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|The New Monogamy - Page 10|
They appeared to be in a real bind. Karla said that if she felt she wouldn't injure her husband's chances or her own and her kids' financial security, she would indeed leave him and pursue her own personal and professional growth. However, such a move would clearly jeopardize Jack's career. The solution she and her husband ultimately arrived at would most likely shock Dr. Laura. By the time therapy ended, Jack had acquired a lover and, after much calm negotiation, he and Karla agreed that they'd, in effect, carry on parallel lives: maintain outside lovers while staying in their primary relationship, if only for show.
Together, Karla and Jack made an informed, transparent decision to do what they thought would work best for them. True, their solution went against the current norm: if your marriage is irretrievable, leave it for a new romance and the new promise of "happily ever after," even if you must do it multiple times. Yet it could be argued that, in some ways, the approach they took was more adult, more orderly, and even more responsible to all parties concerned.
Monogamy for the Long Haul
If couples are becoming more flexible in the way they define monogamy, it could be partly because people live longer than in previous centuries and one spouse is far less likely to leave the other widowed after 5 or 10 years than used to be the case. Now couples are expected to stay sexually and emotionally connected to each other for 40, 50, even 60 years. There's no precedent in any culture for staying married and passionate about the same person for that amount of time. We aren't trained or advised about how to remain monogamous and happy with a single sexual partner for half a century, probably because we've never before had to be.
Monogamy is a conscious choice made by human beings, and perhaps the best choice for our species. A long-term, connected, monogamous relationship makes for better parenting and encourages emotional creativity among humans: to get along with someone for many years, you have to learn certain relational skills, including self-control, psychological acuity, patience, conscious empathy, and simple kindness. If monogamy is not natural to humans but a choice that we make and negotiate every day, then it becomes an opportunity to protect our most intimate bonds while continuing to grow as individuals.
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