Monogamy = Love?

Monday, Dec. 19th 2011 2:45 PM

I am pleased to introduce my second guest blogger, Jill Nelson – an accomplished spirit, mind and writer. She originally ran this piece a while ago on her own site. I thought that it was so well written and thought-provoking that I wanted to introduce it here also. I hope you enjoy.

Even before I went to see the magnificent Prince last night at Madison Square Garden – a fabulous, dancing-in-your-seats performance with three encores and purple “confetti” rain falling from the ceiling – I’d been thinking about women’s sexuality. Seeing the physically diminutive, enormously talented, incredibly sexy Prince and his fabulous band threw the conversation with myself into high gear.

Once you’ve had your children, is monogamy over-rated? I can understand wanting to have the same father for all your children, but once that’s accomplished, is committing to only having sex with that man for the duration necessary? As women, why do we so often conflate a monogamous relationship with love? It’s almost as if getting our partners to relinquish sexual variety – something that to most men, and I believe, many women, is very dear – proves that they love us. Strange. Taking away what someone desires because we decide it’s not good for them is what a mother does for her child. Do we really want to be the morality/monogamy police for our husbands or partners?

Women have bought into the myth that monogamy equals love – a fictional concept that’s a disservice to our partners, our relationships and us. I’ve got no argument with couples who choose to only have sexual relationships with each other, but monogamy should be a choice, not a stipulation. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become clear to me that what keeps a relationship going and strong isn’t sexual fidelity, although good sex is a key element. But never once in dealing with life’s inevitable challenges with a partner has monogamy played a key, or really even an important, role. Being partnered with someone who listens, has a sense of humor, and is patient, thoughtful, intelligent, creative, and introspective are all characteristics that have helped me stroke my way through life’s challenges and enhance celebration of life’s joys and wonders.

Does whether or not our partners have sex with anyone besides us necessarily have any bearing on their ability to connect with, love and support us? Is it possible to be in a relationship that is committed but not monogamous? Or, when we speak of commitment, do we mean keeping all genitals locked down by the chastity police?

Let me be clear that I don’t subscribe to the “black women” perspective on relationships. I’m not suggesting that black women need special responses or analyses, but that it’s worthwhile for women to re-examine the importance of monogamy – for their partners, their relationships, and themselves.

I’m not endorsing man sharing, polygamy, celibacy or any approach to relationships beside an end to dancing to the same old tunes. I no more believe that monogamy equals love than I believe women are inherently monogamous. As I said earlier, while there may be a genetic and self-preserving imperative for women to have all their children with one man, if possible, as so many of our families illustrate, that’s not always possible or even crucial. What I’m sure of is that once women finish childbearing, there is no biological rationale for monogamy. In fact, this may well be a time when women – older, wiser and with an ever-decreasing risk of pregnancy –explore safe sexual experimentation with increased freedom and enjoyment, absent the desire to find a monogamous mate with whom to bear children.

With Valentine’s Day looming, we’re reminded how women are conditioned and inundated with notions of what the culture defines as “romantic love.” But what’s romantic about being a sexual prisoner/jailer or lonely yearner? Or using our sexuality as a bargaining chip for power and commitment in a relationship? What do you win by waiting for him to come along and for the moment when he pledges his penis, and we our vaginas, to a life of monogamy? How is it that we’ve come to define a successful relationship as a monogamous one, even when we know or suspect that our partner’s monogamy – or our own – is a lie, a facade, or a bore?

Read Jill’s original blog here.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

PS: To become a Frank Love sponsor you can make a one-time contribution or contribute monthly by clicking on the amount you’d like to donate each month: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $35, $50, $75, $100, $200 or $500.


Enter your email address here to receive Frank Love’s latest article via email:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • Print
  • Reddit

Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

22 Comments on “Monogamy = Love?”

  1. Carroll Says:

    I cross posted this to two of my divorce related groups! I have never had the cheating = divorce mindset. I think some forms of “cheating” are symptoms of issues in the marriage but there are other reasons.

    I like David Schnarch’s “Passionate Marriage” where he calls out the real intimacy/power struggle issues in marriages. Powerful stuff.

  2. Elizabeth M. Says:

    I completely agree! I am monogamous myself, but I have seen other people’s relationships enough to know that monogamy does not necessarily equal love. I have seen several completely monogamous relationships break up because the partners were not good fits for each other. Similarly, I read a book on polygamy where one man and his three wives were very supportive of one another, and the marriage ended up lasting a lifetime.”
    Posted by Elizabeth Mason
    Go to complete discussion:

  3. Reid Says:

    Total nonsense. Your rationalization of sexual promiscuity and marriage infidelity is stunning. Monogamy is a part of the committment two people make to each other in a marriage relationship. Perhaps you’re familiar with “forsaking all others”. Or, did I totally miss the point of your blog?

  4. Jeff Says:

    Well that was a good piece and not what I expected to find via this particular “Linked” site. It is very true and a great book about the primal historical non monogamy of our ancient ancestors just came out a little while back. It is called “Sex At Dawn: The Origins of Modern Sexuality.” I read it on my Kindle and it made a lot of sense. It even has some denial about the one mate in child bearing times in order to propagate the species was the main point. But the over riding theme of the book was man’s and woman’s ancient and even fairly recent history doesn’t show monogamy as it’s true lineage.

