Why adul­tery could aid a mar­riage in which cou­ples are look­ing for a lover, a friend and some­one who in­spires

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - SARAH KNAP­TON

Liv­ing separately or al­low­ing your part­ner to sleep with other people could be the key to a suc­cess­ful mar­riage, psy­chol­o­gists at one U.S. univer­sity have claimed.

They ar­gue that “out­sourc­ing” ar­eas of mar­riage to other people could save re­la­tion­ships in the long term.

This is be­cause people are ex­pect­ing more from a part­ner than ever be­fore.

Cou­ples are not only look­ing for a lover and a friend, but some­one who also in­spires them cre­atively and can help them achieve their long-term ca­reer and per­sonal goals.

Lead study au­thor Eli Finkel, of the depart­ment of psy­chol­ogy at North­west­ern Univer­sity in Illi­nois, ad­vises em­bark­ing upon an agreed “non-monog­a­mous” re­la­tion­ship if cou­ples no longer feel sex­u­ally at­tracted to each other. Liv­ing apart could also re­vive some of the mys­tique of courtship and re­lieve monotony, he claims.

“It may be that your spouse is a ter­rific source of so­cial sup­port and in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion but you haven’t had sex more than twice a year for the last five years and nei­ther of you thinks that’s ad­e­quate,” he said. “So you could say, that’s one of the needs I am go­ing to ful­fil else­where. I don’t rec­om­mend cheat­ing, but an openly con­sen­sual, non-monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship, that may very well be func­tional.”

In a paper en­ti­tled Suf­fo­ca­tion of Mar­riage, Prof. Finkel ar­gues that prob­lems have arisen be­cause mar­riage is no longer about meet­ing ba­sic sur­vival needs.

“In 1800 you didn’t have to have a pro­found in­sight into your part­ner’s core essence to tend the chick­ens prop­erly or build a sound phys­i­cal struc­ture out of the snow,” he said. “In con­trast, in 2014 you are re­ally hop­ing your part­ner can help you on your voy­age of self dis­cov­ery and per­sonal growth.

“We are look­ing less and less to our mar­riage to ful­fil our ba­sic psy­cho­log­i­cal needs but more and more to our mar­riage to ful­fil these higher needs like self­ex­pres­sion and self-ac­tu­al­iza­tion. So what you are see­ing is a split­ting in mar­i­tal qual­ity such that the best mar­riages are spec­tac­u­larly good but the aver­age mar­riage is get­ting worse over time.”

Prof. Finkel pre­sented his re­search at the an­nual con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Sci­ence in Chicago.

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