I began writing this post earlier in the week. At the time, I’d decided monogamy may be highly overrated. Is it really human nature to be with one person until you both get old and die? Is it possible that some people don’t mate for life? What if what you thought you had you don’t? Are you supposed to try and work it out and hope to make it what you want or chuck the deuces?
I started to wonder whether, as a married person, what I was thinking was hypocritical. Afterall, I have no interest in polyamory or polygamy. I don’t judge consenting adults for how they choose to approach love, but my preference is to be in a monogamous relation. I’m not sharing.
So what was the real problem?
Initially, I was triggered by conversations with single girlfriends who are feeling pressured to be in relationships. I find it highly offensive that intelligent, dynamic women need to find a man. Are they somehow incomplete because they are unmarried?
Though I am married, I’ve never felt I needed my husband to complete me. There are some things that I need him for, but completing me as a whole woman is not one of them.
It may not sound like it right now, but I am a romantic. I love love, and I think companionship is important. Marriage is important. But, I also think building a worthwhile relationship with the person you want to make your partner takes time and should be an organic–natural–experience that progresses at its own pace. Even then, it may not last.
Racing down the aisle benefits no one and can only lead to divorce or misery. None of the people applying the pressure are going to be there to share in the emotional or financial cost.
Later in the week, I touched base with a friend who recently separated. She spent years trying to work things out. This woman is flyy in every way. I wondered whether a man who would break her heart was worth all those years.
Then, before he went to bed, my eight year old asked me about marriage. He’d read about divorce from a Baseball Mysteries book he’d completed.
“When I grow up, do I have to get married?” He began.
“No,” I replied.
“What about kids? Do I have to have kids?”
“No. You don’t have to have kids.”
“If I get married and I decide I don’t like the person anymore, I guess I have to hurry up and divorce them.”
“Well, the point is to marry someone you don’t want to get a divorce from. Marry someone who you’ll want to work things out with.”
“What if you do, but then change your mind?”
“Then you have to be respectful of the person. Tell them how you feel, and if you’re absolutely sure that you don’t want to be together anymore, decide how to separate without hurting each other’s feelings.”
As I thought about it, I realized monogamy is not the problem. It’s the implied and explicit misogyny that suffocates it that I have a problem with.
I’ve never read a post from or been told by a male friend that anyone has told him he needs to find a woman, settle down, and make babies. Men are free to go about their business and achieve their life goals–or not–while women are supposed to find a man.
Do men attend church services and groups for the specific purpose of praying to find a woman? Are men taught to compete for a woman? Do men need to change for a woman? Do men believe that in order to be whole, they need a woman?
Women are raised to believe there is one man out there with whom they will match. Men are taught women are plenty, and they can fish leisurely until they find their preferred catch.
Women are disposable, yet must be virtuous and make getting a man their central focus. A man. That is the measure by which society decides we are accomplished. And then? Better give that man a baby.
When monogamy is used as a tool of patriarchy, it is unnatural. Breathe, sisters. There is no joy in conforming to fulfill the expectations of unjust systems.