PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Your novels have explored alternatives to the nuclear family—bigamy in The Rebellion of Yale Marratt; campus cohabitation in The Harrad Experiment. What is next?
Robert Rimmer: I feel that ultimately monogamous marriage will not be the only legal, sanctioned form of marriage. There will be socially approved group marriages, there will be bigamous marriages, and there will be open-end marriages in which each partner has a relationship outside the marriage.
The type of marriage I am proposing [in my new book] is called synergamy. A woman in a monogamous marriage could fall in love with another man and have a second, supplemental marriage. The second spouse would live in the home of the primary spouse a portion of the week—one, two, or three days—and accept love and involvement in the primary relationship. Her husband could likewise enter a synergamous marriage with another woman.
PT: So the family remains the basis, but you can look outside of the family for sex?
Rimmer: Yes, the family is crucial and stays. Synergamy would he a formal, committed, church-sanctioned marital relationship, which can be embraced not so much as a legal form of marriage but as an emotional commitment, preferable in the form of a church ceremony that would give an ordinary adulterous or marital relationship approximately equal status to the first marital commitment. A perfectly operating synergamous marriage would enlarge, not destroy, the original monogamous marriage.