I’m fascinated by your use of the phrase “the darker erotics of monogamy.” It’s a good description of the book, where you delve into the inner terrain of a marriage. Were you afraid of exposing so much?
I was excited to share this terrain. I think so many of our insecurities and feelings of alienation come from the assumption that we’re the only person who is experiencing something.By sharing the details of our experiences we can connect with others who might be going through the same thing. Most people try monogamy—it’s the dominant model for romantic relationships—and yet we don’t talk about the fact that it’s a process. We talk about infidelity because it’s visceral and immediate. It’s good narrative. It has mystery and betrayal and lust right on the surface. It’s harder to write about a marriage that doesn’t break apart, but instead expands and contracts and shifts. I think it’s necessary to write about this in order to create a map of possibilities.
The way Phillips peels back the layers of monogamy helped it seem much more interesting to me than it had when it was just a social construct, a tradition, something I was expected to follow without questioning. I think having questioned it, and having tried something else, allowed me to see its virtues rather than just its flaws. “At its best monogamy may be the wish to find someone to die with,” Phillips says. “At worst it is a cure for the terrors of aliveness. They are easily confused.”
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