It is just assumed that monogamy is rare, if not impossible, among lively people, and the question never comes up." Whether my friend's observation is true or not (for I have many European friends who do seem to care deeply about their mate's fidelity), it certainly does seem that Europeans see marriage differently than Americans do.Marriage is for stability, friendship, children; love is for the adrenaline highs and lows of sexual madness, the romance of being appreciated by anew person, the joys of flirting, pursuing, and clandestine coupling.It did not begin as a sexual union but it has outdistanced my most passionate love affairs.It takes as a given that the friendship that endures between lovers is more vital than the sexual love that flares between friends.I have had one such relationship in my life, for nearly two decades.It has outlasted two of my three marriages and many of my friendship.
We Americans hope that one will grow into the other.
What we have together cannot be threatened because it is something we have found with no one else.
We have spent whole nights awake in bed with our legs and arms wrapped around each other, talking about everything in this or any other universe.
He is a gondolier who wants to be a famous artist; she is a famous artist who wants to be (or love) a gondolier. And so we come to the question with which we opened: "Are you faithful, darling?
" Perhaps the answer should be "yes—I am always faithful to our marriage." Then comes the inevitable dilemma of whether one can be faithful to a marriage and bed others.
I, for one, have never been able to manage this—but perhaps the inability is a character defect on my part.