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Are you willing to negotiate monogamy?
May 19th, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Are you willing to negotiate monogamy?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

When you take your marriage vows, you’re pretty much making the commitment to never have sex with anyone else ever again. Wow - just writing that is scary.

With the demise of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s 25-year marriage making headlines, it’s hard not to wonder if long-term monogamy is possible or even practical.

As a sex therapist, not a day goes by that I don’t see people who are stuck, feeling as if they have to give up on their marriage, or give up on sex - or cheat. My patients have taught me that sex - or a lack of it - is one of the major contributors to marital strife between longtime couples.

Many people don’t want to throw in the towel, however, which is why the idea of “negotiating monogamy” is becoming more popular. From open relationships, to disclosing affairs before they happen, to giving a partner a “free pass,” negotiated monogamy is a way for some couples to stay committed to each other without having to stay sexually faithful.

Such an approach may seem to fly in the face of the concept of marriage - I don’t blame you for raising your eyebrows or shaking your head at the suggestion. But hear me out.

We live in an age when we’re surrounded by countless arguments (or maybe just excuses) against monogamy: Men have a biological imperative to spread their seed and have always cheated (“boys will be boys”); humans are wired for serial monogamy, not one lifelong relationship; long-term relationships beget boredom; people are living longer and longer but half of all marriages fail… Whew.

When you consider what we’re up against, it may not be such a bad idea to give negotiated monogamy a chance before we dismiss it outright as a violation of the sanctity of marriage.

In my own practice, I often raise the option of negotiated monogamy with couples who have worked their way into permanently sexless marriages, or who feel starved for sex - but not with each other. The very concept of negotiated monogamy is a provocative and useful way for these couples to talk about sex and marriage, even if they choose not to practice it.

As with most issues, it’s better to talk about something and understand each other’s boundaries than to guess or cheat or commit to life of silent desperation. And you know what? It turns out that once couples start talking about what they would or wouldn’t allow - strippers, lap dances, flirty friendships, free passes, oral sex with other people, swinging, open relationships - they often tend to get turned on and end up going home and having sex with each other.

After all, the brain is the biggest of sex organ and, as I discussed in last week’s column about fantasies, even just talking about sex can get people interested in actually having sex.

So remember: Taking a marriage vow does not mean taking a vow of silence. If anything, being married should give you a level of trust where you feel like you can talk about anything. And if you actually want to try negotiated monogamy and your partner doesn’t (or vice versa)? Well, at least you’re having an adult conversation instead of acting like children - or former governors.


soundoff (663 Responses)
  1. T3chsupport

    Oh doctor, how you must complicate things...

    I prescribe 3-4 shots of Jose Cuervo, some music, and no digital distractions after dark. If symptoms persist, add pr0n and toys. Take orally 1x daily.

    May 19, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Slob

    I'd love to tap some of my friends' wives! I'd leave a nice milky white surprise for my buds when they home from the night shift. Shoulda went to college, dummies! Now I'm tappin' yo beatch!

    May 19, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. J

    This is disgusting...... Marriage is union of two people, holy matrimony, key word HOLY. (And to all you people out there that don't believe in God, why did you get married then????) GOD CREATED MARRIAGE!!! For ONE woman and ONE man to share life together!!! Have some self respect and some respect for your husband/wife!

    May 19, 2011 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Edwin

      J: there are PLENTY of reasons to marry without God ruining the situation. Just because you can't imagine them does not make them invalid.

      I am married to a woman I love very much. I think this idea would be a lot of fun... but she would NOT. The key to a marriage, like you said, is to share a life together and have respect for your spouse. In my case, that means no straying. In other marriages, that may not be the case.

      Those who think one situation fits every couple in the world are very narrow minded.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      Where does it say only one woman?
      You read it wrong.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
    • youdontknowme

      The word "Holy matrimony" only applies to Christian marriages (didn't exist in the Jewish Torah, heck, it didn't even exist in the Christian B.I.B.L.E.), oh, that's right, the word is more like a human invention. You should know, in your Bible, God created the woman Eve as an after thought, so you should realize then in your faith, marriage is more about convenience than about love.

