10 Myths About Monogamy That Are Crushing Your Joy

Quick:  name five of the most confusing concepts in current human experience?  If you said “sex, happiness, men, women, and change” I’d have to agree.

I guess I’d also be with you if you’d said “muskrat lovethe “4-hour” workweek, why the U.S. government considers businesses ‘people,’ how disapproval is supposed to motivate anyone, and my son’s need to hand me the produce when he picks his nose.”  But that’s a different post.

We’re going to look at sex,happiness, men, women, and change today through the lens of ten myths I see operating in our culture.  These fallacies have us view married life as antithetical to turned-on living.  It’s a bummer, but thankfully, these aren’t cultural truths, they’re fictions.  When we see them as such, we can craft rockin’ relationships that contain sexiness AND stability.

1.  The myth of novelty:

Familiarity, long-term relationship, and marriage in particular crush libido, turn-on, and passion.

A.K.A. “Sharing a life and sharing passion are mutually exclusive.”

When you see through this myth:

You get to cultivate your libido hand-in-hand with your love, your passion in concert with your fidelity, and your turn-on in the context of your tenure together.  I’m not talking about nurse costumes or battery powered toys to “keep it fresh” unless that’s what you’re really into.  I mean a more authentic level of taking responsibility for your own liveliness right in the life you have.

2.  The myth of compromise:

You have to compromise your desires to stay together long-term.
A.K.A. “At least it’s secure and stable.“

When you see through this myth:

You get to experience the creative tension of doing whatever it takes BOTH to stay together AND to stay in conversation with your desires.  For a long time, I lived according to this myth, dutifully quashing my desires for the sake of keeping my marriage stable.  But when I learned to say, “I’m not going ANYWHERE, nor will I live without these flavors of delight and intimacy,” we used that new container to mix up some sweet new flavors of love.

3.  The myth of noble maternal (and paternal) deprivation:

When your kids are small, devotion to them means you must postpone your dreams for a few years.

A.K.A. “Mommies don’t have hot lives.  Good mommies don’t even want hot lives.”

When you see through this myth:

You remember that your children’s happiness is inextricably tied to yours.  That their state of mind is like a barometer of your internal “weather.”  And that your happiness, while it has very little to do with actually getting the things you desire, has a whole lot to do with being in conversation with your desires.  Plus, you experience firsthand how much more patience, resilience, humor, generosity, and tenderness a well-juiced, desire-drenched mama (or daddy) has for those children.

4.  The myth of inevitable frigidity:

Every marriage loses its sexiness — unless you’re superficial f@#k-bunnies with huge egos and tons of plastic surgery and no kids and no values.

A.K.A. “Smokin’ sex is for young, thin, unattached, and/or shallow people.  Long-married people get companionship as their booby (no pun or undue stimulation intended) prize.”

When you see through this myth:

You know that sensuality and intimacy are our birthright – that they belong for a lifetime to anyone who will cultivate the capacities for sensation and connection, who will stand in the fire of being transparently present to themselves and another.  And you see that the sexual images that pervade our media are cheap, misguided homages to the primal and unstinting power of sex and intimacy.  You will no longer mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself.

5.  The myth of fragility:

Acknowledging desires like being with other people or trying new things will make your marriage vulnerable – you can’t have it both ways.

A.K.A. “What you deny can’t hurt you, but what you name is intrinsically hurtful even if you never act on it.”

When you see through this myth:

You learn to tap your personal power, in the form of your desires.  To see the desires as trustworthy marching orders… The march not so much being a mindless tromp toward that latest impulse buy (or impulse lay) but a very mindful walking meditation through your inner terrain.  Desires begin to guide your knowing and your generosity.  And you get to use them to shape what you ask your partner for and what you give when you’re with him or her.

6.  The myth of safe stasis:

Change in one of you threatens the relationship.

A.K.A. “Nobody breathe! Stasis is the only path to safety!”

