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"Why can't Men be Monogamous?"
A list-serve posting that generated many interesting responses. January 2004
Hi,

This was about the ONLY, and I mean ONLY group on Yahoo that had to do with monogamy. I'm looking for some advice/guidance.

Why is it that men cannot be monogamous? This includes yours truly! And, how can one become monogamous?

Thanks in advance...Oh and please don't tell me something silly like I need to get faith in the Lord because many folks with faith still cheat.

"Looking for direction"

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Dear "looking for direction,"

Excellent question I'm sending it out to see if any on the list-serve have any suggestions.

All the best,
Richard

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To "looking for direction"

I would like to know how old you are. I am interested to know why you think it is impossible for men to believe in monogamy. Or at least practice it. My fiancé believes in being faithful with all his heart. When I met him, his wife had cancer. She had been sick for 10 years and since it was cancer of the brain, her mind was gone quickly but her body was still going. I met him 10 months before she died, when he had to put her in a nursing home. The doctors would not let him take her home. He had taken care of her since the onset of the illness by himself. He was faithful to her to the end. His family and friends all told him they would understand if he "dated". He was appalled. He said her married her until death do us part and had pledged his fidelity.. He kept his word. I worked at the nursing home she was admitted to. That was five years ago. We have been dating for four years and will be married this year. I believe that this man is a grown up who understands what his word means and understands what fidelity is. I trust him. He trusts me.

We know several men who feel the same way. Although we do know more men that stray, we believe that being a true adult means not doing so.

Monogamy is possible and you're spouse will treasure you. Everything is a choice.... Good Luck

I'm a believer

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Dear "looking for direction,"

I'd like to venture an answer on this one.

Every man is a universe unto himself, and is meant to be a king in his own realm. Each man's realm is different. The "narrow gate" or rite of passage that gains him ownership of his realm is gaining ownership of his sexuality.

Most men never accomplish this. They believe themselves to be powerless over sexual urges, and they believe themselves to be the reactors to the stimulus of sexual opportunity. If someone is open and willing to have sex with them, they feel unable to resist. Also, they perceive orgasm, or the pleasurable sensation, as the primary sexual experience, so anything or any person who will provide that seems equal in value.

The result of this assumption is that the man will never own his own selfhood. He will be sabotaged in his dearest goals, because he will feel powerless to resist any sexual opportunity, and thus is continually vulnerable. Thus, even very rich and powerful men lose everything because they are vulnerable to any sexual advance.

The choice of holding one's sexual expression for a single lifetime partner is the ultimate path to full freedom, and to full sexual power. A man who is not temptable is not able to be manipulated. He is in charge, and his sexuality becomes his strength, not his weakness. Ironically, the man who holds himself apart is the one who all will respect: men and women.

Once we rule out the easy path of sex with any willing participant, we have to look more deeply at members of the opposite sex. They become real people to us, not merely potential sexual partners. We can let go of the games, and let go of the elaborate defenses, and just enjoy each other as people.

At the same time, sexuality gets expanded in so many directions when it is focused. Not only does it develop into mature sexuality, which welcomes pregnancy, childbirth and child raising, but it radiates out into a genuine masculinity that drives true creativity. Monogamous men are recharged and refreshed through the family life, and bring that into their professions and other endeavors. They become whole, and are comfortable with themselves, and with all women...in every stage of life.

Rather than being frustrated sexually as a result of monogamy, such men are fulfilled sexually, having more frequent and more satisfying sexual lives, and at the same time receiving immense support in their financial, personal, professional and emotional lives. This is the result of studies, not just conjecture. As a result, they live longer, feel happier, have better health, reap financial stability, and enjoy the trust of others.

It is ironic that sexual laxity results in limitations of growth, relationships, and life options, while sexual integrity results in expanstion of the same areas.

Perhaps monogamy seems difficult, from one perspective. However, it is similar to any important habit...when cultivated, it brings manifold benefits.

