues. Those things, anyway, are what same-sex couples fight for, not some idea that marriage = monogamy.

  • Tipper July 5, 2011, 11:06 pm

    The opposite of monogamy isn’t cheating. It can be, but Savage doesn’t advocate cheating. Being honest about one’s “infidelities” (if you can even call them that if they’re talked about) is not cheating.

    I take issue with the idea that if I’m in a non-monogamous relationship (which I am; my husband and I are married, and we explore relationships with others), I lack self-control or do not value monogamy. Monogamy has its advantages, as you list, though, really, those advantages can apply to any relationship that is intimate. Having sex isn’t intimacy, and, no, you’re not going to get those things with someone you have a fling with, but that doesn’t mean they’re advantages exclusive to monogamy.

    I’m fully with Savage on this issue, that’s for sure!

    Reply
    • Alisa July 6, 2011, 6:51 am

      Tipper–thanks for adding to the discussion. What word or phrase would you use to describe how you feel about monogamy? I used “value” to mean “don’t believe in” or “don’t choose it.” You can value monogamy or you can value non-monogamy. But not both at the same time, yes? My point wasn’t that people who don’t choose to be monogamous are bad people. I’m sorry if that’s what you read or thought I meant. I’m trying to figure out which words/phrases gave you that impression.

      In my mind, it’s similar to me valuing vegetarianism. Because I value it, I have the self control to not eat meat. Others don’t value it. This doesn’t make them bad people. It’s just not a value for them. Therefore they do not practice self control around meat. That’s all I meant by it.

      Reply
      • Red_Flapper July 6, 2011, 9:07 am

        I can’t answer for Tipper, but I can point out the bits that rubbed me the wrong way:

        “you know each other’s names and will be seeing each other again and thus can’t just conveniently pretend it never happened.”, “If you call your spouse by the wrong name during sex, it’s because you are trying to be kinky and not because you don’t know your spouse’s name”, “If sex is just so-so on any given night, it’s not a big deal because there will always be another night.” : non-monogamy isn’t about anonymous one-night stands. It seems to be the only way you’re looking at it, and that’s really not helpful.

        You can’t really salvage the “lack of self control” comment and pretend it was neutral and non-judgemental. Most meat eaters don’t “lack the self-control” to be vegetarian either. They’ve looked at their life and made the decision not to be. Your piece really gives the impression that you see people who make choices that are different from yours as somehow flawed.

      • Tipper July 6, 2011, 10:04 am

        I believe in monogamy – it certainly exists. I classify whether one is monogamous or nonmonogamous as on the same level as sexual orientation. One can be gay and choose not to act upon it (by marrying someone of the opposite sex and having children, for example), but that doesn’t mean it is something that feels natural or right to them. Likewise, you can choose monogamy – as I have in the past – and it might not feel right to you. I still value it, though; I think it’s a good thing for many people. I absolutely don’t think that it’s an issue of self-control. I have self-control even if I’m nonmonogamous, as I choose to discuss things with my husband rather than jump into new relationships whenever I feel like it.

        If we’re comparing this to vegetarianism, consider that if one doesn’t have a compelling personal reason for maintaining the state of not eating meat, or doesn’t believe it’s a big issue, eating meat is not going to be a horrible thing to them. If I was a hardcore animal-rights vegetarian who believed that eating meat was evil, but I couldn’t resist a hamburger, I would feel horrible about myself because I did something against my personal ethics. If I was a vegetarian for health reasons (say, I want to lose weight) and ate a hamburger, I might feel like I didn’t do myself any favors, but not that I am a bad person with no values. If I was an omnivore, I have no reason to not have that hamburger, but I could certainly choose a vegetarian dish if I felt like it at the time.

        It is the phrase of “self-control” that implies that someone *should* have that self-control. Certainly, you can find another word that will say what you’re trying to say without the negative implications of that word.

        That may be the most complicated analogy ever. :D

      • Alisa July 6, 2011, 10:54 am

        Tipper– for what it’s worth, I actually think we agree. We’re just using different words to express the same idea. If we were sitting face to face, it’s one of those things we could probably hash out pretty quickly. In written communication, it can be harder. I personally don’t see self control as a black or a white thing. Rather as shades. Sometimes I don’t have it either. But I don’t see that as = good v bad. But from your comments, I think that you do connect these. I’m sorry that you felt I was calling you (or anyone else) a bad person. With the possible exception of serial killers, I don’t believe anyone is a bad person.

        Red Flapper– I understand you are very angry with what I wrote here and possibly with me in general. I’m sorry I stirred that anger up in you. I’m also sorry that you feel I am pretending to be non judgmental. I don’t think you are flawed at all. I actually wrote this piece to start a discussion about a topic that few people talk about. I’m glad I have achieved that goal, but sad that you feel attacked.

