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The Myth(?) of Monogamy

Rachel Alexander March 10, 2021

{4 minutes to read} The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is well-established wisdom. We all struggle — (the pandemic made us glaringly aware) — without the support of one another and the friendliness of the multifaceted communities to which we belong.

At what point after childhood do we humans no longer require a village? When does the child become the man? When do we start to require only one person — a spouse — to rely on instead of a village? Is that even plausible, healthy, or wise?

When does our logic change? Children need a village; adults need a ghost town with only one another rattling around in it? I would argue that this social construct, while the norm, is not based on any sound psychology.

We have so long been organized into units of one bride and one groom, indoctrinated into a cultural belief that one right person will make us complete, whole, safe, loved, fulfilled — and when that fails, collapses under the enormity of the expectations, the marriage erodes and often ends.

What if we reset the whole dilly wagon? What if we instead introduced the notion that having a partnership is a wonderful aspect of a supported, rich life but only one element to be included with other, no less important, elements. Elements such as close friendships, a webbing of community/ies of like-minded, different-minded, diverse, similar people striving in the same direction, supporting comparable causes, moving the needle of our world record a bit further forward, together.

What about other relationships with people of the opposite sex? What is the actual danger we are averting by limiting whole sexes from the equation? Is there a way to honor what we have and include more?

And what about divorce? When the modern “village” consists of two adults and a couple of minors, how does anyone get the organizing support they need? Perhaps by re-envisioning what comprises a village, and who?

Beyond the nuclear — without the explosion

When parents divorce, they often have complicated feelings about each other’s future romantic partners or new spouses — who will these unknown people be in the lives of our children? Parents are often reassured by this: when it comes to love and people to love, all children are best served by having more people to love and more people loving them. Damage to children from an abundance of love from many sources is, well, zero. We can add without taking anything away.

Parents: no one will ever be you. To your children, there will never ever be anyone like you, their parents, in terms of influencing who they are, how they see the world, how they feel about themselves and others. The responsibility, the absolute importance of the parent to the child is so vast it takes away one’s breath. Having some scaffolding, by way of supporting characters, including ex-spouses’ new partners is well wanted. If it takes a village, new partners and spouses might be seen as welcome villagers. The more caring, capable inhabitants, the more robust the village and secure its inhabitants. Everyone is well served by more resources.

Children and adults need more, and always have room for more, love.