Hope this helps,

Kate

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Dear "looking for direction,"

The fact that you are searching the internet and asking questions proves that you are destined for greatness in a fantastic lifestyle if you only believed it was just that. :)

You are what you think! If you believe that you could never be in a monogamous relationship or that men can't then you will never be able to allow your spirit to receive anything but what you ultimately believe. Thoughts are power! Thoughts turn into words and words turning action. Try thinking MONOGAMY and try thinking on the positive rewards of it, don't associate it as bad medicine.

Blessings,

Rahsona

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Dear "looking for direction,"

Perhaps you should consider how you like to be treated in a relationship. If commitment is not important to you, then maybe you should avoid any sexual activity in a relationship. I see this as the only way to be considerate of the other person. No one likes to be hurt.

Worth The Wait

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Dear "looking for direction,"

You don't need monogamy. What you need is accountability and commitment. Not accountability or commitment to your partner but within yourself. Begin to really like the depth of yourself and monogamy will come.

Caroline

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Dear "looking for direction,"

First let me applaud you for reaching out for help. That in itself deserves big Kudos.

I think that the first thing we should address is the question that you pose. The question on the table: Why can't men be monogamous? is inferring that men who have struggled before; like me have never overcome that temptation and practice abstinence or faithfulness to your spouse depending if you are single or married. The question really becomes: How do men practice abstinence (single) or monogamy (marital relationship)?

The premise behind practicing "save sex" or abstinence is predicated on the fact that outside of the "marriage bed" sex is detrimental to you emotionally and physically, even when it is with one person (a monogamous relationship). The issue is not just monogamy, but monogamy within the right institution.... the institution of marriage.

Secondly, it is not silly to bring God into the mix... After all He is the creator of you and me. He is the originator, the orchestrator of sex. Sex is not a bad word. God is for sex!

Third, I am a Christian and I have messed up royally in many areas, but in this area particularly. I am striving to become more mature, however I am not perfect. So do not base your idea of looking to God on the fact that others have failed who also trust in God. Remember it is a developmental process in which one mature from one thing to another. It takes time.

Here is a highly recommended book and program that I believe will begin to aide you in your search and desire to practice abstinence, or if you are married monogamy with your wife. It is called EVERYMAN'S BATTLE by: Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. There is a book and workbook that will give you very practical skills and real life guidance on how to overcome this issue that seems to have a stronghold on men all over the world. Here is their website as well www.newlife.com here you can log on and e-mail the authors and get additional resources and schedules workshops. I highly recommend the workshops because it will help to promote accountability for you. That is always key in overcoming any area of temptation or frustration. Help line number is 1-800-new life. There is strength in numbers.

If I can be of any more assistance please feel free to contact me.

I wish you well.

Respectfully,

Minister Carl Hall

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Dear "looking for direction,"

Our culture would appear to, in part, define masculinity in measurements of sexual prowess. So, if one believes that to be a "real" man means having sex with anyone available, then one might be encouraged to not be monogamous.

Ours is not the only culture to believe this, unfortunately, and there may be some anthropological/biological basis for it, but we live in the 21st century. I don't know of any culture that can survive men having sex indiscriminately, given the epidemic of AIDS, and given the diminishment of the extended family for helping people raise their children.

Just look at the devastation of countries in Africa. Men who go away from their families to work and do not put their sexual drive in check, have basically killed off themselves and their wives when they bring back the disease because they have chosen not to be monogamous. They think only in the moment, but we all know that the consequences of heated moments can last forever and hurt more than the couple involved. How lucky do YOU feel?

This behavior has created incredible numbers of orphans, some, if they are lucky, are raised by their grandparents, who should be taking it easy in their advanced ages. They are so weary, as a group, they are not passing down traditions that help keep their communities going. Their communities are falling apart because too many men feel they are entitled to have sex whenever they want.

Think of your future family, think of your own health and your sense of right and wrong.

Men are not rabbits or dogs who are ruled by what is between their legs. Men have intellect as well. Find other things to do that define masculinity and honorable maleness. I'm sure others can give you suggestions that may suit your interests.

Take care.

Cecile

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Dear "looking for direction,"

Could the answer be a strong desire to love but a weak sensitivity to love?

