Why Would Any Woman Want Polygamy?

From A Woman's Place: The Case For Polygamy
Mrs. Mary Ben David

There are many who would ask, I imagine, why a woman would choose polygamy? It might be a good deal for a man, many might suppose, but why would a woman choose to share her husband with another woman or women and choose to be a polygamous wife? Why settle for the imagined subjugation, exploitation and degradation? There are many myths and untruths about the polygamous lifestyle, and there are many different forms and practical applications of the theory. There is no "Rule Book for Polygamous Marriage" that lays down the structure and form of the practice. The only guide we have is the Bible, the Holy Word of God, which should guide and enlighten each Christian as we strive to be obedient to God's will for our lives.

It is, historically, a form of marriage which has been practiced all over the world, and which is much more prevalent than monogamy. It is also a form of marriage which has taken on a particularly bad connotation in Western European culture, especially in the United States. What is it about this lifestyle that raises such emotion and criticism? At a time when homosexual marriage is becoming more and more accepted, what is the problem with polygamy?

One of the problems is the untruths and misconceptions that form our popular cultural idea of what polygamy is. Speaking as a woman and a polygamous wife, I have not found that women are exploited or subjugated. Rather the opposite is true. Women achieve more freedom and expanded horizons than in monogamy. Why? There are two or more to share the housework, the cooking, the childcare, freeing each one to have more time to herself to pursue independent goals and objectives. Women are as free as they choose to speak their minds. If women are kept silent, that is the problem of the individuals involved, women as well as men, not the form of marriage. Exploitation and subjugation may occur in some situations, but that also occurs in monogamous marriages. The form of marriage is not the problem - the individuals involved in the marriage and their attitudes are the problem. A polygamous marriage based on Biblical truths and precepts, as all marriages should be, should meet the same standards as any monogamous marriage. Husbands should love their wives, and wives should be submissive to their husbands, based on Biblical principles.

To those who would argue that polygamy makes women dependent, I would say from experience that just the opposite is true. A woman married to a man with other wives is forced to have a very strong sense of who she is, what she's doing, and why she is doing it, and must maintain her own sense of identity. Her identity cannot be wrapped up in her husband's identity, the way many women in monogamous marriages become, simply because her husband isn't always there. And for an independent woman, that's one of the advantages. There is free time and energy to spend as one chooses. There is a built-in set of companions and friends for fellowship, for sharing work as well as play, and for help and caring. God brings people together in a family for reasons that are beneficial to each person-and so out of every relationship in the family we can learn and grow.

Polygamy is not for everyone. As long as every individual gets the time, energy, caring and compassion he or she requires, what is the problem with a man having more than one wife? As our society has encouraged women to make independent choices, and individuals to fulfill their own unique potential, if a woman chooses polygamy, does anyone have the right to tell her she cannot make that choice? Abuse and exploitation should not be tolerated, as they should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. Polygamy is not abuse. It is a lifestyle ordained by God for some people.

Examine the Bible. There is nowhere that polygamy is preached against. It was not only common in the Old Testament, it was a common practice in Jewish culture at the time of Christ. Monogamy was only brought to the Jewish world by Roman civilization. Yet if such a common practice was wrong, why did Christ not preach against it, as He did against all the other wrongs of His day? Polygamy is not for everyone. But for some it is God's calling and God's special blessing. It must be based on Biblical principles and lived in obedience to God's will, as any monogamous marriage must be. It certainly has its problems and pitfalls, as does any marriage particularly when it is not a lifestyle that we are trained in this culture to live. It is a lifestyle that provides much love, fellowship, support and growth in one's walk with the Lord. To those whom God has called, it is a special treasure.

Why Would Any Woman Want Polygamy?
By Jennifer Dawn

I am naive and immoral, because I want polygamy as my lifestyle. I'm not alone! Every week women either single, or married find their way into polygamy web sites because they're naive and immoral too... at least that's my aunts opinion!

What so many women don't understand is why so many of us are actually pleading with our husbands to get out there, date, and FIND ME A SISTER-WIFE! We have one friend in particular who has a big problem with our lifestyle because she feels it's unfair to me.

Let's look at just how unfair polygamy is for me. We haven't had nearly as much experience at this lifestyle as many polygamous families have, but this is what we've found out to be true in our own relationship so far. I get more alone time with my husband than I have since our children started being born four years ago. This is because our children adore my sister-wife. There's always a mom available when one of us wants to steal hubby for a while.

Right now we're facing some major complications and are toughing out a long distance relationship, but I've noticed when we're together the children are much more content.

It's great that my sister-wife is a wonderful cook! I don't have to make dinner every single night when she's here. How many women out there think that's unfair? Not to mention getting surprised by something she knows I've been wanting. We like to spoil each other with foot massages after a long plane flight, kitchen accessories, and just about anything else we know the other would like. Does this sound unfair?

