Monogamy’s Bad Rap.

Via Wendy Strgar
on Mar 25, 2011
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“All happy couples are the same.  Which is to say they are just boring.”   Tolstoy

Dana Adam Shapiro’s new film, Monogamy is more a study of break ups and divorce than it is committed relationship.   He became intrigued in the demise of relationships as he watched many of his contemporaries and close friends divorcing.  He conducted over fifty interviews over two years that became the foundational research for his film, which added the intrigue of a private investigator to keep the plot moving.

Shapiro notes that “All the people I interviewed are sort of flawed anti-heros—which is the part that Theo (his main character) plays in the movie.  They are not necessarily “good people”—they’re simply people trying to be good.”   More accurately, they are people who after their relationship has ended can bear witness to and articulate how badly they did.  One interviewee said “I never once thought about my wife or my marriage first until it was over.”  Another woman recounted not just the final affair that ended her marriage but the years of dishonesty and falsehood that lead up to it.

Tolstoy’s idea that making a marriage work or that they all work the same way is ridiculous. Just as most breakups are different variations on the same theme and often stem from the failure of one or both partners to step up to their best selves, relationships that work and endure contains the same variations of opposite themes;  that both people in the relationship are actively engaged in becoming their best selves and committed to bringing that to their relationship.

Just as divorce is not a story of bad luck, lasting relationships are not the result of good luck. The truth is that there is no other context in life which offers the potential to create either the best or the worst of us. Many people, unwittingly become dedicated to the most negative aspect of their personalities and to the degree that they develop little insight, take these traits out on their relationship.

Certainly, the interpersonal drama  that this anti- hero practices is enough to fill a life time of relationships. But just because it is common does not make it the story worth emulating.

Still even with the cultural myths of the near impossibility of enduring relationships we remain a people dedicated to searching for them. There is no other culture in the world that seeks out romantic relationships at the pace that we do or make the choice to try again with such frequency.

Learning to love is a lifelong pursuit and many of the people who leave relationships grow into the people they wish they were when they started.  Relationships and all of their pitfalls are still the most important and life changing circumstances that define our life.  When it is all said and done, it is the only really meaningful markers we have to remember our lives.

Who we loved, who loved us back and how we learned to be the best of ourselves is never a boring tale.


About Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy, she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook, as well as in paperback online. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


8 Responses to “Monogamy’s Bad Rap.”

  1. anniegirl1138 says:

    "…both people in the relationship are actively engaged in becoming their best selves and committed to bringing that to their relationship."

    Agree totally. I get tired of hearing ppl slag monogamy and marriage b/c they can't find it, don't want to work at, messed up when they tired it or simply have no affinity for it.

  2. Alden says:

    Yes, that sentence totally sums it up! I love my boyfriend because he supports my trying to be a better person totally, as do I him. He explicitly said last night that he loves me because I'm always striving to be better. I want to spend the rest of my life with someone like that.

  3. […] Mate with everyone who looks appealing. If I was to just do what was natural, monogamy would be out. Every time I saw a male human who I found attractive, it would be time for some […]

  4. […] for 12 years, I was monogamous and faithful to one man. I was so monogamous, I rarely had sex with him as our years together progressed. I was petrified he […]

  5. […] that marriage ended, I steered clear of relationships that were at all traditional and committed. I instead drifted from one casual agreement to another. While I relished the personal freedoms these agreements allowed me, they also weren’t particularly […]

  6. Dumbo says:

    Tolstoy never said that. His quote (in Anna Karenina) is about happy families, and he does not say that they are "boring".