thoughts on monogamy: is it natural/ is it ideal?

thoughts on monogamy: is it natural/ is it ideal?
ellainwonderland
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Posted May 19, 2008 - 8:32 PM:
Subject: thoughts on monogamy: is it natural/ is it ideal?
Hi everyone

What are your opinions on monogamy and marriage?
In the Western world when one agrees to marry, it is almost always understood that both parties will remain monogamous. However is monogamy a natural process or merely something that the majority of us believe we should do based upon what society believes is right for us? Furthermore, is marriage an ideology that allows the individual to have the most fulfilling life? A life where one can grow as individuals, live to ones full potential and meet people that inspire and nurture ones soul?

Of course the attributes that I believe contribute to creating a fulfilling life are based on my world view. Therefore, I feel that perhaps if some of the negative emotions that arise from the act of marriage such as jealousy, disappointment and fears of cheating could be reduced, a more fulfilling life could be experienced.

I do not see being polyamorous* as being the answer to a more 'utopian' like society. With any form of relationship, whether it be sexual or non-sexual, there is always going to be some feelings of jealousy and sadness; so I am not saying this is an answer to avoid heartache (something which is natural and we can not prevent). However, in my opinion it would be most fulfilling to have many loves throughout a lifetime; and by that I do not mean promiscuous sex or one night stands here and there. I mean being able to love, appreciate and learn from many different individuals; seeing each person as someone who has helped enrich your life rather than 'that horrible bastard that cheated on me with his secretary.'

This being said, I do not believe this would work for everyone. monogamy has worked for many and people who marry have had very enriching lives despite hardships. So that is what I've been thinking, I could go on and on and weigh up all the pro's-con's; I have a list a mile long! but I think I'll leave it there for now:P

p.s I hope this makes sense. This is my first 'philosophical' post. I'm unsure of all the lingo and a little sleepy. Just something that has been on my mind.
x peace

Polyamorous*= Polyamory (from Greek Ï?ολÏ? [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [literally â??loveâ??]) is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
swstephe
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Posted May 19, 2008 - 9:37 PM:

I live in a country that officially tolerates polygamy, (actually polygyny -- multiple wives), so I have some experience. I have one sister-in-law who is wife #2 in a 2-wife household.

Monogamy is not natural. It is pretty obvious that humans of both genders are driving by instincts to cheat. At the same time, we have instincts to demand exclusive attentions of our relationships. That's clearly unbalanced. Societies that enforce monogamy seem to be enjoying a superficial fantasy. Nearly every monogamous society allows for divorce and remarriage, which is really just "serial polygamy". I've seen a notable exception, in the Philippines, where divorce and remarriage is officially disallowed. However, the people, (who are very proud of the anti-divorce policy), engage in unofficial abandon/adultery which seems, (to me), to rival countries which allow for divorce in turn-over. Several of my Filipino co-workers have wives which they have abandoned, a girlfriend back home and a girlfriend or two in the country here. A lot of children get abandoned or never know their fathers.

Polygamy is pretty devastating to the one who has to compete for attention. I've never met someone who is happy to be in that position, although there may be some resignation -- that it is better to have 1/2 a relationship than none at all. I've even met one woman who was looking for a second wife for her husband because she was unable to bear children for him, something that her husband valued highly. I've seen relationships torn apart -- a man with 2 wives would have been required to divorce one of them in order to meet the immigration requirements for the U.S..

Marriage, to me, seems to be a social structure originally designed to define and enforce inheritance regulations, back in a time where inheritance, class and title were very important. In modern western society -- each individual decides inheritance and biological relationship, not marriage, determines financial support for children. Titles and class are relics from the past and illegitimacy is no longer the scandal it was. Marriage may also have been inspired in an age when women were considered just slightly above "property", (and only applied, in practice, to the restricting the woman).

A lot of the heartaches are psychological reactions to social restrictions and respect. Society tends to promote a certain view of the people involved in a marriage and the one who cheats or engages in casual sex before marriage. If social views changed, then the psychological reactions might change as long as fundamental needs were being met. So, I agree that a society which differentiated loving relationships, rather than the legality of marriage, could lead to a social revolution as powerful as the ones from the 60's and 20's.