To focus on one partner for intimate love is what strengthens (gives freedom to) the range and capacity to love all people. By dispersing or sharing one's intimate sexual love to more than one partner, love's capacity weakens. I see intimate relationship with one person for life as a barometer for love, a measure, so to speak, of love, which increases in capacity over time.

If society had no such barometer, or no such norm built in, a measure if you will, then no barrier would exist to prevent extramarital relationships, because love is mobile. By nature, love must exist in freedom. But freedom without responsibility (ie. norms) leads to chaos and heartbreak and the weakening of love. True love needs structure, too. Not prohibitive structure, but a freeing structure. That is the marriage union.

For example, as I have loved my wife, for 21 years now, I know the joys, the struggles, the times of dullness, the times of excitement, all of it. I feel emphatically close to other married couples that have kept the same commitment, who have done the same. And my respect and love for others in general, and my respect and gratitude for the commitment of a marriage union grows deeper with time. What the marriage union provides: safety in love, lasting intimacy, stability for my children, a home to return to at the end of the day --- these things increase in a monogamous relationship.

Love should grow stronger over time. But when dispersed or shared in the marriage union, it loses its strength and continues to deteriorate as time progresses. Such deterioration could lead one to try more and more partners in love to recover or keep the feeling of love alive, while all in all, unbeknownst, the air for breathing love naturally is getting thinner.

So, my question in response to yours: Could it be that men who cannot be monogamous have a strong desire for love, but lack the sensitivity of love?

By sensitivity I mean to grow love during the stale times, to keep love alive despite the conflicts, to keep trying when it seems as if importance is running out. The love practiced in home life and in intimate bedroom life is not a commodity for purchase or to be taken for granted or to be traded like collectors cards. Love is precious. To be sensitive to its layers and layers of deepening pleasure, to be sensitive to its longevity, to be sensitive to its uniqueness as embodied in your spouse, to be sensitive to the children birthed from a monogamous lifestyle, is to be sensitive to love in its truest sense. These are the sensitivities of true love.

I have witnessed married couples for which the air of naturally breathing this love is a powerful invisible force in their lives. And it affects those with whom they come in contact. It affects the wider world around them. They are richer for it. And those around them, too. These couples have lived monogamously for several decades. This air of love surrounding them and protecting the is a natural byproduct of such a life.

> And, how can one become monogamous?

Re-evaluate your commitment. Re-affirm it. And commit to one love. Ah, the "how" part. It is always easier said than done. My prayers of support are with you. I don't envy your struggle but I think you are on the right track in seeking direction. Bless you, brother.

Eugene

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Good points Eugene.

Things that are precious and enduring take longer to build than things that only meant for a moment.

Love could be said to take an entire lifetime to create, because it is most valuable. It would be a huge mistake to confuse one's feelings for a person at any one moment with love. Love is a verb. It is what you do. It is the choices you make. In fact, love is not enjoyable from moment to moment for it requires an investment that is not always responded to.

Men can be monogamous, if they choose to. If, on the other hand, one chooses to follow your feelings from one moment to the next, then you will be the fruit of that choice. You are what you choose to be. You are not what you feel in this moment.

Choose well. You are declaring who *you* say you are by what you choose to do.

David

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Dear "looking for direction,"

In 1935, renowned anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin tried to prove the opposite: that marriage was an irrelevant and even harmful cultural institution. He was forced by the evidence to conclude that only marriage with fidelity, what he called absolute monogamy, would lead to the cultural prosperity of a society. Anything else, such as "domestic partnerships" would degrade society.

In his address to the British Psychological Society, Unwin said this:

The evidence was such as to demand a complete revision of my personal philosophy; for the relationship between the factors seemed to be so close, that, if we know what sexual regulations a society has adopted, we can prophesy accurately the pattern of its cultural behavior...

Now it is an extraordinary fact that in the past sexual opportunity has only been reduced to a minimum by the fortuitous adoption of an institution I call absolute monogamy. This type of marriage has been adopted by different societies, in different places, and at different times. Thousands of years and thousands of miles separate the events; and there is no apparent connection between them. In human records, there is no case of an absolutely monogamous society failing to display great [cultural] energy. I do not know of a case on which great energy has been displayed by a society that has not been absolutely monogamous...

