Statistics prove that many couples aren’t choosing marriage today and that divorce rates are climbing due to adultery and low sex drive which is taking hold of even strong marriages. Can we stop soaring divorce rates and its emotional fallout on children by changing our concept of marriage?
To find some answers, I interviewed renegade researcher, Christopher Ryan Ph.D, author of Sex At Dawn–The Prehistoric Origins Of Modern Sexuality.
Why can’t most couples honor their marriage vow of fidelity for a lifetime?
Because monogamy isn’t natural and never has been. That’s why celebrities like Tiger Woods and Jesse James cheat on their wives with multiple sex partners. That’s why the rest of us struggle with long-term fidelity.
We’ve got millions of years of human evolution urging us toward sexual variety. Expecting us to be forever faithful in marriage is denying our prehistoric urge for promiscuity.
Isn’t human choice to be faithful a stronger force than human nature’s primal urge to cheat?
It depends on the person and their stage of life. Women more easily adapt to a society’s sexual programming than do men.
Is that why so many middle-age men risk everything for an affair with a younger woman?
It’s not so much that the woman is younger; it’s that she’s new. We have a primal urge for sexual novelty that is difficult to deny.
Someone can follow the fidelity rules for 20 years until one night at a conference in Cleveland something goes wrong. Then the marriage is over. We are extremely judgmental and inflexible over infidelity.
Are you saying that if we want marriage to survive, we need to be more forgiving and understanding of our prehistoric wiring for sexual variety?
Too many marriages are being thrown away over this silliness, due to a lack of understanding of our biology and nature.
Men are so hungry for novel sexual experience because their testosterone levels drop as they age. Men experience testosterone as life itself. So when an affair raises a man’s testosterone levels, he feels young again. Colors are richer, food tastes good again and everything feels new again.
Isn’t this less of a primal urge and more of a hormonal imbalance that makes men ripe for affairs?
It is both. Interestingly, as men’s testosterone levels fall, women’s testosterone levels increase as they age. This makes some women sexually aggressive. And this can turn off men who are used to a less assertive woman. They may move on to find one.
So the changes we experience in aging are changing our concept of marriage?
That’s true. It’s not uncommon nor frowned upon to see men and women marrying several times in their lifetime. Gradually, the concept of life-long fidelity with one mate is being replaced with the concept of sequential monogamy with several different mates. Unfortunately, the children of these marriages suffer the most from the confusion and emotional fallout of multiple divorces.
In Part Two of our series on reinventing marriage, find out how some couples are exploring an honorable alternative to affairs and dishonesty that often lead to divorce.
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