Monogamish Marriage: Statistics and Expert Opinions
We got married in our 30's: two sexually active persons who had succeeded in experiments and experience. We had been dating for about a year before the marriage, and every month of it was a honeymoon filled with pleasure and sensual delights. The crescendo of our relationships came all of a sudden and as if straight out of the movie: Nick got down on his knee and handed me a box with a ring.
To tell the truth, I was rather scared: shall my sexual life within marriage become now the same very stormy and vibrant as that of Princess Rapunzel in her tower? Sexual adventures have always been a plentiful source of inspiration and one of the major aspects of my life… And now that I do love my boyfriend much – the one who’s now my husband – I thought we might have a straight talk about it. This is how we found the way out.
We are what they call a funny word ‘monogamish’. We are neither polyamorists nor swingers. We simply love each other and we speak openly about our desires. We dare to feel the freedom of new sexual experiences yet at the same time care about our feelings for each other.
What is monogamish?
Monogamish as a type of relationships implies deep emotional bonds between the two in a couple yet at the same time allows them the liberty of having sex with other partners or taking part in group sex. As they say, the first rule of monogamish club is – no rules at all! If to speak seriously, the key rule in this relationships model involves communication and discussion by the partners of their personal desires. Strange as it may seem, but it may also feature preservation of status-quo or practicing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” game - provided you are both comfortable with this form of dealing with each other’s fantasies.
Curious fact: another term used for monogamish is “San Francisco relationships”. Its citizens yet in 1980-ies understood the need for positive vibrations of openness in a couple. The Frisco’s “flower children” used to act like true polyamorists in terms of sex (suffice it to mention music festivals a-la Woodstock and lawns next to the stage crowded with naked bodies), yet they preserved emotional fidelity to one partner (take, for instance, the high feelings between John Lennon and Yoko Ono).
The first major study of monogamish relationship was carried out among homosexual males. The Alternatives to Monogamy Among Gay Male Couples survey done by Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training proved that one cannot classify participants using a binary scale with monogamous and non-monogamous behavior at its ends. 60% of respondents appeared to be single. 58% of men in relationships considered their couples monogamous. Of the remaining 42% who referred to their relationships as different from monogamous 53% were in open relations while 47% fell within the term ‘monogamish’ (i.e., practiced incidental sex or were intimate with others). Dr. Parsons, the study chair, states that of all participants questioned men in monogamish relationships were the happiest. He points out that if compared to strictly monogamous partners monogamish couples showed more satisfaction with their relationships and even happiness from mere fact of being with their partner.
Dan Savage, the first man to have used the term “monogamish”, has formulated his concept and its understanding based on the example of his own relationships with a same-sex partner (find more details about monogamish relationships meaning after Dan Savage in the topic Dan Savage’s Definition of Monogamish – And More). He publicly admits monogamy to have its benefits: sexual and emotional attachment, stability and safety, as well as paternity assurance. Yet at the same time he appeals to our considering significant drawbacks of a “lifetime” title to one partner: boredom, lack of variety, estrangement, sexual drive fading and taking for granted a partner who is yours now and forever.
In his Huffington Post article Zak Stafford, a gay rights activist, interprets the study findings to be a positive trend. He uses cartoonish metaphors to describe monogamish and insists Prince Charming to be a most popular fantasy no longer – some start wanting Aladdin to join the two in the bed :). We may assume that in the framework of homosexual society the possibility to discuss openly both partners’ desires and the absence of mandatory observation of monogamy rules that are persistently transmitted by mass media prompt dissemination of the idea that advocates partners’ freedom and possibility of open dialogue.
In terms of his private practice of dealing with New York monogamish couples Ian Kerner, a sex therapist, Ph.D., has revealed the following regulation: they are much anxious about emotional fidelity and attachment, thus showing a higher degree of trust between the partners. Ian Kerner also notes that before shifting to monogamish couples discuss terms, interests and possibilities of such a union – a type of agreement that looks like a treaty between two mature individuals. By setting the rules of the game in advance partners can secure their relationships and save them from misunderstanding.
In his reasoning about relationships from the point of economy discourse Chris Messina, the inventor of hashtag and one of the earliest employees of Twitter digital empire, asserts that in the framework of solution-oriented society a couple is assessed by the result it shows – i.e. the quality of partner relationships. So if the product is failing in too many cases, one needs to change the things. The solution, Chris thinks, lies in applying monogamish principles to the product (relationships).
The experts are supported by statistics: the 2011 regular census data tells only 51 percent of the US citizens to have chosen marriage – a significantly lower index if compared to previous years. While the marriage rate has decreased in all age groups, the most dramatic drop has occurred among the millennials. Only 20% of the Americans aged 18 to 29 have decided on marriage (they were 59% in 1960). Logically enough, the average age of a first marriage has been continuously rising. Now here is another issue of the impressive statistics, this one concerning adultery: 30 to 60% of all married Americans confess having been infidel to their partners, almost half of all marriages end in divorce while 2-3% of all children are not fathered by their mothers’ husbands.
Monogamish has been gaining more and more acceptance among health professionals and anthropologists, with one of the top ‘pro’ arguments being the fact of life expectancy increase: the phrase ‘till death do you part’ sounds too vicious now. Michael Cohen, a psychotherapist from Hartford, believes monogamy to be a sexual construct deriving from religion, not human nature. He claims one should distinguish between monogamy in sexual and emotional planes. If you feel love for each other, occasional threesomes or partners exchange shall not break your emotional ties yet help them become even stronger.
Anthropologists specify that they were not only mammoth and caves that our ancestors used to share, but mutual partners as well. Only 3 to 5% of primates and mammals observe "emotional" fidelity and 0% of primates observe sexual fidelity. Our genes say ‘hello’ to our Cro-Magnon great-great-…grandfather and almost literary force us to search for another one (ore more than one) object of desire.
Thus the new type of relationships incorporates two major trends in development of partners’ relationships and desires: the need for trust, fidelity, comfort, and impossibility of observing sexual exclusivity of one and only partner.
Confidence + Communication = Monogamish
The language paradigm has its own ploys to resort to: infidelity and going off the rails have been connoted negative and made equivalent to deception and treachery. In terms of new generation relationships, however, these words would hardly be relevant in the lexicon of happy couples: monogamish implies open discussion and consent, the ability of holding a dialogue with a partner and accepting his/her desires.
Nick and I are authoring our own fairy-tale called Monogamish without stalemating our relationships or drowning them in stereotypes. Maybe it is only an experiment. But I enjoy it very much 🙂
And what about you - would you like to try? Can you imagine a talk like this with your beloved partner one-on-ones? Or maybe you already stick to your own values and enjoy your happy and full-fledged relationships? Share your impressions and stories with us!
Want to learn more about this model of relationships? Interested in what experts think about it? Go read the articles: "Monogamish vs Infidelity: Where the Difference Lies", "Crossing the Line: Real Stories of Monogamish Couples".