      • Red_Flapper July 6, 2011, 11:09 am

        I’m not really angry, just a bit disappointed! I’ll admit that I do in fact have a lack of self-control in terms of my tone on internet forums. I need to learn to be more aware of how I come across. I apologise for being overly aggressive; I’m used to different (possibly more immature!) sites :p

        Peace out :)

  • Red_Flapper July 6, 2011, 3:10 am

    I’m with Tipper on this one. I’ve been reading you for a while and really like your stuff, but that was unnecessarily condescending and asshole-ish. I’m personally on the fence about the monogamy issue (single at the moment), but non-monogamy doesn’t mean shameful anonymous one-night stands like you seem to suggest. I get that you were trying to go for humour here, but you made yourself look uninformed and smug. I mean, “lack self-control”? Really? Wow.

    Reply
  • Lisa July 6, 2011, 8:11 am

    I would expect that monogamy is a given in marriage. If you dont value your marriage with monogamy then you shouldnt be married. People are hurt, children are hurt. If a married couple decides that they want to explore other relationships and it works for them then fine, but cheating is a different issue. Someone is lied to, and probably emotionally abused for it. It happens all the time. Lack of self control (SELFISH!!!!)

    Reply
  • Maureen July 6, 2011, 8:51 am

    I read this blog often enough to know that Alisa’s intention is to NOT be asshole-ish. Your opinion was made known at the word “condescending”, precluding the need to add profanity. However, it’s been my experience, that IF someone doesn’t value monogamy they will most likely “lack self-control”.
    It probably isn’t so much a “lack of self-control” as it is a “lack of honesty”. If one doesn’t believe in monogamy and still marries some who IS monogamous then that person lacks integrity and respect. Now THAT would be asshole-ish.
    @Alisa I GOT your point and thoroughly enjoyed the post. When it comes to humor I totally “lack self-control” and will be reading this tonight to my hubby.

    Reply
  • Red_Flapper July 6, 2011, 8:58 am

    Fair enough.

    But did you guys actually *read* the article? This is absolutely not about cheating. It’s about a mutually agreed-upon arrangement with a stable relationship. As the article puts it, it’s about valuing stability over sexual monogamy. Calling it selfish, a lack of self-control etc. is missing the point.

    Of course, I agree that going behind your partner’s back is terrible. That’s not what this is about.

    Reply
    • Tipper July 6, 2011, 10:05 am

      Right on times a lot!

      Reply
  • MomsUnite July 6, 2011, 10:16 am

    I didn’t take this list as a values statement. I thought it was hysterically witty and Alisa had me at number one!! I mean, for those who are touting the value of honesty….farting during sex is about as honest as you can get. And well, the wet spot…there’s a strategy to making sure it doesn’t end up on your side – trust me.

    My pastor friend does counseling for about to be married couples and she has a great exercise they must complete. Mind you, this is a Christian example, but I’m sure there are other ways to frame this pre-marital work. She has the bride and groom go to separate corners to fill out a questionnaire about their ideal Christmas and what that would look like. There are all kinds of nitty, gritty details – white lights or colored, themed tree or hodgepodge, dinner at a family members house or host dinner, open presents Christmas Eve or first thing in the am….on and on until they’ve planned their ideal holiday. Then, the couples must come together and share. That’s when the fireworks begin!!! You can imagine that holidays hold an important place in one’s heart and everyone has their own ideals and values that surround the event. They also find these picture-perfect expectations hard to let go. It gives my friend the opportunity to start the conversation about expectations and values that are important to each individual. It also serves as an exercise in the art of compromise and deal-breakers. I tell all my bride-to-be friends that they should have this conversation ASAP! I know I wish I would have!

    As someone who has been married nearly 20 years and seen the devastation and hurt caused by a non-monogamous relationship (not sure that must only mean sex – emotional affairs can hurt more IMHO), I agree that it is important that boundaries should be set from the start. Not discussing the expectations and having a gray area in which to stray is a recipe for disaster. I’m by no means and expert but I am starting to feel like a “veteran” some days although I’ve taken a lot of Alisa’s advice recently – and seen results. To stop working in your marriage is to fail.

    Also, I did read the entire article and I found it interesting that most I know who sent it around were using it retroactively to “justify” their behavior although their situation was by no means entered into within an open and honest arrangement.

    Anyways, thanks Alisa. I had a great laugh and in my situation, I’d combine 15 and 16 to say….You can laugh when you don’t put all your toys away and the cleaning lady has to pretend she didn’t see the one that rolled under the coffee table!

    Reply
  • Joanne July 6, 2011, 10:19 am

    I think a recurring theme in both Mr. Savages article and in Alisa’s comment is in the honesty aspect needed to have any committed relationship. I am a big proponent in monogamy, I just don’t think that an open marriage is sustainable but that is strictly my opinion. I want the stability and familiarity that Alisa refers to, I think that is part of a long term committed relationship.
    I have come to some recent self truths that have made me view marriage (the actual commitment) in a different light and make me very wary of judging anyone Else’s definition. I think in our small world intolerance is the real enemy.
    I agree with Alisa’s list and don’t find it condescending at all, just her opinion given in a clear and somewhat tongue in cheek way that I have come to enjoy. This needs to be a safe place where we can all voice our opinion without someone calling us an obscenity. If you don’t agree simply state your opinion without the personal attacks.

