Dream Therapy

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Polygamy seems to me like the result of an outdated notion that woman needs to be taken care of by a man, or that a woman is not worth as much as a man.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!  🙂

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Renn Oldsbuster
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 00:18:08

    Dawn,

    Thank-you for a very thoughtful and intelligent commentary. I am familiar to some extent with the Brown family, and I can assure you that they are the real deal. Sure, they have imperfections like the rest of us, but they live their religion as faithfully as any. I know hundreds of polygamous families, and they are NO DIFFERENT from other families, except that there are additional moms, and they work through a different set of challenges. I hope you can be relieved of the troublesome dreams. Just be aware that there are 38,000 of us, and we are law-abiding, tax-paying American citizens. We believe in plural marriage for theological, doctrinal and Biblical reasons. We are primarily Christian (though we also embrace the concept of modern revelation. We parted ways with the “Mother-” Mormon Church in the early 1900’s when the church acceded to Federal government pressures. Some of our peers married younger until recently, but none of the communities tolerates violations of marriage-age laws any longer. There are dozens of different Fundamentalist Mormon communities, and they are quite diverse. Some believers are in specific communities, while many are entirely separate and independent. BTW – women should ALWAYS be seen as equals. They typically outnumber the men in polygamous families, too.

    Thank you again for your humble and sensitive assessment. Thank you for understanding the awful civil rights challenge we now face. I think we just draw more media attention because so many people are unfamiliar with our lifestyle and are often just plain “creeped out” by it. (:-) Sweet dreams !!

    Renn

    Reply

    • Dawn
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 11:29:50

      Renn, thanks for your thoughts, and for your understanding of my purpose in sharing mine! You’re right, your lifestyle is unfamiliar to me, and that is the only cause of discomfort. I do hope that families like the Browns, who choose to “go public” with their lifestyle, will increase awareness and understanding and dispel prejudices and discomfort. Blessings to you! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Betty
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 02:16:11

    I wish you [conscious] dreamless sleep! I will be noodling this one a while.

    Reply

    • Dawn
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 15:29:00

      I had a peaceful and apparently dreamless night, finally! Noodle away, and I’m hoping that my noodling is finished! 🙂

      Reply

  3. Socrates
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 13:27:54

    Dawn,

    Your interesting and perceptive analysis of the “Sister Wives” lifestyle was refreshing indeed. Not many are capable of thinking outside the box of stereotypical bigotry when it comes to consenting adult choice—especially when it comes to polygamy (polygyny).

    You mentioned that you did a little biblical research on the subject and then stated, “I don’t see it as God’s plan for marriage…” Perhaps a little more bible reading during lent would lead you to reconsider that conclusion, at least in regard to a chosen few? Here are some references to get you started:

    Abraham is referred to as the “Father of the Faithful” (See James Chapter 2, verse 23—Romans Chapter 4, verse 16—Galatians Chapter 3, verses 8, 9, 16, & 29) and of course Jacob, a grandson of this honored polygamist, had four wives and was renamed “Israel” (meaning obedience) by God. The twelve sons of this polygamist are also honored by God having their names inscribed over the twelve gates of the Holy City of the Heavenly Jerusalem (See Revelations Chapter 21, verse 12).

    Dawn, your reticence to condemn these polygamists was very wise when you stated, “I don’t think there should be laws prohibiting polygamy.” That puts you in very good company indeed for Jesus himself said, “Many shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [polygamists], in the kingdom of God.” (See Luke, Chapter 13, verses 28 & 29).

    Before you get to those unread books referred to in a previous post, perhaps a few more biblical references could further enlighten your very perceptive mind. The following link is a truly interesting letter from a former sister wife to her sister in monogamy. It has additional references to enlighten you:

    http://jared.pratt-family.org/parley_family_histories/belinda_marden_defense.html

    Dawn, your final comments reveal great wisdom from such a young and beautiful mind, highlighted by your concluding thesis, “The priority is the family, because there is no other priority that would work, and that is a good result of polygamy.” Such wisdom settles the equality debate regarding the genders, focusing on service and sacrifice. The greatest teacher of all made us truly equal when he said:

    “…whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many…” (See St. Mark Chapter 10, verses 42—45).

    Dawn, something tells me that your dreams are only beginning…

    Reply

    • Dawn
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 15:28:00

      Socrates, I appreciate your perspective and knowledge on the subject. As I clearly demonstrated, I’m not well read on the doctrine of plural marriage. Thank you for your kind and respectful words. Blessings!

      Reply

  4. Renn Oldsbuster
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 01:07:07

    Thanks, Dawn. For a little more wit on the topic, try this – – –

    http://fallofreynolds.blogspot.com/2010/12/theyll-never-understand.html

    Looks like ‘socrates’ was equally impressed with your post . . . . . .

    Little did ya’ know, huh?

    Renn

    Reply

  5. Victoria J. Reynolds
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 18:45:48

    I came from a polygamist background and have a full and complete understanding of the religious beliefs that underly certain sects. I chose to leave that lifestyle as a teenager in the complete awareness that it was not the life I was meant to live. It is my conviction that people should be allowed to follow the path they feal in their soul they are meant to follow. When we follow our soul’s purpose it does not involve the pain and suffering of other individuals. The issue with polygamy isn’t polygamy itself, but how it is justified by certain individuals who undertake it and how it is lived behind closed doors.

    Reply

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