Monogamy isn't especially popular today as swipe-right culture and oversharing has increased, thanks to social media.
Through the vast majority of content society markets to us daily, falling in love and being committed to one person is an idea most of us can easily subscribe to but, to be honest, doesn't seem all that attainable. Tabloids and Top 40 hits constantly boast allegations of cheating scandals, and on almost every reality shows and scripted series, there are extramarital temptations being discussed, and unfortunately, celebrated.
So, is monogamy possible? Of course. But, according to The Urban Movie Channel's new series Craig Ross Jr.'s Monogamy, it damn sure isn't easy.
Husband and wife producing team Craig Ross Jr. and Caryn Ward Ross have created this new drama series to challenge how we view the practice. Each episode follows four married couples who resort to a spouse-swapping experiment as a last ditch effort to save their relationships. Starring Caryn Ward Ross, Jill Marie Jones, Vanessa Simmons, Chrystee Pharris, Blue Kimble, Brian White, Wesley Jonathan, and Darius McCrary, the show may bend your previous perspective on marriage, what you'll do to maintain love and discuss your views on commitment honestly. "I love [this show] because it's something that I'd never seen before in television and film," says Jones.
Jones plays Maggie, an emotionally guarded, type-A woman, who is married to Wesley's Carson, a Christian man who's kind but is hard pressed to loosen up. The couple experienced a horrible tragedy but struggle to share more than hollow pleasantries day to day. By the first episode's end, Maggie is paired with Sawyer (Kimble) and Carson is with Simmons' Caroline.
xoNecole got Jones and Jonathan on three-way to chat about their personal feelings on monogamy, how healthy relationships can best be achieved in a social media climate, and what they hope audiences learn about black love from the series.
As I watched the first three episodes, there are a lot of personal obstacles it seems every character is facing. The overarching theme is everyone's relationship is in need of dire help, but it's apparent that each person is having some individual struggle. Which character do you feel has the hardest personal obstacles to face?
Jill Marie Jones: I think everybody. The d-word is looming, and every character is at their wit's end because they're looking at the cliff and saying, "Am I jumping or am I not jumping?" For every single character, the stakes are very high.
If you found yourself in the same dire marital situation, would you try an experiment like this?
Wesley Jonathan: Absolutely not. You're playing with fire. You're tapping into the possibility of actually liking the experiment to the degree to where you end up crossing those lines with the person. I don't think that is the answer. It's a desperation move. To me, it's a major no-no, especially if the person is attractive. You [are] asking for problems.
Right, and out the gate in the show you can see the chemistry between the newly swapped coupled. So, what is your advice for couples having relationship struggles IRL?
WJ: Oh, that's easy. You have the one source of practical teaching and you don't have to be religious to look into it, and that's the Bible. It's practical teaching for marriage, for love, and for happiness period. You don't have to be religious, but if you have practical morals—you don't steal, you don't lie, you don't kill—you can look into the Bible, the source. There, is practical teaching on how to have a happy marriage. Everything else is secondary.
"You can look into the Bible, the source. There, is practical teaching on how to have a happy marriage. Everything else is secondary."
JMJ: First thing I would say is communication. Sometimes I feel like in relationships, even in my friendships, we don't communicate if something hurt us or if something didn't make us feel good.
I like that you mentioned your friendships because all of it is relationships with other people really.
JMJ: Yeah, for sure. After my last boyfriend, I took a sabbatical. It's amazing how much you hear when sex is not on the plate.
I agree. Sex can bring so much noise to where you don't communicate how you really feel.
JMJ: Right! Because if it's good, it's like, 'Girl, he's OK. He didn't really mean what he said. I didn't see what I saw.' It clouds your judgement. Your body is a temple; own it. Own you. It shouldn't be easily given to anyone.
That segues perfectly because with today's generation of dating individuals, there's so many distractions like dating apps, social media, and this general environment of oversharing and #relationshipgoals. So what's your advice for the younger, 20 somethings coming up. Some want traditional marriage but then there are the kids who just want to date and have fun. What do you say to them?
