The institution of marriage has very strict guidelines in my eyes. It is an institution based on commitment with two, and ONLY two, people. The idea of monogamy has been drilled in my head since day one, both directly and indirectly.
As a young church-goer, I learned very quickly that it was monogamy or the highway. My sunday school teachers would say “Now everyone, say the 10 Commandments: Honor the mother and father; Thou shall not murder; Thou shall not commit adultery…”. I assumed (internally), of course I would never love another man or be with another man when I get married. People who do that are not loved by God! This constant repetition Sunday after Sunday ultimately led to my ‘brainwashing’ of certain morals in my head. In fact, I had never thought about any possibility OTHER than monogamy until right now.
As I continued to grow and learn, I began to encounter negative experiences as a result of people breaking this monogamous structure: parents of friends divorcing due to affairs, wives finding out about their husbands’ second family and even girls cheating on their boyfriends at a party. Although this seems to be going off-track from monogamy, it’s really not. There are many definitions on monogamy: marital, social, sexual…and all of these are standards we must uphold in our society. If you love another man other than your husband, you are a social outcast to him and his friends (and maybe some of hers, too). If you are given the opportunity to experience something sexual with someone else, your girlfriend will break up with you in a heart beat if you act on it. I don’t know where the root of it is from, but we have been taught that monogamy is the ONLY way a healthy relationship or marriage works.
These people who have experienced these situations probably do not directly question the institution of monogamy, but they definitely subconsciously take a stance on it. I, of course, cannot speak for the cheaters, but it would be safe to say that they do not fully agree with the practice of monogamy. The victims of cheating, after going through this experience, also let go of the “ideal” idea of monogamy, because they usually end either their marriage or relationship because of their partner’s actions. One could bring the whole factor of trust and honesty in the mix, but in most cases the existence of the “other man” or “other woman” plays a big role in the victim’s decision making as well.
The real question is: do the actions of these parents affect the mindset of their children? I know several kids who do not want to take their future husband’s name due to divorce. I also know people who don’t even want to get married at all as a result of it. A close family friend of mine, for example, grew up in a rough household, filled with negativity, hate and eventually divorce between the parents. She, as a result, does not believe that marriage works. She refuses to get married, and has never had a long-lasting relationship dedicated to a single man.
The way we are raised and the situations we encounter develop our opinions on monogamy. Fortunately, monogamy has proven to work for my parents, but it has unfortunately led to disappointment and hurt for many other people in my life. I’m sure the only reason I believe so strongly in it is because of my situation, and I do realize that many factors have completely changed the mindset of the people around me. No matter what we all go through though, there is only one type of marriage structure. Is that possibly part of the problem?
It is illegal in the United States (and most of the world) to practice polygamy, the opposite of monogamy. We have outlawed the option to marry two or more people if we wanted to, therefore something must be wrong with the practice of polygamy. Why must we, by, law, only marry one person and one person only? Seahorses and other random sea creatures mate for life with one partner, but dolphins, who we are so closely related to intelligence-wise, do not. Why is this law installed? Of course the institution of marriage as a whole can be brought into this, but that’s a whole other belief in which to discuss.