    Reply
  • Jenn July 6, 2011, 1:32 pm

    Firstly, I found this article really funny. It makes light of some of the realities of intimacy and marriage and we need to be able to take it lightly. However, it does address a contentious issue and lightness doesn’t cover some peoples ingrained and deeply defensible positions on an even more contentious subject – marriage.

    I am also a HUGE fan of Dan Savage so I’m going to state right out that I deeply agree with his stance on this subject – even though my partner and I choose monogamy.

    Marriage does not equal monogamy. Marriage equals commitment. Just as the marriage ceremony differs depending on culture, religion, personal tastes, personal needs, etc. the idea of what that commitment entails differs depending on all of the same criteria.

    Marriage is a life long journey of compromise, compassion, compromise, forgiveness, compromise, growth, compromise, love… A relationship is an entity that evolves just as two people evolve – where that takes the individuals and the relationship is up to them.

    @Lisa
    Your comment struck a nerve in me so I’m editing it for you:

    I expect that monogamy is a given in my marriage. If I didn’t value my marriage with monogamy then I wouldn’t be married. If a married couple decides that they want to explore other relationships, and it works for them, then fine, but cheating is a different issue. Someone is lied to, and probably emotionally abused for it. It happens all the time. Cheating equals lack of self control (SELFISH!!!!)

    Reply
  • Joanne July 6, 2011, 1:57 pm

    Jenn; I so agree with you. The bonds that are formed in a marriage are very individual to the couple entering into them. Compromise is a hugh part of the equation as are communication and honesty. I think the most important ingredient is that the marriage be healthy and life affirming in whatever context it is created. As long as the individuals involved are being uplifted by the situation you have success and for someone on the periphery to make constraints based on their value set is just not healthy.
    We have a society that has a 50% divorce rate (last time I read a stat on it) in a conventionally structured marriage, so obviously the model is flawed 1/2 the time.

    Reply
  • MomsUnite July 6, 2011, 2:29 pm

    If we want to get all “legaleeze” about the meaning of the word marriage, then there probably is a difference between a city hall contracted marriage and a church wedding where vows are made. If you made a vow of “forsaking all others” (and literally said those words) from the beginning then that should be honored and considered the baseline understanding for the relationship. If you want to move the goal posts after that, then either person has to assume the original “contract” null and void and decide if they’d rather opt out or renegotiate. I would prefer to discuss that option up front and before the act and decide whether I’m in or out (definitely out!) rather than find out about it surreptitiously. In that sense, I can see Savage’s point about the honesty in a relationship. Of course I don’t think either finding out “honestly” or through intrigue hurts less either way if your expectations are “forsaking all others.”

    Reply
  • John July 7, 2011, 11:09 pm

    Hmmm. Some of these comments make me chuckle (and that’s “you kinda have to get over yourself” kind of chuckle).

    Alisa’s article wasn’t meant to dash Savage’s viewpoints, but to stand up for monogamy. So if you’re THAT offended by a tongue & cheek article that won’t be read as much as Savages then you clearly need to find more security in your lifestyle. The last time I heard the NY Times had more readers than this blog (no offense, Alisa, I enjoy your blog) so those that value non-monogamy got a huge shout out.

    Reply
    • Alisa July 8, 2011, 5:55 am

      John no worries. I’m not offended. The NYT has more than a million readers. I have 50,000. Huge difference. At any rate, I don’t think I worded a few things as effectively as I could have. I’m not necessarily a monogamy proponent for everyone. It’s the best choice for me and for my husband and my marriage. And I think it can be the best choice for a lot of other people, too. It’s not dead and it’s not hopeless. It can actually be hugely rewarding. But the media continually paints it as “boring.” At the same time, I have a few very close friends who are in some version of open relationships. I call it “some version” because none of these relationships fit into any neat box. They are all vastly different from each other. And while they have their own set of challenges, this arrangement seems to be working for these couples. So I’m not against that either because I’m the last person to complain about what another couple is doing in their bedroom if it is working for them. (I don’t even complain if it’s not working for them. Not my business). I originally started writing this post with that point in mind–that monogamy can be just as exciting as nonmonogamy–that both can be the right choice. Neither is passe. Neither is wrong. It just depends on your goals as a couple. But I didn’t seem to make it. I blame that on me being a bit burned out lately, so perhaps I didn’t choose the most effective wording.

      Reply
  • Ravsean July 10, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Hi all…

    I have been on vacation. Jennifer and I made a decision that we would minimize the use of the computer while we were gone.

    I am taking the time to digest the Savage article (indeed, it is quite savage). I do have some preliminary thoughts though.

    1. If Mr. Savage is having problems with “boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted,” it is pure cowardice to seek outside gratification rather than at least talk about it with his spouse. I refuse to accept the lack of willpower. Life is a series of choices. It is just as easy to choose to stay in one’s home as it is to choose to leave it. He approves of the coward’s way out.

    2. If Mrs. Savage is more concerned with the proper colour to paint the ceiling, then Mr. Savage suffers not from a lack of willpower, but from a lack of imagination.

