TSHP487: Love & Marriage

What’s Coming This Episode?

There has been a wedding in the family, so Sean is thinking about relationships again! Let’s have a chat…

Enjoy the show, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Love & Marriage

This week our son got married. It was a deeply powerful ceremony packed with meaning and emotion. He and his partner made a life long commitment to be together, to look after each other and to remain honest and true to each other. They exchanged rings symbolically expressing the commitment they had just entered into. In their coming together there was the greater union of two entire families coming together. It was as though the two tribes, with their individual identities had, or were in the process of, becoming one.

It can be easy to assume that relationships are all the same. That all relationships are just like our own. Yet every relationship is different and individual. How would you describe your relationship?

I know from working psychologically and therapeutically with many couples that often what people have and what people want or desire can be a very different thing. I detect that the social norms that have underpinned our society maybe on the move or at least being questioned and challenged.

My son and his partner have made an agreement to be exclusive to each other as a part of our society that generally has settled on a model of monogamy as our social norm. Though most research suggests that a high percentage of people, perhaps as high as 60%, do have affairs though these are, in the main, hidden.

Where did monogamy come from?
‘Gamy’ comes from the Greek gamous meaning marriage. Monogamous means one marriage. In modern terms this would mean one partner. Monogamy in modern relationships also means to be faithful to that one partner. Which in turn means not to have sexual relationships or to be intimate with other people out side of the monogamous relationship.

Monogamy probably has it’s roots in the Abrahamic religions and was probably a socio-economic structure that enabled social organisation and often control. Monogamy, as a social structure, creates social organisation and the development of laws, property rites and inheritance and therefore has a financial element. Once there is a firm social structure the lineage of a family can be traced back to prehistory following either the maternal or paternal line. The fact that we know in the UK who the next monarch will be is because there is a rule of law and a succession of family rites. However, all of the laws based in property and people all have their origin in the monogamous structure of society.

Serial Monogamy is when someone is faithful to an individual relationships while they are in it yet they may choose to end a relationship and begin another one which they will also be faithful to. In our society the I ssues of separation and divorce have raised another whole set of laws and rules to deal with changing rites of all those involved. It is probable that without monogamy and the subsequent social structure there would be no need for solicitors, lawyers and many of our courts.

Polygamy is a marriage with more than one person. Poly being the Greek word for ‘many’. Across the world polygamy is usually one man with several female wives. It is rare to find one woman with several husbands. John Smith of the Mormon faith reputedly had up to 40 wives. In Islam, under both Shia and Sunni law, a man can have up to four wives. A woman having more than one husband is not allowed.

Polyamory, which is described as ‘consensual’ is to have loving, and often sexual relationships, with several people at the same time. This does not mean acting sexually all at once but is having more than one ongoing relationship. In many Polyamorous relationships the various participants my never all meet. However, what occurs is all open and transparent so that all those involved understand what is happening. Those practising polyamory are often in one main relationship and have other relationships within, or around this.

The throuple has three participants whereas a couple has two. Again all the throuples that I have known are one man and two women I not yet come across one woman wit two men.

Open relationship is when members of a main relationship have sexual relationships with other people though it may not have the same transparency as in a clearly polyamorous relationship or a throuple. However it may include sex between three people all at the same time often described as troilism. Some throuples will be troilist. Or in the extreme case in the open relationship there maybe multiple people involved, up to as many as are in an orgy.

Most animal species are polygamous excepting birds who often mate for life. As birds are directly descended from dinosaurs it may be that they were also monogamous and mated for life with the same partner.

Throughput human evolution the commitment of couples has been both a social and political function that has held the fabric of society together. Of then the joining of two people would join two groups of people as one. Feuding families came to peace by joining together. Land disputes and empires were often resolved and built on through mutually beneficial marriages.

Monogamy and reality
Research results vary a little but they indicate that fifty to sixty over cent of people are unfaithful at sometime in their marriage or main relationship. Some genome/ DNA research suggests that up to 30% of children may not belong to the father who is raising them as his own.

The selfish gene was described by Richard Dawkins as the need of the individual to carryon their own genetic line and therefore taking any opportunity on offer to reproduce. As we know that continuous breeding within a population, known as inbreeding, leads to a dilution of the available gene pool that can results in various genetic mutations. This happens in closed communities who for cultural or religious reason only allow for breeding with the limited group. As the strength of a species is dependent on cross fertilisation it would suggest that the selfish gene idea would support what we do know about the process of evolution. We can see in the breeding of dogs that the mongrel is stronger with higher immunity than the thorough bred.

Single sex relationships
Society is more accepting of single sex relationships that, between two men, were illegal only a few years ago. Many churches will now perform single sex marriages and give them the church’s blessing.

Non Binary
To identify as non binary, neither make nor female, gives rise to whole new set of relationships that may manifest as straight, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. Whatever we call it and however we sexually identify in most cases the relationships remain the joining of two people into a committed relationship. We must also acknowledge that the various forms of more open relationships are faithful to the mutual agreement made between the various participants.

Living alone in a committed relationship
I guess that in looking at relationships we need to also shout our for the singletons. I am aware that there is growing trend for people who do not want to be married but do want to be in a faithful, monogamous relationship with another person who they do not live with. These people, usually termed singletons, maintain their serious ongoing relationship with a permanent partner but choose to have their own house, accommodation or space. As a committed couple they may spend time together in each other’s houses but also choose to be alone in their own place. Also, singletons can, and often do, have children that they parent between them.
If are to take into account the whole gamut of relationships, many of which would have a sexual component, we should acknowledge the world of celibacy. The celibate is the person who chooses not to share themselves sexually with others. Celibates may have all kinds and varieties of relationships with all kinds of people. However they have, at some point, decided that these relationships will be non sexual and platonic. A platonic relationship is purely spiritual and not physical. The celibate person may have a sexual relationship but it would be considered as ‘sex for one’ that does involve orgasmic experiences but alone.

I guess there are many other sorts of relationships that could be added to this lists such as cyber sex and Teledildonics. The issues is that what every type of relationship you might engage in can mostly all be monogamous other than the poly relationships. Over all there is no rule and no book of words that will tell the right from the wrong. It will always come back to ‘does it work for you?’ As long as each person involved agrees to and is happily engaged in what takes place what is the problem?

So, however it works for you enjoy your life and enjoy your relationship and whoever you are with just be caring and be kind. That way we can all be happy.

Take care

Sean x

TSHP486: If we believe a lie, is it the truth?

What’s Coming This Episode?

Boris Johnson has been up to some of his old tricks again – bending the truth. Yet, is he being truthful? We’ve seen the photos and videos, yet he seems to be speaking the truth… so what is the truth??

Enjoy the show, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Stay in Touch

We’re all over the web, so feel free to stay in touch:

Leave us an Honest Review on iTunes

We’d be amazingly grateful if you could leave us a review on iTunes. It will really help us to build our audience. So, if your like what you hear (and would like to hear more great free content) then visit our iTunes page and leave us an honest review (all feedback gratefully received!).