Monogamy is our Choice, not our Default

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This is my 3rd year participating in the March Marriage Challenge with my friend Melissa of The Eyes of a Boy.

Last year I wrote about When you Marry a Highly Sensitive Person and the previous year Why Parents Need to Make Love Often. This year: ethical monogamy.

This is a concept I’ve only really begun to explore over the last year, but something I’m excited to share with my readers. When we embark on relationships, they generally come with a lot of contingencies, if not in the beginning, then by the time that relationship progresses to marriage. Quite possibly the biggest life-altering commitment two people in a relationship make isn’t what they will do together in the future; it’s what they will not do separately. Whether it’s from the first date, after a set number of months, when they move in together, once they are engaged, or as vows are exchanged: humans default to monogamy. It’s the social norm, it’s often not questioned; it’s just understood that a committed relationship requires exclusivity.

But if this default monogamy is so simple, why do so many people cheat? Why do so many people break their commitment to one another? Why do so many marriages fall apart? Why are divorce rates so high? Monogamy by default works…right?

Well, monogamy was never my default. Unfortunately, due to how society stigmatizes people for certain behaviors, it’s important for me to clarify this statement. As I wrote in a 2012 post How Attachment Parenting Has Affected My Sex Life, I have had two sex partners my entire life, and I married them both. That has not changed. The first marriage was short-lived {began dating in 1998, married 2001, separated 2003, divorced 2004}. I married Richard in 2005, and we entered into a very trusting relationship without ever considering monogamy. Monogamy was not our default. 

Last year, I did my How I Was Born coming out party on here because I felt like I was in hiding. I felt it was time to be myself wholly on this blog that I had grown. It was important to define sexuality vs. sex. But to take it a step further, for the longest, I felt like being in a heterosexual marriage was limiting. I believed I had a whole other side to my identity that a standard ‘monogamy by default’ marriage did not allow me to explore, so with great trust and extensive communication, Richard and I defined the terms of our relationship through each experience. I’d like to say this was a graceful stroll through some sort of polyamorous bliss, but that is not the case. More like an uncoordinated, bull in a china shop, galumph through the unknown. At times, we had missteps. We made selfish decisions. We put our own desires ahead of our mutual needs. We are only human. We learned to be accepting, to be forgiving, to be exactly what the other person needed. Over the last almost 19 years as friends and 12 years as a married couple, we have approached each situation as a learning experience, an opportunity to grow as individuals and as a couple. To strengthen our bond and understanding of one another. No regrets.

But now, through our experiences, our love for one another, and our desire to have the absolute best marriage possible for us: we recently chose monogamy. The most important word in that sentence is not monogamy. It’s chose. Our journey brought us to this point. Our ongoing communication and unwavering respect for one another has led us to monogamy. And it’s a pretty new and exciting place to be!  A new way to preserve our marriage, to make each other a priority, to focus on togetherness, new adventures. It’s a commitment to one another that brings new meaning and value to our relationship. It makes me feel warm and protected and loved by the same person in a new way. Who knew that actively choosing monogamy {not passively defaulting to monogamy} could be so exciting? I look forward to all of the new joys and experiences it brings to our relationship!

How did you arrive at monogamy? Was it your default? Did you choose monogamy? Did you begin a monogamous relationship and then choose polyamory? Share your story below!

For more awesome marriage content from amazing bloggers, check out our March Marriage Challenge!

About Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, wife, and work-at-home mother to two children, Lydia (age 7) and Bryce (age 5). Carrie earned her doctorate in Special Education in 2008. After becoming a mother in 2009, Carrie began blogging as Huppie Mama to share her passions for cooking, crafting, beautifying, and her family. In 2016, she rebranded as Our Potluck Family, and her husband Richard became a regular contributor.
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3 Responses to Monogamy is our Choice, not our Default

  1. Marianela says:

    Love this! It has brought up some questions about myself as well. Thanks!

  2. Heather McMechan says:

    Thanks for your honesty and sharing!

  3. Fatima says:

    I think when we find someone who allows us to be ourselves — even if it’s for a temporary moment as we discover who that “person” really is — we turn something so simple as a friendship into love.

    Richard has stood by you through the hardest times in your life and it seems as though he’s always been very supportive. That’s the key here. That’s what allows choosing a monogamous relationship a lot easier.

    Marriage can be difficult, but I’ve found that if you treat your partner as a friend first, you never feel you have possession over them. You accept them as is.

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