But go back two hundred years and ask the people of that culture, and this choice is a no-brainer.
Fetish clubs (or the closest 19th century equivalent) are weird, vile, sinful things, and Adam’s desire to go to one is totally beyond the pale. But since he did, we can strongly and clearly tell him that this is morally wrong, that he should apologize to Steve for the trouble he put him in, that he should realize there’s more to life than kinky sex, and that he should want what’s best for Steve even if that means he can’t satisfy his libido quite so much.
Steve gave the following countercounterargument: okay, this is all very sad, but now we are stuck in this position, and clearly only one of the two people could get their preference satisfied, and given the whole marriage-implies-monogamy thing, it seemed pretty clear that that person should be him.
So then of course they both turned to me for advice.
The rules for psychotherapy are a lot like the rules for Aaron Burr: talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.
This last principle is generally known as “therapeutic neutrality”, and it demands that we not take sides in our patients’ disputes or dilemmas.
He argued that if Adam didn’t like monogamy, maybe he shouldn’t have proposed entering into a form of life that has been pretty much defined by its insistence on monogamy for the past several thousand years and then sworn adherence to that form of life in front of everyone they knew.