Edgar Ramsey offers a solution to marital jealousy and infidelity.
When I was younger, in my late teens and early twenties, I was pretty normal in the green-eyed department. The thought of my woman just flirting with another man, let alone having sex with him, did not give me warm feelings of joy at her new life experience. No, I got angry, which is the traditional, expected response. I also usually wished the other guy some kind of physical harm. That’s pretty normal, too. How many fights or murders have been caused by a jealous rage over infidelity? Probably too many to count, no doubt why men invented the chastity belt. Of course, it’s not very trusting of men to lock up their women’s private parts. I am sure most men would not like their junk shuttered under lock and key.
Of course, I was no angel when I was younger either. I cheated on my first wife, but not as many times as she cheated on me in retaliation. But who cares about the numbers? We both lied and fooled around behind each others backs. I think betrayal of trust and dishonesty are the ultimate relationship killers. Now at 57, I have no sexual jealousy. I believe compersion is a much better alternative to jealousy. Compersion is being happy for your romantic partner when they’re having a good time: romantically, sexually or both; it’s the exact opposite of jealousy.
So how did I do a complete 180 in my life and get to what I think is a better place? Well, let me pose a question: is monogamy a realistic expectation for a lot of people? I think the statistics say it really isn’t. First let’s look at some non-monogamy statistics:
- In a 1983 study by Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz (American Couples: Money-Work-Sex; Pocket Books 1985), 15 percent of married couples, in a sample of 3,574 couples, had “an understanding that allows non-monogamy under some circumstances,” and 28 percent of cohabitating couples had “an understanding that allows non-monogamy under some circumstances.”
- In a Janus report in 1993 (by Cynthia and Samuel Janus – University of Virginia), with a sample of 1,800 people, 21 percent said they participated in open marriage;
- And in an Oprah.com survey in 2007, which surveyed over 14,000 people, 21 percent stated they were in an open marriage.
These are fairly large surveys; if accurate they would suggest that over 1 out of 5 marriages are considered open by the respondents even if the number of those actively engaged in non-monogamy sex during the year was only about 6%. The key is, they all gave their partners permission to practice non-monogamy. So combine this with statistics on infidelity:
- According to Truth About Deception (www.truthaboutdeception.com): “It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage.”
- Adrian Blow, Associate Professor at Michigan State University (Human Development and Family Studies) writes: “Infidelity studies show that extramarital sex occurs in up to 25% of heterosexual marriages in the USA.”
Again, large numbers, and if accurate, suggest that in at least 1 out of 4 marriages, one or both of the spouses has cheated. And researchers explained that it is difficult to get accurate statistics on infidelity as many people do not want to admit they have cheated, even on an anonymous survey, so they lie. Therefore the real numbers may be even higher than the results measured by the surveys.
Don’t get me wrong; I believe there is nothing wrong with monogamy if that is the preferred choice of a couple. But for the many couples that choose some form of non-monogamy or for those who simply cannot live up to a monogamous lifestyle, which is a better scenario: to be in an open-style marriage—a form of which has been recently called The New Monogamy, where both spouses are always honest with each other about their extra-marital romances and sexual partners and may even ask permission before entering into a new relationship; or be stuck in a traditional marriage where the spouses only pretend to be monogamous while one or both sneak around behind each others backs, keeping their extra-marital encounters a secret?
Frankly, I prefer non-possessiveness, openness and honesty as then there is never a betrayal of trust. I would rather know the truth up front and accept it than be lied to. I love my wife dearly, but her having another man’s penis in her mouth or vagina is something that she should be free to choose for herself and her body. I do not own her. And that thought does make me jealous; I would be happy for her enjoyment and pleasure with another person; it would have nothing to do with the deep love we share together.
I just wish our society, including most religious organizations, would stop pushing monogamy down everyone’s throats and quit trying to portray people who seek out other alternative lifestyles as misguided, weird, kinky, sleazy and perverted sinners, instead of secure, loving, and compassionate people who feel that there is more than enough love in the world to go around and believe in the positive benefits of compersion instead of the fear and anger inherent in jealousy and possessiveness.