I just finished reading Sex at Dawn which makes the case that we humans are at our core not monogamous creatures. That in many ways - monogamy is a societal concept - imposed on us by religion and many other factors. I loved the book, but for me personally it's a big leap from there to being polyamorous. And yet my memoir, Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner is all about wanting more....and staying married.

So, how do you get more - and stay monogamous? Is there a solution outside of going from marriage to marriage in a serial monogamy routine that so many of us fall into because we need more on some level? Is there something in-between monogamy and full out polyamory no matter what Charlie Sheen says? Is polyarmory the next big sexual revolution or can there be something else too? Dare I say it - a middle ground of sorts?

How about "expanded monogamy"? When I first thought of the term "expanded monogamy" I thought that I had coined a new term. But a quick search on google turned up several references to expanded monogamy with different definitions. In my version of expanded monogamy - a couple sets the rules of sexual exploration that fit with their own set of personal boundaries that in my own rule book does not include taking a lover. In my take on expanded monogamy - I am not talking about what been called an "Open Marriage". My version has boundaries that may seem outside of the box for some - but for others may seem quite restrictive.

What is agreeable to one couple may not be agreeable to another. In my story - Shameless - I realize that I created a form of expanded monogamy and developed with my husband a way for me to explore my sexuality that did not fit the traditional outline of monogamy but was not polygamy either. I explored the concept of polyarmory by reading a wonderful book on the subject by Deborah Anapol - but the concept was quite right for me. I need something else - new language! And if I have learned anything in my years as a fertility advocate and sex educator - if we don't have language for something - we get very confused.

We are also not so good at finding middle places in our society. Many people on my book tour keep asking me questions like "How did your husband feel about you going to a Tantra workshop?" or ""Did you husband get jealous of you working with hands on sexual healers?"

No matter where I am in the country - I am asked the same questions over and over again about my adventures into the underground world of sacred sexuality. In my search for language - I am embracing the term expanded monogamy, and I would like to introduce it to you if you are unfamiliar with it.

In my own expanded monogamous marriage - I have room to go to sexuality workshops that include me exploring my own sexuality with myself and with others within boundaries and usually in a supervised workshop setting. I am able to be playful in my sexuality - which keeps my own inner fire alive and my marriage sexually interesting. It has become essential to me to be able to explore who I am as an individual as well as in my marriage. 

In my own expanded monogamous marriage - both my husband and I have the space to work with sexological body workers and sacred intimates who are there to support us on our own individual paths - and are not about us falling in love with outside people.

Having the space to explore and experiment with my sexuality within the boundaries of an expanded monogamy has supported my 30 year marriage into a place where both my husband and I are happy and has helped us keep the light burning in our own marriage bed. Having room to expand your sexuality and explore over time may turn a once sexless marriage into something else. Creating some room in our relationships for turning up the heat on our sexuality does not have to mean leaving the marriage or having an affair.  We simply have to bring this possibility out into the world.

If we have the room to experiment and expand our own sexuality without shame - I believe that more people would stay within their relationships. We just need a little more room to breathe. It's about creating sexual agreements that work for each partnership - and allowing each other the room to grow without ditching your lives.

About the Author

Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is the author of Shameless and founder of The American Fertility Association.

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