Is It Time To Look at A New Monogamy? Is It Time To Move Your Relationship Into A New Monogamy? We’re in the 21st Century. We don’t have the marriages our parents or our grandparents had. There are less people married now than the past 30 years. Many people are marrying later in life and 40% of Americans think marriage is obsolete. 70 years ago people married much younger and had a shorter life expectancy. Longevity of marriages in the 20th Century averaged 10 – 15 years. The average life span for men about 75 years ago was 60 and 65 for women. Today everyone is living much longer into their 80’s and 90’s. The divorce rate is at 50% for first marriages, 67% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages. About 45 – 60% of partners will cheat – women 45% and men 60% (Atwood and Schwartz 2002).
As a Marriage Counselor working in Affair Recovery, affairs affect 1 out of 2.7 couples (Janis Spring “After the Affair”). There’s definitely a shift that continues to lean toward making marriage more appealing as people are still wired to pair and bond. Which leads to the question is monogamy even possible for the average person? According to Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy, most material on affair recovery assumes infidelity is a symptom of some fundamental problem in the marriage or committed relationship. Infidelity as devastating as it may be for relationships doesn’t necessarily have to end in divorce.
As a Marriage Counselor, people typically come into see me after about 10 years of marriage and again after about 16 – 20 years. Becoming parents and raising a family can create distance between couples that cause sexual energy to become lost or mundane. Libido can change for individuals in relationships that are not always conducive to meeting each other’s needs. Situational circumstances can come up and the sexual connection may or may not exist for whatever period of time. That doesn’t always mean you want to end your relationship. Perhaps having the discussion about opening it up may be a viable option. Most relationships work in that couples still love one another, enjoy their family time and other activities they share in common. It’s just the emotional and sexual connection can get lost throughout the process of living life as we know it. Familiarity can breed into a comfort zone that makes sex and romance not so hot and exciting. And after all who doesn’t want to feel those butterflies in your stomach every now and then instead of feeling like you’re just roommates and even worse, bad roommates.
In Marriage Counseling I help my couples look at several options.
Option 1: Status Quo – do nothing live life the way you know it and have mediocre to ok sex. Sometimes that includes bad sex and no sex.
Option 2: Open up your marriage – talk about what that would look like, what are the feelings associated with that idea and talk about possibly developing a New Monogamy agreement that works for both you and your spouse. Whether you act out the possibilities or not will change the relationship’s status quo.
Option 3: Separate/Divorce – losing all the positives the relationship has to offer.
It’s never that black and white. Of course, there are pros and cons to any of the options but being able to have a dialogue about your feelings is the important part of the process. Whether you open up your marriage or not, having a discussion about it shows you both trust one another enough to take into consideration how the other feels.
If you want to start a conversation with your spouse about possibly opening up your marriage please contact me at (858) 735-1139.