Little so stirs controversy in relationships and research like discussions of monogamy. According to my own totally non-scientific research, it is a guarantee that if couples are in a social gathering where wine is served and the topic of monogamy is raised, voices at some turn in the talk will also be raised, and 40% of the couples will be going home with an agro-edge over some slight even if the anger is voiced only in the car door slamming on arriving home.
Twain wrote that there are only lies, damned lies, and statistics. So if you like numbers here are the facts. Only 5 percent of mammals are monogamous though that does include wolves and beavers. Perhaps this explains why wolves are so ready to kill something and beavers always have something gnawing at them.
But talking about who is or isn’t monogamous is ducking the question. It was pioneer psycho-therapist Fritz Perls who always reminded the patient, “If you don’t keep this in the first-person you are what we call mind-f…king.”
To swear to a partner or to the world that we will be monogamous is not beside the point, but it misses the point and certainly the starting point. The begin here question for all of us is whether we will be self-monogamous, whether we will be true to whom we are, whether we will we stay the course on our journey to our north star.
Until we are prepared to be self-monogamous we cannot be other-monogamous. Think about it, if we are not true to whom we are, then long before we stray with others we have strayed from ourselves.
Here’s a thought. Long before any of us take a walk down the aisle, we should rehearse our vows in front of a mirror. Make all those promises you promise to keep, to love and cherish and be there in sickness and in health, but see if you can make them sincerely to you. And then, and only then, should you rent a tux or break daddy’s bank on a wedding dress.
Our ability to have faith in our partner, our children, or the people we work with is conditional on having faith in ourselves. This does not mean you are deifying yourself but rather a reminder that in Western religions free will is considered a gift from God. Free will is God’s way of teaching us that being faithful to yourself, to the best in you, is a first step on the journey to faith in the Divine.
Now I know that there are people reading this who will think self-monogamy is just another way to turn a phrase and push a Narcissus agenda. But the truth of the Narcissus myth is not that he knew only self-love but he felt un-loved. And here’s how the key turns. Narcissus never experienced the emotional maturation of self-love. Absent of this emotional evolution, no other love could ease the melancholy of his vacuum.
Self-monogamy is not the easy path. But no one in life has ever found their way who has not felt lost. And self-monogamy is the required centering first step toward an honest bonding in any other relationship. Now say, “I do.”
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