October - November 2001

Magical Marriage

Marriage is a magical invocation, but we misuse it and misunderstand it. Its magic is both alchemical and political, and not inherently based on love. We can and do create political institutions by getting married, including the new tax entity known as the joint return, the shared income and dwelling, various signatory and legal powers, and invoking things like immigration laws which allow the bestowing, by an ordinary citizen, of another person with American residency and eventual citizenship, precious in all the world, for $25 in 10 minutes.

This is awesome power, power which can help us and create stability. We usually waste it on fairy tales. We also get caught in a little problem of the magical invocation: that it creates a structure of bondage which most people ultimately find to be extremely confining and not functional in a world which requires us to be tremendously flexible because so much changes so fast. Many people also find it extremely appealing to use marriage or monogamy as a means of conveniently taking ownership or control of another person, or their assets.

Some do use marriage wisely. When there is love, I am told that it is a truly beautiful state of existence, though I have never experienced this within legal marriage because I have not exercised that particular option. I believe that those who use their power of marriage or monogamy honestly and well are usually very realistic people and not wrapped up in Cinderella. Often, they have learned the hard way, in loveless marriages, where the hope was that marriage itself would save them.

To my knowledge, my parents never loved one another when I was growing up. This is true for many people I know, and I do speak to many people about these matters. Monogamy is often modeled after marriage. In some cases, these practices are followed by sincere people who just want to give a relationship the best chance to work in the long run, so they choose monogamy. This seems genuine and reasonable. We might say that people many do want this, but this is clearly not the majority, and the key is that often it takes many, many attempts to get right -- not just once. So you could say that learning monogamy is a skill that requires many people.

Is it not cruel, then, to perpetuate the myth of perfect marriage? Do we dare say to a little girl, "Maybe you will be happy in your fifth marriage?" Do they not know we are full of shit, that we lie to them about life to protect our own fantasies?

To what exactly are we clinging in this denial trip?

Mainly, we are caught in starry myths which are largely sales pitches designed to lure women into situations that deliver none of what is promised in the long run, but merely enslave them. We all know this, that's the not-so-funny part. Men fall for it too, but most men have the common sense to know they are not really monogamous. Our cocks do stick out, after all, where we can SEE them, even if we've cut off feelings to the lower halves off our bodies. But we keep hoping, hoping that the romantic spell of the white dress and glass slippers and the magic cake will take hold.

If we were to practice some form of monogamy, we would need a different basis for the relationship than we currently have.

But in our culture, we rarely practice monogamy.

There is no such thing as "serial monogamy." It is in fact serial polyamory. Serial polyamorists seem to pull moral rank over parallel polyamorists because they want the magical invocation of "monogamy" to work like kissing the frog, and because, I think, many fear something on a primal level, Biblical or something, if they are identified as sinful heathen polygamists. They fear the culture's reprisal and gossip and judgment, which is based in religious dogma. But they do the same thing, just arranged differently, cloaked conveniently in black and white, and using a formula where the love of one must be sacrificed for the love of another. This has its roots in an inner dynamic known as denial. We all know the lonely horny young bride wants to fuck the hot Fedex guy. But to deal with this feeling, there is convenient denial. How dare she admit it! It would break the magic spell of "monogamy." Hey, she might even fuck him, which is often considered quite fine if she doesn't say anything to break the spell.

Let's be poetic. Let's say we are at the funeral of a man who has lived a full life. At the funeral is a book of photos of women, and on the cover is written, "The Women He Loved." We could have such a book for most men, and most women, too. Why would it matter whether he had loved them one at a time, or several at once (more likely the case, no matter what you call him), or even many at once? What if they all were at the funeral, united by grief? Why could not they be united by love, when he was alive?

In terms of morals, it would only matter whether he had been honest, and here is the distinction. And this is not just about men; most women love many men, too. The actual issue is owning this, and going on loving. (Please consider this, though. At the funeral of a man who loved many women, can you envision them grieving honestly together more easily than the many men who shared love with one woman?)

We are raised to live in relationships that lack emotional honesty.

Honesty translates to whether we have the ability to tell anyone the truth about how we feel about anyone else, and, in reality, ourselves. This translates to whether we can build relationships in which honesty is acceptable conduct, which are based on a sense of wholeness. Most people, lacking this sense of wholeness, do not build relationships in which honesty is possible. And most people can't bear to hear the truth that anyone might love anyone else at all, a throwback to something infantile, (as John Lennon explained) of our parents not needing us the way that we needed them, so their love for us just doesn't feel like love in the way that ours does, and we seek people loving and needing us in the way that our parents never did. I think what we need is to work for is wholeness. Most of what is practiced as monogamy is done under the (most righteous possible) banner of wholeness. And sometimes it works. But there are many ways to that goal, and it's a lot better if we have a working plan for wholeness prior to being involved in our relationships.

