Raising the question of monogamy vs. open relationships can be an awkward subject for couples, but as Dan Savage, America’s leading sex-advice columnist, would say… honesty is the best policy.
Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.
“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”
There have always been nonmonogamous marriages. In 2001, The Journal of Family Psychology summarized earlier research, finding that “infidelity occurs in a reliable minority of American marriages.” Estimates that “between 20 and 25 percent of all Americans will have sex with someone other than their spouse while they are married” are conservative, the authors wrote. In 2010, NORC, a research center at the University of Chicago, found that, among those who had ever been married, 14 percent of women and 20 percent of men admitted to affairs.
Apparently that whole “lifetime of terrible sleep” mommy curse is a fact of life - at least according to the NY Times (I’m a junkie). For the first 2-3 months of my first daughter’s life, I was wasn’t able to sleep because of feedings schedules while going to school full time and trying to adjust to my totally new life situation.* For the two months before she was born I had trouble sleeping because I kept getting kicked in the ribs and had pretty terrible acid reflux. My sleeping had almost gone back to normal, however, when I got pregnant with baby #2 and back came the multiple trips to the bathroom at night and now I’m back on the acid reflux wagon. Honestly, a lot of the moms I know have told me about the sleep thing and I already have my little anxiety issues so I don’t know if this bodes well for me. I would say vigilance is the key but perhaps what I should be telling myself is to discipline myself to sleep in the same way that I discipline my toddler to go to bed…
*I went from (1) sole family breadwinner to stay at home spouse, (2) living in Asia to living in Washington DC, (2) caregiver in a 2-person family to exhausted mother of an infant in a 3-person family. Add a generous helping of hormones on top of all of that.
Simply put, we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture.
In the wake of the hugely disappointing budget deal and the S.& P.’s debt downgrade, maybe we need to hang a new sign in the immigration arrival halls at all U.S. ports and airports. It could simply read: “Welcome. You are entering the United States of America. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.