james-haslam
5th December 2011

Debate 4: An affair of marriage

I have a friend who might mind very much about my relaying a story. Jeff (as he is not called) had an exceedingly short-term relationship with what one could term a ‘crazy person’, and crazy person had her eyes fixed on an open relationship. ‘It’s the future’ she might have said, ‘marriage is finished, who […]
Debate 4: An affair of marriage

I have a friend who might mind very much about my relaying a story. Jeff (as he is not called) had an exceedingly short-term relationship with what one could term a ‘crazy person’, and crazy person had her eyes fixed on an open relationship. ‘It’s the future’ she might have said, ‘marriage is finished, who could expect to be tied down for so long? And besides, who wants to be, we should be able to sleep with whomever we want’.

There’s just a few problems with her view, though I was paraphrasing. What I take from it is a want to be rid of marriage, and so all will be free to pursue as many sexual relationships as possible, without any thought to feeling or companionship. What’s disagreeable with her outlook is the dual want of a relationship as well as wanting and having all the benefits of singledom. Also, her idea forgets (deliberately or not) the importance of love, the bastardisation and possible mental well-being of future children, and the feelings of a potential partner; there is such a focus on selfish happiness which I find deplorable, but that’s before I tackle the small issues.

Polyamory is a young argument. By young, I mean that its proponents are mostly young people. It’s difficult to predict what one may look or be like in thirty years, but there’s near certainty that it will not be as attractive as one is now. Not to say that’s the end of one’s sex life, but people have got to be a bit more realistic about themselves, and opportunities that may arise at university generally won’t in real world situations.

 And then there’s children. What children? Well, future ones. Little versions of you running about. What if they learn about the easiness and openness with which a parent lives out his or her life. They would either be perpetually estranged, or would look to the example being set and copy it. There is also a problem with legitimacy, not only of inheritance but also of the mere fact that without marriage a child could be separated from a parent without legal issues arising. Families keep people together, even after divorce.

Crazy person’s original argument is entirely focused on selfish happiness, but then I wonder what a definition of happiness might be for someone who wants to be ‘happy’ all the time. What if ‘happiness’ is only a state when someone isn’t unhappy? Would that then make happiness an extension of unhappiness, and, therefore, a component of unhappiness? I can’t see the justification of pithy self-satisfaction found in multiple wholly sexual relationships when so many rewarding things are not just lost, but totally rejected.

It is perhaps difficult to attempt to defend monogamy when there are so many variables that govern relationships, but I want to base my thoughts in the notion of love as a binding factor between two people, something that can be degraded or snuffed out if one or both partners are unfaithful (whether open about it or not); since how can one trust another who would openly stray, or who has to be with more than one person? I don’t buy the argument that people are biologically programmed to need to sleep with everyone. Because otherwise, why would people love?

See the other side of this debate.

What’s your opinion? @Mancuniondebate


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