Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Managing Marriages

Marriages must be in a state of emergency if it now takes "Managed Monogamy" to keep a couple together. The significant difference between this and its older avatar "Open Relationship" comes about through the connotations of the word "managed".

Whereas in an open relationship you presumably set each other free to pursue extracurricular activities, you ceased to have any control over what your partner did on their spare time. There is a greater sense of empowerment in managing. You get to determine the rules of engagement upfront and are required play by those rules. This is a more constrained type of open-ness. The old ball and chain tugs you ever so slightly if you stray too far away.

The underlying premise seems to be that marriage is a form of entrapment desirable for the social acceptance that it affords among other things. However, the natural instinct of both the parties is to break loose and turn fully polygamous. That being assumed inevitable the best way to keep chaos from taking over order is to "manage".

With office spouses in vogue and convergence technologies blurring lines between personal and professional space, it may not be long before management of marriages involves NPV, TCO, ROI, earned value metrics and the like. It may then be reasonable to treat a troubled marriage like a badly managed project. A case of mismanaged monogamy perhaps.

That there may some merit to curbing that temporal urge to stray in the interest of long term good and emotional well being seems out of scope of the managed monogamy discussion. When primal instinct overrides both common sense and ancient wisdom there is not much hope left for an institution that is already challenged by the demands placed on it by our times.

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