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Redefine Marriage, Debase Language?
Get ready for the throuples.

Angi Becker Stevens writes about her polyamorous life with her husband (right) and boyfriend in Salon.

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Merriam-Webster is going to have to update the next edition of its dictionary, at least if marriage redefiners have their way. Do you know what the words “monogamish,” “throuple,” and “wedlease” mean? If not, you soon will. After all, the power to redefine words is the power to redefine reality.

Let’s start with “monogamish,” a play on “monogamous.” A 2011 New York Times profile of gay activist Dan Savage, headlined “Married, with Infidelities,” introduced Americans to “monogamish” relationships — in which partners would allow sexual infidelity provided there were honest admissions of it.

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The “monogamish” perspective is one of the purported ways in which redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships would make marriage better. The article explained: “Savage says a more flexible attitude within marriage may be just what the straight community needs.” After all, the story added, sexual exclusivity “gives people unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners.”

If a marriage can be sexually open, why should it be limited to two people in the first place? Meet the word “throuple,” which is similar to “couple” but with three people. The word popped up in a 2012 article in New York Magazine that described a specific “throuple” this way:

Their throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship.

More or less permanent. Indeed, some activists come down in favor of “less.” Consider “wedlease,” a term introduced in early August in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Why should marriage be permanent when so little else in life is? Why not have temporary marriage licenses, as with other contracts? “Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease?” the author writes. “Instead of wedlock, a ‘wedlease.’” He continues:

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, ten years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. . . . The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

Examples can be multiplied. In July, Washingtonian magazine ran a story about “polyamory” headlined “Married, But Not Exclusive.” The article tells us that “the word means ‘many loves’” and that, “as in most major cities, Washington’s polyamorous community is tight-knit.”

The liberal online journal Salon in early August posted a woman’s account of her shared life with a husband, boyfriend, and daughter, under the headline “My Two Husbands.” The subhead: “Everyone wants to know how my polyamorous family works. You’d be surprised how normal we really are.” The author writes: “As far back as I can remember, I felt that loving one person romantically did not preclude the possibility of loving another at the same time. It seemed natural and intuitive to me.”



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