  5. Diane Tomkin Says:

    Perhaps it is my upbringing or my genteration, but monogamy and sexual inhibition was how I was raised. It’s hard to break free of the marionette strings of our past. But do I really believe that monogamy and love are one in the same? No, I do not. Would I be comfortable with the man I love enjoying gratifying sexual experiences with other women? No, I would not. Would I be able to separate the two for myself? Yes, I can.

  6. Pam Says:

    Frank, I would agree that monogamy does not mean love but love certainly does mean monogamy. As Christians we are called by God to one flesh relationship and that includes faithfulness. I spend many hours each year trying to help couples put their marriages back together because of the damage of infidelity.

  7. Retha Says:

    Frank, I question whether or not you have a reAl understanding of Christ. He was/is loving to all, but with structure and boundaries. He was NOT all-inclusive in the sense that everything was ok. One important aspect of counseling is letting people know when their behavior is harmful to themselves and their relationships. Whether one embraces Christianity or not, the statistics show that one man-one woman marriages are healthiest. As a Christian counselor, I don’t get how you can subscribe to anything else.

  8. Gwendolyn Says:

    Thinking I need therapy after reading this article! I also need clarification, just what is the “black women’s” perspective on relationships? As a black woman who counsels many black women as well as women of other cultures this perspective has never presented itself. However, the hurt and confusion that is the result of partners that need “sexual variety” is the same no matter what the color. Finally I believe fidelity has nothing to do with good sex.

  9. Derrick Says:

    Frank, Retha and Gwendolyn are correct – you are offering questionable advice based on questionable theology and questionable ethics, not to mention you’re lacking in very important training/education.

    I’ve tried to keep an open mind to what your blog is about, but I simply cannot sit idly by and say nothing when it is clear to me that you’re offering faulty advice based on faulty foundations.

    I’m not trying to be mean or anything else – just truthful and up-front.

  10. Stephen Says:

    Frank, love defines Christ (cf. Matt. 22:37-40). However, it is Godly love as defined Biblically, or agape love, that includes the element of commitment as well as complete acceptance. This is contrasted with the romantic form of love in the Greek, eros, or even the friendship and acceptance and friendship form of love, phileo. For while eros and phileo are certainly important components of a marriage, the foundation for a healthy marriage is Christ’s agape love, not the forms of love you are referring to. For in the Matt 22 passage Christ tells us love should be “with your whole heart” and “as yourself” which surely could not include infidelity, with Paul lending support in Eph. 5:28 that this commitment aspect of love certainly applies to marriage. For a lengthier study of the commitment side of love you might read I Cor. 13 or the book Fighting For Your Marriage (2010) by H. Markman, S. Stanley, & S. Blumberg. For true agape love is the balance of both commitment and acceptance of the other. Therefore, I agree with Derrick, Reatha, and Dr. Jones.

  11. Derrick Says:

    I hate to say this, but I think Frank is way out of his depth professionally and personally. I would hope that he finds his way to a graduate school for MFT’s or similar training/education to help put a better lattice-work of understanding and knowledge behind his ideas.

  12. Dr. Karen Says:

    God knew what he was doing when he said, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Genesis 2:24 (NLT) It’s hard enough to achieve true intimacy and trust in the most committed of marriages. If you take a close look at couples who “need to think outside the box” sexually, you will find a need on the part of one or both (usually one) to be gratified by the illicit casual encounter. This provides a kind of escape from true intimacy which can be frightening. The Bible clearly promotes the sanctity of marriage and denounces sex outside of marriage. Personally, I believe that God will only bless the efforts of the married monogamous couple to love each other sexually. And the reward is much better more satisfying sex than could ever be achieved by sex outside of marriage–I don’t care what they say in the movies.

  13. Derrick Says:

    Frank – your ethics about monogamy and your “manning” up article – your guest blogger endorses the idea of abandoning monogamy… why is that?

  14. George Says:

    Jill, the author of Frank’s article has a very materialistic view of life. In other words, Jill, you explain ethics from the point of view of biology and evolution.

    It is clear that those who do not believe in God MUST believe in evolution because they have committed themselves ahead of time to atheism. If there is not God then there must be evolution. So you use evolutionary reasoning to ditch monogamy, namely, “while there may be a genetic and self-preserving imperative for women to have all their children with one man, if possible, as so many of our families illustrate, that’s not always possible or even crucial. What I’m sure of is that once women finish childbearing, there is no biological rationale for monogamy.”

    So I would ask Jill, and Frank, if they are wounded in their relationship with God. Do they see themselves as a free spirit, unrestrained by religion, Ten Commandments, submission to a Creator and so on?

    Sometimes a child is deeply wounded, perhaps blamed for the death of a sibling, and becomes angry at God for allowing the death of a child. They in their anger they reject Christianity and God’s commandments and live in rebellion. Rebellion = Freedom.

  15. Lee Says:

    Please consider Genisis 2:24, Exodus 20:14 and James 3:11.

