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 (2,204 Responses)
  1. Fókuszpályázat

    I’d have to examine with you here. Which is not one thing I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a post that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    February 9, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Europa-Road kombájn szállítás

    I regard something truly special in this website.


    February 9, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. motorized electric tredmills

    Now this is what I call a quality article, something that is tough to locate nowadays.


    February 9, 2021 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. House Clearance Barry

    Hey would you mind letting me know which webhost you're using? I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!


    February 9, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bladejournal.com

    Hi to every , since I am actually eager of reading this
    webpage's post to be updated on a regular basis. It
    contains nice material.

    February 9, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. top cheap dumpster rental

    Thanks for the blog. Will read on…


    February 10, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 출장안마


    February 10, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. car insurance aylmer ontario

    It's really a nice and useful piece of information. I'm glad that
    you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you
    for sharing.

    February 10, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kit Younghans

    Does WordPress save all blog posts to only one file? If so, what file is it?


    February 10, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Movies News

    I appreciate, cause I found just what I was taking a look for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye


    February 11, 2021 at 03:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. store garlic


    February 11, 2021 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. store garlic


    February 11, 2021 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. store garlic


    February 11, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Tracey Gollop

    There are thousands of blogs that requires comments on them. What is the intention of blog comments?


    February 11, 2021 at 17:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 토토사이트

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest of the site is really good.


    February 11, 2021 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 먹튀천국


    February 11, 2021 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. store garlic


    February 12, 2021 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. hour crib 5

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He used to be
    entirely right. This submit truly made my day.
    You cann't imagine simply how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

    February 12, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 출장마사지

    There is definately a great deal to find out about this subject. I love all of the points you made.


    February 12, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. wordpress.com

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this webpage's articles everyday along
    with a cup of coffee.

    February 13, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Fast Home Loan in Pune

    I am very happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that's at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.


    February 13, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 먹튀검증업체


    February 13, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 부산출장안마


    February 14, 2021 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. kids bedding wordpress.com

    I have read so many articles or reviews concerning the blogger lovers
    but this post is actually a good article, keep it up.

    February 14, 2021 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 먹튀검증


    February 14, 2021 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Noble Arko

    I have a hosted WordPress blog. For some reason, my blog posts are being sent out to followers of another blog. The other blog owners uses Blogger. We can figure out why or how this is happening?.


    February 14, 2021 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 출장안마


    February 15, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 먹튀천국


    February 15, 2021 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 먹튀검증업체


    February 16, 2021 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 서울출장마사지


    February 16, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. https://lodisiva1982.netlify.app/

    Eragon Tv Series Netflix Colleges That Change Lives Denison

    Stop by my web site library (https://lodisiva1982.netlify.app/)

    February 16, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Buy Proxies Cheap

    I agree with your points, fantastic post.


    February 16, 2021 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Lowest Interest Rate Home Loan in Pune

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I'm happy to find numerous useful information here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .


    February 16, 2021 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Blazing Proxy

    I enjoy you because of each of your work on this web page. Debby delights in participating in investigations and it's easy to see why. Many of us hear all of the compelling ways you offer sensible secrets via your web blog and in addition invigorate participation from others on the concept while our own girl is undoubtedly becoming educated a lot of things. Have fun with the rest of the new year. You're doing a superb job.


    February 16, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 카지노사이트쿠폰

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    February 16, 2021 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Boost Domain Authority

    I’ve read some good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to make such a great informative website.


    February 17, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 우리카지노


    February 17, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 천안출장안마

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is very useful. Thanks for sharing!


    February 17, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. WEXX Astrological Studio


    February 17, 2021 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. 카지노사이트

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you'd have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.


    February 17, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Felton Deliberto

    We are glad to see your nervousness anyway we should uncover to you that we haven't given that part cause as endorsed brand our customers consistently visit us just by our name. however simultaneously, We'll endeavor to obtain your suggestion reality in the wake of discussing with ourbest roof box guide project.


    February 17, 2021 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Your Private Proxies

    great post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don't notice this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you've a huge readers' base already!


    February 18, 2021 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. small dog beds

    Hi! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.


    February 18, 2021 at 03:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. www.scrapality.com

    I adore the way you have actually ended this post ...


    February 18, 2021 at 06:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 퍼스트카지노쿠폰

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!


    February 18, 2021 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 퍼스트카지노쿠폰


    February 19, 2021 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 천안출장


    February 19, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. 코인카지노

    You've made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    February 20, 2021 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 코인카지노쿠폰


    February 20, 2021 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Local plumbers

    I’ve recently started a site, the info you offer on this web site has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.


    February 21, 2021 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

Leave a Reply to microsoft project 2016 step by step


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.