IS THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE CHANGING?
Sexual faithfulness has always been an accepted clause of marriage and love. But as sex becomes more of a recreational activity over time, more and more people are questioning whether emotions and sex can be separated. And yes, these ‘people’ include women.
Marriage is one of everyone’s life goals. The social script almost demands it. Our personal lives are more or less designed in this way: you hit puberty, you start dating with the express intention of finding the ‘right person’, and then once you find them, you marry them and have children with them. Of course, it goes without saying that you must stay physically and emotionally faithful to them all your life.
Anyone who doesn’t fit this script is labelled ‘weird’, because, well, they don’t fit the script.
The good news is, like almost everything, the script is changing. One of the most sacred parts of the marriage contract – sexual fidelity on both sides – is now being questioned as birth control has become more accessible to everyone. While it has its place as a means to procreate, sex has increasingly become a recreational activity for both genders.
Sexual monogamy in marriage evolved as a by-product of wealth and property laws. A man who owned property and wished to pass it on to his children wanted to make sure that it was indeed his child that he was giving his wealth to. So he placed restrictions on his wife on whom she could see and to kill her sexual desire for any other man. As a society, this became the norm because all men needed to be sure that the children their wives gave birth to were indeed theirs.
Before human beings became agriculturists and were hunting and gathering for food, monogamy did not exist. Men and women still formed pair bonds that build deep emotional connections (like we do today), but when they were besotted by desire, they gave in to it. Indeed, the connection between sex and babies – because of the long gestation period of the human foetus – was made rather late in the evolutionary cycle. For long periods of time, human beings did not know that it was sex that caused babies.
All babies in a hunting and gathering group were looked after and raised by the community, together. There was no concept of your kid or mine, they were all ‘our kids’ and were brought up by a clutch of ‘aunts’.
Now, though, with the arrival of birth control, and with the fact that most of the sex we have in our lives is non-procreative, people are beginning to wake up to the possibilities of having a deep emotional pair bond with one person, with whom they raise children, but also have sexual relationships outside of the pair bond.
This realisation is dawning upon both genders – male and female alike – and therefore, the nature of marriages is liable to change and become more open, where sexual desire is seen as normal and healthy and not something to be afraid of.