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An oldie but goodie: "All human beings perform unilateral and selfish acts," Lederer and Jackson write in The Mirages of Marriage. "To do so is not always bad; it sometimes can be wholesome if the individual knows what is happening. But under no circumstances can these acts be regarded as loving, and the first requirement for a workable marriage is to live and relate on the basis of reality, not of myths, obsolete and meaningless traditions, and self-deceit."

The construct of matrimony as we know it no longer fits: we're more individualist, more isolated, more mobile -- and, yes, maybe more ADD, more demanding in terms of instant gratification than we were 40 years ago when Lederer and Jackson first pointed out that the institution was obsolete.

So what's the answer? How do you make it work?
Sam Montooth's profile photoDamon Douglas's profile photoSean Heffernan's profile photoAaron Linder's profile photo
 I think people in the distant past knew much more about relationships then we do today....
Four years married and six years together we're still happy and having a lot of fun.
+Benjamin Rice, did we know more or simply have less options? I don't mean potential partners, either, but lack of mobility, the fact that doing wrong in a marriage could often result in complete social and financial ruin, and so on.
Is that the trick, +James McHale, to have fun? I see my parents and I often think that. It's about remembering that laughing and playing and having fun feeds the spirit.
I think your observation is perfect as it probably was a combination of both. If you live without electricity, the media, in rural isolation etc. you will still use your mind and energy and develop something  meaningful. I suspect if most couples only had one another without distractions they would delve much more deeply into understanding their partner and the relationship would benefit in most cases.
Fun is part of it.  Been married nearly 20 years.  I think you have to, jointly, enjoy the experience.  At the same time understand that the couple is still two separate people with their own identities.  Marriage is weird and wonderful at the same time - no other relationship that I have had or do have is like it.
I think your idea of the old times are a little romantic, +Benjamin Rice. People weren't sitting around understanding their partners because they had no distractions. There were plenty of things to look after and sharing personal things was not usually considered appropriate.
Strange... your choice of quote and the article lead me to divergent ways when coming up with a response.

+A.V. Flox, the quote you shared gives shape to my typical Buddhist-related response: the solution to selfishness is to realize we are not at all that separate from each another.

Typical Buddhist philosophy is about realizing how interconnected we are, and how on a broader level, your own happiness is intertwined with that of others. And ultimately, what is good for your own persona is indirectly good for others and vice-versa.

Yet, the article itself, is about addressing the unrealistic expectation of monogamy in marriage. For this second part, the answer is somewhat more complex.

People who'd prefer not to have children would have absolutely no problem: just stay together for as long as love manages to last, and part ways once that's run dry. No regrets, no melancholy, just move on with life.

The problem, then, is commitment to children. Can two people be strangers (if not worse) and still work together for a common good? We often do so at work. Can we treat marriage as a job, without all the romantic-mushy-mash? Probably some parents already do. But this would not be healthy for upbringing the children.

Children need to be exposed to love from an early age. It's one of the most important concepts that they will need to experience as they mature.

But, could I actually dare suggest that children should see their parents around with other lovers? This isn't simply moving from two parents to four, but it means showing them a lack of stability in the romantic partners of their parents, and that could probably have some complications.

Well, perhaps, for starters, we could just stop demanding monogamy out of others. If I love somebody, if I am going to marry somebody, that means accepting them for who they are, which means respecting their perspectives on life and choices they make. If this person truly loves me back, I need not fear that they will dump me for another. And if this person no longer loves me back, it is inappropriate to blame them for it.

In short, trust, and let others be. If you can't do that, perhaps you are not ready for marriage.
Unfortunately, I couldn't make it work. And I spent a long time lamenting what I perceived as a lack of 'strength' on my part.