      I'm sure in your view, a person who has a child by a woman not his wife and sends them packing should be condemned too, huh? So how come Abraham is held in such high regard?

      May 20, 2011 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Read your bible more carefully. One man one woman, in some cases. One man, two, three more women in others. One man, two women, and a few concubines appears as well. One man, one woman, but no children, so the man should impregnate his daughters from an earlier marriage. The bible is full of a wide variety of relationship options. Granted most of them give the men a lot of options, and the women are property. We've updated a lot of the ways we follow tradition to account for women being human beings.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
  4. Neeneko

    Yeah.. in the poly community we call this 'relationship broken, add more people', and it rarely helps... it usually just blows up and then is uses as an example of how 'open relationships just destroys people!' when really they are failing to actually fix their problem in the first place.

    May 19, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bex

      How does a couple "fix their problems in the first place" if their problem is monogamy?

      May 19, 2011 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
    • JamesX

      The problem isn't monogamy, it is personal weakness. I know couples that never cheat, and they been married 40+ years. The person just have to realize that commitment is more important than personal gratification.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
    • Blackhawk

      To me, it seems like often cheating is an attempt to be excited in a life that's boring. If you do something exciting for a living, like being an army helicopter pilot, you'd never cheat on your hot wife. And your wife would be hot because, well, your a freakin' helicopter pilot. And she wouldn't cheat because, well, she's married to a freakin' pilot. Quit the accounting gig and go to flight school!

      May 19, 2011 at 20:28 | Report abuse |
    • xyzzy

      does "relationship broken" account when a partner is disabled and unable to engage in intimate relations? I've been in this kind of broken relationship for over 20 years and I really need someone to be with.

      May 19, 2011 at 23:20 | Report abuse |
    • Lunati

      @ BLACKHAWK – YOU ARE FREAKIN HILARIOUS

      May 20, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • TiffanyB

      This is not true at all. Not only am I in an open relationship, many of my 'swinging' friends are too and we are the happiest couples I know. We are also the only couples I know who haven't cheated or gotten a divorce. Please don't speak on a subject you know nothing about.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      @BLACKHAWK speaks wisely
      I wish I had heard this when I was 15 instead of 45.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • fiestyirishfilly

      I love BlackHawk... LOL!! :)

      May 20, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      I know some military people with very exciting work lives, and they cheat like it's a sport. There is no universal remedy.

      I also know at least one where he doesn't cheat (that anyone I know is aware of) and I completely believe that if she found out that he had, he would wake up with a bunch of bullets in him. The eyes move, but the body doesn't follow. He's been very good at not getting killed in his exciting career, it'd be a shame to die in bed now.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • justsayin

      @ Backhawk – since when did helicopter pilots become hot?

      or are u just tooting your own horn?

      A helicopter pilot is a wannabe fighter jet pilot just like a dentist is a wannabe doctor.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      @ Blackhawk: are you a real Blackhawk? Let me know so I know who has a blue screen next tiem, 'cause I think it's you!

      May 23, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
  5. Ann

    I'm confused.... the comments I'm reading here do not match the article about marriage and monogomy....

    May 19, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Oops! You must have confused this CNN response board with something serious.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • Theold1

      Ann, from what I can gather, women prefer their partner to be monogamous. I do feel sorry for Arny, I think his marriage fell apart long ago. Politics.

      May 21, 2011 at 19:04 | Report abuse |
  6. Kacy

    Maybe you should be teaching people how to be married and not how to be single while married. Wow. Also, before people get married, they should learn how to be married. As in read books and talk to other married couples who have successful marriages. Wow. I am just amazed at how people try not to have self-control or responsibility.

    May 19, 2011 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      Amazing isn't it? And by looking at these posts.......most people think this behavior is alright.....just wow.......

      May 20, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Reading how-to books on marriage is unlikely to decrease your odds of cheating.

