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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Practice independence within your marriage

Thomas Moore responds to a question about marital fidelity for Beliefnet. A female reader wonders what may be wrong with her since she married two men who may have become involved with other women after marriage.

Moore recommends,
"... get in touch with any feelings you have for freedom: not necessarily freedom to be with other men, but freedom to have some life experience that is not associated with your husband. You can live a monogamous lifestyle within your marriage, but practice freedom in another area of your life. Ask your husband to do the same – to imagine an area of his life outside of the marriage where he wants to feel a sense of dedication and "monogamy."

From this exercise, you will probably discover that the desire to be monogamous and the desire for freedom, from too tight a coupling, can exist in each member of a relationship. It can even be an aspect of the relationship itself. Then these two polar emotions influence each other, keeping the relationship from being too cramping and at the same time allowing livable limits. If you are moralistic about monogamy, feeling righteous in your purity and judgmental about your partner, then you risk sending him off into the extremes of "freedom," which to him means cheating."
He concludes,
"I think it's also important for you to listen to your thoughts and honestly ask yourself if there is anything you are doing to contribute to a stifling or jealousy-based feeling [in] the relationship.

The desire to have one faithful lover and the longing to experiment and explore are two natural emotions that any good person might feel. You don't have to push either to extremes. You can tweak each one, allowing a little room in the definition of commitment and allowing some limits on the need to explore. Keep each feeling subtle, interesting, flexible, complex, and forgiving."

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