Random equations in the mathematics of life

Sister-Wives

I kinda fell into watching this show by accident.  One of my [many] weird quirks is that I cannot fold laundry or iron without either talking to someone or watching TV.  No idea why.  Just one more oddity, I guess.

Anyhow, I’ve seen most of this season’s episodes, and found it fascinating.  I’d watched “Big Love” (courtesy of NetFlix), but that’s scripted, where this is a real-life family of polygamists.  Now, understand that in theory, I couldn’t care less who sleeps with whom, and how people construct their families, so long as everyone is working on the same page.  And it absolutely seems that this family is doing just that.  I truly wish them all the happiness in the world, and they certainly appear to have a lot of love in their lives.

But I have to admit to wishing I could talk to the wives, to ask the questions rattling around in my head.  I think I’d chicken out, though, because I sincerely have no wish to offend.  I’m just so curious as to how they feel about things sometimes.

The husband’s name is Kody, and his wives are, in order, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.  Meri admitted at one point to having some jealousy issues, despite her genuine enthusiasm for the lifestyle.  In fact, she was the one who felt the first connection with Robyn, and suggested that Kody consider forming a relationship and inviting her to join the family.  These women are truly like sisters, and I respect that bond.  They all know that if anything happens to them, their kids are taken care of, and that there is plenty of help to go around.  And in a way, I think I could easily get into a communal living type environment.  I have always loved and embraced the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I am so very lucky to have that in my kids’ lives.  They have two very involved parents, but my kids also know without a doubt that they have options for a “second opinion” when they feel they need, or even just want, one.  The Artist, at one point, when having difficulty with some relationship issues, talked to me, and then also sought the advice of the Musician.  The Ambassador, on another occasion, didn’t like my answer to a question, and went straight to the Trainer.  I fully support these interactions, and I know this family definitely has that kind of attitude as well.

But something did kind of induce an eyebrow raise from me…each wife has Kody in her bed on every fourth night.  Absolutely fair division, makes perfect sense and all that.  But it got me thinking.  While sex is part of most “normal” marriages, almost more important to me in the marriage bond for me would be the friendship.  This is your best friend.  And after a long day, part of the “reward” at the end is to crash out in your comfy bed with your spouse and just chill together and talk in the dark.  It could be a comforting massage, maybe brushing her hair, or just holding hands, laughing quietly at the absurdities of life.  But not in a communal marriage.  Think about that for a sec.  You pledge your body to one man forever.  But not only can he pledge his body to however many people he wants when you cannot, but you only get to enjoy the closeness with him one week out of the month.  He gets to have that snuggling, the warmth and security of a lover against him when he wakes up at 3am.  But you?  You spend 3 weeks out of the month in your bed alone.  Your sexual needs don’t count unless it’s on your calendar night.  Have a shitty day and want to cry in his arms for a while?  Not if it’s another wife’s turn.  She has been feeling the same loss lately, and she isn’t about to give up her turn to have him in her bed.

I’m not the jealous type, and if the Scientist took a lover, or even got into a relationship, it wouldn’t bother me.  The thing is, though, that if he is spending the night with her, I too, have the freedom on my side, to decide if I want to do the same.  I’m not saying I want to date someone or anything; holy hell, not even remotely.  I cannot handle the drama or the effort right now, and there is already way too much chaos in my life.  But the fact is that marriage is a partnership, and to borrow a stupid cliche, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  I just don’t see the fairness of the way that’s handled in polygamist marriage.

Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone.  I honestly do respect their choices and their decisions.  They are all intelligent adults, who entered this way of life with open eyes and a clear understanding what it entails.  Their religious beliefs are no more valid or invalid than any other dogma, and they have as much right to those beliefs and practices as anyone else.  It just got my mind swirling last night, and so I core dumped it here.

 

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Comments on: "Sister-Wives" (6)

  1. You hit the nail on the head as to what bothers me about most polygamist relationships–it’s nearly always the man who gets to have multiple partners. Many of the things you mentioned (the best friend things) is germane here, but to me, so is the simple issue of sex. I like it. Lots of it. And, I wouldn’t only want it every fourth night. And, what if I wanted to get it on with one of the other wives? Would that be OK, too? Somehow, I think it wouldn’t.

    You are right in that if they are happy with it, that’s all that matters. For me, personally, the inherent inequality of the situation would prevent me from ever considering a situation like one man, many women. And, since I have no kids and have no desire to have kids, I don’t even need the communal aspect of the situation.

    As you know, at my heart, I am selfish. I don’t do situations that don’t benefit me in some way. I look at this kind of relationship and say, “What would I get from it?” The answer: Not nearly enough.

    And, I would ask the women the questions that rattled through my mind. Not in a hostile way, but in an inquisitive way. That’s just how I roll.

    P.S. I can rarely do one thing at a time, either, so I understand your little quirk.

    • One of the wives said she always knew she wanted a multiple marriage; she never wanted just one man and her. She wanted the huge family etc. And like we both said, if it works for them, rock on. But I think that inequality would get my hackles up a bit too much.

  2. The Traveler said:

    Hi! Just found the blog, was going through some of the older stuff, and felt a need to comment… It seems to me that it would be an even better situation if at least the women involved in a communal marriage were bisexual and loved each other as well. Then, even when the husband is not in her bed, the woman who has had a bad day can feel consoled and secure with one of the other women. I’ve never been against polygamy, and I see the aversion to it as just another way to be afraid of the different views in this world. In fact, I believe the majority of religions endorse it. Which is why I don’t understand why in the world people are so freaked out by it.

    • Hi! I’m glad you found it. =)

      See, I’d be much more enthusiastic in that situation, too. I don’t have an issue with polygamy if everyone involved is truly happy. I’m in an open marriage, and we’re both happy with it, but like most things, it’s not for everyone!

      Not sure about the majority of religions, though – Christianity and Judaism are both against it, which are the two major ones around here. I’d be interested in seeing more cultures that practice it, though, just to learn more.

      • The Traveler said:

        Yeah, Christianity was one of the religions I was thinking of that made me not say “every” =). I thought there were cases of polygamy in the old testament, but I might be wrong. I haven’t read it since I was around 11 years old when I decided that Christianity didn’t make any sense to me.

        I know Islam endorses it, though only under the conditions that the husband can financially take care of all of his family and that it is kept to no more than four wives. And Hinduism has long been a polygamous religion. Buddhism has no marriage issues as it’s viewed merely as a secular affair. Granted, Buddhism is more a way of life than a religion for most of the followers…. (I could go on, but I believe I’ve covered the major religions. More would just be tedious.)

        The thing is that because of the pervasiveness of Western Modern Judeo – Christian Ethics, and the effect they have on international politics, more and more countries are changing polygamy laws to outlaw it now. Israel made polygamy illegal more for this reason than for a religious one.

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