Having read this book two times I still find it daunting to write a review about it. During both occasions I was excited and totally engaged in my reading. Twice, I recorded segments of aphorisms I found to be exacting and poignant to my study. But I failed miserably in the arrangement of my thoughts regarding this fascinating book on monogamy. And not because there are disagreeable positions being furthered by the author Adam Phillips. His enlightened statements simply produce for me additional questions. What occurs to me however in each subsequent reading is a substantial confirmation of my own long-held beliefs centered on the most-significant relationship of my entire life.
I have known Beverly Lane now for over forty-five years, and have been married to her for thirty-three of them. Upon first meeting her at the foot of the pier at the age of seventeen I was smitten forever, and consequently any other romantic relationship I attempted to nurture in the twelve years following our initial introduction proved impossible. My most ardent attempts at denial proved futile. Any forced suppression of love for Beverly while being married to another worked for a time, but never could my denial sustain itself enough for me to ever remain happy. Even after the divorce from my first wife I still discovered myself unsatisfied in every new relationship, always harboring this haunting belief that I really did belong with this one person never made available to me. And the fact that Beverly, at this period of my life, was married and had two children, suggested nothing would ever change regarding my nagging misery. But how we found each other again still astounds me as I had virtually given up all hope of ever being with her. But life happens, and so did we.
Consequently, our life together the last thirty-three years, and counting, has been anything but routine. But it has been art. And rather than expound here on all the many difficulties we, as a couple, have had to overcome and endure in making our lives an art, perhaps it is best to highlight the passages in this book that confirm and acknowledge our methods for success. The rest of our story can be discovered in my published poetry and fiction, as well as a photographic history I have religiously presented in our blogs.
The words of Adam Phillips lifted from Monogamy
:Monogamy is just one of the wonders of nature. Nothing in nature is more natural than anything else.
We may believe in sharing as a virtue—we may teach it to our children—but we don’t seem to believe in sharing what we value most, our sexual partners. But if you really loved someone, wouldn’t you want to give them the best thing you’ve got, your partner? It would be a relief not to be puzzled by this.
A couple is a conspiracy in search of a crime. Sex is often the closest they can get.
To describe a couple is to write an autobiography.
At its best monogamy may be the wish to find someone to die with; at its worse it is a cure for the terrors of aliveness.
Why are we more impressed by the experience of falling in love than by the experience of falling out of love? After all, both are painful, both are utterly baffling, both are opportunities.
Perhaps we value monogamy because it lets us have it both ways. It includes falling out of love as part of the ritual—encourages it, even.
The best hideout—the cosiest one—is the one in which you can forget what you are hiding from; or that you are hiding at all. The secret the couple have to keep—mostly from each other—is what they are hiding from and that they are hiding. The belief they have to sustain is that their fears are the same.
We have couples because it is impossible to hide alone.
We only really value a relationship when it survives our best attempts to destroy it. As every sado-masochist knows, nothing is more seductive than resilience. It is the only aphrodisiac that continues to work the more you take it. So the only way we can test our infidelity is through monogamy. A lot of confusion is created by our belief that it is the other way around.
Two’s company, but three’s a couple.
The opposite of monogamy is not just promiscuity, but the absence or the impossibility of relationship itself.
The fact that jealousy sustains desire—or at least kindles it—suggests how precarious desire is. Not only do we need to find a partner, we also need to find a rival. And not only do we have to tell them apart, we also have to keep them apart. We need our rivals to tell us who our partners are. We need our partners to help us find rivals.
The questions for the couple are: do they want to use each other to sustain their desire, or to finish with it?
…Strangeness is exciting but it threatens to derange us; routine is comforting but it threatens to put us to sleep…
Monogamy and infidelity: the difference between making a promise and being promising.