Though the statistics vary a bit by study and by gender, most married Americans are monogamous, or at least they expect monogamy from their spouses. Many of us get downright irate about its importance. Some people threaten violence or even murder should their spouses have sex with someone else … and they mean it. Some say nothing but quietly plot the general havoc they would wreak if their partners should cheat – everything from running their partner’s name through the mud, to taking them to the cleaners in court. Some would just feel hurt but not seek retribution, and others don’t expect fidelity at all in their relationships. Either way, it’s probably safe to say that most of us have given the issue some thought and feel pretty strongly about it one way or the other. And considering the emotional, financial and even bodily damage that infidelity can bring about, it’s worth discussing your thoughts with your mate.
Even if you don’t think either of you would ever stray, it’s important to get some clarity about what would happen. After all, there are probably some things that you never thought you’d do – until you did. If monogamy is an expectation – either explicit or implicit – in your relationship, consider putting an actual penalty on the “violation.”
It is said that marriage is a contract, and many contracts have expectations and penalties. So, get the monogamy conversation popping by adding a dollar figure or a substantial penalty to it. Whether or not you make it official or enforce it is up to you, and is ultimately irrelevant. The point is simply to gain a clear understanding of how much value each of you places on fidelity, which is good information to have.
So, what would you consider a fair penalty if your partner had sex with someone other than you? Maybe $1,000 per month for 10 years, not including any alimony or child support that might also be issued? Or perhaps a greater financial responsibility where your children are concerned? In response to this question, a buddy of mine said that he would want his partner to pay for babysitting until their children were grown – at his discretion.
By proposing a penalty to our mates, we get the opportunity to gauge how strongly they feel about fidelity. Your partner might agree to your terms, argue for a lighter or stricture punishment, or state an unwillingness to pay anything because he/she considers it an unfair expectation. Either way, adding a financial incentive to the equation can breathe a new form of candor into the discussion.
Are you ready for the results? Eliminate the quiet seriousness of the issue. How much does it mean to you? How much would you be willing to pay for an indiscretion? Clarity, all the way around, can be a Powerful thing.
And if you think your relationship is too sacred to discuss in terms of money, stay tuned. That’s next week’s topic.
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.