If, during or just after a period of [cultural] expansion, a society modifies its sexual regulations, and a new generation is born into a less rigorous [monogamous] tradition, its energy decreases... If it comes into contact with a more vigorous society, it is deprived of its sovereignty, and possibly conquered in its turn.

It seems to follow that we can make a society behave in any manner we like if we are permitted to give it such sexual regulations as will produce the behavior we desire. The results should begin to emerge in the third generation.

"Sexual Regulations and Cultural Behavior," Joseph Daniel Unwin, Ph.D., in an address given to the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society. Library of Congress No. HQ12.U52

Studies show that couples who are abstinent until marriage have a fidelity rate of 95%+

1). Domestic same-sex partners have a fidelity rate of zero to 5%2). Any attempt at establishing "domestic partnerships" is aimed at deconstructing marriage and its implicit fidelity. "Domestic partnerships" would have a deleterious impact on our civilization. The clash of the European Union's mores with Islamic mores may well prove this theory, once again.

2) Among all heterosexual couples, 75 percent of husbands and 90 percent of wives claim never to have had extramarital sex. Robert T. Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1994). Other studies and surveys confirm the percentage of faithful spouses between 75-81 percent for husbands and 85-88 percent for wives. Michael W. Widerman, "Extramarital Sex: Prevalence and Correlated in a National Survey," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 2.

3) Barbara C. Leigh "The Sexual Behavior of U.S. Adults: Results from a National Survey" American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 83, Number., 1993. Page(s) 1400-1406. David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984

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Dear "looking for direction,"

Glad your search led you to find this group.

I'm not an expert or a teacher in this area, but I've learned many valuable things through my association with this group and I hope some of the following may help.

On the physical side, it's of course no secret that men are "programmed" to procreate - to look for a mate (or we would be extinct by now!). Men generally love to have sex because we're made that way. No need for any shame here. But many problems do arise when this nature is allowed to run wild. One big piece of baggage many of us carry around as a result of the "sexual revolution" is the idea, "If it feels good - do it!"

On the emotional side, we all want to feel loved. And, I think it's safe to say that we all want to be happy. We are happiest when we love and feel loved.

I think this tendency for men to have other relationships comes from the need to fill some kind of emotional lacking - maybe we don't feel "in love" enough with our spouse/partner any more; or we may feel, "she doesn't love me like she used to..." etc. If we flirt with another woman, we might get that tingly feeling again at being attracted to someone and at someone being attracted to us (as most probably happened at the start of your relationship with your spouse/partner). This is the "falling in love" feeling. And it's a wonderful feeling! But, similarly to drugs or alcohol, that feeling eventually wears off and once this happens, we may go off looking to someone else to get that feeling back again.... and again...and again, and while we're pursuing happiness in this way, we're neglecting or even destroying the very thing that could give us lasting happiness - i.e. a committed relationship.

The bottom line for me is that monogamy greatly increases your chances to attain and maintain lasting happiness. Surely we are happier in a relationship where there is trust; where there is the confidence on both sides that you are both committed to the relationship for the long term. When both partners are committed, there is more willingness to work at the relationship, to resolve differences, to do things for the sake of the relationship and not just for one's own sake. And with this commitment, you are both providing the relationship with a very important ingredient - TIME - time for real friendship to grow - time for a deeper more mature kind of love to grow (not just a kind of love based on our emotions which can change from minute to minute). The trick is put this desire for lasting happiness ABOVE the desire short-term happiness. It takes some discipline and effort but the reward should far outweigh that.

PS. I got this from a book I read recently, which I find helpful - "…don't just think of love as an emotion, but think of love as also a verb - ie. an action.... one golden rule in a relationship is: If you don't feel your spouse/partner loves you enough, (she may also be feeling that you don't love her like you used to) then try loving her some more - do things for her, compliment her on something, take the time to listen to her when she wants to talk about something....if you do this, the chances are she will start to love you back and this "lack of love" feeling will soon disappear".

All the best

Peter

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