JMJ: I would say to just live your life in your 20s. Work toward your business acumen but in your relationship life, you should live. When you meet the one you're supposed to be with, when you're both mature enough to live life, then you're ready.
WJ: That's tough, real tough. If I could go back, I would definitely focus more energy into me, myself, and my career and getting myself together. But it's only natural for a young man and woman to like each other. So for me to say not to explore, that would be unrealistic. I would say though find some self-control, however you see fit.
JMJ: So you're agreeing with me!
WJ: Oh, well I definitely agree to a degree. When you say "live," to me you have to be more specific.
JMJ: I'm just saying in your 20's, don't try to make hard plans in your personal life but work on your business.
WJ: Yeah, what happens is that everything is so fast and so quick now, and because there's no self-control, there's no discipline. People are just jumping to do stuff and they find themselves all jacked up. Take a minute, take a step back, and truly evaluate the situation. Don't be so quick to throw your genitals up on that screen. Just find self-control.
You make a great point about self-control. Not a lot of people harp on the discipline aspect of relationships or growing up, which can curb things like cheating. Wesley, as a married man, do you feel monogamy in a marriage is natural? Is it necessary for a lasting, fulfilling relationship? Because the series challenges those ideas.
WJ: I feel monogamy is possible. It is natural? Yeah. But it's also natural to look at someone and say they're attractive. Here we go with self-control again. Some people would say it's not natural to be with one person because they're looking at everything else. Well, that's just because you have no self-control. Our imperfect impulses have us looking at others, and that's being greedy and not having any self-control and losing the value in what you have. Sometimes you have to come back to the person that you're with, work things out and rejuvenate, and have a conversation, even if it hurts. Those conversations help. But to say it's not natural to be monogamous is an excuse for everybody to be with everybody. It is natural to be with one person. That's God's arrangement. If you add more people to the marital bed, it gets real cloudy.
"Our imperfect impulses have us looking at others, and that's being greedy and not having any self-control and losing the value in what you have."
Jill, I want to ask you the same question but tailor it a bit differently. Black women, as you know, are always as far as headlines go, dealing with being cheated on and many women go into relationships with a fear or expectation of being cheated on. In relationships outside of marriage, do you feel monogamy is natural thing or something to be expected nowadays?
JMJ: Well, OK, yes I believe in monogamy. But I have two different couples that are together and they swing. And I have to say, both of those couples have great relationships. One couple's been together 18 years, the other maybe 11 or something like that. So I think in 2018, people carve out what monogamy means for them. It wouldn't work for me but it works for these two couples. So I understand, it's complicated.
"I think in 2018, people carve out what monogamy means for them."
WJ: But check this out though, is that still, in fact, monogamy? People start to take the true meaning of words and flip them. If y'all swinging, that's technically not monogamy. Y'all just understand it to be OK with each other. It doesn't make you unhappy.
So maybe it's not monogamy, but what Jill is saying is every couple should do whatever helps their relationship last, whether it's monogamy or not, right?
JMJ: Exactly. If it works for them, they're the only people that are in that, right? So if it works for them, that's cool.
WJ: Nah, that's polyamory [Laughs]. You missed the key phrase, it's the state or practice of being with one. It changes the game when you add another person. You can do that if you like, and you can say, 'Aye, it's just us three,' but they're not practicing monogamy because it's more than one person.
What do you hope the audience learns from this unique way of discussing Black love?
JMJ: It's a show that after each episode will provoke conversation. That to me is the brilliance of it all. People need to not just tell their loved ones the good-good stuff. Your partner needs to hear about what's not working. The things like, 'Wow, I wish you could be better at this.' Communication, I would hope, comes out of the show.
WJ: Yeah, she kinda took it. She's right. It brings up great conversation and controversy. As far as taking anything away, I just want people to feel. Whether it makes you angry, appalled, makes you cry, I just want you to feel something.
Lastly, your hope for [your characters] Maggie and Carson?
WJ: Man, I hope that we work it out!