Radical monogamy is a concept that is electrifying the world of relationship choices. When I first read about this idea, I smiled. I wondered if this was supposed to be funny. What could be radical about monogamy? Wasn’t this the same as another idea that started with “m” – marriage? So, I asked the obvious question, “What does radical monogamy mean? What is radical about monogamy?”
“Radical monogamy is ‘choosing’ to be monogamous when there is pressure from the outside world to cheat or to be open. There has been a backlash in the media around this concept. Many people are saying, “But isn’t that just monogamy?”” according to Dr. Tammy Nelson. By definition monogamy is one partner for life. Some have twisted this definition to mean one partner at a time.
I asked, “What is radical?” Isn’t that something extreme or drastic? Examining this pair of words makes me ask if monogamy is extreme? How is this different from traditional, Biblical marriage where one woman marries one man for life or until death separates them? When exploring this question with Dr. Nelson, she responds, “The radical part of this type of monogamy is not that they choose each other and commit to one another; rather they choose to love in a way that works for them, outside of the traditional forms of monogamy that they others might prefer.” What if someone desires this exclusive lifestyle because they determine it to be morally superior? What if someone chooses monogamy to be embrace the very best that God desires them to be as a person? What if marriage is God’s creation for our most radical, fulfilling life possible?
Why wouldn’t I choose to make a commitment that works for me? Some might argue that deciding to remain with one person for life limits one’s experiences and enjoyment of life. The value of individualism creeps into this idea. “Radical monogamy invites a conversation about needs and boundaries. Open monogamy goes a step further and invites all of us to have a deeper conversation that honors our commitments while exploring the depths and endless potential of our capacity for love.”
After reading around on this topic for a while it seems that the “radical” in this option is that it is chosen rather than defaulted to in a relationship. Wow! Who knew? My cultural experience taught me that marriage with the assumption of loyalty and commitment which could also be called monogamy is simply a natural law or a moral law. Perhaps the nuance is suggested because some do not want to use the Bible as a guide book on sexual lifestyle. Monogamy is an old idea rebranded as radical monogamy.
Maybe it is because God created marriage and intimacy to be protected by loyalty and fidelity. The Christian Post concludes, “Research routinely shows that exclusive relationships, especially marriage, yield higher rates of general satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and healthier kids.” Numerous studies indicate that married people are more intimate that single people according to Psychology Today.
It it a cultural myth that married people are less satisfied sexually than unmarried.
So, why is this ancient concept of monogamy the secret sauce to increased happiness not only in physical intimacy but in a deep, long lasting relationship? Simple, it is God’s idea!! His ideas originate from his motive of love for the people He created. Satan is the master of lies. His best ones are mostly truth sprinkled with poisonous lies. He would lead you and me to believe that marriage is boring and lacking in excitement. In fact, Satan actively creates a tension of the strong temptation to have sex outside marriage and the insanely crazy urge to have less sex when you are married. In truth, it is for our greatest fulfillment in relationship with another human being.
Long ago some thought that the lifetime bonding between a man and a woman was for the protection of the offspring. The idea that a child’s life might be in danger if another male wanted to mate with the mother. While this sounds extreme, it has been a popular motivation in numerous cultures for creating monogamous arrangements.
As early as Genesis 2 God details the physical bonding between the man and woman He created. It reads like the glue that God created as a gift for oneness. God gives Eve to Adam because it is not good from him to be alone. Matthew 19 speaks of the permanency of marriage as God’s plan. Proverbs 5 indicates the solidarity of marriage. I Corinthians 7 details faithfulness in marriage and how honest loyalty in marriage works. Titus 1, along with other Bible passages identify monogamy, or marriage, as a prerequisite for a spiritual leader.
As mentioned before this agreement of monogamy works when there is a conscience decision to be committed and work on solving differences.
- Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.
- A couple in a successful marriage discovers the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.
- If you do what you always do, you will get same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.
- Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.
- Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
- The grass is greenest where you water it. Spouses in a successful marriage have learned to resist the grass is greener myth — i.e., someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
- You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope — almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
- Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” — when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
- Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Spouses in a successful marriage have learned to resist holding grudges and bringing up the past. They remember that they married an imperfect person — and so did their spouse.
- A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.
All signs seem to point to radical monogamy as God’s unique plan for human flourishing!!! It was God’s idea. It has to be the best idea for ultimate happiness!!
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More on marriage on these podcasts:
Important Blogs on Marriage:
Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions and Addictions Develop
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