Friday, May 22, 2009

There can be only one?

I was asked this morning if I believe in monogamy.

French monogamie, from Late Latin monogamia, from Greek, from monogamos monogamous, from mon- + gamos marriage, from gamein to marry
1archaic : the practice of marrying only once during a lifetime
2: the state or custom of being married to one person at a time
3: the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time

What's not to believe? Monogamy is keeping only to one person and it happens all the time. It is unfortunate, however, that philanderers get more space in conversations and in print than monogamists. Chalk it up to the public's addiction for excitement and dirty laundry, an addiction fed by sensational journalism and modern media from fact to fiction. People want to see heroes' bright armor tarnished and idols with cracked feet of clay.

I am a serial monogamist, giving my affections and attentions to one man at a time even if the man isn't monogamous. That's the way I'm wired. I can be courted and flattered, flirted with and cajoled, but once my attentions are firmly engaged on one man I don't stray, no matter what. I look, but I don't touch.

Some of my best friends are monogamists who have been with one man their whole adult lives and some of my best friends are philanderers who are trapped in bad relationships but feel they cannot or should not get out. The philanderers get their emotional needs met outside their primary relationship, but in a sense they too are monogamous because they no longer, or seldom, have sex with their primary partner.

Until Spencer Tracy met Katharine Hepburn, he was a married Catholic who cheated openly on his wife. As a Catholic, he didn't believe in divorce, and his wife wouldn't give him one anyway had he asked. She knew her standard of living would suffer and she'd only get half of Tracy's earnings instead of a free meal ticket the rest of her natural life if she agreed to a divorce. When Hepburn and Tracy met and fell in love, Tracy became monogamous. Hepburn and Tracy were married in their hearts but not in reality and it didn't matter to Hepburn that she was not Tracy's legitimate wife. She was his wife in spirit as his legal partner was wife in name only. Love transcends the bonds of matrimony, especially in a society where divorce is so costly and the problems (emotional and societal) so great.

Okay, I think I've answered this one.

That is all. Disperse.

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