    3. As concerns the role of clergy, if the clergy performing the wedding ceremony discusses only views on raising children without taking the time to discuss how those children come into the world in the first place, then said clergy has failed in his/her divine tasking, as well as in his/her responsibility to the couple.

    For the record, I discuss the marital bedroom with couples whose weddings I perform. I discuss frequency. I discuss variety. I discuss handcuffs. Marriages fail in the bedroom long before they fail anywhere else. That part of the marital life must be nurtured. It is not a perk of marriage. It is an essential ingredient (cleverly disguised as a perk).

    I am unable to speak to the writings and teachings of my colleagues in other faith groups. I can tell you without hesitation that my own tradition discusses these matters in great detail. Feel free to read “Does God Belong in the Bedroom?” by Rabbi Michael Gold. As well, you might consider “Kosher Sex” by Shmuley Boteach. For something a little more classical, perhaps “The Holy Letter” (attributed to Nachminides, 13th century Spain) is in order.

    It is comparatively simple for a person to seduce many lovers once. The mark of talent and character is the ability to seduce one lover many times. Mr. Savage apparently thinks it is okay to lack such talent and character. That is fine. He should not attempt to rationalize it as acceptable behaviour.

    Alisa – you should be judgmental about behaviours you find reprehensible. We come to your website to agree and disagree with each other. Not one of us has ever held back in wording our opinions. You should not do so either. I first started visiting your website last December, when you had an article on Foxnews.com. There is another writer on intimacy. I do not read her material. Anyone who supports the idea of open marriage is not worth the time and effort. She was wrong before her fingers even hit the keyboard. You have laboured on this site to help us to maintain our monogamous relationships. Please do not back down from it.

    I owe the Navy a one-hour workout. I will most certainly write more later.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 10, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Hi all…

    I am reposting this. It somehow got stuck up in the middle.

    Sorry for the second time.

    RavSean

    I have been on vacation. Jennifer and I made a decision that we would minimize the use of the computer while we were gone.

    I am taking the time to digest the Savage article (indeed, it is quite savage). I do have some preliminary thoughts though.

    1. If Mr. Savage is having problems with “boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted,” it is pure cowardice to seek outside gratification rather than at least talk about it with his spouse. I refuse to accept the lack of willpower. Life is a series of choices. It is just as easy to choose to stay in one’s home as it is to choose to leave it. He approves of the coward’s way out.

    2. If Mrs. Savage is more concerned with the proper colour to paint the ceiling, then Mr. Savage suffers not from a lack of willpower, but from a lack of imagination.

    3. As concerns the role of clergy, if the clergy performing the wedding ceremony discusses only views on raising children without taking the time to discuss how those children come into the world in the first place, then said clergy has failed in his/her divine tasking, as well as in his/her responsibility to the couple.

    For the record, I discuss the marital bedroom with couples whose weddings I perform. I discuss frequency. I discuss variety. I discuss handcuffs. Marriages fail in the bedroom long before they fail anywhere else. That part of the marital life must be nurtured. It is not a perk of marriage. It is an essential ingredient (cleverly disguised as a perk).

    I am unable to speak to the writings and teachings of my colleagues in other faith groups. I can tell you without hesitation that my own tradition discusses these matters in great detail. Feel free to read “Does God Belong in the Bedroom?” by Rabbi Michael Gold. As well, you might consider “Kosher Sex” by Shmuley Boteach. For something a little more classical, perhaps “The Holy Letter” (attributed to Nachminides, 13th century Spain) is in order.

    It is comparatively simple for a person to seduce many lovers once. The mark of talent and character is the ability to seduce one lover many times. Mr. Savage apparently thinks it is okay to lack such talent and character. That is fine. He should not attempt to rationalize it as acceptable behaviour.

    Alisa – you should be judgmental about behaviours you find reprehensible. We come to your website to agree and disagree with each other. Not one of us has ever held back in wording our opinions. You should not do so either. I first started visiting your website last December, when you had an article on Foxnews.com. There is another writer on intimacy. I do not read her material. Anyone who supports the idea of open marriage is not worth the time and effort. She was wrong before her fingers even hit the keyboard. You have laboured on this site to help us to maintain our monogamous relationships. Please do not back down from it.

    I owe the Navy a one-hour workout. I will most certainly write more later.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 10, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Hi all…

    This will be my second comment on this topic. I will write one more tonight. Thank you for bearing with me.

    The regular readers are by now aware of my belief that adultery is spousal abuse. For further elaboration, go to http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/2010/11/how-to-get-past-an-affair-2/comment-page-1/#comments and read my comments of 29 December 2010 at 10:28 PM.

    I will state it again: adultery is spousal abuse. Let us explore this line of thought for a couple of minutes.

    So the hypothetical scene is this: a person uses rather nasty, derisive language in a conversation with the spouse. We are witness to it. Afterwards, the offending spouse leaves. The following conversation ensues:

    Us: Why do you tolerate such a verbal assault?
    Victim of verbal assault: It is okay. My spouse asked permission.

    My friends, the permission slip does not render the verbal attack any less abusive. We would still react with a fair amount of derision and judgmental thoughts about the person who visits such a verbal assault on an intimate partner.

