Here’s what it is like: I’m married to and live with my best friend. We cook for one another, laugh hysterically together, and have tons of sex, the vast majority of which involves just we two. Occasionally, one or both of us might make out with or even go to bed with somebody else. When this happens, communication is clear, standard precautions are taken (you know, like the ones single people use), and a good time is generally had by all.
I have no doubt that we are committed to each other, because we’re building a life together. Could he fall in love with somebody else? Sure, but our non-monogamous status doesn’t have much of an effect on that fact. He could also decide to run away and join the circus. There are no guarantees in life.
I think the most bizarre thing about monogamy to me is how often sexual exclusivity serves as a proxy for a real commitment. “Yeah, we’re together, I guess, because I’m not doing it with anybody else.” And the illusion that a monogamous commitment somehow makes a relationship more secure seems upended by the disruptive, obsessive, guilt-ridden emotions a monogamous person feels when he or she is (inevitably) attracted to somebody other than his or her partner.
My tone tends to be somber and straightforward when I talk about this topic, mostly because I don’t want to sound like I’m sensationalizing it. (Even though it’s the fu-king best. Seriously.)
I’ve spoken to close friends who are sure monogamy is right for them, and I’m convinced they can pull it off, that they know what they’re doing. But most people I talk to fear non-monogamy because they’re afraid of their own insecurity, their own jealousy. And in truth there’s a pretty strong non-attachment practice built into it. In all the ways society tells me I’m supposed to own my husband, the fact is I simply do not. Does it always feel super easy? No. But it always feels true. I believe that being open and honest is the best way to challenge negative stereotypes of unconventional marriages like mine.
I met my husband when I was 22. If I felt at the time that I would have to spend the rest of my life having sex with him and only him, I wouldn’t have married him. I would’ve gone out into the world and gallivanted around until I felt like all the sex was out of my system, and I would’ve missed out on sharing my life with the best human being on planet Earth. But in our relationship, we don’t have to get anything out of our systems. Our sex drives are allowed to stick around, to accompany us throughout life, to remain a part of our individual personalities as well as our relationship as a couple. So in that way, I guess we are on fire. But please, don’t assume that we need to be doused."
Erin Judge (via liveyourbelief)
How should your relationships look. However the fuck you want them to.
The most succinct yet personal explanation I’ve heard.
Below is Jordan Anderson’s letter in full, as it appears on lettersofnote.com. To take a look at what appears to be a scan of the original letter, which appeared in an August 22, 1865 edition of the New York Daily Tribune, click here.As Letters Of Note points out, the newspaper account makes clear that the letter was dictated.
Michael Johnson, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore says he has discovered evidence that the people involved in this correspondence are real, and that the letter is probably authentic.
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,