Marriage was once the most highly valued state of being to inhabit. For women it meant security and sustenance for herself and her children. For men it meant having a loyal mate for so long as he could deliver as a provider. Any deviation in the compact of the marriage vows could mean disaster for one’s life and the lives of one’s children. It was coldly transactional and maybe even barbaric, but came to be idealized over the centuries with the invention of “romantic love.”
Humans live two to three times longer now, and in much better lives, than they did when marriage determined 90% of one’s identity and state of wellbeing. “Affairs,” “cheating” and divorce no longer raise eyebrows. The only real fetters on pursuing sex and love experiences outside of traditional marriage exist only in the mind. But the powerful psychological pull of the one true romantic love ideal, forged over a millennia, remains.
How can the deep desire for emotional exclusivity with one person persist in lifetimes now filled with the equally deep desire to emotionally connect with tantalizingly desirable humans just one click beyond one’s reach?
There’s the great irony of our age. That marriage might only be saved by extramarital relationships ranging from consensually and ethically non-monogamous sexuality to the exponentially romantic commitment of polyamorous love. Marriage may be fated to become simply the youthful foundational bedrock upon which one’s emotional love life is constructed year by year, rising floor by floor. Humanity’s greatest evolutionary leap thus far may come in our elevation from “either/or” to “more can be better.”
Share Your Thoughts
We want to hear from you!
Do you believe (or know by experience that) open extramarital sex can strengthen rather than weaken a marriage?
Do you believe (or know by experience that) it is possible to love another without in any way diminishing or harming your love for your current romantic mate?