While watching hell on wheels the other night, I realised why monogamy used to be so important – it is because it used to be a matter of life and death.
Cullen has a baby boy with Naomi and while the baby is suckling she relies on him completely for everything. She can’t feed herself or her child because she doesn’t work. Instead she pulls her weight by caring for the child, washing his clothes keeping him functional so he can work hard yakka.
If Cullen were to shag some other chick and get her similarly up the duff this is a big problem for Naomi. Suddenly, her source of sustenance is depleted and worst case he leaves her to fend for herself in the muddy town. Not an attractive proposition when you live in basically a tent. And other women have come to a sad ending under similar circumstances alone.
Hell on wheels season 4 is set in 1867 when life was bloody tough. Death was an often and the loss of a child was commonplace. Monogamy was a women’s way of surviving.
It looks to me like Darwinism could have bred into women a slight mania for monogamy. The ones that were chilled and open-minded likely had offspring that died from lack of a tending fella – statistically more frequently – so the genes were not as proliferated. Maybe.
Nowadays we do not need monogamy for survival but culturally it persists.
In addition to culture, I also think love plays a role in the monogamy system. Love likely evolved to keep a coupling pair together for long enough for a child to rear to 5 or 6. After that it becomes redundant to an extent.
But try loving someone and being non-monogamous, it’s almost impossible. It’s like two poles of a magnet – one saying reproduce and couple together, and the other repelling by saying sow your oats. I would be surprised to find functional non-monogamy in an early stage loved-up relationship. (Surprised but not astonished).
A problem is most couples fail to identify which stage of a relationship they are in. It just seems plain unrealistic to expect the first 5 or 6 years to be the same as the next and so on. I suppose there is social cultural pressure to continue to be wholly “in love” and perhaps some sadness in the changed attitudes.
Expecting monogamy after the first 5 or 6 years comes with a prison of oneself. Sacrifices that people make and ultimately two outcomes: personal suppression to the point of death of a part of oneself; or end of the relationship for apparent Infidelity.
If we identified the second phase (and possibly others) after the initial love (for the purpose of child-rearing) as different, we might all be more functional. The next phase may be more loving but open. The kind of love where you allow someone else to grow and develop alongside you. There should be good education on trust, respect and freedom in relationships.
Easy to say and hard to do. And what do I know.