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The key to monogamy

Many claim to have the secret to lasting passion -- but who has it right?


Tracy Clark-Flory
July 14, 2013 2:00AM (UTC)

A funny thing happened this week: A reader emailed me with a dare of sorts. "From your columns, I understand you're in a serious relationship with a man," it read. "Mazel Tov, it should be all you hope for." Then things got interesting: "I was wondering if you guys would experiment with something me and my wife do." Oh boy. I readied myself for the revelation of a kink I'd never even heard of before. Instead, he explained that as Orthodox Jews they observe Family Purity Laws, which, among other things, prohibit intercourse and physical intimacy -- even sharing a bed -- with a menstruating woman. While they do it for religious reasons, he believes that it's also caused the passion in his marriage to last longer. "I was wondering if this process would work for secular hetero couples as well," he wrote. "My theory is that there is a finite amount of passion in a sexual relationship; if you use it all at the beginning, there's not much left after the bloom has gone off the rose." He ended rather sweetly with a "P.S." to assure me he wasn't trying to save me or anything -- which is wise, that ship sailed long ago -- he just wanted to see if he could "do a little bit to help relationships last."

For a moment, I considered taking him up on the challenge. Then that moment quickly passed.

I was left feeling struck by just how many theories there are out there about the secret to monogamy, and coming from all directions  -- religious leaders, relationship experts, individual family lore. The advice ranges from abstaining from physical intimacy during menstruation to breaking out your copy of "Fifty Shades." That's not to mention superficial advice on keeping a partner interested -- from vaginal rejuvenation to Rogaine. Is there any worthwhile wisdom to be gleaned from all these theories on erotic fidelity? We can fly to the moon, for crying out loud, but what do we know, or think we know, about making long-term monogamous passion last? I decided to investigate and came up with five of the most compelling bits of advice currently floating...

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