      The author is stating that marriage currently asks people to decide on monogamy vs. non-monogamy and if such a decision is a necessity for a marriage to function – because when forced to select between the two it may result in an ended marriage. It's a fair question, but one that is ultimately decided by visceral conviction and therefore not very open to discussion. Either you believe that open relationships can be helpful or you don't.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
    • _aleph_

      It would be helpful to understand the dynamics of the problem. There are two main methods of reproductive success. One is the Nurture method. When the young are born, there is a rather lengthy investment in child-rearing. Few are born at once and they are nurtured to increase their likelyhood of surviving until reproductive age. Women use this method. Usually only one egg ripens at a time. If fertilized, years of invevstment are required to keep the child alive.

      The other method is the Numbers method. Many fish use this method. The female may lay 10,000+ eggs and the male fertilizes them. They may (or may not) be guarded, but when they hatch, the young have to fend for themselves. Usually only a small percentage make it to reproductive age to continue the species. Men also use this method, producing tens of millions of sperm per ejaculation.

      The problem, then is that for the nurture method to work well, the female is motivated to find a partner who will provide for the family. For the Numbers method to work well, the male is motivated to produce as many offspring as possible with as many partners as possible. It's easy to see this can cause conflicts in human relations.

      An understanding of this conflict in methodology won't make your marriage more interesting or more likely to last your lifetime, but it can help in understanding the biological reasons for the conflict, and possibly managing your urges better.

      BTW, wife and I just celebrated 30 year anniversary yesterday.

      _aleph_

      May 20, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Ken, I agree. Reading how-to books won't save your marriage. I do think there is some value in talking to your spouse about how-to books after reading them. Even if you disagree with everything the book says, and you both spend the entire discussion laughing at the author, the discussion can help you connect and undersand each other.

      And yes, the boundaries of your relationship are an emotional topic. You are not going to logic your mate into anything on the subject. But again, the discussion can lead to better understanding. So many couples that are doing some sort of non-monogamy share some variation of the story where they both wanted to try it, but never said anything because they thought their partner would reject the idea, with bad repercussions. Bringing up the subject does not mean your partner has to make your every wild fantasy come true, but remaining silent probably isn't doing much good.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • Newo

      @_aleph_
      men are not fish. Find a better analogy.

      May 20, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • MotoJB

      AGREED 100% – it's pathetic.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      "Also, before people get married, they should learn how to be married."

      This is one of the most intelligent things I've read all day. I thoroughly agree! I personally think that the #1 reason for divorce is lack of adequate discussions regarding marital expectations BEFORE they say "I Do."

      May 21, 2011 at 02:07 | Report abuse |
  7. John Pedant

    Re: the photo. The guy on the right is obviously gay, closing his eyes in eager anticipation of making lip contact with John Thomas of guy on left.

    May 19, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brent

      Funny. I was thinking the exact same thing. Good call.

      May 26, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  8. the chick who says "meh"

    this is a problem i've grown up hearing about, as the daughter of a divorce lawyer. now as an adult, i really wonder why people still get marrried at all. i mean, you don't have to promise to be faithful to someone forever to be able to live together, or have children. why make the promise at all if it's just gonna blow up in your face down the road? seriously, why?

    May 19, 2011 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      If you talk to divorce lawyers, you aren't hearing the success stories. Don't ask an ER doctor about roller blades, all you hear is horror stories there too.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse |
    • NC

      You're right "meh". I wonder why people still get married knowing the odds.

      May 20, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Um, I doubt that your father (mother?) the divorce attorney spent much time talking to happily married people. Try asking the 80 year old couple who still hold hands and make goo-goo eyes at each other why marriage is worth it. Yes, they do exist!

      May 21, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      I'm with Leb – my parents have been married 26 years and are miserable, so clearly I won't go to them for marriage advice. You want to know how to make marriage work? Find some grandparents, who've been married 50+ years. My husband's grandparents are amazing, and even though his parents' marriage didn't work out, and my parents' certainly hasn't been happy...I give it a shot so I can be as happy as they are :)

      June 1, 2011 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
  9. Anon12345

    "Negotiated monogamy?" Sounds more like "negotiated polyamory" to me.

