Yet you also have many expectations that you may never have talked about, but which you hold your partner to, and vice versa. These are implicit monogamy agreements, and they are often the ones that are operating all the time, even when you don’t realize it. When your relationship is troubled and a partner cheats, these implicit agreements are the misunderstandings that trip you up.
Some examples of breached implicit agreements are “I thought we could have close friends of the opposite sex, and it would be no big deal even after we were married” or “I didn’t realize that having my ex-lover connect with me on the computer would bother you.”
After an affair, couples struggle with the realization that their marriages weren’t as they had thought. These implicit understandings (or misunderstandings) must now become explicit. Couples who choose to stay together after infidelity have the chance to create new, explicit agreements about what can and can’t happen in their marriages, based on each couple’s needs and desires, and what’s realistically manageable for both partners, not on what society at large thinks is healthy and right for them.
The new monogamy can be described as the conscious choices a couple makes about their sexual and emotional fidelity when they both agree to stay together and make it work. The new monogamy also means that each marriage is highly individualized. Partners have the right to make any agreement they want that works for both of them concerning what their monogamy will look like. As you’ll see, this may or may not include sustaining and revisiting the old rules of their original vows. Or it could mean making agreements that aren’t considered acceptable in most marriage traditions. In the new monogamy, both partners get to agree on what their relationship will look like, based solely on their shared needs, expectations, and desires.
For more information on creating your new monogamy agreement click here.
Dr. Tammy Nelson is a world renowned sex and relationship expert and the author of The New Monogamy and Getting the Sex You Want. She can be found at www.drtammynelson.com
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