27608 registered members; and growing!
by Doreen Bell-Dotan http://www.boloji.com
It happens in the best of marriages. One day, after countless small disappointments you look at your partner and realize that this person whom you’ve loved for years or even decades just isn’t capable of satisfying some of your deepest needs.
The first reaction is denial. No, perhaps I’m just having an off day, feeling a bit overly critical today. But the thought returns on another day and then another. The second reaction is shock. Our marriage isn’t a good one?! But we were so in love, so close. How can this be? What happened to us? The third reaction is rage at your partner. You deceived me! You’re not who you made yourself out to be! I want a divorce! I don’t love you anymore. I want OUT!
But you don’t want out. You still do love this person very much. You’ve built so much together. You’ve raised children together, established a home, perhaps a business. You two share so many memories. The bond between you survived so many difficulties. How can it be broken now? Yet the gnawing feeling of being deprived and dissatisfied won’t relent.
The fourth reaction, which can occur only if you allow the rage and depression to pass and if you trust your partner implicitly, is to sit and talk honestly with this person who, for so many years, has been your best friend. The two of you reminisce, the shared memories are still precious to both of you. You honestly can’t imagine life without this person, the friend and lover of your youth.
But now you are no longer young and you have different needs than when you first met this person and fell in love. You’ve both grown. The basic values you both shared when you were in your twenties are still be there if this is a healthy liaison, but now in your thirties or forties or more there are other aspects of your character that have come to the fore and they need to be addressed.
Paradoxically, the very fact that your marriage has been successful is what caused you to grow and change, to mature. There is no point in lying to ourselves. We have grown apart in some very meaningful ways. There are parts of me you cannot know, cannot satisfy, cannot share. There are parts of you too, you are now honest enough to tell me, that I cannot touch and never have. But we still love one another very, very much. What are we to do? I want you to be happy and I know you want me to be happy too.
We look deeply into ourselves and come to a startling conclusion. I am capable of loving someone else, too, even while I still love you. These loves need not contradict. They may even compliment one another. I can imagine the other person/s that I love being a dear friend of yours. Moreover, I can imagine you loving someone else in addition to your love for me. I am at peace with that thought. It rouses no jealousy in me. The thought actually brings me peace.
What a thought! Polygamy! Blasphemy! Have I gone mad? No, I’ve gone brutally honest. I’m an adult now. The childish need to be cherished exclusively, as I wanted so much from my parents has worn away. I need to be loved as a mature adult now. The love I need now is far more complex than the love of my youth. It is far less selfish too. I can share you now. I no longer need to be your one and only dear one.
All well and good. But this person is not my partner. This person is my spouse, to whom I am wedded in accordance with the sacred vows of my People and my religion which I took upon myself the day I wed. Herein lies the problem. We are indeed married. Were not just friends, not just lovers. We are man and wife.
Jewish law unequivocally forbids polyandry. Polygamy, was ruled out by out Rabbis one-thousand years ago, except in rare instances. Yet we learn that up until the time of King David individuals who were not betrothed or married were allowed to engage in sexual relationships with one another. This practice was done away with thereafter because of the risk of widespread licentiousness.
There is however, a “loophole” in Jewish Law which would allow for the satisfaction of the need of the mature human to be loved by someone in addition to their life partner – simply not marrying. There is no Jewish law which compels a person to marry. The commandment of “be fruitful and multiply” is directed toward the male alone and this commandment means to bring one male child and one female child into the world, not with the wife of another man. In other words, ancient Jewish Law recognized the real needs of real people and a way of living within the strict confines of the Law, while giving the soul and the body that which they yearn for, is provided.
There is a threat of licentiousness creeping into a society if sexual-emotional ties were allowed to be established and dissolved at whim. Polyamory is not promiscuity. It is exactly as the prefix and the suffix says: much /many erotic loves (loves, not adventures, not extra-marital flings). The reader will not find this prefix and suffix together as one compound word in a dictionary, as Western society refuses to admit to the possibility of such an institution. (My word processor puts a red line under this word as well.).
This is not child’s play. It is not intended for the young, who, by virtue of their youth tend toward irresponsibility and to demand the immediate gratification of their childish wants. It is intended for responsible adults who wish to establish relationships of love and understanding with more than one partner. It is not the youthful desire for numerous experiences, but the honest recognition of the fact that no one human being, no matter how wonderful and suited to our character, can be expected to fulfill all of our physical, emotional and psychic needs for years, even for decades. Likewise, I too recognize my fallibility and limitations. I cannot give anyone everything they need. To make such a demand on any given person, including oneself, is to set both partners up for disappointment and to instill in one another a feeling of abysmal failure. How many beautiful friendships were dashed against the rocks of the myth of exclusive love! Love is not exclusive, by its very nature it cannot be possessive.