If we had this wholeness, or even valued it, monogamy, serial polyamory and parallel polyamory would all work a lot better.

Any form of relationship can help teach us wholeness as long as that's the objective (as opposed to safety, control, money, the family [usually = money] the car, the house, etc.). But who likes to admit they are staying in a loveless marriage because they like their CAR? To admit this would be to admit that the myth is dead, or rather, that they are dead.

And we have no cultural myths that lead us to believe that anything else is possible.

Polyamory, done with integrity, can be a very amazing way to raise a family because it creates community, stability and a structure that supports the demands, financial and emotional, of having a child, unlike "monogamy" in the modern world, which leaves lots of people single moms with exceedingly little support. Poly is not synonymous with promiscuousness, a confusion which leads many people to think it's bad for little kids. There is usually far more promiscuousness among those who identify as monogamous than among those who identify as poly. But who wants to be a hypocrite?

From what I have witnessed and experienced, poly gathers people around children and is far healthier than, for example, my former lover (see Abandonment) dumping me because she was in love with a prior partner while she still loved me, which she could have expressed with me still in her life, and in doing so created an appropriate mode of expression for her feelings for both of us, thus having not trashed our relationship and my relationship to her son and moreover his to me). She did this, I believe, because within her framework, it was only possible to admit to loving one person at a time. So what do you do when you love more than one but this is not acceptable? Denial! As a means of allegedly fixing cognitive dissonance. But this fixes nothing. No magic spell fixes this.

Parallel polyamory is merely a choice not to make relationships disposable, and therefore to honor them in the long run, in their many changing forms. It does not (in theory and often in practice) view partners in such a way that throwing people away or emotional deception is acceptable behavior.

It is in my experience a choice, granted, a brave one, but wholeness always takes bravery: to be whole in any moment of one's life about how one feels, and to deal with the reaction of the universe second: this takes guts, and awareness, and getting over a lot of conditioning.

Yet even in a healthy monogamous marriage, if one is just a regular family guy and loves one's secretary (as opposed to just fucks her), one TELLS one's wife and is accepted by her as a whole man for his love of his fellows, and his honesty. But in most marriages, someone would have to never admit to his feelings of gratitude, appreciation, love and devotion to a woman he is with 8 hours a day who makes his whole professional life, income, sanity, stature in the world, etc., possible, and who he just adores, besides. And this secretary who lovingly supports his marriage! Who helps him figure out a good birthday gift for his wife! If most men admitted to their wife, "I truly love Mary" (the secretary) most wives would, I imagine, say, "Well then why don't you be with her?" or "... be with the bitch" or " with the fukkin bitch?"

"Well, she is married too, but we have a really great and appropriate relationship."

"Well then I don't want to hear about it."

Very nice.

In my version of the fairy tale, true monogamous partners understand that people love one another, and that life is a web. We seemed to understand this in the days of the extended family, the mode of community organization which included monogamous marriage and many people loving many other people as family in close proximity. There were adults around to take care of children, to provide support in the event of unemployment, to confide in and to love. Now we are isolated, and love is a crime. Now we have solved the whole problem of community by being terrified to say hello to one another.

There is a whole worldview possible that is different than our culture's dominant ideas, which are (demonstrably) suicidal. The different worldview is that love adds to love, not subtracts from love. I would say that if you're dealing with some kind of force that subtracts, somewhere in the equation there is something other than love. My view is that we need to create new structures that reflect reality and work in the face of what we actually need, feel and experience in this life, now.

Why can't we be successfully monogamous, usually?

Our parenting sucked, we have no model for monogamy that works so we can't learn it, our sex drives are artificially stimulated and confused by the drug known as marketing culture, we want everything and everyone, our culture possesses no semblance of internal reason, people are taught to be at war with themselves, to lie, to lie to themselves, to judge and hate rather than love, and ultimately to want what is not true but looks good in the face of all the insanity we face, including death. Especially death. We have no sane spiritual framework with which to deal with death. We need to look at this one because it is responsible for a lot of chaos, really, all of our chaos.

We might well ask why marriage and funeral rites fall under the same house and sign (8th and Scorpio). Marriage, on its most fundamental level, is the choice of someone to die with. It is the statement, "I could feel good dying in this person's arms," this most sacred act of surrender.

I have met many such people. And it is a very beautiful thought, which we can and do practice ritually in erotic exploration when we orgasm into our partner's consciousness.

But then, consider that the romantic guy who wrecks his motorcycle just might end up actually dying with me there, with my hands on him, and not with his true love, as happened one evening in Manhattan.

Good morning!