Some people have open relationships. Some are monogamous. I wanted a combo of the two.
I think I'm “monogamish”, a term coined by Dan Savage in a New York Times article. If you read the New York Times best seller Sex at Dawn, which makes the case that we humans are at our core non-monogamous creatures, you will know what I mean.
The conversation is really about how monogamy is a societal concept, imposed on us by religion and many other factors. I loved Sex at Dawn, but for me it's a big leap from there to being polyamorous. And yet my memoir is all about wanting more, all while staying married.
So, how do you get more and stay monogamous? Is there a solution outside of going from marriage to marriage in a serial monogamy routine that so many of us fall into because we need more on some level?
Is there something in-between monogamy and full out polyamory? Is polyamory the next big sexual revolution or can there be something else, too? Is that what Dan Savage is talking about when he offered up the word "monogamish"?
How about "expanded monogamy"? When I first thought of the term "expanded monogamy" I thought that I had coined a new term. But a quick search on google turned up several references to expanded monogamy with different definitions.
In my version of expanded monogamy, a couple sets the rules of sexual exploration that fit with their own set of personal boundaries that in my own rule book does not include taking a lover. I'm not talking about what been called an "open marriage." This version has boundaries that may seem outside of the box for some, but for others it may seem quite restrictive.
What's agreeable to one couple may not be agreeable to another. In my story, Shameless, I realize that I created a form of expanded monogamy and developed with my husband a way for me to explore my sexuality that did not fit the traditional outline of monogamy, but was not polygamy either.
I explored the concept of polyamory by reading a wonderful book on the subject by Deborah Anapol, but the concept was quite right for me. I need something else, and if I have learned anything, it's that if we don't have language for something we get very confused.
We are also not so good at finding middle places in our society. Many people keep asking me questions like, "How did your husband feel about you going to a Tantra workshop?" or "Did your husband get jealous of you working with hands-on sexual healers?"
In my own expanded monogamous marriage, I have room to go to sexuality workshops that include me exploring my own sexuality with myself and with others, within boundaries and usually in a supervised workshop setting. I'm able to be playful in my sexuality, which keeps my own inner fire alive and my marriage sexually interesting.
Having the space to explore and experiment with my sexuality within the boundaries of an expanded monogamy has supported my 30-year marriage into a place where both my husband and I are happy, and has helped us keep the light burning in our own marriage bed.
If we have the room to experiment and expand our own sexuality without shame, more people would stay within their relationships. We just need a little more room to breathe. It's about creating sexual agreements that work for each partnership, and allowing each other the room to grow without ditching your lives.