Committed to One, but Loving Many
Being romantically involved with more than one person (polyamory) is somewhat taboo in our society, where monogamy is the standard and strictly promoted as the only acceptable type of relationship. But, it wasn’t always so. Monogamous marriage based on love is a relatively recent invention.
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Forming Alliances and Producing Heirs
For most of human history and in cultures across the world, the purpose of marriage was to form alliances between families and to produce male heirs. Love had little to do with it. Men often took lovers on the side, and in many cultures polygamy (having more than one wife) was the norm.
Evolutionary Tendencies in Modern Times
You may have heard the theory that men are naturally polygamous, in that spreading one’s seed as widely as possible was an evolutionary advantage to our ancestors. At the same time, women would need the stability of a committed relationship with a reliable man to help provide for the children, and if that man failed to fulfill their needs, she might then turn to a more suitable partner. These evolutionary tendencies of our ancestors may persist in modern times. While this does not, of course, in any way justify cheating, it may help explain why it happens.
Polyamory and Commitment
And cheating is, unfortunately, rampant. I know because I hear about it every day. It would seem that some folks just aren’t cut out for monogamy. So, what is a couple to do when they love each other dearly and want to stay together but, despite this, cannot imagine being with only one person for the rest of their lives? They fear an affair is inevitable but don’t want to lie or hurt each other. Some couples resolve this dilemma by having a polyamorous or “open” marriage where they remain committed to one another while also having relationships with other people as well. But it’s not easy, and in order for this to work, there must be some ground rules!
The Goose and the Gander
It goes without saying that a double standard is unjust. Husbands who have been having affairs for years are often shocked and horrified when the wife finally suggests an open marriage so that she, too, may see other people. Sometimes the mere discussion of such an arrangement is scary enough to make him rethink what he has been doing behind her back! As the saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
A Mutual Decision
Having an open marriage must be a mutual decision with both parties agreeing to the terms—especially honesty. The purpose, after all, is to eliminate cheating; lying and sneaking around have no place in this arrangement. Successful polyamorous couples have good communication and decide together on the rules that will work for them. Some couples prefer to share intimacy only with certain specified persons with whom they both feel comfortable. Other open marriages are more flexible, with the spouses having the freedom to choose their respective playmates.
A Happy, Open Marriage
Some prefer full disclosure, while others would rather not know the details of their trysts. The important thing is that the husband and wife both voluntarily enter into an agreement which is clearly spelled out, understood and acceptable to both of them. Polyamory is not for everyone, but it may be an option for couples who honestly agree that it is the best way for them to have a happy marriage.
Are you considering taking a lover while still being married? I can help you and your spouse successfully navigate these complicated waters!
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