    For a couple to go bed-hopping is abusive. The presence of a permission slip does not change that fact in any way.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 10, 2011, 7:06 pm

    Hi all….

    I apologize for having a rather leaky pen this evening. I promise not to write another word for at least an hour.

    I read Mark Oppenheimer’s article about the interview with Dan Savage. No fewer than three points demand reaction.

    1. The Savage says that monogamy is harder than we admit, but points out that one of the advantages of monogamy is “emotional safety.” It is appalling that he would suggest that one could play fast and loose with emotional safety to have a tryst with a neighbour. It is further appalling that he would risk sacrificing the emotional safety of his spouse, or of the spouse of the person with whom he has this tryst.

    2. The Savage says “treating monogamy, rather than honesty or joy or humour, as the main indicator of a successful marriage…” Sorry folks…it is the main indicator. We can be honest with anyone. We should be. We can have joy with anyone. We can share a laugh with anyone. The only thing we can keep to ourselves is monogamy. If we choose to discard that, there is no point to marriage at all.

    3. The Savage says “folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments need to look at the wreckage around them – all the failed monogamous relationships.” True – Schwarzneggar, Clinton, Weiner – they all make the news, and the emotional wreckage is visible for the entire world. We see that, and it is quite easy to miss what does not make the news. “John Jones woke up this morning. He packed his kids off to school and helped his wife get out to work. He went to work. He saw a drop-dead gorgeous platinum blonde, but he kept walking. Eventually, Mr. Jones went home. He and his family had dinner. The kids went to bed. Mr. and Mrs. Jones had tea. They too went to bed. They turned out the light, so we have no clue what happened after that.” I submit to all of you that in spite of the numerous instances of emotional wreckage to which the Savage refers, there are far more stories about people like Mr. Jones. In this regard, we should all strive to keep up with them.

    Whether or not the relationship is the greater good as compared to monogamy, human dignity is most certainly the greater good. When the dignity of a spouse is violated by adulterous behaviour, the greater good is sacrificed on the tawdry altar of the fleeting.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Drummer Guy July 11, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Rockin Post Alisa. I agree wholeheartdly. Here is another reason it rocks.

    21: I will NEVER have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy. This is just one of the many reasons monogamy is expected in marriage. No method of birth control is 100%. The life of any future child is much more important than any temporary “thrill” one may get in a relationship outside of the marriage.

    Not to mention if the woman does get pregnant then financial resources that are needed in ones own family now have to go toward the support of another child conceived outside of the marriage for the next 18years..

    Ron

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 11, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Good evening all.

    Joanne: You write that you “think in our small world intolerance is the real enemy.” I disagree. I believe that tolerance is the enemy. We do not tolerate behaviours that are unacceptable. Jennifer and I do not allow our children to curse in my presence, though there is no specific law against it. We do not allow pork in the house, as there is a specific law against it. Those are my lines in the sand. Society must have lines in the sand too. Murder, theft, and failure to pay the parking meter are some of those lines. Whether or not we agree on adultery being a line in the sand, it is likely easy to agree that there are things on which society must be intolerant. Failure to have such definition leads to anarchy. To accept bad behaviour in the name of tolerance is cowardly.

    You write further about a failing model due to a 50% divorce rate. I highly doubt that sticking to monogamy is the cause of that divorce rate. It might instead be the fact that we have been inculcated with the Disney idea of happily ever after. It could also be the tendency to cut and run instead of to work on something when the going gets rough. There are numerous possibilities here.

    And last, many of you have pointed out that Alisa cannot just take away the impact of a statement about lacking self-control. Alisa, it is true. You cannot. Neither should you. The comment stands. Those who are unable and unwilling to keep it in the home lack self-control. We can rationalize it any way we desire. We can call it a life-choice. We can call it biology. It comes down to a choice. To choose the outsider over the insider is a lack of self-control. I will never condemn a writer for taking a determined stance on an issue.

    Have a wonderful evening everyone.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • sage July 12, 2011, 1:15 am

    Great discussion and I’m going to read this article you talk about.

    I haven’t read all the comments but I would like to add that in that non-monogamy can work very well when it is freely chosen by both parties. The most difficult thing seems to be when one party wants to open up a marriage and the other party would prefer that it remain monogamous. The difficulty operates both ways i.e. if the relationship remains monogamous and one party would rather that it wasn’t or if the marriage is opened up and one party has to deal with it. This situation is happening more and more often as non-monogamy is becoming more acceptable.

    It’s very easy to say that you wouldn’t put up with it but when you love someone and want them to be happy it is amazing what some people will endure.

    Reply
  • Joanne July 12, 2011, 8:19 am

    Ravsean: You mis-understood what I was trying to say and in fact as you went on to validated what I believe. I even in one of the posts above said that I feel monogamy is the best way to go I can’t envision a circumstance where I would be fine with my husband having a sexual relationship with someone else but I also maintain that that is me and that while you may have a problem with pork being served in your home and I may not I need to respect your choices as you need to respect mine. I do not want to go from the sublime to the ridiculous though and list the many times or things that we as a society should never condone, there are far to many. I was not trying to be all inclusive and say that we must condone every action.
    I was simply saying that rather than “as in this case of open marriage or monogamy” shutting the door to any other way of life and living in a relationship that the “institution of marriage” model we now have before us is seriously open for improvement and that obviously, by the statistics, a one size fits all model has not been found yet. I will not pass judgment on those who have found a better way for THEM.

