“Scandals be damned. The goal of marriage, argues Dan Savage—devoted husband, proud father, sex columnist—should be stability, not monogamy,” Mark Oppenheimer in “Married With Infidelities”, The New York Times Magazine, July 3, 2011.
As a former wife, proud mother and devoted Grammy to three little ones, a lover and sex book author and blogger—I could not agree more. For 25 years, I’ve been interviewing men and women about their sex lives, reading their mail turned email, studying sexuality, devouring the science studies, watching all manner of sex acts being performed and talking to other sexperts, many of whom I admire greatly. (Dan Savage is first-rate.) I have reached the unremarkable conclusion that monogamy is not sustainable for most couples for the duration of a long marriage. The sexless marriage is often the result of one or both partners suppressing sexuality as a way of dealing with wayward thoughts and desires.
Oppenheimer’s article should be required reading in pre-marriage classes and marriage counseling. Almost everyone in a monogamous relationship has struggled (or will) with monogamy. Yet we persist in labeling the partner who has an affair a “cheater” –and pushing the concept of Hot Monogamy Forever in women’s magazines and self-help books and couples therapy as practiced by uptight therapists. Partners in a real Super Marriage deal openly with the monogamy question and don’t make their accommodations behind one another’s back.
Most sex surveys underestimate the prevalence of affairs. The internet and women traveling on business are probably the two biggest factors behind the (under-reported) explosion of extra-marital hook-ups. (See “Powerful women cheat like men.”) Often men and women don’t even consider the one-night stand or brief fling “cheating” or “an affair”—yet they are exposing themselves (and partners) to the risk of STD infection, even in the case of some infections, if they do use condoms. The newly discovered SuperBug raises the stakes.
M—real name, Michael, another disclosure!—and I have been talking about monogamy and its discontents. I’m posting our second Hot Talk this weekend. It opens with the question women ask me about him: “Why isn’t one woman enough for you?”
As regular readers may recall, Michael was a swinger with his ex-wife. Well-known in the Southern California swinging community as The Ass-master for his skill at anal intercourse—Read his anal primer—he is a self-described “unrepentant Manslut.” I give him a fair share of grief about his “ADD of the pussy”, but truthfully—Close your eyes, Michael and don’t read this part—I admire his sexual integrity. He is honest with women about his past, present and future (lack of) intentions and he gets regular STD tests. By contrast, I am feeling fairly contemptuous of the FakeName Facebookers, lying husbands trolling for sex and indiscriminately tweeting their penises, while feigning fidelity to wife and the marital counseling process.
As reported in Science News, researchers have identified in Japan a strain of gonorrhea resistant to antibiotics. Indications of the new SuperBug were found in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia and Australia last year. The Japanese study was presented yesterday at a conference of The International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research in Quebec City, Canada.
One of the most common STDs in the world, gonorrhea is prevalent in the U.S. too, with 700,000 new cases reported annually, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The number is deceiving because gonorrhea is asymptomatic in 5% of men and 50% of women; and many cases go unreported and untreated. Left untreated, however, it can cause serious health problems in men and women, including, among others, infertility in both genders, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic infections in women, greater risk of HIV transmission—and babies born with serious blood and joint diseases. Once easily treated by penicillin, gonorrhea is likely to become a public health hazard worldwide.
I’m sure it won’t be the last of the STD SuperBugs.
In “The Weiner Syndrome, part two” I suggested that married people wake up. I’m taking that a step further today by advocating annual STD screening for couples. The health risks of untreated STDs are just too great—especially for women—to live your life with blinders on. Single or married, whatever your sex style, get tested. Shockingly, even swingers don’t always do that.
“Many swingers TALK a lot about insisting on seeing a recent STD test result,
Michael says. “Not only have I never been asked to see my STD results by a swinger, but I’ve also seen forum threads where many people made the same observation.
“Until I started telling vanilla woman about my swinging history, I was never asked by a vanilla woman to see test results either.”
Word to my “vanilla” sisters: Studies show that the “promiscuous” actually have lower STD infection rates than those with fewer partners, presumably because they use condoms and practice safer sex while the man or woman with two or three partners does not. You should be asking every new partner for that test report.
As Michael points out, “cheating spouses in ‘monogamous’ marriages are much more common than swingers, so regular testing in those relationships is a good idea— not only to protect yourself and get treatment but to encourage sexual integrity. If the cheating spouse knows an STD panel results will be seen by their spouse in a few months, they might be motivated to practice safer sex.”
Note the word is “safer” not “safe.” Only masturbation is completely safe from STD risk. We’re willing to accept some degree of risk for the sake of a sex life not limited to self alone. But be smart. Minimize the risks; and get tested so that infections will be caught early when they are treatable.
If you are in a committed relationship, you risk your partner too. With the first STD SuperBug on the loose, you may be risking the health of yours, or someone’s, unborn children. Get creative about sexual expression.
copyright 2008-2011, www.sexyprime.typepad.com; PARTIAL reposts only permitted with link back to original article on SexyPrime