    May 19, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Fun fact. Humans are not monogamous creatures. If people can be happy with 'negotiated monogamy' (I wish they would just say open-marriage), how does that harm you?

      May 20, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse |
  10. Gab

    This doesnt make since to me. Why get married in the first place if you arent really willing to take that FULL step of commitment to ONE person for the rest of your life. Just stay single and live w/ a person and call them your partner and go f*** someone else if that is what you want to do. Dont take a vow of commitment if thats the case

    May 19, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Why do you think? Because people are young and in love and think they'll always feel that way.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • AR

      You think it might have something to do with all those laws and rights afforded to married couples that don't apply to two people living together?

      May 20, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  11. JohnCBarclow

    Some people are more susceptible to propaganda than others. I've noticed that women are really susceptible to fads. Notice the shoes? If women can be convinced to wear those shoes just because it's a fad, they can be convinced to do pretty much anything.

    May 19, 2011 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • huh

      What do fads have to do with anything? And that's funny, let's look at video game releases. 90% male. Play it for a week, get bored of it.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      My Jimmy Choos made me cheat!

      May 21, 2011 at 02:15 | Report abuse |
  12. Jeannie

    Okay so I have read this article and the previous comments. I do not blame you all for asking why bother getting married if it doesn't last? Here is why most marriages fail; people simply do not know what love really means. Love really is about standing your ground but also giving more than you take. It is beautiful, simple yet complex, it in humble and pure too. Many people get married for the wrong reasons, the other person has money, their good looking nice car, etc. We live in a superficial world where we need to feel pleasure so we use hurt and destory good things to get this. In terms of marriage, the man is supposed to be Christ-like meaning he stands tall, he protects the family, he loves his wife and hands himself over for her so that she can be holy. He loves her with all his heart. The wife obeys and respects her husband, he is the leader of the home and she trusts him. They both are equal and important. They know how to repect, trust, communicate and most importantly love one another. This is the only way marriages can survive. So if you're beginning to doubt, just ask yourself...do you know what love really means? :)

    May 19, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • YeahItsMe

      Yeah this seems pretty uninformed to me. When people worked 16 hours a day and lived on farms with the nearest neighbor 20 miles away marriage was a lot easier to keep intact, it had nothing to do with religion or the good old days or people valuing marriage more than today. Human nature has changed little.

      The reality is that as you transition through phases in life, from say your teens, to your twenties, thirties, etc all the way to your golden years its very hard to know what you'll want and desire in the future. I look back sometimes and chuckle at my priorities from 20 years ago. The idea that you'll move in the same direction and have the same interests and priorities with someone after 20, 30, or 40 years or more is nearly impossible to predict. I think a couple staying together for their entire lives is beautiful, but I also think two adults acting as adults and realizing they could improve their lives by going in separate directions in some cases may also be a legitimate and moral thing to do.

      For someone to use someone elses pain as an excuse to sell religion as a cure all is really disingenuous and quite frankly something you should be ashamed of.

      May 19, 2011 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      YeahItsMe one of the best comments I have read! Thank you.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      These people will bash you Jeannie- but you are correct. Let them sit and comment behind their computers like the demons they truly are. Marriage is one man, one woman, one flesh, for LIFE. And I couldn't care less what mere MEN say about God's design for marriage.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Oblivious to being a demon..

      Valerie thanks for judging the lowly demons that sit behind their computers as you did for that comment. Much appreciated. I'm sure God appreciated it too. With you judging me instead of looking at yourself I bet it earned you a ticket to heaven. BUT, just in case it didn't, you can always apologize for it later and be good to go right?

      May 20, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • NC

      To "YeahitsMe":
      Great comment!

      May 20, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • Mari

      i agree with the love and respect thing, but as for obeying my man, me and my husband are a team we discuss something then act, not him telling me what to do especially since i have about 12 more years of school then him, he respects my opinion and respects that i will not just obey what he says, As for an open-relationship, if you can not love and respect your other half ONLY, you should not get married. If you truly communicate openly from the beginning of your relationship it makes it much easier to stay interested and intimate, or it does for me and my husband.

