Friday, June 17, 2011

Full Marriage Equality Can Save Marriage

Zosia Bielski interviewed Pamela Haag about her book, Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses and Rebel Couples.

What she found is a generation of half-hearted, semi-happy marriages, couples who have traded in passion for low-stress arrangements that pivot around children – “the new spouses.” The result is a vague, itching dissatisfaction and partners who are easily ensnared in dalliances online, with Rep. Anthony Weiner being the latest wretched illustration.

But it doesn’t have to be this way: Ms. Haag is pleading for a reinvention of marriage for our era, “something more than chore reallocation, but less than polygamy.”

What’s wrong with polygamy? Allow people to have the marriages they want, and more people will be happily married.

Aside from divorce, what do you see as alternatives?

I look at arrangements in which they don’t talk about it but maybe their marriage is a little tolerant, or they practise the 50-mile rule, where they could have a fling if it’s beyond the home base. Then I move into the updated open marriage, where it has to be consensual and they can have other attachments under certain conditions. The best estimate I could find was [that this accounts for] five per cent of marriages. It’s definitely not for everyone but I thought it was interesting to see that it ever works at all.

One wife is permitted sex just with other women – the husband sees it as less threatening. Another has a “payback fling” for one of her husband’s affairs: she lets him know and makes the family a nice casserole dinner for when she’s out. These pacts seem like the opposite of don’t ask, don’t tell.

Ethically, it’s a really different arrangement because the spouses genuinely believe that it’s possible to have more than one intimate attachment and they have to consent that it’s a life they want to try in marriage. There’s a real premium placed on honesty. This new ethical non-monogamy is a philosophical belief.

We should be supporting people, legally and socially, in the marriages they choose for themselves. Nobody should be jailed or fired or bullied because of the other adults they love or have sex with. If they want monofidelity, fine. Polyfidelity, fine. If they want a completely open relationship, that’s their business.

Naviculaie decided to pass judgment…

Ethical non-monogamy is just another way for us to rationalize our individual greed and self-interest.

Aside from having a happy partner, how is it individual greed and self-interest to encourage a partner to get their needs met?

Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, writing of nonspousal lovers of married people…

What if the latter wants more?

This can happen in any relationship. Let people work it out for themselves.

How does one remotely apply the word "ethical" to any of this??

Nonmonogamy can be ethical if it is done with the agreement and benefit of all participants.
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