Marriages work because both parties do what is necessary to make it work.
Congratulations on twenty years, +Richard Durham! I completely agree that understanding a couple is two people with separate identities is a crucial thing. 
+Sean Heffernan, I couldn't make my marriage work. I tried like hell for a year, then I think we realized we just weren't suited. It's hard to make something work when the components don't fit. I think happiness is more important than staying together. Letting go is sometimes the bravest act of love. 
Not romantic at all. Life was miserable by our standards yet as others have noted you can still find happiness. Try going camping,  which is probably our closest approximation, and see what you don't share after a few weeks. My suspicion also is that the" not sharing personal things" comment  seems to have a Victorian age taint to it. That period has many interesting but atypical beliefs.
29 years this May. How do you make it work? By making it work. And by applying the Wheaton Principle.

(We also have two brilliant kids to show for it.)
+Walther Maldonado, monogamy doesn't always mean stability for the children. Far too many people stay together in marriages that are over "for the kids" and inadvertently expose them to resentment, solitude and fear. I don't think separating and having other partners injures children a fraction as much as living a cold war between parents.

I don't think having other partners hurts kids at all, to be honest, if they're decent people and love the kids themselves.
+Benjamin Rice, when I go camping, I go camping. There's a lot of work and not much talking. Maybe what you're saying is more like taking a vacation in Kauai right now and spending most of the time in a hotel room due to rain?
You all are on a roll this morning. Children raised in highly stressful enviroments deserves a separate posting in my humble opinion.
As with most things in life, it isn't a dichotomy, but a spectrum.

I wonder if there is any way in which we can measure what kind of impact would it have in the development of children where their parents freely love (and have different partners) during their uprising, +A.V. Flox?

Unfortunately, we can't ethically test for that. Perhaps we should just encourage some people to do so, and take the risks. O_O Without trying, we'll never know.
Most communication is non verbal anyway so talking may not be measuring the degree of interaction. Camping is by and large a safe fun activity unlike premodern society.But your point is well taken.
Sorry to hear about the rain filled vacation. I hope you play back gammon.
+Walther Maldonado, we can survey, though. Divorce is all around, and there are many adults today who saw their parents with other partners while they growing up. 
+A.V. Flox we have a lot of fun, I make cocktails for my wife and she plays wii games slightly tipsy.  We have separate interests and shared ones, I try to support her photography as much as possible but if I feel it's taking up too much time I just tell her.  We have days that are just for hanging out as friends, we work together as well so we need time to just mess about.  We sit opposite each other at work, so I keep chocolates in my desk drawer for her and occasionally buy silly toys, like a mini remote control car for her desk. 
She has a cold today so I bought every cold remedy in the shop, a giant cookie and some kinder eggs to get her through the day.  I've ordered her favourite pop tarts and some unusual pringles flavours from an american import company so when she rests up over the weekend she can veg out.  A little bit of thought makes a lot of difference.
To be honest, though, I think it's better to teach a child that it's okay to want a partnership where both members thrive and to show them that though leaving is hard, a slow martyr's death in a marriage devoid of love isn't something honorable or worth emulating.
I love that, +James McHale. Romance is intent. It's so real in your marriage. Good for you! 
Love should be expressed, and when done, it usually feeds on itself. People say marriage is a lot of work, but I say it should be a lot of joyful work! Like spending all day long on that crazy hobby you love.

It's saddening when we get the message that we have to make things work, or else. As if we should accept a crappy job and stick to it because... well, because that is "happiness"...

It drives me insane to think my psychologist once talked along those lines.
+A.V. Flox I do flowers and things like that, traditional romantic stuff isn't really important, it's nice but it isn't what really touches someone you got to be personal for that.  I know she doesn't like coriander so I change my recipes, I learned how to make rum truffles as they are her favourite, I buy her watches and pyjamas even though I think she has far too many, but she loves them.  Judge less and accommodate more, argue if it's important, compromise if it's not and learn to tell the difference.  Also I reserve the right to call this bullshit if we hate each other in five years, lol.
+Benjamin Rice Thanks, I think we will have kids by then so I'll just blame them for any problems, haha.  
Well, the average marriage between adults lasts ten years before divorce, so it's early to say. It's so easy to be madly in love today, and believe that will last forever.

