The Evolution Of Monogamy

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I think it’s safe to say that we are all aware that we live in a society with an astronomically high divorce rate (something above 60%?), TMZ telling us which celebrity had an affair this week, social media newsfeed stories about couples breaking up, getting back together, fighting, breaking up again, and it goes on.

Yet…when we look into our parents’ and grandparents’ generations…they have been married the majority of their lives. What changed?

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Is it lack of quality choices in our generations? That is what most people chalk it up to. They say people have changed. They don’t make them like they used to. Nobody has any values anymore. There is probably some truth to this, but before we accept it, let’s examine the roots of this whole monogamous mindset, shall we?

When our grandparents and their grandparents were in the courtship phase, it was a world where the man “brought home the bacon,” and the woman stayed home and cleaned the picket fence, the Chevy, the dog and the 2.54 kids. The American dream. Nobody got divorced, it wasn’t even an option. But – this brings up some interesting ideas.

Women, even if they wanted to, couldn’t even get jobs (or at least high enough paying ones to support a family and a house). So it was essentially necessary for them to get married. Men were out working all the time, so they could not run a household or raise children effectively alone, and probably wouldn’t anyway because it was a “woman’s job.” Enter: Codependent monogamy and gender roles.

Get married, the husband will work, the wife will clean, and you grow old together. That’s all the world ever knew.

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What happened? Empowerment, equal opportunity, big salaries, and finally, equality for women. One of the many reasons why these things are great (yes, I am saying it’s great) is because it allows each individual in a relationship to be just that – an equal individual, as it should be. I am a strong advocate of equality for all.

Now, as empowerment and living expenses increase, necessary reliance on each other (for good and bad) decreases. “Back in the day”, women searched far and wide to find a man with a good job, a good future, and strong family values. Now, those same women are self-driven, accomplished, and don’t need someone else to fulfill certain areas of their lives that the women of past generations needed. They are just hoping for a man who isn’t an idiot.

See, the “need” for a marriage is decreasing, but, is the want for it also decreasing?

Marriages are no longer based on necessity, they are based on desire. A choice. And if a person makes a choice to commit to a single individual for the rest of their lives, it better be for the right reasons. This might seem like a simple thing to say, but if everyone followed that little rule, the divorce rate wouldn’t be where it’s at, now would it?

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Hair and teeth fall out, money can get lost in investments, cars get old…all of the things that attract us to each other in today’s society are fleeting and temporary. These are good for fleeting and temporary relationships, but something of this nature as a foundation is like trying to build a house on sand…there’s no steady ground to keep it together when the weather gets rough.

We must go back to connecting with people on a real level, this is not just for relationships, it’s for the good of future generations and the world. Future generations need to be strong, solid, smart and educated. The basis and values that many things are based on these days are risky when it comes to securing the upcoming leaders of this, and all countries.

If we focus on the fact that we don’t need each other, we are damaging the very fiber of relationships in the first place. We may not need anyone out of necessity, but to want them so badly that you cannot picture your life without them, to love every small part of who they are, to develop an emotional connection to someone so strong that you share their emotions, their happiness, and their fears – that is what holds a couple together for decades to come.

We need to bridge the gap between want and need. Understand that sharing responsibilities is okay. Throw gender roles out the window and have each teammate do what they’re good at, not what they’re “supposed to.” We have to accept the fact that we are entering a relationship with a fully functioning individual whose life would be just fine without us, and embrace the fact that we are together because we want to be, not because we have to be.

Our society is losing the ability to do this, but if we just take a deep breath and let our heart and mind work together to make better decisions, we might just get it back.

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13 Comments

  1. gina on July 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I agree that a strong connection holds together 2 people but both people have to feel that connection. If only one feels it and the other person is just going through the motions, it won’t last.

  2. Michael Kowalski on July 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I think this is a double edged sword, yes I support equality, but the sudden disappearance of gender roles has left a lot of people trying to figure out just what their role is. I grew up in a traditional house, my father worked and made the big decisions (always consulting my mother and I) and my mother raised me and took care of the house. When I started dating, I had the value that it is my responsibility to protect and provide for my significant other, if i can not do either of these then I do not deserve to be with her. This view has evolved to be more along the lines of, I should be able to provide enough so that my wife has the choice to work or not, but it is always my responsibility to ensure her safety and provide a loving environment for her to grow. But I think this loss of these defined roles especially for men has had a large and mostly negative impact on men. I, and I believe, other men, function on logic, and knowing the rules of the game, when the rules change so greatly, how can we ever win?

