Helen Croydon is advocating an end to monogamy. In an article published in the New Republic, It’s Time to Ditch Monogamy, she claims that monogamy, even for couples with children, is an outdated concept with no value.
Croydon’s reasons for believing that monogamy is not just outdated, but foolish, generally add up to a desire to live a life of perpetual excitement and self-centeredness. She describes relationships in an “it’s-all-about-me” fashion. For instance, she prefers to live alone so she can drink out of the carton when she opens the refrigerator. She doesn’t want to share tea with someone who slurps in a way that isn’t pleasing to her. She prefers not to help a spouse find a lost shirt. In other words, she is willing to forego the most fulfilling aspects of life in order to enjoy meaningless little pleasures that do nothing, in the long run, to make life matter. She seems unwilling to sacrifice even a little for another person. Croydon believes that no person can fulfill all our physical, emotional, and entertainment needs, and so we should have an assortment of men to meet those needs, dumping them when the excitement of a new romance wears off. Apparently, the idea of fulfilling some of her own emotional and entertainment needs has not occurred to her. A spouse doesn’t need to fulfill every need—just some of the most critical ones. We are actually expected to be grown-ups who can entertain ourselves and find fulfillment outside of relationships, as well as inside them. A service project we’re passionate about, a hobby, a life filled with quality friends…there are many ways to find people to do things with and to be emotionally satisfied. I find it a bit baffling that someone who says she is a feminist believes all her needs must be met through men. That’s not a common feminist belief.
She claims to have been in love, but whatever she might call love is not love. Real love, the kind that makes marriage last forever, is not about our needs exclusively. It means to care so much about another person that we are willing, and even happy, to put that person first. It means finding joy in someone else’s joy and putting the little things into perspective. What is Croydon going to do with the five minutes spent not helping a loved one find a shirt that will matter to the totality of her life? Will she really reap something lasting and meaningful with those five saved minutes? Is it so hard to give five minutes to someone you claim to care about?
What Croydon thinks she wants is infatuation…and infatuation is meaningless in the eternal scheme of things. It might be fun, but it really adds nothing to life. It doesn’t help us to grow, to become more than we thought we could become, or to move outside of our own selfish needs. In the end, when the boyfriends are gone and we’re older and alone, or when life is challenging, we’re left with the emptiness and loneliness a shallow and selfish life inevitably leads to. When we live only for ourselves, we attract only those who also live for themselves, and those people are never there for you when life is hard.
A person willing to give up a few things for another person will learn she is getting far more than she gives up—even if she always tries to put another person first. If she’s chosen wisely, that person will also be putting her first, not until someone better comes along, but forever. She will find she has gained someone who knows her as well as she knows herself. My husband knows what kind of mood I’m in the moment I answer the telephone for his daily call as he leaves work, merely by listening to how I say hello. When I get news, he understands how I will react to it and what I need him to do. When I think I can’t do something hard, my husband will know whether or not I really can and he will know how to make me believe it, too. All of this comes from more than thirty years of marriage. A few months doesn’t give you that kind of in-depth understanding of another person. It requires years and even decades of being together and working hard to build something that can last forever.
The sad thing is that she is actually giving up the exact thing she wants—a world in which she is the center of the universe, someone who can get the things she wants. A few years ago, a famous evangelist stated cheerfully that it was perfectly okay to divorce a spouse if she developed Alzheimer’s. He saw no problem with merely throwing away his spouse when she became ill and could no longer work to satisfy his own needs. If someone who is supposed to promote the sanctity of marriage can feel that way, how long do you think a casual boyfriend will last when your life becomes hard? Are you prepared to cope with a diagnosis of cancer and the abandonment of all your many uncommitted boyfriends at the same time? Casual boyfriends will never make you the center of the universe when it really matters. Choosing your eternal spouse wisely ensures that you will always be loved and valued by your spouse—even when there is no choice but to make it all about you.
Which would you rather have, a man who is planning to abandon you when you became disabled, or this man? The man in the video below is in it not just until “death do you part” or “until something more fun comes along,” but forever:
This kind of man isn’t available to the woman who just wants a temporary relationship that is totally centered on whatever she thinks she wants at any given moment. This kind of man seeks out a woman as committed to him as he is to her—someone truly grown-up and unselfish. In our hardest days, this is the kind of man we want in our lives, but by the time we reach those days, it is too late to find one. His heart has been claimed.
Croydon mentions you can even choose to have children without the inconvenience of a man being involved. The problem is that raising children properly is an extraordinarily selfless process. The kind of woman Croydon strives to be isn’t the sort of person who can mother effectively. Parenting means doing all those things she doesn’t want to do and more—and you can’t dump the kids when the novelty wears off.
Remember, the quality of the people you bring into your life is dependent on the quality of person you are. You will get from a relationship what you put into it. A playdate will not bring the lasting peace and joy a true marriage will bring. The original excitement of a new relationship will wear off; that’s true. But what replaces it is something so much more magnificent and rewarding you won’t be able to imagine why you worked so hard to avoid it.
Someone asked me why her opinion mattered so much to me. What Croydon is promoting is a life of pure selfishness. A person who is selfish in her relationships will be selfish in everything…and we all have to live in the world she is trying to create. We will have to take care of the children abandoned by these self-centered people, carry out the service that needs doing, and find ourselves surrounded by people who care about nothing but pleasure. Croydon isn’t just advocating this for herself. She is advocating a selfish life for everyone. The few who turn their backs on such a short-sighted lifestyle are the ones who will have to try to put the world back together when she realizes what a mistake she
made—and we will be the ones praying she and the others come to that realization before it’s too late to fix it. As Noah learned in the Old Testament, sometimes the world just gets so self-centered, it’s impossible to fix it. And then what?
Here is one more reminder of why we want a committed relationship in our lives. Stephanie Nielson lost her outer beauty in a plane crash—but her marriage is still amazing. Their love was not based on the shallowness Croydon thinks she wants. Helen, I feel sorry for you. Put yourself on hold for a while and look around. Give up your disposable relationships. Find out what joy can be found by committing yourself to one person forever. You’ll never regret it. And start reading Stephanie’s blog to find out what you’re missing and how to get it.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.