However, nothing is eternal. Statistically speaking, it is a gamble, and there's nothing pessimistic about treating it that way.

I often use the addendum "if we are still together by then :P" when discussing long-term plans with my girlfriend, but that doesn't mean at all that I am already giving up. I just prefer not falling into the illusion that things will be peach-perfect forever. Complacency does plunges a relationship to its doom faster, though ;)
What is up with hoes. Excuse my french but some females just lift up their legs to get rich. If he cheated on her that's one thing, but then homewrecking on top of that is rediculous. In many government jobs adultery is a fireable offense, I am not so sure if the policy is good or not: This isnt saudi arabia where women can't drive and I can have 5 wives. It comes down to who decides our morality, I think that estate splitting is still a good detractor from adultery.
I have no idea, +A.V. Flox , and I've been married eight years. I'm considering divorce because my wife keeps insisting she wants to help me with my book, and then keeps not helping me. And she complains when I work on it myself.
I have not had faith in marriage since my folks divorced when I was a kid.  And getting married 13 years ago has not healed that scar.  If anything it has deepened the wound.
I am not married, been with my SO for 8 years this year though. She's very much swallowed the marriage pill but I'm very sceptical. I think "forever" is an aspiration that so many cannot achieve it should not be put up as an objective. I think boundaries need to be set more realistically about what a marriage means before it should be entered and I think that's different for everyone. For me it's not being the be-all-and-end-all for my partner or being integrated to the obsoletion of the individual. My thoughts are that with more realistic scope perhaps a marriage can be maintained in a more sustainable way for the long-term.
Lots of folks using the word forever, I only plan on sticking around till one of us dies.
+Aaron Linder... uhm, are you drunk? There was no French there, for starters. O_o

It's strange to bring in issues of law when the topic is about discussing the very concept of marriage and what can be done to make more people happy. It's more like sociology or philosophy in its nature.

Your comment doesn't addresses any of these, it sounds like you just wanted an excuse to rant...?
Yeah, the "good old days" weren't necessarily all that good; taking care of ones daily needs was more a full-time job than it was today.

I also think that leaving a bad marriage is better than staying in one out of stubborness. 
Married twice. Divorced once. First wife was a mistake, I know now - at the time I hadn't the sense to realize it. Should never have married her in the first place, should've broken up instead of proposing.

My wife now, though? She's a keeper. She's someone with whom I can both have conversations and sex, someone who needs me, and whom I need. She's smarter than me, but claims she isn't. She opens my eyes to new things, broadens my mind and builds my character. I help her overcome her own weaknesses in return. We make each other stronger, more compassionate and empathetic, better. I have no idea what my life would be like without her, other than that it would be drastically worse - and she feels the same about me.

I guess we'll be all right if we keep being that for each other.
How is your blog's domain somehow not blocked at my workplace?
How to make a marriage, or any long-term committed relationship, work?

Assuming the partners are well-suited to each other to begin with, I think having realistic expectations is vital. Marriages in earlier times may have endured in large part because of social pressure, but I suspect that part of a successful marriage was, and is, grounded in the understanding that not only are the partners separate people, but they will not remain the same people as time passes. If this is understood, if communication is and remains open, and if each person is given the space to grow in his or her own way, then, with care and effort, the partners will evolve together. If these things do not happen, they are more likely to grow distant, and no longer really know each other; to live by rote. And living by rote can be very functional, but it doesn't feed the soul in the way that Western relationships, at least, are expected to do.

I don't believe in the idea of a soulmate as someone who fulfills one's every need effortlessly, or with whom one will always be perfectly matched. Real people, real relationships, don't work like that. But with hard work, time, and patience, a startlingly similar effect can be acheived.
"... maybe there's something wrong at the structural level with the whole idea of state-sanctioned monogamy... Unfortunately, neither Nobel nor the writers at Jezebel know how it can be fixed ..."

I think that's a half-truth.  Everyone who has ever "strayed" from their vows has an idea of how marriage can be fixed.  So does every gay person in a committed relationship and everyone who has ever been in a "non-traditional" relationship and anyone who has read the right speculative fiction authors...

