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 (1,336 Responses)
  1. yayoi glass pendant light

    Hi! I'm at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward
    to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!

    April 20, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. skpey golfowe

    Saved aѕ а favorite, Ι love your site!

    April 20, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. boutique masquespacio wink lamp

    What's up, yup this post is genuinely good and
    I have learned lot of things from it regarding
    blogging. thanks.

    April 20, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 먹튀검증

    I was extremely pleased to find this web site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you book marked to see new things on your site.


    April 20, 2021 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. laurent chandelier

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging
    on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read content from other authors and use
    something from other web sites.

    April 20, 2021 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. raimond pendant light

    It's remarkable for me to have a site, which is helpful in support of my experience.

    thanks admin

    April 20, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sites.google.com

    Hi colleagues, how is the whole thing, and what you would like to say about this article, in my view its genuinely awesome in favor of me.

    April 21, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Niki

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for
    quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some
    experience with something like this. Please let me know if you
    run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward
    to your new updates.

    April 21, 2021 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. smithfield ceiling led

    Hurrah, that's what I was looking for, what a information! present here at this website, thanks admin of this web

    April 21, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. brabbu niku pendant lamp

    I got this web page from my buddy who shared with me concerning this
    web page and at the moment this time I am browsing this web site and reading very informative articles or reviews at this time.

    April 21, 2021 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 먹튀검증

    I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    April 21, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sua hat nha le

    Superb, what a website it is! This web site
    provides valuable facts to us, keep it up.

    April 21, 2021 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 먹튀검증사이트

    I absolutely love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own site and would love to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thank you!


    April 21, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jual kaos distro

    Thank you for another excellent article. The place else may just anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect means of writing? I've a presentation next week, and I'm on the search for such information.


    April 21, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 먹튀검증사이트


    April 22, 2021 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ph lamp australia

    Hi, yeah this article is really good and I have learned lot of things from it
    concerning blogging. thanks.

    April 22, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lovie

    I've been exploring for a bit for any high-quality
    articles or blog posts on this kind of house . Exploring
    in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site.
    Reading this info So i'm satisfied to show that I've an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.
    I so much for sure will make sure to do not disregard this website and provides it a look on a continuing basis.

    April 22, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. atollo lamp cheap

    Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much about
    this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something.
    I believe that you just can do with some p.c.
    to force the message home a bit, but instead of that,
    this is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I'll certainly be back.

    April 22, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. https://sites.google.com/

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area .
    Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web site.
    Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I have an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.

    I such a lot no doubt will make certain to do not forget
    this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

    April 22, 2021 at 04:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ic light 2

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I believe that you should publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but generally folks
    don't speak about such topics. To the next! Best wishes!!

    April 22, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 먹튀

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It's the little changes that produce the most important changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    April 22, 2021 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to 더킹카지노주소


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.