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sarahjane90's avatar

What is polygamy really like?

Asked by sarahjane90 (1805points) March 5th, 2011

So I have been watching ‘Big Love’ today. I am finding it to be both fascinating, endearing, but also horrifying on many levels. I have never really pondered this topic before, but I have now gotten interested in it. It is not something I have ever witnessed or encountered.

Albeit it is probably a very private matter for anyone who does take part in that lifestyle, I understand not many will want to discuss it here if anyone is actually practicing it.

What have your experiences been with polygamy? Have you simply seen it from afar or are you actually practicing it, or have you practiced it in the past? What are the day-to-day rituals actually like, and what makes people become involved to begin with?

I would appreciate some thoughtful and insightful answers!

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14 Answers

SamIAm's avatar

I can’t help you with this but I can recommend a really interesting documentary. It’s called “I love you and you and you” and it focuses on polyamorous relationships, not polygamy but so fascinating. You should be able to find it online for free. Let me know what you think!

sarahjane90's avatar

I can’t find it anywhere! Any ideas?

JessK's avatar

National Geographic Magazine did an article on polygamy in the FLDS (not LDS; ‘Mormons’ aren’t polygamists) church. However, it still is biased as it was written from an outsider’s point of view, which would probably differ from someone who was actually practicing polygamy. I personally also find it gross; it gives me the shivers to read about. Just my opinion!

elhaha1001's avatar

I live in a Muslim country (Indonesia) so I know what polygamy feels like.

Well it’s actually ok if the man wants to have more than one wives, BUT the man has to be able to support all the wives he marry.

You can’t just marry another woman and leave the other one behind. That is very not responsible.

And he you can keep the family in harmony, that would be ok. You wouldn’t want a family with many wives living with jealousy having cat fights everyday.

And another thing about polygamy is that it would bring some effects to the children. Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X from Yogyakarta said that he even though he has the right to do polygamy, he does not want to. The reason is, he had experienced having so many mothers, and for him It does not feel good. That’s why he doesn’t want to marry another woman. He does not want his children to feel the same way as he did when he was a child.

Try to read this article and translate it to english with google translate.

elhaha1001's avatar

And the same way applies to poliandry!

snowberry's avatar

I am descended from polygamists on both sides of the family. In addition, I work with a family that comes from a polygamist culture, (Saudi Arabia) and I have read Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia.

My Arabian friends tell me they are not polygamists because “It makes the women (meaning the wives) cry.” They have to compete for affection of the husband, and that’s not a very fun way to live for the rest of the family.

As for my own observations, I have noticed some common denominators in all polygamist cultures. Because of the fact that there are multiple wives and therefore many children, the kids don’t and can’t have a good relationship with their dad because there are so many of them, and discipline is often non-existent. Therefore, many of them (especially in the USA) don’t have a decent male role model. In addition, perhaps because of all the general dysfunction, rape, incest, and abuse of many kinds abound in polygamist cultures. Maybe you won’t find that in every family, but it is common.

In the USA, polygamists are often caught with food stamp and welfare fraud, etc., and the ones on the Arizona/Utah border had a habit of abandoning the teen boys because there was no room for them with all the young girls being married off to older men.

It’s a pretty chauvinistic culture by our standards, with the women being kept in traditional roles (some are not allowed to work outside the home), and many don’t finish high school if they marry young.

However I have also known of polygamists with many wives who had quite a system figured out. One wife did all the cooking, another handled the laundry, another ran a business outside the home, and another kept track of the children. This was from a documentary or newspaper article (I don’t remember which). They did say that money was extremely tight.

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SamIAm's avatar

@truebloodties: I can’t speak on behalf of that show or episode but sister wives aren’t always (or ever) actual blood sisters. That’s just what they call themselves.

FYI, all, the actual show Sister Wives is really interesting also.

JmacOroni's avatar

@SamIAm in that particular episode, they were actually sisters.

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rooeytoo's avatar

I knew a woman (morman) who was wife #4 of a wealthy man. She said it was great. He kept her and the 4 children in their own house (each family had their own house). He would spend a night or 2 a week with her. The rest of the time she had to herself. She could cook or eat out, she basically led her own life but was supported by the husband.

It seemed a strange way to live to me but she didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t personally know any of the other wives.

sonataking05's avatar

I have one wife and have all I can do to keep up with her wants and need. I think polygamy is like having to make the same decision multyple times and then still being wrong with said decision.

crazykookycat's avatar

Being a non-polysamist/polyandrist I think I can safely say that I would imagine it is just like every other marriage in the sense that no marriage is alike regardless of how many people are involved. Marriage is complicated and unique in every instance. I am not against it as long as there is no coercion involved.

I wouldn’t really hazard more of a guess in how it is any different, since monogamous marriages are all different from each other. The only thing I would guess is that it requires much more thought and planning than a marriage only involving 2 people, not unlike a marriage involving children requires the same versus a childless marriage.

If you are really interested in a view of real polygamy you can check out TLC’s show “Sister Wives”. Just keep in mind it’s a singular experience.

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