The author has searched the Internet for websites concerning Polyamory. The findings were quite disappointing. Much of the Polyamory that appears on the Internet is associated with weird cults, paganism, even Satanism!!! It is as though, in the mind of Western man, monogamy is the earthly parallel of monotheism. A woman is to have one husband (in Hebrew this word is the same as "master"), who in turn has one God. A general atmosphere of confusion surrounds the issue of Polyamory. As it is portrayed on the Internet it seems far from holiness, indeed. Actually, none of this is very surprising. It is taught in the Kabbalah - the mystic teaching of Judaism - that the holier an expression of God is, the stronger the vessel must be to contain it. The results of not being able to contain holiness are what is called “breaking of the vessels”: insanity, blasphemy and premature death. Indeed, there lurk many dangers in irresponsible Polyamory.
There is yet another issue to be considered which has made Polyamory unthinkable to the Western mind: it is the idea of Eve being given to Adam and them becoming one flesh. Herein lies a very interesting point: People in a state of restricted consciousness imagine themselves to have only one body which is limited to one place at one time , and in which their one personality is trapped. Most people do not allow themselves to love so much that no one body or personality could possibly contain so much love. When we do reach a state of expanded intelligence and emotional expansion, we realize that we are not jailed within cells. We begin to be able to imagine that just as our soul is now projecting itself into the physical world in one form, it could project itself into physical reality in many forms. Each of these forms would need to express love and be loved. We see that to become one flesh is a much larger concept than we could have dreamed of when we were limiting ourselves by limiting our ability to love. Hints of this truth exist in people who are in a state of restricted consciousness.
Women typically think that they are not beautiful enough. Many women would like to have the face of so and so, the body of someone else and the hair of yet someone else. Men too wish to be stronger, taller, more athletic. They fantasize what it would be like to be a composite of a number of other men. Similarly, the mythologies of the Peoples of the earth are replete with fantastic characters that can transmogrify. These are primitive expressions of the real ability which lies dormant in every human being to project themselves into the physical world as need be in order to express and receive the soul's needs. In a higher state of human existence, Polyamory would be not only natural, but necessary.
It is essential that a social structure which can support the existence of Polyamory in purity be established. Such a society would be one distinguished by the sharing of all of human needs – physical, intellectual, cultural and spiritual. Those living such a lifestyle must be free of jealousy. The genuine desire for the happiness and fulfillment of their beloved ones needs to fill their hearts. They must understand that they cannot fulfill all of the needs of even those they love the very most and not make this demand of another. They must be able to free themselves of all feelings of possessiveness of their children. A community in which all of the members take part in the rearing of the children as ours needs to be established.
Perhaps the most obdurate reason that women are forced to accept a life of being the wife of one man is that traditionally men did not want to work to support the children of other men. The words of the prayer Jews say after eating bread expresses male possessiveness very clearly: “May The Compassionate One bless the master of this house, the master of this repast, him, his sons and his wife and everything that is his.” It is the author’s prayer that The Compassionate One bless this “master” with the gift of surrender. Relationships are to be established on the basis of on-going genuine love and respect. In order for Polyamory to be pure, it must exist within the context of a society in which the ideal of sharing and community responsibility for fulfillment of the real and valid needs of real human beings is the societal norm in all spheres of life.
The author is in no way promoting a free-for-all. It needs to be a society in which both the women and men alike have transcended the base egoism of proprietary feelings in all spheres, even concerning the children of the community. Spiritually evolved human beings understand that others are capable of giving our children what we cannot. (Actually, every parent who sends his/her child to school thereby admits to this.) This is in accordance with the recognition that another beloved can give to my beloved that which I cannot give. When humanity acquires the emotional and spiritual ability to live with this generosity of spirit, we will be relieved of the stifling aspects of partnership in adult human relationships as we suffer them today. We will be unburdened of much of the suffering of the parent-child relationship that we experience today as well. Truly, as the African proverb has it, it does indeed take an entire village to raise one child.
(The author has a friend whose grandfather immigrated to Israel from Yemen. His grandfather had two wives, as was common among Yemenite Jews. The practice was outlawed in the modern State of Israel and the structure of many Yemenite families was undermined because of this insensitive law. The author’s friend related that he never knew which one of his grandfather’s wives is his biological grandmother, he was never told, he never asked and he frankly couldn’t care less. He was raised with so much love that he feels that he belongs to his grandfather and to both of his wives).
The fact that there is no compound word “Polyamory” in Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary means that in the English speaking world, and in the cultures overtaken by the Western way of thinking, the issue is out of the bounds of discussion. This writer is convinced, however, that the issue needs be considered, and considered very seriously.
There are too many couples who live with one another dreadfully unhappily because they have very real physical, emotional and intellectual needs that their partners cannot satisfy. Having no outlet for these needs, which cause them great distress going unfulfilled, they cannot appreciate that which their partner does give them. It seems far more humane to allow for a responsible and mature expression and satisfaction of our needs as human beings on all levels of our being than to suppress them and to cause internal rage, conflict and depression in the name of “civilization”. It is not a betrayal of one’s beloved to admit to oneself to him/her that we can love someone else too. It is an unburdening them of an impossible task.