When you see through this myth:

You develop a familiarity (if never complete comfort) with life’s intrinsic uncertainty.  You train yourself to remember how little of what’s good in your life now was foreseeable or predictable before it happened.  You learn to surrender to life’s unknowability and to trust life, rather than stasis, to provide the only degree of security that’s honestly possible.  And as for your partner?  You learn to trust that he or she wants (or at least needs) the most authentic, most current version of you far more than the patched-together, hard-to-maintain you 1.0 that they were perhaps familiar with.  You evolve together.  You really do.

7.  The myth of the appearance prerequisite:

Only young, super-good-looking, thin, healthy people get to have frequent sex.  Or really good sex.  Especially BOTH.

A.K.A. “If you’re not “hot” by current, local societal standards, you don’t deserve a hot life and/or relationship.  And everyone who has a hot life advertises it by dressing and presenting themselves as S-E-X-Y.”

When you see through this myth:

You get to wear Danskos on your tingly toes, if you want.  You can acknowledge your beauty and sexiness no matter what size, shape, or age you are, or how long it’s been since you shaved/got a pedicure/didn’t have cellulite/wore a feather boa.  You get to switch your reference point for “am I luscious?” from outside yourself to deep inside… yes… down there.  Tha’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Now, I ask you, are you hot or what?

8. The myth of spiritual turn-off:

Sexual desire is un-spiritual, ego-driven, and superficial.

A.K.A.  “I’m so enlightened (or intelligent, or career-oriented, or devoted to my art), sex doesn’t interest me.”

When you see through this myth:

You realize that the reason so many philosophers, religious scholars, and other purveyors of dogma have dissed on desire and sexuality through the eons is that its very potency and centrality to our human experience scared the bejeezus out of them.  This shit is POTENT, yeah?  When you see that putting it down is just a way of protecting oneself against its enormity and the depth of our need for it, you can begin to breathe into your own desire, need, and all the vulnerability those engender.  And you know you’re safe, up to your neck in that divine quicksand.

9.  The myth of deniable desire:

Sexual desire is fluffy, a bonus.  It can be pushed down and it won’t come out somewhere else.

A.K.A. “Maybe it’d be nice to have, but look at all I do have.  I can live without that.”

When you see through this myth:

You see how many places your “I’m okay without it” lie showed up in your life:  Unacknowledged desire can show up as compulsive eating, drinking, shopping, computing, or collecting.  It can show up in over-caring for children, friends, partners, or causes.  It can show up in chronic grumpiness, workaholism, or neglecting your sensory desires (e.g. to look and feel good, by your own standards, or to have your environment look and feel good to you).  You recognize that unacknowledged desire will always squirt out somewhere unexpected.  And maybe, just maybe, you start to give it room directly.

10.  The myth of greener pastures:

You have to leave your marriage to “find yourself” or reawaken your passion or find your turn-on.

A.K.A. “I’ve got to have more ____ in my life.  That’s why I’m leaving.”

When you see through this myth:

You see how much more courage and richness (and turn-on, really) there is to gain by seeking “greener pastures” within the life you already have.  In Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery traditions, there’s a concept called “the geographic solution”:  the addict thinks, “When I move to San Diego, I’ll stop using.”  But wherever you go, there you are.  And new underthings and a person in your bed who wasn’t there the day you became a parent… Those may temporarily raise your aliveness quotient, just as all novelty does.  But really, need I point out that passion based on novelty is as short-lived as a bouquet based on cut pansies?  So when you see through this myth, you learn to “find yourself” where you are.  To have the difficult conversations about all the needs you’ve been denying, ignoring, or simply unaware of.  And you start to build your new life within your old.  I’ve done it.  It’s not simple.  But the rewards are…. well… smokin’.

Those are the Myths of Monogamy.

Which of them have you been laboring under?  Which had you already dispelled for yourself?  How will marriage be hotter without one of them?  Let me know in the comments.

If you have a friend who is being dried out (or led astray) by one or more of these myths, why not pass this along?

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