Marriage has to be treated as a social contract instead of a religious or state-sanctioned institution.  As a contract, it can be allowed to take on ANY form - lifelong monogamy, short-term monogamy, polygamy (polygyny and polyandry and any variation of multiple spouses), etc.  The only real hard rule, at this stage of the human race's emotional development, should be "humans marry humans."  100 or 500 years from now, that may not be true anymore, but that is a slippery slope issue for a later time.

Marriage has two primary goals:  to benefit the participants and to care for children produced by the relationship.  Anything other than that is "negotiable" and can be spelled out in an actual contract or verbally agreed to by all participants, if they are all comfortable with that arrangement.  Or the state could require actual marriage contracts that are filed to register the relationship as a "binding commitment."

It is not that hard of a proposition to come up with a "better" marriage structure than the "monogamy... period" model.  The hurdle is all the people who have grown up believing that heterosexual monogamy is the ONLY WAY .  How do they know it is the only way.  Their deity(-ies) told them so or "that is the way it has always been."

Currently, the gays are asking "why shouldn't I be able to marry any other person I want to?"  Hopefully, it works because that will start to loosen the hold monogamy has on our social structures.
Keep connecting and re-connecting. Being in love, even falling in love can happen many times over. If you let the distance grow and don't try to stop it, you've already moved on. So far we have been married for three years, together for five or six years, and he has not bored me yet.
What I learned from the first marriage was that you can try all you want but personality mismatches and different ways of conveying love and affection can be a difficult bridge to cross.

And when abuse starts to occur, it's a floodgate that's open that is pretty hard to reverse. I was punched, scratched, had cold water poured on me, cats thrown at me. 

Even through that I was still trying to work things out. It was coming across an email from her to her friend admitting to being in love with someone else that was the beginning of the end.

It's wasn't even that falling for someone else is something that's insurmountable. It was the lack of trust in the bond & relationship and hiding & concealing that fact rather than talking it through. Attraction happens. It's not a crime.

With the current relationship, what's refreshing is the ability to talk about attraction to other people as & when it occurs without judgement and rancor. Most of the time, just talking about it removes the allure of forbidden fruit and the attraction fades pretty fast.

Even if it doesn't, joint analysis of the nature and timbre of attraction tends to help the relationship as well, either in highlighting what is missing or needs work within the relationship, or just that certain attributes/activities are something you look for in friends that don't compete with or harm the relationship.
+Jake Weisz, your work would be crazy to block +BlogHer -- it's a wholesome site. Sure, we talk about sex, but sex is important. I'm glad it's not blocked. 
+A.V. Flox You'd be shocked what gets blocked by our filter. Co-worker hit our adult content filter while looking for a new washer and dryer.
It takes work and sacrifice on both parts. If either party isn't interested in doing those two things, then it's already over and it's a matter of time. In my marriage, we came very close recently to it all falling apart and we had to really separately do some soul searching and then basically reacquaint ourselves with each other. We've just passed the 10 year mark and we are doing really well because we've both agreed that being our true selves is the most important to our happiness individually and as a couple. It took a lot to get to this point, but now we've seen that by both of us being invested equally in our lives together as well as our lives individually, we are much happier and looking forward to the future. My advice is if you want to be married, be prepared to grow and to listen.
+Sean Heffernan , completely unrelated, but I noticed you were able to accomplish italicizing part of you comment.  How did you do that?  Thank you.
I read A.V.'s website it makes me want to start blogging, but right now my laptop got stolen in L.A. and im just on 4g wireless it's hard on my desktop without mobile hotspot, plus I can't carry to starbucks. I like to write about sci-fi and list patents and talk about concepts. I wrote an article about cellular neural interface with unidirectional radio signal processing with an intra-cranial recepter similar to an HRSEM construction, my next article is about gundam. I can't afford the parts to build my own stuff but I enjoy tech blogging.
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