Love in Marriage is a Relatively New Idea

marriage

Love in Marriage is a Relatively New Idea

We think of love as the reason for marriage as a foregone conclusion. Historically speaking, that isn’t the case. Love in ancient Greece was thought of as a mental illness, as was it in Medieval Europe. In France in the Middle Ages it was thought to be cured with intercourse with the beloved or some other. Marriage on the other hand was to combine wealth and for political power. It was also to make children to work family farms. Parents would be shocked in those days if their children wanted to marry for love.

Physical attraction has always been a part of marriage. The world over and throughout history polygamy has been the most popular form of marriage. It even appears in the Bible with King Solomon and David who had many, many wives. In a certain culture in Tibet, the Na people have the women go to the next village to conceive. Then they raise the children with their brothers. The children don’t have any parents like we think of them. They are raised by the whole village. Like that African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Too much love within marriage was thought to poison throughout ancient and medieval times in the West. However with the American and French Revolutions we saw a change in mindset. People were concerned with their personal freedoms and the pursuit of their own happiness, as Jefferson so eloquently put it. Working for a salary instead of on the farm helped break marriage away from the economic sphere and to the sphere of the heart. Only in the middle of the nineteenth century did Americans begin marrying for love. They convinced themselves that it was the only reason to marry and that it had always been so.

The largest group to marry was the returning G.I.s and their Rosie the Riveter’s just after World War II. The men worked and the women stayed home to care for it and the children. Salaries rose for men. But a lot of women found it confining. Enter the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Women flooded the workforce. Soon we saw no fault divorces, the biggest years were between 1978 and 1980. 67% of divorces are filed by women. Today we are seeing vast changes. Some wonder if it is the end of marriage as we know it. But no one is tying the knot in America today, or at least not saying they are, without being in love. To learn more on this topic read, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz.

Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

POLYAMORY

Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

People come in all shapes and sizes. They have different wants and needs. Anthropologists say what was traditionally supplied us by a whole village such as warmth, guidance, financial sustenance, understanding, passionate love and eminent friendship we now seek solely in our spouse or significant other. But that’s a huge burden to carry. Due to the high divorce rate, the need for sexual novelty, the desire to try the same gender or emotional needs that their spouse can’t supply sometimes pivots them in the direction of an open marriage. It’s often when the needs of one person cannot be met by the other. It’s no one’s fault. Instead, it’s usually just a mismatch. For others, it’s a need to explore further with love, a mindset that requires free will, strong confidence, good communication and a non-jealous personality. Surely, there are dysfunctional open marriages as there are dysfunctional closed ones. But can an open marriage ever really work? Experts say there are such that can work but it takes the right kind of couple and the proper mindset. Open and honest communication is the most important aspect. An open marriage doesn’t mean a person can have sex with whomever, whenever. Instead, a certain set of pre-agreed upon rules are made and adhered to, with each mate’s preferences in mind.

According to psychologist Deborah Anapol an expert on polyamory— practicing intimacy with more than one partner, though many couples who in an open marriage struggle with jealousy from time to time, very few say they regret being able to share intimacy outside the confines of their relationship. There are many alternative romantic and sexual couplings going around nowadays. People are getting married later on in life due to the time it takes to get a proper education and work your way up. The new generation prefers lots of choice and not getting tied down. In the wake of the sexual revolution and the explosion of dating and hookup apps, people have freedoms and opportunities they’ve never had before in the history of humankind. That and the elevated divorce rate has non-traditional people looking for new ways to have their needs met, explore their sexuality and enjoy their life with others.

Still, the reason for entering into such a relationship is important. One party should not be pressuring the other into entering into such an agreement. Another party should not be going along with it when they really don’t like the idea, just for the sake of saving the relationship. Instead, this is something that both parties have to be sincerely interested in. For some couples, it’s a way for a person who has a large sexual appetite for instance to have his or her needs met without disenfranchising their partner. For others, it’s a way to express their freedom. They believe the human heart has the capacity to love more than one person and in more than one way. They feel that commitment and fidelity are not synonymous. Besides intermittent jealousy, the potential for a stream of uncomfortable conversations and lots of chances to be tempted to lie to your partner, cause many to steer clear of the idea. Others fear the chance that no matter what rules are in place their spouse could run off with another. Really it’s all about how you feel about one another and your relationship. If it’s a way to renew the marriage or explore new dimensions of love and freedom, go for it. If it’s to placate someone or a last ditch effort to save the marriage, you may be setting yourselves up for a terrible fall. For more pick up a copy of the book, The Seven Natural Laws of Love, Polyamory in the 21st Century by Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D.