      May 21, 2011 at 05:04 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Mari, Just because something works one way for you and your husband, doesn't mean it works that way for everyone.

      May 23, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • Belleparisa

      Best comment ever! Totally agree.

      June 1, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Heann

      VALERIE!!! Whassup babe? I was going to write but this is the first opportunity Ive had to get to the PC since your boyfriend-stealing daughter was keeping me busy all morning.

      June 2, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Jeannie, I've got to ask... where in the world do the words 'where both are equal' and yet at the same time state 'but the wife should obey & respect' coexist? I've heard that all my life from those of faith and it always makes me chuckle because that is actually NOT equal, in fact it actually defies the meaning of the word. I've ask this question with respect many times and gotten nothing back. care to weigh in? Having one partner (male/female) ordered to be the sub to another does not make equality. maybe it makes them happy, and good for them! but it in NO WAY makes them equal.

      June 10, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
  13. ____

    Can I have s e x with your wife, sir?

    May 19, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. observer

    It's commonsense we are humans and not wild animals. Our ancestors followed a strict rule on infidelity and they did fine. Now days and yes a lot cheat on each other. But it's true if you want to go stray then don't get married! If you are married you know what you're supposed to do. It's really sickening especially for a woman to allow different people to be with you in that way. Making love is a special moment and should be treated as a special. Life is a gift and you owe it to yourself to be with that special person and not to be red light special for anyone.

    May 19, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • catalina

      "Our ancestors followed a strict rule on infidelity and they did fine."

      Which ancestors are you talking about? I'm pretty sure most ancient cultures practiced some kind of plural marriage.

      May 19, 2011 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Actually polyamory was more of a standard than monogamy for much of human history.

      May 20, 2011 at 07:59 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Actually Brad, polygamy was only a standard for the rich and powerful men. Regular joes could only afford one wife, and only had one wife, if that! Today, the same men get ALL the women (the good ones, anyway)......rich and powerful. NOTHING has changed. Besides, there isn't even enough females in the world for every man to have more than one wife......never has been. Get a clue.

      May 20, 2011 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
    • youdontknowme

      @ Valerie, Brad said polyamory, not polygamy. Take the Romans, for example, much of their bath house behaviors were pretty sensational. Also, for example, some of the Greeks had same gender partners outside of their traditional marriages. Then there's these different cultures who had temples and priest/priestesses took people's money and their physical intimacy as worship of and prayer for fertility. Even in turn of 19th/20th Century America, where some might consider the the "good ol' days," there were those polyamory cases, as described in Edith Wharton's books. Let's not forget many a Clergymen and Statesmen dotted throughout history and present time has had their fair share of polyamory. Folks, polyamory never died, even while monogamy (single legal spouse) was evolving into being what it is today. In fact, don't just point the fingers to men. Many women throughout history had their fair share too of such adventures.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Christian S. Levan

      Our ancestors have always struggled with infidelity; maybe not your ancestors but infidelity has been practiced in every civilization since the inception of enlightened man. Read a book and know your own history please.

      May 23, 2011 at 03:00 | Report abuse |
  15. mjd77

    as a guy who loves sharing his wife this article is right up my alley. nothing better and no way our marriage would work otherwise. i'm wired this way and she loves it. the pic at the top is just awesome too, you know the guy who set that up is in on the lifestyle.

    May 19, 2011 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. J Harris

    I agree completely with Mr. Kerner's suggestions, and have attempted to practice it through several relationships. Turns out, and I think this especially true of men in power but also true of the general population, that the secrecy...the deception...is a big part of what drives people who cheat. People like the feeling of power that doing something bad and something sneaky gives them. Often, when someone has reached the pinnacle of power, cheating is a thrill the business or political world no longer gives them. They can do it, "and I can get away with it. I'm just that smart."

    May 19, 2011 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Raj Shah

    I am wondering what is the IQ of this author?
    Is he trying to promote cheating and open marriages?