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 12, 2011, 11:28 am

    Hi all…

    And again I say: giving permission to immoral behaviour does not suddenly make it okay. Spousal acceptance is not a magic wand.

    To allow your spouse to sleep around allows your spouse to imply that you are not adequate in bed. It allows your spouse to imply that you do not “put out” enough. It allows your spouse to imply that you are boring. Worse, it allows you to think those things about yourself. I fail to see how spousal agreement makes such insults acceptable.

    Furthermore, it requires building up a life of secrets. When your children ask why mommy is not home tonight, what should daddy say? When the issue is pressed, a parent will need to build a web of lies, or allow the children to know that behaviour that requires adult maturity to understand is happening. “Mommy is out with a friend” will answer the question for a limited amount of time.

    Out of curiosity, what is the minimum amount of time allowable between beds? Is a shower necessary? Is it permissible to wear a lover’s sweatshirt home from a tryst? Is being too tired from one tryst an acceptable excuse to beg off with one’s spouse that evening?

    I am shocked that we are having this discussion. This website exists to help us to improve our marriages. It is naive, fallacious, and downright unconscionable to think that allowing others into the most intimate aspects of that life is a path towards that goal.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Jenn July 12, 2011, 2:09 pm

    @RavSean

    I find it reprehensible when people use their belief systems to judge, bully, manipulate, and ostracize. I don’t believe that ANY belief system is created for individuals to monitor and judge others’ behaviour – leave that up to God lest you leave the impression that you consider yourself an equal judge.

    Cherry picking an article written by Dan Savage and using (out of context and full of personal assumptions about his relationship) is not quite as irresponsible and dangerous as cherry picking lines from religious text – but it does add up to incorrect and refutable comments.

    ‘Rightness’ and ‘righteousness’ can be very dangerous. They have justified enslavement, corrective-rape, concentration camps, the Inquisition, residential schools, subjugation of women, etc…

    So, let’s leave the line in the sand regarding pork and open marriage to be personally drawn and draw the societal line in the sand at bigotry. Because, what I do know is that every religious text out there obliges you to treat others as you would like to be treated and considers EVERYONE “worth the time and effort.” Even if you don’t

    Reply
  • Ravsean July 12, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Top of the afternoon all….

    Jenn: thank you for your response. You write “Because, what I do know is that every religious text out there obliges you to treat others as you would like to be treated…” Based on that statement, the fact that I like to make permanent marks in my skin means I should do it to others. The statement is much better rendered as “that which is hateful, do not do unto others.” Stealing my belongings is hateful. I will not do it to others. Having my wife imply to me through her actions that I am inadequate in bed is hateful. I will not do it to her.

    Please do not assume that everything I write is informed only by my traditions. Yes…I am a Rabbi. Yes. I went to seminary for seven years after finishing university. I cannot escape that and will not try. Yes, I have seen abusive marriages. Yes, I have had enough sex to know that there is no such thing as ‘just sex.’ Yes, we give an important part of ourselves away when we engage in that act. Yes, the pool of people to whom we give that important part of ourselves should be limited to those who care about who we are and not about how good in bed we are.

    I asked some rhetorical questions earlier. Now, these questions are real. I challenge you to answer them with something other than “it is up to the couple.”

    1. What is the minimum amount of time between a lover’s bed and the marital bed?
    2. Is it permissible to wear a lover’s sweatshirt to a marital home?
    3. Is being too tired after an afternoon encounter a reasonable excuse to just roll over and go to bed at night as opposed to enjoying the marital bed?

    If you are able to detect anything remotely rabbinic in those questions, please let me know. I will reword them. It is possible though that questions and answers about marriage and marital intimacy actually span our faith traditions. Again, I challenge you to answer them with clear, definitive answers.

    If I have misread something from the Savage’s article, please point it out to me. I have been wrong before.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • Sarah Liz July 12, 2011, 4:14 pm

    Whoa, TONS of comments on this one, that’s great! #1 & #2 made me laugh hysterically, so hard, in fact, that I had to go grab tissue before I could read the rest of the post,thank you, Alisa, for the best laugh of my day so far! Both #1 & #2 are very true, by the way. #13 is also quite comical and true, always good to lighten the mood. The BEST reason for monogamy though, is absolutely #5, no STD’s. That right there is reason enough. Thank you for a wonderfully engaging, hysterical and yet truthful post.

    Many Blessings,
    -Sarah Liz :)

    Reply
  • Sarah Liz July 12, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Heated discussion, wow. At least we can all agree to disagree and try and find some common ground.

    Reply
  • Jenn July 12, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Semantics, RavSean, semantics. You can rephrase it as much as you like but it means the same thing – except it doesn’t mean the same thing in your example.