Ethical Non-monogamy or Polyamory

POLYAMORY

Ethical Non-monogamy or Polyamory

With so many options today and many professionals independent and not interested in settling down, people are looking for new romantic options that fit their modern day attitudes and lifestyle. Though it isn’t a significant part of the population yet, ethical non-monogamy, also known as polyamory, is a growing trend. So what is polyamory? It comes from the Greek meaning many loves. There is no hard and fast definition. The practice is having more than one loving or sexual relationship at a time, which all parties involved knowledgeable and consenting. No one should be pressured into entering into this kind of relationship. It should be an arrangement all parties are interested in. Another definition less often used, it could also mean a couple taking part in non-monogamous activities such as swinging. Many believe that the human heart is too wild and free to be tamed by a certain social construct. Outside of such expectations, no one can really say who they will love or how many they have the capacity to love, be it one or twenty. Though we have familial love and friendship, polyamory refers specifically to having romantic relationships that include intercourse. The point is to grow strong relationships, enjoy the powerful feelings and the act and have deep, profound intimacy in all of them. Everyone involved has to be consenting. These need to be open-minded individualists. But they also need to be good communicators.

It isn’t a competition. No one should be keeping score. Instead, it’s about making an emotional connection with others and not dictating to the heart who and how. Some believe that we have the capacity to love many others without constraints. They say this is a way to escape serial monogamy. In monogamous relationships there is the problem of the relationship going sour. Another problem is cheating, lying and hurt feelings. Here, those things are eliminated. Of course, there can be jealousy. But it’s how that jealousy is managed that counts. Really jealous people should steer clear of this sort of arrangement. There are all kinds of poly relationships. What most people are looking for is the freedom to love how they wish without hurting others, and the ability to determine what kind of arrangement works for them. How long does such a relationship last? Just like all relationships, it depends on the people that are in it and how they relate to each other. Some last for years while others only for a short while. Each person in any type of relationship brings baggage and pre-conceived notions. Communication is really what it all comes down to. You don’t have to be bisexual to be poly. Some couples are looking for an extra to form a triad. Some triads are open, others closed.

For those who live together, arrangements such as everyone having the same bedroom and bed, to each person having their own separate bedroom, to certain people maintaining a schedule where they sleep in a certain bed on a certain night are all well-known arrangements in poly communities. If it’s a closed triad, it’s important that each member relate to the other, and spend time with each other so no one feels left out. Each person’s relationship has to be strengthened. Sometimes a schedule is formed so each member can have quality time with each other. Some people practice polyfidelity or polyfi meaning their triad is closed. But others are more open. There is also a unique term called compersion in the poly community. This is when someone you love is being loved well and taken care of by another, and it brings you great joy. Certainly there is no test of whether or not you are poly. Most are of a very open-minded, progressive mindset and nonreligious and so not tethered to monogamy as such. Many are intellectuals and professionals. To learn more of whether or not polyamory or ethical non-monogamy is right for you read, More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

divorce

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

A divorce can be devastating. It’s one of those pains that you don’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. Not only does it cause tremendous upheaval in your life, it alters how you view yourself and romantic relationships. Some people swear off marriage wholeheartedly, while others jump into the next one as if their last had nothing to teach them. But most of us reflect on the state of marriage and relationships at this time. If a split is anything it’s a great teacher. Here are some things divorce teaches you about marriage. First, marriages are always different for those living them than how they are viewed from the outside. Sometimes when someone gets divorced, others are shocked, thinking they had the perfect marriage. Issues that seem reconcilable to some are end games to others. But some people somehow find a way to make it work. Everyone’s marriage is a bit messy, much like human life, though they may seem picture perfect from where you stand. If we could just break down the walls and talk about what marriage is really like, instead of putting on airs, perhaps we could make everyone’s better.

Another problem leading to divorce is a sexless marriage. Make time to be physical together. Statistics show that 20% of marriages today are sexless. But becoming physically intimate is a way for both people to bond. Being in a sexless marriage itself may be a big warning sign that things aren’t going well for one or both parties. Of course men tend to compartmentalize. With women, if things aren’t going well in the relationship, goings-on in the bedroom suffer. That’s because to a woman the emotional intimacy in the relationship is what’s most important. Though this may be important for a man, most men are more driven by libido. A failed marriage makes us look at other marriages in a new way. What are others really struggling with and how do they make it work? Communication is always crucial. But so is negotiation, not holding grudges, clearing the air and coming to a deep understanding of one another. We also need to accept the flaws in ourselves and our spouse for what they are. Recognition is one thing, acceptance another. One of the common causes of divorce is infidelity. Some people are shocked when they find that their husband or wife was cheating. A person may be an incredible breadwinner, an expert parent, a phenomenal homemaker and still have a spouse who cheats. The reason people go astray is they are trying to heal something wrong inside the relationship through outside means.

