Chris Hallquist said: “Some relationships make the switch from monogamy to non-monogamy and are the better for it….”
I replied: “According to what standard?”
Chris replied: “???”
Yes folks, he gave me a triple IS (incredulity score). That is serious.
“Both people are happier about their marriage? Seriously, what kind of question is this? I doubt there are many other cases where, when you hear about what other people say has made their marriage better, your first question would be ‘according to what standard?'”
Okay, for starters let me counter Chris’ triple IS with a condescending sigh:
Now we’re even. He’s incredulous. I’m condescending. Tit for tat.
Let’s get beyond the triple IS and focus on the content. Chris takes it as obvious that the standard for judging whether an action is good for a marriage is whether it makes people happier.
So a young couple adopt a dog named Fido. One boring Thursday evening they decide to bring Fido into their sexual relationship in a way that doesn’t harm the dog. They find that doing so adds a new degree of excitement and that all important happiness to their marriage. Is this marriage better for the bestiality? According to Chris’s criterion it is.
Another couple are happy. But then they decide that they will tell the truth to one another. And so they begin to have honest conversations with one another. Over the next year their relationship becomes rooted at a much deeper level although, truth be known, they are not as happy with one another as they were before. Is their marriage worse off for having dared to venture out of the emotional shallow end of the pool and into the ocean depths of really knowing another person? According to Chris’s criterion it is.
While this is an outrageously fallacious criterion, that obviously does not mean that happiness is completely irrelevant to our judgment about the quality of a marriage. It is simply to say that we subordinate happiness to all sorts of other goods.
Now let’s return to Chris’ last statement: “I doubt there are many other cases where, when you hear about what other people say has made their marriage better, your first question would be ‘according to what standard?'”
That all depends. If someone tells me Gordon Gekko or Kim Jung Il or Ted Bundy lived a good life I will definitely ask by what standard? The reason is obvious: the attribution of a good life to a person who ruthlessly rips off people on Wall Street, or a person who despotically leads a country, or a person who rapes and murders women, is incompatible with my standards for what constitutes a good life.
And a marriage that is not sexually exclusive likewise begs the question: by what standard are we judging a good marriage? Because it sure isn’t mine.
And we see that it is a criterion that roots a good marriage in happiness. In which case bestiality is better for a marriage than truth telling if it makes you happier.