    May 19, 2011 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Snoflinga

    My husband and I have been married 12 years, we are young still and have 2 young children. Due to an accident he is unable to perform s-exually and despite years of s e x therapy he has chosen not to engage in other s-exual activities with me – no oral, no manual, etc. Negotiated monogamy has saved our marriage. He is a great guy whom I love very much and have no desire to leave, but without intmacy I was very lonely. I organized someone to fill in the gaps for me via written fantasy and phone calls, with my husband's permission, and that makes life work for me. I recommend it to others in our situation.

    May 19, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. lizzy10

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but marriage means being with one person only. If my husband asked to negotiate monagamy, I would have to tell him to negotiate a jail cell for me because I'd kill him.

    May 19, 2011 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • carl

      you are right....you are old fashioned!

      May 19, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse |
  20. John Q Public

    Just how many women, I wonder, are open to this concept of a negotiated monogamy?

    May 19, 2011 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fiestyirishfilly

      Many women I know are open to the concept.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • myweightinwords

      My circle of friends is heavily skewed toward the idea, actually. Most of the women I consider friends are either poly or in other alternative relationship situations.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  21. Timothy

    I've been married for 12 years. My wife and I have s e x several times a week. It's been like that since we first got together 15 years ago. I am still just as attracted to her. I don't want another woman. Not all men want to have s e x with multiple women. I'm HAPPY in my marriage.

    May 20, 2011 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      Good for you. We are all different people, and different answers work for all of us.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
    • =)

      It brings my spirits up and gives me hope... We need more GREAT men like you!

      May 20, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • ser

      agreed

      May 20, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I agree Timothy, 20 yrs. together for my wife and I. marriage is and should be a life long commitment. If you can't handle that then don't get married! Not giving in to the sin of the flesh and good communication are the real tools of a good marriage.

      June 2, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  22. thetruth

    I've been married to my wife for 3 decades. She's Italian and has a bad temper. She negotiates monogamy with me by telling me that if I cheat she would kill me and I have no doubt at all that she is telling me the truth. I'm monogamous and I wouldn't want it any other way. I don't think she would really love me if she would put up with me cheating without killing me. In fact, both of us know that if there's ever any cheating that one of us would kill the other one. We have grown old together and I love her more than anything on earth.

    May 20, 2011 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Tantra Spiritualy

    Monogamy like marriage are religious tools for control of the human spirit

    As is the idea of Security,,put the three together,,and you only have to look around to see the manipulated results

    May 20, 2011 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. MA

    Have some self control. Make a commitment and stick to it. Nothing good in life is easy. Stick with it and good things will come.

    May 20, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mitchell

    Open Marriage? Bad idea. I see an open marriage fraught with all sorts complications. It makes the marriage less sacred.

    May 20, 2011 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • myweightinwords

      Anecdotal evidence is seldom convincing. For example, I know of several polyamorous families that have amazing relationships, rock solid families and well adjusted children. I also know of others that can't keep it together for more than a year. I know guys who think an open relationship means no rules and others who have a very detailed set of rules that they follow.

      What works for one family may not work for another. We are all unique individuals after all.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • NC

      If anyone wants an "open marriage", why get married at all? I can't understand the concept.

      May 20, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  26. WWRRD

    I have no problem with people that want to negotiate monomgamy, or Polyamory, or whatever. They can do what they want so long as they aren't hurting anyone. However, why do they get married? If you are faithful, to God and your spouse, you should realize that the vow you took is real and for life. Having that unbreakable comittment gives people the incentive to work and make it better. Too many potentially good marriages get broken just because it's easier to quit than work it out.

    May 20, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      The commitment is to be together, to support, to understand, to listen, respect, work together, and love. If you and your wife chose only to do certain things with one another, and that works for you, great. But that's only part of your commitment. For you, maybe it's the most important part. Some of use place the emphasis on other aspects of our marriage. Marriage is about so much more that s3x.

      It's only as unbreakable as the people participating. I have known many couples that would never consider discussing any feelings they may have towards anyone but their spouse, and their marriage vows turned out to be very breakable. I am amused by the couples that are so eager to proclaim "my man never even looks at another woman" but if you follow his eyes, they lead directly to skin tight blue jeans on a girl much younger than his wife. What else don't you know about him?