One of the problems with modern marriage that experts often point out is that we expect our spouse to take up all of the roles that traditionally an entire village provided. We want them to be our mentor, coach, partner, lover, confidante, best friend, co-parent and more. Find some of these needs outside your relationship if you can, and take some pressure off of your spouse. Spending some time with friends or close family members and becoming more well-rounded people by spending time at one’s favorite pursuits can help replenish each person and the marriage as well. But tenaciously clinging to one’s partner can bring the whole thing down. It’s best when both people are totally fulfilled, realized people who choose to go through life together. Marriage isn’t easy. But for most Americans, they see little alternative. We’ve been called serial monogamists and perhaps it still fits, at least if you are of a certain generation. Statistically, second marriages are less likely to last. Some say the third one is a charm. Be that as it may, don’t wallow in a failed marriage, learn from it and make your next relationship the romance of a lifetime. For more pick up a copy of, Learning From Divorce: How to Take Responsibility, Stop the Blame, and Move On by Robert LaCrosse and Christine A. Coates.

Do Men Avoid Dating Successful Women?

SUCCESS-WOMAN

Do Men Avoid Dating Successful Women?

For the first time in American history, women are surpassing men in bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Single, professional women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the country. Though they still do not make what a man does for the same job in many places, in some urban areas professional women’s salaries are outpacing men. What’s more, over half of all households will see a female breadwinner by 2025. That is amazing progress in a very short period of time, though the feminist movement has its roots a long way back in American history. Some women however say their success in the scholarly and economic realms is having negative consequences on their dating life. There are professional women who say the men they date are intimidated. They either pull away or blow them off due to a discomfort with the woman’s success. Perhaps these men find it emasculating, it is thought. Lots of these women’s girlfriends today console them by saying so, at least. There is even a school of thought that says a woman should dumb herself down in a man’s presence in order to make him feel comfortable and allow the relationship room to grow. But is it true? Do men avoid dating successful women?

Sure there is a segment in the male domain that pine for the 1950s. They believe in traditional values and are put off by women who are independent. But is this the majority of men? Certainly not. Nor is it right to generalize, which in addition to being inaccurate is in a way sexist since it paints all men as antiquated, chauvinists. There are lots of men who appreciate the success, knowledge, skills and other aspects of an accomplished woman. They also want a partner to share interesting times and conversations with, someone with many facets and dimensions, just as women do.  In fact, there are a lot of men who brag about the accomplishments of their wives and girlfriends. There is too a growing segment of stay-at-home dads and lots who enjoy it. So what’s really going on here? Their selection process could be an issue. What kind of men is this person seeking? What qualities do they all hold in common? Are they chauvinists, traditional or perhaps they fear commitment? The woman herself may also be subconsciously sabotaging her chances at love due to some deep-seeded trauma. Another aspect, it might be the woman’s personality itself. Pushiness, vanity, decisiveness, being opinionated and other aggressive behaviors propel some forward in their career. But on the dating scene these qualities are a huge turnoff.

In terms of selection process, lots of women say they want a man who is just as accomplished or more. But then are they selecting someone who is also decisive, aggressive and opinionated? When two people share such personalities the relationship quickly becomes an arena of locking horns rather than a relaxing atmosphere where love and romance can flourish. Only selecting this type, a person who fits a checklist of certain career accomplishments also shows underlying issues. This person worries of what others think or has a need to project their value. One’s relationship can be seen as a reflection of one’s self. But why don’t they explore other sides of their personality? We don’t have to date someone we view as a colleague. Looking for someone to love is not the same as a job interview. So someone who is opinionated may enjoy hanging out with someone who is open-minded, shy, artistic and free spirited. This may nourish other aspects that are suppressed in their normal, workaday environment. A professional woman may be interested in someone who is accomplished but in a totally different field or way. Lastly, sometimes this attitude that no men are good is an armor to protect from the fear that they themselves are at fault, or doing something wrong. Each person brings problems into a relationship, big and small. No one is perfect. We are all human. But it is in examining our mistakes and our own flaws that we can grow and develop and become better. There’s an old Buddhist saying; when the disciple is ready the master will appear. When the heart is ready, love will be there. For more savvy ways to navigate your love life read, Love Smart: Find the One You Want–Fix the One You Got by Dr. Phil McGraw.