If this relationship is unfair to anyone, it is most likely to the husband. Women who are connected as closely as twins are ready to defend each other over almost everything. We watch out for each other. If we see the other needs reassurance, or needs our husband to give a compliment, one of us can sense these things much better than our husband can, and we let him know. In many ways when we're together, our husband is much more in tune with our needs because we have two of us to let him know what they are.

Polygamy is definitely more of a challenge, than monogamy was for us. If you're not already secure in your current marriage don't try adding another wife! My husband and I have been married for almost nine years, and my sister-wife joined our family over three months ago. I know that if it hadn't been for my husbands and my stable relationship, we would have fallen apart in our polygamous marriage within the first two weeks. Family members have a hard time understanding why we would choose polygamy. My aunts reaction was only minor compared to other family members reactions. When there's an ex-husband involved it can make the whole situation even more interesting! So far though, we've had most family and friends take the attitude of, "I don't understand, but as long as you're happy!"

There are times when it's very hard to keep our polygamous marriage stable. The long distance doesn't help, and there are many other complications. I'm finding when things are good, we just know we've found the perfect life, and wouldn't want it any other way. When things are bad, we all feel as if we've taken each others hands, closed our eyes, and have jumped off a cliff together! As all the realities of our "alternative lifestyle" greet us, it can feel overwhelming.

In a polygamous relationship the love must go three ways. I'm not talking about bisexuality, because that isn't me at all. What makes it work is the same thing that makes any relationship work, love, and honest communication. If you don't love your sister-wife as a precious gift to the family, then what will most likely happen if the relationship doesn't fall apart, is that you won't be connected three ways. Your husband will be married to you, and he will be married to someone else. This can cause a lot of stress because of the husband being demanded in two different directions. Perhaps one wife will need him at the same time another one does. If the relationship revolves three ways, then you have the added support of your sister-wife, which can add even more strength and love in times when you need it most.

Polygamy: The Ultimate Feminist Lifestyle
By Elizabeth Joseph

I've often said that if polygamy didn't exist, the modern American career woman would have invented it. Because, despite its reputation, polygamy is the one lifestyle that offers an independent woman a real chance to "have it all".

One of my heroes is Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, a physician and a plural wife who in 1896 became the first woman legislator in any U.S. state or territory. Dr. Cannon once said, "You show me a woman who thinks about something besides cookstoves and washtubs and baby flannels, and I will show you nine times out of ten a successful mother". With all due respect, Gloria Steinem has nothing on Dr. Cannon.

As a journalist, I work many unpredictable hours in a fast-paced environment. The news determines my schedule. But am I calling home, asking my husband to please pick up the kids and pop something in the microwave and get them to bed on time just in case I'm really late? Because of my plural marriage arrangement, I don't have to worry. I know that when I have to work late my daughter will be at home surrounded by loving adults with whom she is comfortable and who know her schedule without my telling them. My eight-year-old has never seen the inside of a day-care center, and my husband has never eaten a TV dinner. And I know that when I get home from work, if I'm dog-tired and stressed-out, I can be alone and guilt-free. It's a rare day when all eight of my husband's wives are tired and stressed at the same time.

It's helpful to think of polygamy in terms of a free-market approach to marriage. Why shouldn't you or your daughters have the opportunity to marry the best man available, regardless of his marital status?

I married the best man I ever met. The fact that he already had five wives did not prevent me from doing that. For twenty-three years I have observed how Alex's marriage to Margaret, Bo, Joanna, Diana, Leslie, Dawn, and Delinda has enhanced his marriage to me. The guy has hundreds of years of marital experience; as a result, he is a very skilled husband.

It's no mystery to me why Alex loves his other wives. I'd worry about him if he didn't. I did worry in the case of Delinda, whom I hired as my secretary when I was practicing law in Salt Lake City. Alex was in and out of my office a lot over the course of several months, and he never said a word about her. Finally, late one night on our way home from work, I said, "Why haven't you said anything about Delinda?"

He said, "Why should I?"

I said, "She's smart, she's beautiful. What, have you gone stupid on me?"

They were married a few months later.

Polygamy is an empowering lifestyle for women. It provides me the environment and opportunity to maximize my female potential without all the tradeoffs and compromises that attend monogamy. The women in my family are friends. You don't share two decades of experience, and a man, without those friendships becoming very special.

I imagine that across America there are groups of young women preparing to launch careers. They sit around tables, talking about the ideal lifestyle to them in their aspirations for work, motherhood, and personal fulfillment. "A man might be nice," they might muse. "A man on our own terms," they might add. What they don't realize is that there is an alternative that would allow their dreams to come true. That alternative is polygamy, the ultimate feminist lifestyle.

From a speech given by Elizabeth Joseph at "Creating a Dialogue: Women Talking to Women", a conference organized by the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women. Joseph is an attorney, a journalist, and lives in Big Water, Utah.

May 1997

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