As a tangent, I used to have an idea for a group called "halfers" -- a healthy outlet for unrequited love. Rather than suffering with the shame and indignation of not having one's affections returned, (something socially negative), convert it into a healthy acceptance and respect for the other person's choices.
ellainwonderland
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Posted May 19, 2008 - 9:50 PM:

Hi swstephe, thanks for your replysmiling face I'd just like to point out that there is a difference between polygamy (which is what your referring to) and polyamory. I'll just paste the definitions down here:

The term polygamy (a Greek word meaning "the practice of multiple marriage") is used in related ways in social anthropology, sociobiology, and sociology. Polygamy can be defined as any "form of marriage in which a person [has] more than one spouse."[1]

Polyamorous*= Polyamory (from Greek Ï?ολÏ? [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [literally â??loveâ??]) is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

'Polyamory is distinct from polygamy, being closer to a personal outlook than a predefined bonding system. It is grounded in such concepts as choice, trust, equality of free will, and the more novel idea of compersion, rather than in cultural or religious tradition. '

source wiki
Techeth
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Posted May 20, 2008 - 3:56 AM:

I would agree that monogamy may not be natural, although it has its obvious practicalities. The desire to build a family and a home seem a natural instinct, this is much easier with one partner, or in a polygamous relationship. I think as well part of the romantic notion of marriage is that in a sense it goes against some natural instinct, knowing the desire for other sexual relationships the commitment to one individual as all you will ever need seems part of the it all.
The Escapist
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Posted May 20, 2008 - 3:23 PM:

ellainwonderland wrote:
Hi everyone

What are your opinions on monogamy and marriage?
In the Western world when one agrees to marry, it is almost always understood that both parties will remain monogamous.

However is monogamy a natural process or merely something that the majority of us believe we should do based upon what society believes is right for us?



Hi Ella,

Marriage is not "natural" is it, it's a social and legal construct. It looks to me like a society's attempt to set out an agreed ideal that everybody should aim for. Whether you think marriage is good depends how much you share the society's ideals, and how effective the arrangements are in achieving the ideal result.

I notice that you are talking about emotions, fulfilment and love, but marriage is also very much about how money and property is divided and inherited, even if that doesn't get talked about so much.

Our actual sexual behaviour is something else again. Unfaithfulness may be the norm, it may be natural, it may be ideal, whatever that means.

keda
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Posted May 20, 2008 - 5:16 PM:

Natural can mean several things
1. Produced by nature as opposed to produced by man.
2. Uncivil, as in being in the state of nature
3. in accordance with nature (as opposed to unnatural)
to give a few examples, but it would be best to be specific about the definition.
Marriage is a legal construct so it is not natural in sense 2, and thus also 1. It does not go against the end of nature so it is natural in sense 3.
That said, marriage is not about love, it is about sex, its contractual obligation being that of being faithful i.e. not cheating on your spouse. Not loving your spouse or loving someone outside marriage is not relevant. This doesn't mean it is a mere contract. The natural basis of marriage is the intercommunity of the sexes. The problem marriage attempts to solve is that of sexual objectification, which is using the other person as a mere thing for the sake of sexual gratification (as opposed to use of person at the same time being ends). When one allows oneself to be used in this manner one is giving up one's personhood, and the only way to retain it is through lifelong mutual possession of each other's person, since one cannot obtain a part of the person without obtaining the person as a whole, without treating that person as a mere thing, which is also why it is only possible in a monogamous form, since if a third person enter into the marriage, he can only obtain partial possession of a person.
For more information: ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/ka.../immanuel/k16sr/part8.html
swstephe
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Posted May 20, 2008 - 6:12 PM:

ellainwonderland wrote:
Hi swstephe, thanks for your replysmiling face I'd just like to point out that there is a difference between polygamy (which is what your referring to) and polyamory. I'll just paste the definitions down here:

The term polygamy (a Greek word meaning "the practice of multiple marriage") is used in related ways in social anthropology, sociobiology, and sociology. Polygamy can be defined as any "form of marriage in which a person [has] more than one spouse."[1]

Polyamorous*= Polyamory (from Greek Ï?ολÏ? [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [literally â??loveâ??]) is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

'Polyamory is distinct from polygamy, being closer to a personal outlook than a predefined bonding system. It is grounded in such concepts as choice, trust, equality of free will, and the more novel idea of compersion, rather than in cultural or religious tradition. '

source wiki


You were comparing polyamory with monogamy, (single-marriage), as if you were questioning the social restriction -- which I thought implied that you were seeking the relaxation of that restriction so it could become polygamy. Maybe you meant to compare it with monoamory, (single-love), which is fairly unnatural and uncommon.

If you are just looking at polyamory as a philosophy, then I'm afraid that social acceptance would be risky. Again, I take examples from the local culture which tolerates a social acceptance of multiple partners under a legal contract. Polyamory compounds the problems of monoamory. The risk to child welfare, abandonment, abuse, emotional, health, death, career, insurance and social status. Marriage, as a social institution was originally a social contract which conveyed rights and privileges to the members of the contract.

Polygamy is gradually being modernized to deal with issues that make it simply legalized polyamory. Just recently, in this country, a man may only take a second wife with written consent of the wife, (previously, many women would give sarcastic or joking consent in a fit of anger and it would be accepted as valid consent).

One problem I see with a lot of western countries is that they seem to assume that marriage is a matter for government restrictions. That may have been true when the government was joined to religious institutions, but in modern times, governments are secular and the motivation and authorization of social institutions, such as marriage, would be better handled by social institutions.
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