It seems that monogamy has become an unattainable goal, that couples can’t seem to commit to each other and stay together for the long run. Many couples choose to divorce because they fall out of love or worse they cheat on each other. When it comes to cheating many couples may try to justify their actions by saying that monogamy, or staying with just one person, is unnatural and is a socially constructed concept, a set of rules and beliefs imposed on us by a patriarchy in order to keep the family and women and the established societal structure in check.
Making the Case for Monogamy
People who claim that monogamy is unnatural believe that our biology is not designed for one sexual partner over our lifetime. They say that polyamorous and open relationships are the way to go, the more enlightened and liberated way to look at relationships. After all, they claim, most species in the animal kingdom are not monogamous. The belief is that humans, when looked at from a purely biological perspective are animals who have sexual urges that shouldn’t be suppressed because an artificially imposed societal rules tell them they must be faithful to one partner for the rest of their lives.
As a basis for their claim, critics of monogamy contend that many non-Western cultures do not subscribe to the practice of monogamy. They view this as a clear indication that those cultures who prize monogamy as the romantic ideal, must have artificially imposed it on its members.
Also offered as proof that we are not meant to be monogamous are the scientific studies and statistics showing divorce rates (which are actually decreasing, by the way) and how the prevalence of cheating is the main culprit in the disintegration of a marriage.
So when one listens to the sociologists and so-called experts who claim that we should ditch the constraints of monogamy and aspire to the liberation of open relationships, it makes one think that these same people advocating for the multiple partner lifestyle are missing the point and are trying to justify a promiscuous lifestyle. Understanding the climate of our culture helps us realize the cynicism many people have towards monogamy.
Monogamy is Possible
So is monogamy really a myth? Can humans be monogamous? I say yes. Not only can we be monogamous, but I believe we are meant to be faithful to our one and only and reap the benefits associated with monogamous relationships.
No one has ever said that monogamy can be easy. In fact, it probably isn’t. We’ve all encountered temptations when we find other people attractive and some may have even entertained the option to stray. The key to monogamy is making the conscious choice to be faithful and keep the vows made to your partner.
People who take their vows seriously and know that they are committed to their husband or spouse make their relationship work without resorting to cheating. This is proven by the fact that most people don’t cheat. (See graph below.)
7 Advantages of Monogamy
If we define monogamy as being faithful to a partner while we’re in a relationship with them, meaning an extended period of time which may end with death or divorce, we can see that monogamy has its advantages. Being in a committed relationship certainly brings certain benefits to both partners. Let’s examine the benefits of faithfulness in terms of health, intimacy, diminished stress, trust building, economic stability, preservation of the family unit, and societal approval.
1. Better Health–Being in a committed relationship where both partners are faithful can lead to improved health. Why? For starters, the risk of acquiring an STD, or STI, is impossible since both are only practicing intimacy with each other.
2. Better Sex–Yes, while many of the claims against monogamy include sexual boredom, there is actual evidence that being with the same partner leads to better intimacy. Why? Couples who’ve been together for a while get to know each other’s bodies and sexual preferences. They become comfortable with each other and learn how to trust each other which builds the emotional connection that leads to better sex and romance.
3. Decreased Stress Levels–Levels of stress decrease because of the emotional security offered in a monogamous relationship. Knowing that you and your partner have committed to be faithful offers the peace of mind that you will be there for each other.
4. Increased Trust–When you are in a monogamous relationship, you start to build trust with your partner. You trust your partner and feelings of jealousy and distrust are diminished because they have proven to you that they are committed to you. This puts you in a safe space in your relationship where you feel more open to share your feeling and connect at a deeper level.
5. Improved Economic Stability–When two people commit to each other, all economic resources are used to secure the livelihood of the relationship and the family. It is a source of financial security which affords the couple and family and a better quality of life.
6. Stable Family Unit–Social anthropologists believe that the evolutionary purpose of monogamy seems to hinge on the protection of the offspring. If the males are around, then the children have a higher rate of survival. While this is obviously a benefit of monogamy when it pertains to the family, another boon of monogamy is that the family is preserved and the children are in a stable family structure. This is critical for the healthy and nurturing environment for rearing well-adjusted children.
7. Societal Approval–And of course, as social beings, we seek approval from our fellow humans. And society still holds monogamy in high regard. People who cheat are faced with disapproval from their friends, family, and society in general.
Benefits of a Monogamous Relationship
No one has ever claimed that marriages or relationships, in general, are easy. People who love each other choose to commit to each other on a daily basis. Human beings face temptations and are often thinking that the grass may be greener on the other side. Making the case for monogamy suggests that we choose to be faithful to our partner and deepen the emotional and spiritual connection. Taking our marriage vows seriously as a promise to our spouse made before God can strengthen that commitment and ensure that couples are faithful to each other for the long term.
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