Monogamy

Monogamy is a form of (couple) relationship in which a person has only one and the same partner during their lifetime. There is also so-called serial monogamy, whereby several partnerships are entered into during one's life, but each is monogamous in itself. It means that one is faithful to the respective partner and has no other relationships while in this partnership. Since divorce and remarriage are easy to carry out in the laws of the modern Western world, this has led to an increase in serial monogamy. Serial monogamy can therefore be described as the social norm in the Western world today. However, this is a relatively new development because in some countries (e.g., Malta or Ireland) divorce was not possible until a few years ago. For centuries, it was mainly Roman marriage law with its ideal of monogamy that shaped Europe's cultural history. In Germany, both the marriage law of the Catholic Church and the Civil Code still prescribe monogamy by law. Polygamy and bigamy are still punishable. Comparable laws exist today in many countries of the world. However, this was not always the case. There are certainly theories that assume that monogamy among humans is a socially acquired form of life that was not yet known in prehistoric times.

Evolutionary researchers, behavioural scientists and sociologists have been trying to answer the question of the origin of monogamy in humans for centuries. One of the main arguments is the complicated rearing of human offspring. There is no animal that spends a comparable amount of time and effort raising its young. One reason for this is the large brain of humans, whose growth requires a great deal of nutrients. On the other hand, the extraordinary formation of the human brain was probably only possible due to the monogamous behaviour of our ancestors. A firm pair bond between father and mother guarantees the permanent care of the children for years. It is now clear that monogamy in animals and humans is controlled by genes and is therefore not a purely cultural or social construct. In biology, the term monogamy is applied to the mating behaviour of some animals and describes a mating system. Monogamy is very rare in mammals. In fact, more than 95 per cent of mammals are non-monogamous. In birds, on the other hand, this form of relationship is widespread. That is why biologists think that monogamy was invented independently several times during evolution.

In contrast to monogamy are various forms of non-monogamy, for example promiscuity and polygamy (polygamy). Promiscuity means that both the males and the females of a species do not have permanent partners. There are also two forms of polygamy. In polygyny, for example, only the male partner is polygamous, while the female partner is monogamous, i.e., lives with only one partner. This is the case, for example, with polygyny in Islam, where a man can have several wives, while the wives are not allowed to have other husbands. This harem formation can also be observed in the animal kingdom, for example in lions. In polyandry, it is the other way around. This means that a female is mated to by several males. It is important to note that even in human societies where polygyny is allowed, monogamy still prevails.

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