      May 20, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  27. FaithinChrist

    This may be a surprise to some, but the Bible holds the answers on this question and many. Dont be afraid to pick it up and read it. You don't have to be religous to do it......but it will change your life.

    May 20, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • youdontknowme

      I did, and I find it ironic that an immoral person such as Abraham, who fathers a child with a slave woman sends them packing without much resources AND Abraham end up favored by God. I also find that the creation of Eve follows a discovery that "it's not good for man to be alone" to be rather convenient than romantic. And Adam's statement was rather matter-of-fact, wasn't it? I also find it rather difficult to accept that the Israelites would kill women and children when then went into a city in the book of Exodus and Joshua, what's so different between Israelites then and the terrorists now? Are they then considered moral over those who would "sin" with their bodies? Would YOU tolerate the likes of Joshua and Moses? Should they not be historically condemned as Slobodan Milosovic, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Adolf Hitler? Well, would you? Wake up to your own violent religious heritage and stop judging!

      May 20, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • Brak

      Youdontknowme.... You throw out a bunch of situations in the Bible without the context or the complete story. Typical. The Bible is about redemption found through a perfect God amongst fallen people. How would you like it if your entire life played before the world, it would be discouraging and embarrassing to say the least (just as anyone's life would be). The Bible is about redemption found in Jesus... the beauty of God's grace is that it just is not fair, and to our benefit.

      June 3, 2011 at 01:52 | Report abuse |
  28. ITSOVERTOMORROW (kidding)

    Set aside religion, please. Just live your life by two rules. Respect yourself and respect others. Really after that it doesnt matter what book you read, because its all about mutual respect. After all ,we are ALL HUMAN, and on this planet trying to accomplish the same thing – to exist and to do it well.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Dad Clauss-Queens

    We need more Manogamomy.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. denise

    i doubt open anything would go far if i brought it up- guys can't handle women doing it juts the other way around

    May 20, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. K

    I have no issue with negotiated monogamy, if it's negotiated beforehand. My ex, however, tried to negotiate it after the fact. "I cheated and now you're going to give me permission." No, I'm not. The contractual agreement in our marriage was monogamy, and that contract was breached. Ex also wasn't in favor of my explanation that it goes both ways: if he has permission to sleep with other people, so do I.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • N.J.

      That's why they are an 'Ex'.

      May 20, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  32. myweightinwords

    Not everyone is wired for monogamy. Some would argue that none of us are. I recognized at an early age that a traditional monogamous marriage was not for me. I figured that out even before I realized I was bi.

    I believe that I am capable of loving more than one person at a time, capable of having a meaningful committed relationship with more than one person at a time. I think that if more people were to realize this is a viable option before bowing to the societal pressure to couple up, we would see a big decrease in the divorce rate.

    May 20, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. TIGERTOM

    To bring this back to where it belongs, about what makes marriage work... I am married and faithful to my wife because I love her. I love my kids and I want to be a great Dad for my family. I want to share with you that this is easily possible, if you understand that love is not self-seeking. This is the key – love is not self seeking. My parents were faithful to each other and my wife's parents were faithful to each other. We all go to church and we believe in the Bible. This is working for us. Is what you are doing working for you? How does what you do make you feel? Do you want your kids to be like you?

    May 20, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. phil

    We are not monogamous beings by nature. Every one of us has the deeply rooted, primal desire to procreate with other humans. Science has proven that, again and again throughout time.

    May 20, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jung

    This article is so ridiculous! We are not animals with no self control. I know many happy long lasting couples. They really do exist if you really love your spouse.

    May 20, 2011 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Marine57

    "Men have a biological imperative to spread their seed and have always cheated (“boys will be boys”); humans are wired for serial monogamy, not one lifelong relationship; long-term relationships beget boredom;"
    Boy are you messed up, Ian Kerner, and you are a counselor??? That means that you are in the business of messing up other people with your illness – yuck.
    Of course you have heard of morality, but you have refused the best of life, and chosen inordinate love.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Bamf!