    • Miss Bougie,, on July 25, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Yes Michael. I agree with your analysis.

    • Colleen Fonseca on July 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      I do not think it has had a negative impact on men, what has a negative impact on men is patriarchy. Imagine all of the pressure and stress we placed on men to be providers and the sole resource for economic prosperity. Men, as well as woman negatively impacting from the deterioration of their gender role is completely false. A role is a ROLE, it is something that you play, a mask and costume you wear and portray to the world. We are now challenging men to be more than roles and that’s HARD, but it equates to a more meaningful life where you can be YOU, and not a costume or mask.

  3. rlcarterrn on July 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you so much for your common sense in positing this. I so agree that marriages today can actually be MORE fulfilling b/c we don’t NEED each other in quite the same ways, yet we still WANT each other. Also, there is absolutely NO proof that people had happier marriages in the 1950’s or whatever. Tons of people cheated & did all kinds of terrible things to each other back then. Divorce just wasn’t an option, especially if the woman was the one initiating it. I don’t see that as any better for society. We just need to be wise in entering into marriage & realize that the foundation for marriage has to be a very strong friendship & love for each other’s company. Because at the end of the day & the end of our lives, whenever that may be, THAT is what will make or break us.

  4. Matt on July 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I couldnt have said it any better James. My grandparents were married 55 years. They had their fair share of fights and raising 5 children but they did it. I agree with Michaels perspective, its been engrained in me to provide and protect my woman but it seems these days its considered a turn off?

  5. mik1999 on July 26, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Reblogged this on A Walk in the Snow and commented:
    really interesting post

  6. insanitybytes22 on July 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

    This was really well said, thank you. Many things have changed, but I think that basic desire for connection and intimacy has not, we’re just all a bit lost trying figure out how to have it when all the rules see to have changed. This is probably true for both men and women.

    I have to laugh at women sometimes, you can really see the cultural conflict in us on social media sometimes. They’ll be half a dozen posts on what’s wrong with men, followed by a rather desperate “where have all the men gone? Oh God, I’m so tried of being single…”

    People haven’t changed at all, but the parameters that have always shown us the way, have changed.

  7. Aami Aabir on July 27, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Very rightly put, your logic has some merit. It is unfortunate but true that in the past Individualism was not the guiding factor in the steering of your lives; but today our lives are guided by the principle of self-appeasement, so we avoid adjusting when we can. Relationship fall victim to this evasive attitude.

  8. Sarah Perry on July 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

    JMS-

    This is (another) great post.

    It goes along with an Old Fart email I received.

    Here’s the meat of it. I’m sure you can find plenty of good info to share with men through your New Chivalry Movement.

    Point them/men to the seniors who fought in WWII or the Korean War. And even the Vietnam War.

    Those men came back, were spit on, and STILL are the most productive, successful group of men and women today.

    They didn’t let what happened define them.

    * Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the National Anthem. Old Farts remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them. * Old Farts remember World War II, Pearl Harbor , Guadalcanal , Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam . * If you bump into an Old Fart on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Fart on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old Farts trust strangers and are courtly to women. * Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection. * Old Farts get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies. * Old Farts have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren.

    It’s the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country. God bless you (two) and keep up the good work.

    Sarah

  9. […] Furthermore, what about all of the children who are being produced by this culture? The thought of marriage before children, or marriage at all, seems to slowly be losing validity. […]

  10. Jim Griesemer on August 1, 2014 at 11:42 am

    By adopting the trendy pursuits of “following your own drummer” and only accepting “the best of everything,” people have lost sight of what truly matters: the importance of the virtues of loyalty, commitment, and (most importantly) empathy. Stop looking for the “soul mate” that will supposedly make a relationship “just happen.” Find a good partner and commit to working together to become soul mates. As Thomas Paine said: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.” I have been married for 25 years and we are very happy together. I didn’t find her by “looking for a soul mate.” I found her, we decided to commit to each other, and we have made it work by using those virtues.

  11. […] in a culture where essentially 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Half. Why? I have discussed the evolution of monogamy in previous articles, but there are obviously many factors at play. Lack of values in younger […]

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