Last weekend I got myself sucked into watching a Sister Wives marathon. It is a show about a polygamous family with one husband and four wives and a houseful of kids. And for the past week, I’ve been having dreams that I was a fourth wife of a polygamous family. I’m not sure why these dreams are so disturbing to me, but I’m going to write everything I think about Sister Wives, and polygamy, and try to get it all out. Tonight, for the love of everything true and holy, I need to sleep, without waking up several times a night from disturbing dreams.
Polygamy seems to me like the result of an outdated notion that woman needs to be taken care of by a man, or that a woman is not worth as much as a man. Or perhaps the result of a notion that few men are able to commit, but most women are. Somewhere in humanity’s history, before women were independent to earn a living and obtain housing, maybe there was a community that had a great proportion of women to men, and they ended up in plural marriages so that everyone had resources and housing and whatnot. Who knows. Just my thoughts.
Upon a little further research, it appears that biblical polygamy was for the purpose of procreation and survival. A man would take another wife if the first wife was infertile, or if more children were needed. Also, a man would take a wife who had been widowed, so that she would be cared for. Mormon polygamy is a result of a revelation to the Mormon prophets that Mormon men should enter into plural marriage with several women.
First of all, I commend this family for deciding to “go public,” so to speak. They talk about the secrecy surrounding polygamy, and how that secrecy leads to more prejudices and assumptions of evil. They wanted to show the world a happy and functional polygamous family. A typical polygamous family. (Sort of like a typical airplane ride versus a crash. They don’t say on the news, “After departing from Denver at 1:27 p.m., 120 passengers reached Omaha safely and without incident this afternoon at 2:12. 117 complimentary beverages and 87 packages of peanuts were served en route.”)
Secondly, here is what I think about plural marriage. I don’t see it as God’s plan for marriage, which I believe is between one man and one woman. I would not choose to engage in plural marriage. However, and more importantly, I don’t think I have the right to judge. Furthermore, I don’t think there should be laws prohibiting polygamy. The husband is legally married to one woman, and that’s the only relationship the law needs to be concerned with. However many spiritual unions he chooses to have is his business. As far as how people take care of their kids, how they treat their spouses, there are already laws about that. Being polygamous or not being polygamous, no one is legally allowed to neglect or abuse their children. It’s a totally different issue.
The show Sister Wives made me think of a couple of things. First of all, as I watched this man court and marry his fourth wife, I couldn’t help but think that she is settling for less than she deserves. One fourth of a marriage. One fourth of his time and energy. And…this is why I think the dreams have been happening…it resound with how I used to look at relationships. “Better this crap than nothing at all.” I almost married the wrong guy over “better than nothing.” In hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t, of course. Better this life than that one, for sure. But there was something about watching this woman enter into a marriage that already had four people…something felt the same about that. She could hold out for someone who will commit to only her, but she chooses this instead.
However, these woman believe in what they are doing. They don’t think, “better than nothing.” They see polygamy as the most valuable kind of marriage. They asserted that being in this kind of a marriage makes everyone better, and I can see that. You are forced to work through jealousy issues and selfishness. You are forced, for the sake of the marriage, to be unselfish with your time and resources. You work together for everything. You have lots of people to compromise for and interact with. You would be constantly growing in selflessness, and you would have many opportunities to work through your specific flaws. The priority is the family, because there is no other priority that would work, and that is a good result of polygamy.
That is everything I think about this show and polygamy. Now, please God, maybe the dreams will end! 🙂