    “The fact that I like to make permanent marks in my skin means I should to it to others.”

    “Treat others as you would like to be treated” in no way implies that you should mark anyone against their will and it’s a foolish argument twisting the truth of a statement to further your agenda.

    You may have an impressive curriculum vitae to recite for us and you can ask me not to assume that everything you write is informed only by your traditions but you cannot deny that it is limited by your traditions.

    Every argument you’ve stated is based on an assumption that marriage and monogamy are based on the same convention for everyone. Or, at least, that it should be. However, that is where you are wrong.

    What I detect as rabbinic in your rhetorical questions is the narrow view of non-monogamy that they envelop – and the challenge that I not answer “it is up to the couple” as though there is bible – old or new – to have the answers ‘given’.

    As I stated before, my partner and I choose monogamy so I cannot pretend that I’m an expert – though, I cannot pretend to be an expert on monogamous relationships either. However, even my limited understanding of the concept boosted by a few minutes of honest research with an open mind leads me to answer thusly:

    1) Ground rules are established jointly, clearly, and with commitment (the same kind you’re talking about). Breaking the ground rules is on par with committing adultery.
    2) It depends, I suppose, on the above ground rules. Sometime the lover is shared between a couple, sometimes it is arranged that any extra-marital activity is allowed when out of town, sometimes it’s random and anonymous, etc. So, once again, it depends on the couple and the ground rules they’ve set.
    3) Not everyone gets tired at once a day. And this, again, is an inflammatory question without any basis other than to paint non-monogamy in a bad light by assuming and implying that there would be feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

    The point I think you’ve missed from Dan Savage’s article, highlighted by the type of questions that you posed, is that your vision of hyper-sexual deviants is ludicrous.

    Dan and his husband counted 9 instances of extra-marital activity in 16 years of union.

    Clearly sweatshirts, exhaustion, and minimum amount of time between lover’s beds are not the questions to be asking in order to completely sum up the reason for your indignation. Nor is stating marital break-down.

    Reply
    • sage - polyamorouspeople.com July 12, 2011, 5:13 pm

      I’ve been following the exchange between Jenn and RavSean and I’d like to add my 2c. I have an open relationship in which my partner is polyamorous (able to love more than one person romantically at once). He and many others who identify this way believe that they need to love more than one person to feel complete and to be who they really are. I don’t feel this way and struggle with it but with lots of love, patience and communication we have managed to maintain a healthy and harmonious relationship for the past three years.

      His other love is actually celibate. So while they have been intimate they haven’t had intercourse. We don’t have children at home so there is no problem there. My question RavSean is this – How does this kind of relationship sit in your perception of non-monogamy? Take out the celibacy issue and I know of many other such relationships where the relationships are loving and committed but not monogamous. The sex is not casual and respectful boundaries are carefully maintained. I’d be very interested in your view of this.

      Reply
  • RavSean July 12, 2011, 7:04 pm

    Hi all…

    Jenn – no…it is not semantics. Your own answer proves that. By the way, my clever “twisting” of that statement dates back to roughly the year 10, give or take. I humbly suggest that the “do unto others” statement is much more of a twist. My clever “twisting” likely came first.

    No matter though. I believe that we are both holding it with the same import. I will even grant you that my there are likely limits which I will not pass due to the CV to which you refer. I had not thought about that.

    As concerns my questions, I believe you missed my point. This is not a question about Bible or about ground rules. It is a question about how much respect we give our spouses. It is one thing to sleep around, even with permission. It is entirely another to brazenly wear home that evidence. Unwillingness to wear that evidence home is

    In regard to your answers, I completely agree with #1. That is a good rule. I am not sure it answers the question. As regards answer #2, that is the “up to the couple” answer I was expecting. No good. As regards #3, it is not to point out feelings of abandonment. It is to ask the question: when pursuing an extra-marital relationship, is a spouse allowed to be too tired because of an earlier escapade that day? The answer is about who gets primacy, and not about abandonment.

    9 times in 16 years?? I missed that. Wow! That is hyper-sexual. That is deviant. Nonetheless, my questions stand even for a one-time event. I have been married 18 years, and have somehow managed to avoid that. Before you blame the ordination, you should know that a colleague of mine (hmph) got caught on videotape with a prostitute.

    Rav Sean

    Reply
  • RavSean July 12, 2011, 7:49 pm

    Hi all….

    Sage – you will forgive me….your partner should NEVER put you in a position where you have to struggle with something s/he is doing. That is quite selfish and disrespectful. If you are uncomfortable, that really should be sufficient reason for your partner to cease and desist.

    To answer your question though, I do not think it appropriate to engage in such intimacies with a friend of your chosen sexual preference if you have an intimate, committed relationship already in place. Yes, I have such conversations and relationships with my male friends. Under no circumstances will I have them with my female friends. Intimacy is a baring of the soul. We should only bare ourselves as such to a spouse/committed partner. Baring of the soul easily leads, however, to a baring of the body. I take no such chances.

    Committed=monogamous. I state that unequivocally. I will not back down from it. To argue otherwise is the equivalent of arguing that the sky is green with pink dots. I am truly puzzled and concerned that this is up to question in this day and age. That is not a positive step for humanity.

