How to stay monogamous, in six easy steps

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “How to stay monogamous, in six easy steps” was written by Zoe Williams, for theguardian.com on Friday 6th December 2013 13.58 UTC

Sir Paul Coleridge, a leading high court judge, has warned that Britain faces “yawning public ignorance” about the damage divorce wreaks upon children. To combat this (divorce, not the ignorance, nor the yawning), he suggests relationship education, which, in Telegraphese, has become “monogamy lessons” – in the print edition, at least. I disagree with the premise, and think children, being a bit like small people, are best served by households in which the other people are fulfilled. To which end, the highest goal is self-actualisation, rather than brainwashing yourself to love some fancy of your youth whose manner of eating an apple turns your stomach.

But let’s say he’s right, and let’s imagine, furthermore, that “leading high court judge” isn’t just a code for “unimaginative man who is the eponymous patriarch of his own patriarchal worldview, incapable of understanding that it’s accident of birth, not wisdom, that put him there, since to understand that would be to lift the lid on his own dark psyche, the self-delusion in it and the sacrifices of fellowship he’s made, just to sit on that chair, judging people”. Let’s imagine that. What would monogamy lessons actually look like?

Module 1: No nudity in the home

I heard this on the radio once; I can’t, unfortunately, remember who said it, but it was definitely Radio 4 (Doctor Ruth? Jenni Murray? Probably not Sue MacGregor). The key to a long marriage was to not wander around naked in front of each other, but rather, be naked only in the dark and at set times. That way, you can kid yourself that your spouse has retained the body he or she had in their prime. I have found this to be unrealistic, as my husband refuses to dress or undress on the say-so of Doctor Ruth, or indeed, anybody on Radio 4. Instead, when I see him naked, I shield my eyes and shout: “My eyes, my eyes! Whither mystery?”

1a: No nudity outside the home

Module 2: No listening to Leonard Cohen

This kind of mindset – compromising and questing, complicated, full of unhelpful connections like “love” with “chains”, and bold statements about how, whether you have a lover or not, it’s all the same (it’s not the same) – this is not conducive to a successful career in monogamy, least of all when it is set to catchy music. Indeed, many popular musicians hold monogamy to be like golf, something to take up perhaps when you’re older, if you live that long and your personality changes. It’s better not to listen to popular music.

Classical music is fine, but can be rousing. If you go to a classical music concert, don’t go with anybody other than your spouse.

Module 3: Embrace change

You know when your children change; you don’t notice it incrementally, but then periodically, you look at them, and see that they have become a new, different person. And in that instant, you immediately love the new person with exactly the intensity and the obliterating totalness that you loved the old person

Yeah, you’ve got to learn to be more like that about your spouse.

Module 4: Don’t have children

Module 4a: But don’t not have children either

Module 5: Don’t read books that make you think things like …

“Huh, my wife thinks she’s got problems. She could have been married to Philip Roth!”

“I just brushed his hand near a photocopier. It’s not like I slept with everyone in the whole village and then took arsenic.”

Many books, all too often those of a literary nature, take a very relaxed approach to the human heart, accepting simply that it wants what it wants. This is not the glue that holds a marriage together.

Films take a dim view of adultery; indeed, in women, it scarcely ever happens. Watch those sorts of films.

Module 6: No threesomes

I had some ancient relatives who’d been married maybe six or seven decades; at the wife’s funeral, her widower was telling me how important God had been to the union. “A marriage needs three,” he said. “With two it simply drags.” My mum came into that conversation halfway through and nearly spat out her maraschino cherry.

That was irrelevant. You shouldn’t have threesomes for all the obvious reasons.

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About Carl William Brown

I'm Carl William Brown a holistic teacher, a webmaster, a trader, and a writer of aphorisms and essays. I have written more than 9,000 original quotations and at present I'm also working at my only novel, Fort Attack, which is also a wide and open blog project. At the moment I'm teaching English in a secondary school, but up to now I have done a lot of other things as well, both in business, educational, sport and social fields. Some years ago, in 1997 following the examples of the Rotary or the Lyons Clubs I founded the Daimon Club Organization to promote every sort of activities, creativity, art, literature, new technologies, informatics, business and marketing, public health and education and to meet new friends with these kind of interests.
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