  16. David Says:

    Monogamy = commitment, which is an aspect of demonstrated love. And while it may not play an overt key in dealing with various challenges together, knowing another partner has/is giving themselves to another WOULD eat at the back of ones mind while dealing with those challenges with a level of trust. What I find interesting is this double standard that we see here and in our culture in general. A woman writes a blog like this and our culture finds it thoughtful and insightful. What if a MAN wrote this blog? He would be a self-serving pig. If a women tells her girlfriends that her man cheated on her they all get irate and up in arms about him. If she tells them she had a trist with a tall dark stranger they giggle and ask if it was good and blame her man for not meeting her needs. Something in our society needs to change but it isn’t monogamy.

  17. David Says:

    Just to clarify – I don’t feel that my statements reflect the views of all women and of all men. I made my statements in too general a way and if that offended anybody I want to apologize ahead of time. These are simply things I have observed in many of the people I have met in life, have seen actually played out in the court system, and we are certainly bombarded with them in the media.

  18. Yolanda Says:

    In response to Frank’s post and Jill’s blog; as a believer in Christ, a blak woman, a wife and mother and as a Christian counselor, I believe that Jill’s blog by no means speak for women and especially black women as a whole. I have had my children and I don’t want to be with anyone else except for my husband. He shares the same feelings for me. I believe that when God brings a man and a woman together in marriage, their desires for anyone else are close to non existent not only because of their love for each other but because of their respect for each other and their marriage. Marriage is not only about love, otherwise the divorce rate would be even higher, but it is committing to each other even when the times get rough, which they do and committing to work through whatever issues you have together. The sex is the bonus because it reconnects you to each other and to the commitment that you have made to each other and to God. Being monogamous is a part of allowing you to also get a small glimpse of how much God loves you. That cannot possibly be found in having multiple partners. I feel sad for Jill because she has not yet grabbed the concept of being loved completely yet. I look forward to reading a blog from her where she has finally allowed herself to be enlightened by our Father who is love Himself.

  19. George Says:

    In my counselling experience, I have been surprised to discover that women consider sexual intercourse to be a covenant of faithfulness. Their inner being interprets full conjugal union as a commitment of the man to them. This feeling is strong even in women engaging sexually with a married man. I was understandably surprised when a woman involved with a married man was deeply offended when he decided to remain faithful to his wife and returned to ‘work it out with his wife and restore family unity.Although her anger was a shock to me, it did suggest a strong intuitive expectation and drive for faithfulness even among the unfaithful and strong hurt and offence when their sexual partner turns or returns to another woman.

  20. Stephen Says:

    Frank, your desire to have your readers be happy is commendable, as is your apparently using a Rogerian approach to counseling. For such an approach can be supported by Paul’s use of parakaleo in his telling us we are to “encourage” one other in order to build each other up, and to give us the courage we need to conquer our fears (Rom 12:8; I Thess. 3:2; 5:11,17). On the other hand, I still believe you are ignoring the rest of the Scriptures, such as the verses that also promote confrontation (noutheteo) of destructive behavior, i.e., “admonish the unruly” (also in I Thess 5:17) as well as promoting self-control to prevent such hurt in the first place (Titus 2:6). Another example: in giving us wisdom that is “above all else” Solomon tells us that our heart is “the springs of life,” while also telling us that this is the very reason we are “guard our heart” (Prov. 4:23). And the clincher here is that the context is one of the things we are to guard our heart against is the very thing you appear to be promoting in the pursuit of happiness, and that is infidelity (Prov. 5).

    The bottom line, Frank, is that you appear to be taking a one dimensional view of counseling that ignores the whole of Scripture and ignores the need for agape love commitment to one’s spouse and a set of values. This one dimensional view also over-emphasizes feelings, and in particular happiness, when nowhere in Scripture do we hear we are to pursue happiness (or joy), but that it is a consequence of following God and keeping our commitment to His values. Hey, even the liberal Psychology Today says as much in its coverage of the topic when the last thing it says is that happiness comes from keeping to our values ( ). And this is where such as Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud & John Townsend come in. For only when one keeps his marriage safe from outside interference can it truly be healthy and happy and stay that one. So Frank, while you may mean well, your approach is both one-dimensional (i.e., narrow) and extremely shortsighted. For whatever short term happiness and comfort (parakaleo) may come from infidelity is bound to only end up in pain and the lack of happiness later.

  21. William Says:

    Frank, your teaching is nothing more than humanism and cultism trash to teach people to idol themselves. This is no different than Mormansism Buddhism or any other false idea. Christian counseling uses scripture to point to God and to better yourself through Christ and for Christ. When you try to teach self fulfilling teachings like these the client goes into a deeper hole because ultimately he or she will fail themselves and other people will fail them. Christ does not fail. Therefore, use the the scripture and point them to Christ. They need to realize they will fail and it is okay. They are not going to save themselves because you can only be saved by Christ and Christ alone. Have a blessed weekend.

  22. What Gets You in the Mood? | Frank Love on Relationships Says:

    […] my love for the person” and ”I realized that I was in love.” This supports the long-held theory that women prefer to have sex within a “committed” relationship. Of course, […]

Leave a Reply