Open Marriage, Lipstick, and Low Necklines: R V Raiment Discusses The Meaning Of Monogamy
You said that your marriage is "ostensibly an open marriage" and that while you both are "free to engage responsibly in physical and emotional relationships", having the freedom actually makes you less inclined to exercise it. Can you please explain a bit more about how this works for you?
I live according to a philosophy of my own (sorry, that sounds kind of pompous straight away) which is in my view rational and excludes religious faith.
I do not believe that the atomic (2 adults, 2.2 children) family is natural or ordained, but that it is a contrivance to suit particular ways of seeing and one which is wonderfully profitable in our modern society. Lacking carers, nurses, childminders in the form of extended family we have been compelled to institutionalise care to a ridiculous extent and the atomic family uses and wastes resources more profligately than does an extended family.
Monogamy appears to me to have derived, above all, from our Lords and Masters having historically sought a way to secure their inheritance from bastard claimants and commencing a trend endorsed by the church for its own reasons and aped by the lower orders.
The world is as it is and there are many things which prevent an easy change towards something more humane. It is still possible, in my view, for useful change to be made.
One of these is in our understanding of what sex is and what it is for. Current received wisdom is that sex is for binding two partners exclusively together in order for those two to successfully raise a family.
Current received wisdom is also that sex is, essentially, pre and post act petting with penetration in between.
For me sexual activity stretches from cosmetics and how one chooses to dress through penetrative sex to a walk holding hands.
I will be hated for this - assuming you use it - but any woman who wears a dress cut almost down to her nipples may be doing it because 'it makes her feel good' but usually does not understand why it makes her feel good. I believe it makes her feel good because, in a particular sense, she knows subconsciously that she obtains a kind of approval from others for wearing it, and I would argue that such approval is sexual in nature.
With modest exception the purpose of most cosmetics over the last several decades has been to imply arousal in the woman. Dark lipsticks and highlighted cheeks indicate the suffusion of blood which occurs when a woman is aroused, eye make-up makes the eye look bigger, to simulate the effect of the dilation of the pupil which occurs during attraction.
Signals are sent out to the whole world which some would argue should be confined to the bedroom, and men are despised for responding to those signals on any level.
There are sound medical and psychological reasons why sexual promiscuity can be unsound and I am not an advocate of it. The fact remains - for me - that modern sexual and social mores are still too limiting.
Explaining how is not easy.
I will take a chance here and make, potentially, new enemies:
If sex is the bond which holds two people together, failing sexual attractiveness is likely to weaken it. Nature appears to me to reduce the immediate sexual attraction of women as they age (provided they are not able to utilise modern rejuvenation techniques) and there is little doubt in my mind that that diminishing in immediate sexual attraction is a natural device to diminish the risk of women conceiving when they are (in nature's terms) past the optimum age range for doing so successfully.
I do not believe that nature has adapted, yet, to developments in birth control, but society has. Women can safely go on having sex, even giving birth, longer, and individuals are living longer than they ever have.
Monogamy and the concept of sexual fidelity require that the ageing couple remain interested, really, exclusively in each other, but experience suggests that that is not what is often happening. Women are going to extraordinary extremes, through cosmetics, surgery, implants and the rest in order to remain attractive, to remain looking young, not least in order to retain their men's interest. Those who cannot afford such things and those whose breasts, bellies and the rest have gone noticeably South are often left alone whilst their men go off after younger prey.
So long as sexual desirability dominates, and it is remarkable how 'love' fades as desirability does, partners are compelled to make a choice. They must desire and make love to their partners exclusively, or they must find another partner to desire and exclude the one they started with.
In my view love is far more important than sex and there is no reason for love to fade other than under tremendous and arguably unnatural pressure.
I love my wife deeply and am so loved in return. I love other women too, but the love is different, informed by less experience, less time spent together, fewer incidents, trials, joys and troubles shared.
I also worship all that woman is; the most beautiful, perfect, awe-inspiring form, the wonderful gateway to life, often the most human, humane, most humorous and forgiving of the sexes.
Exclusive sex makes little sense to me. Medically the consequences of modest promiscuity are probably dealable with and psychologically they can probably become less onerous if we can begin to understand what our own real needs are.
The only woman I have actually had truly exclusive sex with was my first wife who was, like me, a virgin, and who remained, like me (and so far as I know) faithful until the day she left me for a younger woman. My second long term partner and my second wife, two different ladies, had both had partners before me and I partners before them.
So my long term partner and my present wife had been married previously and in the first case had known lovers previously. Whether years before myself or months before myself they had experienced sex with other men. Am I supposed to let that concern me? Is it supposed to concern my wife that I had sex with others before I met her? And if so, what is the time scale? Is it okay if I or she had sex with someone else three years ago? Three months ago? Three weeks ago?
In fact it makes no difference to me if someone else made love to my partner three days, three hours or - for discretion's sake let us say - thirty minutes ago. In fact, so long as she continues to love me, continues to be happy in sharing our experiences and memories, our mutual knowledge and the rest, I don't care if she has another lover three or thirty minutes after me. It is just not that important. Love is.
In my ideal scenario, then, both members of a couple are free to enjoy the miracle of sensuality and the human body in whatever way feels right and reasonable for them. In that same scenario clothes would lose a great deal of their importance and the key advance would not be in multiple fucking, group sex or any other variation, but in intimacy, in touching, caressing, hugging, in listening to and caring for a wider circle than the couple itself.
A great many women have told me that it is that intimacy, especially the acceptance of themselves as they are, in kindness, gentleness, touching, caressing, hugging and holding, being listened to and so forth which leads them into the arms of men. It is usually the men, they tell me, who somehow assume that all of that must lead to penetrative sex and they, the women, to some extent merely go along with that.
As someone who enjoys nothing more than feeling a woman relaxed against him, listening to a female voice or knowing the absolute joy of bringing a woman to a climax with his tongue or even with his written words (yes, it has happened) I deeply regret the limitations that society imposes.
Living as we do, in separate little boxes, committed to lives which leave little time for anything but work and commuting, it is little wonder to me that so many relationships are in trouble and so many people so very unhappy. Compelled to live much the same life for most of the time, there seems to be little I can do about it.
For more on and by R V Raiment, please visit the author's website, www.vraimenterotique.com.