    Last, if it has not been clear that I am clergy up until this set of postings, it most certainly is now. We have discussed it. Ladies and Gentlemen, your clergy should be opinionated people. They should hold on to their opinions, as informed by their traditions. Even the most liberal of my colleagues will likely agree with me on much of what has been said here. You only know me by my writing. This is fine. One should never hide behind the ease of soft, indecisive language. You have a standing invitation for a cup of coffee with me, in my office, with the curtains up so that I can be seen from the outside. I promise you. I will disagree with you strongly, and, as always, with a smile on my face.

    RavSean

    Reply
    • Alisa July 12, 2011, 9:27 pm

      HI everyone– I’m still taking time off (really I am), but I am monitoring the comments mostly in an attempt to prevent spammers from writing “Hey good site” a million times. I have not read all of the comments on this post closely (because I’m taking time off), so this reminder is not directed at any comment or person in particular. I just want to remind you all that I ENCOURAGE discussion and the hashing out of divergent views. At the same time, I discourage personal attacks. In other words, argue with the opinion, not the person behind the opinion. This is a safe community and I’ve worked hard to make it a place where people feel comfortable talking about some of the most uncomfortable parts of their lives. There is enough room in this sandbox for everyone. Be kind. Keep the peace.

      Reply
  • RavSean July 12, 2011, 9:52 pm

    Alisa…

    Enjoy your vacation. We will try to behave.

    To all – for anything I have written that has been interpreted as a personal attack, I humbly apologize. That was never my intention.

    RavSean

    Reply
  • BIll October 21, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Interesting discussion. Open relationships have become the new trend.

    For me: been in a relationship for 15 years – 9 yrs of marriage, 6 years of dating – and I just have to say unless you don’t find someone who, with a lot of thought, wants the same sexual lifestyle as you do then you can kiss honesty and tolerance good bye. Seriously. I’m batting for the monogamous side. I’ll even do a check list:

    Have I been sexually attractive to other women: yes, but not to the degree where I want to have sexual relations. I don’t actively seek sexual partners, and why should I. I don’t think with my genitals and I’m a person who does things “because it feels good.” That’s a neanderthal way of thinking.
    Have I “checked” other women out: yes (mostly for their fashion – cause I like fashion in general)
    Have I thought about cheating on my wife: no. I would have to be piss drunk for me to even attempt that.
    Have I thought about divorcing my wife: no (I asked my wife and kids to live at a friends house for a few weeks because work was just ruining me emotionally and physically – I’m okay now)

    Believe or not, people, there are couples who are monogamous AND are happy. The thing with my relationship is that my wife and I WANT monogamy, and that we’re both attentive to our sexual needs. Add to the fact that we’re both hyper sensitive people (HSP) – her more than me.

    Reply
    • BIll October 21, 2011, 2:09 pm

      correction: “I’m NOT a person who does things “because it feels good.”

      Reply
  • bebe March 26, 2012, 9:31 pm

    Love Bill, what a sentient being. He is HSP or empath and recognises when his emotions are too much for the family. gosh my husband is a warrior, I approach him like a big bear always now, worked it out.Different management styles for different men, no one is alike, not even husbands and wives. Keep some things to yourself.Love yourself first, then apply to others.

    Reply
  • Jane July 10, 2012, 12:26 am

    I know this is way late, but I just came across this and can’t help but respond. First of all Savage’s article doesn’t encourage cheating, but there are plenty of people who naturally do not fit into the monogamy box. There are plenty of other ways to do things without cheating as long as everyone knows the rules going in.

    Secondly, the entire premise of this post is severely flawed. This list is not about 20 reasons that monogamy rocks. It is 20 reasons that sex with a long-term committed partner rocks. This does not necessarily mean monogamy. All of these other than 11 would also be true to any “closed” relationship, whether it be between 2 people or more than two people. All the rest would also apply to sex with a committed partner in an open relationship with possible exception of 5, 8, and 16 depending on how careful partners were. Also, number 6 is not happening for me with anybody, even in my long term, currently monogamous, relationship.

    Maybe you could go back and retitle it: 1 reason a long-term committed relationship rocks for some people, 15 reasons any long-term committed relationship rocks, 3 reasons a closed relationship rocks, and 1 reason monogamy rocks? That would be a bit more accurate.

    Reply
  • Jen February 5, 2013, 10:52 am

    The list is accurate, don’t be an apologist. If both individuals remain SEXUALLY monogamous, that is the sole way to avoid STD’s and unknown paternity. All the birth control in the world will not guarantee those things that way that sexual exclusivity can. Let the unimaginative people with no self-control cry about it. Yes, we judge you. You behave as no more than common and lowly animals, beholden to your baser instincts. More evolved people tend to judge this behaviour. Deal with it.

    Reply
  • sabrina February 26, 2013, 11:12 pm

    I’ve been with the same person for over 2 yrs and I don’t feel any kind of comforts. He’s a good guy and super nice to me but I’m still horrible insecure.

    Reply

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