It shouldn't even be a question.
By Steven Lake
First, some background on my life in relationships over the past 40 years.
When I was younger, my ideal was to have a harem. One woman for every night of the month. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was not born into a religion that accepted this state of affairs, I could not have afforded it even if I had been born into such a religion, and being young and naive, I could not have imagined all the problems that would have arisen in such a household.
Thirty women and one man — what was I thinking. I would have been ground into dust.
Yes, it was a fantasy and over the years I have lowered that number down. From thirty to twenty to ten... and now the harem is gone, replaced with fantasies of making love with a beautiful young woman — occasionally.
Is this the result of lowering testosterone levels or something else?
Well, as much as I might have fantasized in the past, I never took my fantasies seriously. Even when I was footloose and fancy free with multiple lovers, whenever I was in a relationship, I was a one-woman-man. Why?
I think there are a number of factors at play here. They include, how I was brought up. My mother and father are still married after 62 years. I don’t know if they ever had an affair, but the message that they lived out was to hang in there when life got tough.
Another was the culture in which I was embedded. Pretty standard stuff back then in North America, Christian, even though we were not avid church goers, with the belief that once married it was, “till death do you part.”
When I started dating I was pretty serious and assumed that if we loved each other we would stay together, become engaged and then get married. Oh, how little I knew of the world and relationships.
I was a serial monogamist except when not in a committed relationship. Looking back I wish I had spent more time being single, not so much to have had more fun, but to have lived on my own for longer and learned more about myself outside of being in a relationship.
When in a serious relationship, both my partner and I agreed to be monogamous. I have been cheated on — sucks. I could not believe how much pain I felt in my body when discovering what happened. Going through that kind of trauma is not just emotional pain, but physical as well.
The only time I “cheated” in a relationship was at the end of a three year disaster when my girlfriend was to start studying in another city across the country. Before she left, she looked me in the eye and said, “Have fun.”
I did. When I picked her up at the airport on her return, the first thing she asked was if I, “had fun.” I promised myself I would never tell her BUT, when she asked, I looked her in the eye and said, “Yes.”
I won’t go into that story, but will let you imagine how it went — badly. It did get me out of the relationship which is what I desperately wanted but was unable to do so without a cataclysmic event.
Another time, I was in a long-term relationship and left when my partner wanted an open relationship. Been there and done that in an earlier relationship and was not interested in repeating the experience.
That brings me up to my current marriage (common law) of almost seventeen years. I have not cheated and as far as I know she hasn’t either. It seems clear that we will live out our lives together. We work on the relationship and it has gotten better with each passing year. I feel lucky to have such an amazing partner and proud of what we have survived and how, as a couple, we have thrived.
Now that you have some background, here are the 7 reasons why I choose monogamy.
1. Keeps life simple.
If you want drama, have an affair. For the life of me, I don’t know why people don’t break up before the affair. Saves so much pain and sorrow.
Yes, breaking up is hard to do, but when an affair happens, life can get seriously crazy. I have seen kids kidnapped, visitation rights ignored, cars destroyed, and people assaulted. Most of this could have been avoided if there had been no affair.
(Actually, I do know a number of reasons people have an affair and don’t tell their partner. We will leave that for another article. Please send me your reasons.)
Stress is brutal on your physical and mental health. Keeping secrets is crazy-making for both you and your partner. The offending party takes a hit on their self-esteem and the offended often sense something is wrong, but is met with denials when they question their partner, which makes the offended party doubt reality (a.k.a.: crazy-making).
When you have enough stress your body takes a hit. Not so much fun.
4. Staying monogamous is an incentive to keep your sexual life alive.
It may not be a guarantee, as you could just let the sexual aspect of your relationship fade away, but if your libido is intact, there will be an urgency to find a solution.
My partner and I have had to deal with huge stressors because of illness, finances, career change, moving, and personal change. These experiences affected our sexual relationship and we had to evolve to stay involved.
The good news is that we are closer emotionally and sexually today than we have ever been. This is due in part because we have focused on our relationship without the distraction of an affair.
5. I don’t like hypocrisy.
I don’t like sharing either, my wife that is. Call me old-fashioned but I just don’t like the idea of my wife making-out with another person. It only seems fair that if I want my wife to be faithful, I should do the same.
6. Keeping something sacred.
In today’s world much of what we do is on public display. I am highly engaged with my clients, friends, and business associates. Social media is a medium that keeps me connected personally and promotes my businesses.
My sexual relationship with my wife is something special that only we share. It is not just the act of sex. We have had relationships and sex with other people before we met.
Yet, the people we are today, our shared history, and the unique combination of our personalities is unprecedented. Much like fingerprints, there is no other relationship like ours. Not now, not ever.
Kinda cool when you think about it.
I respect myself enough to keep to my ideals and commitment. I respect her enough to value her commitment, her word, her dream, her vision and her faithfulness.
I do myself and my partner a disservice when I break my oath. An oath I made to myself, her, and when married, to the community.
Yes, we are human and make mistakes. Sometimes they are not mistakes but deliberate actions to get us out of situations that we believe we cannot leave without an incident, such as an affair.
These things happen all the time. I see it in my practice every day and it grieves me to hear and see all the pain that happens when people don’t communicate how they are feeling about life, the relationship, and about themselves.
And that is why I choose monogamy.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.