Benefits and Pitfalls: Serial Monogamy vs. Forever After
Before I begin, let’s look at what these mean. By Serial monogamy I mean being in a committed relationship with obvious sexual exclusiveness. Serial monogamy lacks the “rootedness” of marriage. It is more characteristic of adults who may have already been married, but not necessarily, already had children if they had wanted to, already did the home in the suburbs thing. You get the picture. This is not the same as serial dating. There is a level of depth and commitment but without marriage. Instead of “til death do us part,” it is, “We are both going to stay in this relationship so long as we are both happy and fulfilled.”
By forever after, what I mean is the sexual exclusiveness, with probably at least some of the following: a house together, children together, maybe joint bank accounts, portfolios… It is a relationship with more “stuff” that also has the potential of getting more complicated.
So, what are the benefits and pitfalls of each of these? Your answer most surely depends on exactly what you are seeking in a relationship. In the first case, some would answer that there is much more freedom. If it doesn’t work out, you pretty much pack your bag and go. OK, realistically, it isn’t quite that easy, but it is much easier than having to sell the house and go through the court ordeal. Others would say that Forever After gives you a much greater sense of security. I ask, is that really true? It seems marriage does nothing in terms of security for people who are getting a divorce.
Still, when I consider these two options, perhaps what stands out the most is the degree to which couples who choose either of them are willing to work on the relationship if it starts to go South. Do couples who are serial monogamists have the same level of commitment and dedication as those who are married? Do they want it? Do they need it? Do couples who are married actually try to work out their issues either or are we becoming more and more of a throw-away society?
I guess I never considered myself to be in the recycling business, but I am! I’m not sure there is a perfect answer here. Mostly there is a perfect answer for each couple, I hope.