    What I'm the most confused about is why (nearly) everyone reading this article is assuming that ALL the marriages the author is discussing are RELIGIOUS ones. Believe it or not, folks, you can get married without God being involved.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. irritated

    negociating monogamy sounds a little like negociating a pregnancy, how does that work exactly?

    May 20, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Freelife

    All indigenous cultures practiced poly type relationships. Christians are the only culture that practices monogamy. Even our closest mammal relative, the great apes and chimps, are not monogamous. So WHY are we?? Relationships should be built on trust and love, nothing else. Just remember, marriage is a man made event.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Otterinbham

    Who IS this vapid nitwit anyway? Does he even read his own column?

    Let me sum up in one sentence: "When a couple is unhappy, I counsel them to step out on their spouses–with their Significant Other's permission of course."

    Hey. If you can to swing or wife swap, knock yourself out. But it certainly isn't a prescription for an unhappy marriage. If your marriage was bad before you have a little humpalumpadingdong with someone not your spouse, how on earth will that make it better?

    No way, no how, would I ever take marriage advice from this youknowwhat for brains.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Tony

    My wife has an open pass and she has been with 5 other men for the last 2 years. She sometimes comes home from one of her lovers, and she shows me something new she learned from them.

    May 22, 2011 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. John

    I have been in a monogamous relationship for 18 years and I am more in love now than I was in the begining. I know many people that cheat but not everybody does. I also know some poeple who cheated when they were younger and no longer do. I think when you can remain comitted to eachother and spend a lot of time together you will grow closer and closer as the years go by.

    May 23, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. STUPID PEOPLE

    IF YOU CANT KEEP YOUR LEGS CLOSED AND YOUR PANTS ZIPPED THEN IT JUST SHOWS YOU HAVE NO SELF CONTROL.
    HOW ABOUT YOU JUST NOT GET MARRIED, OR NOT STAY INA COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP UNTIL YOU DECIDE THAT YOU CANT CONTROL THE NEED TO WANT TO SPREAD YOUR SEEDS OR KEEP YOUR LEGS CLOSED.

    May 23, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. nunu

    yes

    May 24, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Valerie's Daughter

    I dont mind that there are a lot of men out there :P
    I stole one from my mom this one time and boy was she irritated. I ditched him anyway since he had a little wee wee

    June 2, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. BoldGeorge

    "Negotiated Monogamy", just like any other made up term to fit different dysfuntional lifestyles, twisted situations, self-gratifications, etc., is just another cowardly excuse to openly feed the inner perverse desires that is really being lusted after. Negotiated monogamy is no different than a man having, living with, or being married to multiple wives (or vice-versa). There is no room for love in a negotiated monogamy. "Love" wouldn't share his wife or her husband with another, but would really try hard to work things out as one without having to resort to perversion. And there is no oneness between spouses when you are physically sharing yourself with others. With negotiated monogamy the bond has been already been broken. Call it what you want but 'negotiated monogamy' is the end result of a failed relationship that has deceived itself to believe that it can continue by resorting to feed on your true lusts, which in fact might have been the real culprit lurking in the relationship. I plainly put 'negotiated monogamy' this way: Cheating Without Cheating = Cheating! (Just like 1 – 0 still equals 1)

    June 18, 2011 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 6, 2012 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Jenny

    My love life has been very difficult and at times I have come very close to giving up. A woman i met online put and end to those trummers, I met a woman whose emaill is priestessifaa@yahoo.com who did spell to bring my lover back to me so lucky and happy for us because now we are so happy like never before. When my lover came back, things were on point and This priestess is so much in closeure to me because i promise to spread her good work to the world.
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    Her contact is priestessifaa@yahoo.com

    November 10, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mara

    Rusty: God, I'm bored!Danny: You look bored.Rusty: I am bored!Rusty: How was the clink? You get the cookies I sent?Danny: Why do you think I came to see you first?

    November 16, 2012 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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