There are times when we just want to retire to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean! Why, you ask? Simple, really.
As marriage researchers for almost 30 years, we have learned a lot about what makes marriage and relationships work. And there is one very simple finding about successful marriage around the world – successfully married couples do NOT – we repeat, DO NOT, engage in flings, affairs, infidelity, cheating, or trysts, whatever you want to call it! Good grief, what is it with some of these so-called “marriage experts” who make outrageous claims and conclusions?
Pamela Haag, in her recent book, actually challenges the importance of monogamy – being in love with only one mate for a lifetime. She even suggests we need to “rethink” the rules of monogamy.
We suspect that according to her, having a mistress or lover is actually good for a marriage. Where does this nonsense come from?
The truth is this – there is NO support for her notions regarding monogamy in our three decades of research. None! Zip! Nada!
The heart of a successful marriage is trust – T-R-U-S-T! When we get married we promise our love, our trust, our sacred honor, and our love and devotion only to each other! Why would any great marriage support anything other than monogamy – devotion to only one person for a lifetime? To suggest otherwise is foolhardy, and not supported by credible research.
Haag suggests that we need to rewrite the rules about monogamous relationships. An underlying thesis of hers is that “redefining” the rules of marriage is legitimate. She seems to suggest that the institution of marriage needs to evolve. Evolve to what? What is not working about centuries of traditional marriage in the world?
She suggests that the Internet and the attendant technologies makes it easier to find sexual excitement and gratification outside of traditional marriage. We ask this simple question – what is wrong about finding excitement and sexual gratification WITHIN your marriage? When did someone decide that this is no longer possible or desirable?
Traditional marriage is what it is. And we agree – sometimes, marriages become “melancholy.” Sometimes, marriages get boring and routine. And quite frankly, sometimes marriages do not bring the level of satisfaction married couples hoped for.
But here are the facts – a successful marriage is about compromise, stability, honesty, and yes, sometimes, about disappointment.
Marriage is, however, never about cheating, never about the violation of monogamy, and never about compromise on its core values of trust, honesty, and devotion to the one you love.
So here is why we sometimes want to give up and retire to a Pacific Island – we get so tired of the so-called “experts” suggesting that you can violate the most basic of all social contracts – marriage – and ride off into the sunset thinking you have done nothing wrong. To say all this gets frustrating to us from time to time, is an understatement, to say the least.
The most basic part of the marriage contract is this – you agree to marry someone for a lifetime. To trust them, to honor them, to devote your life to them – that is the ultimate centerpiece of a successful marriage. What in the world is so complicated about that? Why would anyone suggest otherwise.
We would offer these simple pieces of advice – work VERY hard on making your marriage work. Work very hard to honor your wedding vows. Endeavor to listen to your spouse every day so you know what they are thinking and feeling.
In the end, there are NO non-traditional paths to marriage! You are either in or you are out!
Believe in the institution of marriage or not. But don’t be a hypocrite and pretend that marriage is something different than what “convenience” dictates.
Marriage is a vow, a commitment, a sacred trust. If you don’t believe in the institution of marriage, do something else! Enough of the hypocrisy about traditional marriage that surrounds much of the current thinking from those who purport something that is not supported about the research on successful marriage.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
**For hundreds of practical tips to strengthen your love, read the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold. Learn more about America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts