Saw "The Descendants" recently, Very well done movie with a perfectly constrained performance by George Clooney as a neglectful husband/father who finds out that his dying wife was having an affair.
It got me reflecting (again) on the fact that the institution of marriage as we've known it for so many generations is coming to an end. This is a subject that I've written about a lot on this blog (do a search for "marriage" in the upper left box), and recently, I came across a few more articles about this evolving reality.
One piece, entitled "GET READY FOR GROUP MARRIAGE", pointed out that "legal recognition of polyamorous relationships is already well underway." Another was a study that charted the fact that the percentages of marriages that end in divorce are up past 50% now, and the numbers for extramarital affairs are in the same percentage range - for both sexes - as well.
This is good news from one perspective as an "enlightened sociologist," if I may identify myself as such. Institutionalized marriage, that is marriage based on a paradigm of rules and regulations attempting to govern love, Eros and sex, family constellations and cohabitation, has been dysfunctional for a long time now, at least in terms of the well-being of its participants. Perhaps one could argue that it has served the masters of religion, government and capitalistic economies well, but that is about it, and clearly those institutions are falling apart at an accelerated rate in our times.
The not-so-good news is that the shifts away from traditional marriage are not taking place fully in an atmosphere of openness and honesty. Obviously, the notion of an "affair," which is used interchangeably with the label "cheating," implies a degree of lying or hiding the truth from one's partner , which kind of belies the whole concept of partnership, doesn't it? Furthermore, many so-called "open marriages," or polyamorous relationships, are based on a "don't-ask-don't-tell" arrangement. Well, we've seen how great that worked around the issue of gays in the military, right? Right.
So, we're getting there, but we're not there yet.
But where is there?
Well, there is where polyamory is lived out with openness and honestly between all the participants, even when there are feelings of jealousy and insecurities to be dealt with. And there is also a place where what I've called "spontaneous monogamy" can coexist with polyamory in a society.
Spontaneous monogamy appears in a relationship where the love, Eros and sex is vibrating at such a high level that the connection between the two partners is like a laser beam. As such, bringing in other sex partners might feel like a dilution or an interference with the laser. Spontaneous monogamy has no contract or preset lifespan. In fact, the very awareness of its temporary nature is part of its vibrancy. Spontaneously monogamous relationships can last a matter of months or many years, but it's the not knowing that is part of its essential nature.
Nothing is to be judged here, folks, not even dishonesty. It's all about vibration. The more open, the more honest, the more spontaneous any aspect of human life is, the more pleasure, health and harmony. It seems as though we're heading in the right direction, but be mindful that there are no end runs around the truth ultimately.
And remember this: cheating is always cheating yourself.