5 Compelling Reasons Marriage Isn’t Meant to be Monogamous

By now, you’ve probably heard about Jada Pinkett Smith’s recent interview that many people took to mean that she might be cool with the famous Fresh Prince of Bel-Air getting some extra fresh on the side.

And although Ms. Smith clarified her comments, the online world is still buzzing about the topic of monogamy and open marriage.

While personally I can barely summon the energy to have sex with my own husband (three kids in four years has that effect on some of us, ok?) and the thought of the work it would require to not only embark on, but carry out, an actual affair just makes me tired, clearly not all marriages are monogamous.

In The Little Book of Heartbreak: Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages (Pengiun Press, 2013) author Meghan Laslocky gives a little background on the history of marriage and provides some compelling evidence in support of “debunking monogamy.”

  • Is marriage meant to be monogamous? 1 of 7

    5 facts that may surprise you

  • 1. Marriage as we know it is a fairly recent invention. 2 of 7
    Photo credit: Flickr/wallygrom

    In the history of marriage, the concept of marrying for love is a relatively new one; traditionally marriage was constructed as more of a business proposition of sorts, with each partner benefiting, usually socially, politically, or financially from the union. It wasn't until the 18th century Enlightenment that the idea of marrying for love became popular. 

    Photo credit: Flickr/wallygro

  • 2. Doing it like they do on the discovery channel = not monogamous. 3 of 7

    In her book, Laslocky points out that in the animal kingdom, species that are thought to be monogamous are actually, usually not. In fact, of the 4,000 mammals in the animal kingdom, she states that less than 3% are monogamous to start out—and that monogamy is often in appearance only. For instance, a pair of "lovebirds?" Well, usually one of `em is indulging another lovebird on the side.

    Photo credit: Flickr/szeke

  • 3. Couples that reproduce together, stay together. 4 of 7
    Photo credit: Flickr/ Sequola Hughes

    She goes on to explain that many "monogamous" mammals in the animal world, especially the lovebirds, practice "social monogamy"—that is, raising a family with one mate while enjoying a romantic rendezvous every now and then. Scientists conclude such behavior is helpful to ensuring survival of the species, as the males spread their seed around for all to enjoy while the females get the help they need to raise all those hatchlings. Which, as she points out, puts another whole meaning to that "Are You My Mother" book we all know and love, right?

    Photo credit: Flickr/Sequola Huges

  • 4. Society rules? 5 of 7
    Photo credit: Flickr/h.koppdelaney

    Laslocky's book also cited a study that showed that fewer than half of all modern societies forbid extramarital relationships within a marriage; in fact, many cultures don't see affairs or flings as deal-breakers to a successful marriage. 

    Photo credit: Flickr/h.koppdelaney

  • 5. To each his or her own. 6 of 7
    Photo credit: Flickr/Vincent_AF

    A 20-year long study of 164 couples, half of whom were not monogamous found that the spouses reported no difference in their perceived happiness nor was the rate of divorce any higher in the "open" marriages. 

    Photo credit: Flickr/Vincent_AF

  • In the end, I’m just not buying it.. 7 of 7

    While this all makes for an interesting conversation (especially if you drop these little tidbits to your husband while eating B.L.T. pizza with him, although a word of warning—he probably will choke on that piece of bacon), I have to say that I'm just not buying it. Sure, it may be "natural" in the animal world for mates to fool around on each other, but it's also "natural" for some animals to eat their own offspring. Obviously, we have all evolved a bit to overcome some of our primitive urges and instincts.


    So, sorry Mother Nature, but I'm just going to have to disagree with you on this one.


    Photo credit: The author and her husband on their (very much monogamous) wedding day.  


    What do you think? Should marriage be monogamous?


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