Polygamy: What’s Mine Is Yours

I stumbled upon Sister Wives on Netflix this week. What a shock to the system.

TLC reality show “Sister Wives”

The show, Sister Wives, takes you “behind the scenes” in a polygamist family in Utah. I’ve never seen this lifestyle up close, so this was intriguing to me. (and since they’re filming their 3rd season, I must not be the only one)

After watching several episodes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can understand why someone would chose this lifestyle. More specifically why a woman would chose this.

Just to give you some of the highlights of the show:

  • the man, Kody, is “married” to four wives. He is technically married to only the first wife and then “spiritually married” to the other three.
  • Combined they have 16 children, 13 from Kody.
  • the wives appear to be in support of this type of marriage and look forward to adding more wives.
  • They each share Kody and live in the same home with individual, connecting apartments.

While I’m still not in support of a man taking multiple wives, I have noticed a common theme throughout the show and think it’s something that connects to general society.

These wives want a family. They want an intimate connection to other mothers and support while they raise their kids. One wife continually restates that she loves knowing that if anything were to happen to her, her daughter would be taken care of. It appears that the emphasis is less on the husband, because frankly he only has so much time for each wife, and more on their friendships. The wives repeatedly state that the other sister wives are their best friends, because they live life together.

This makes me think back to when America was settling the west. Settlers would travel in huge caravans across the USA and brought their community with them. When they finally settled in an area, farming or cattle raising took a team effort, so multiple families would live on one farm. The families, whether biologic or adopted, worked together to bring in a harvest, raise the children, and care for their elderly.

Fast forward to modern day. Most of us are separated from one another, sometimes just by living in different parts of the same city. Families tend to spread after the kids go off to college. In my own family, we live in five separate states. My main form of communication is now through the computer or telephone. Most days I raise my son solely with my husband. If I need help, I have to either hire someone or beg a friend’s assistance.

There was a time when my brother, sister, and I dreamed about purchasing a large piece of land and having each family member build a house on their side of it. That way the cousins could grow up together and we could go back to a period of time when families intimately knew one another and lived life together. Sadly, this will probably never come to fruition with our jobs taking us to different areas of the country.
Let’s return to the polygamists. So with this knowledge of how America used to be and knowing my own dreams of a tight knit community, I can see how a woman, especially if she weren’t close with her own family, would decide to give up her sole rights to her husband for the sake of community.

So what do you think? Do you also feel this lack of intimate community? How extreme would you go in order to feel “connected” again?

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3 Responses to Polygamy: What’s Mine Is Yours

  1. Laura says:

    I would certainly agree. Technology has given us the freedom to leave our homes and start all over again anywhere in the nation or the world. The only problem is that you leave all of those roots behind. There are so many women who long to have friends they know they can count on or grow old with. People don’t like to be alone. It’s just sad what lengths someone will go to just to feel that sense of famliy or community again.
    I do miss the dream of being able to be a part of a community and know that you have a babysitter or can get a cup of sugar if you run out. I will say that when you talk to family members about living next door to each other, they change their minds. Family members know how to get under each other’s skins and all of the annoying facts. They love each other, but being one knock away turns into an invasion privacy. There has to be a way to balance it – whether it’s specific parameters that limits visiting hours – so you can still have that family or community contact and not
    Another bit of food for thought: think of how jobs have changed. Every job you needed was available within your community. Now if you really want a great job, you have to be willing to move to get it. I wonder if a family could find good job opportunities within the same community anymore.

  2. I have never seen the tv show Sister Wives, but I do have some common sense.

    Do you really think the SWs are cheery about their lot and get along beautifully as often as the show implies? I think of the women involved in recent polygamy lawsuits who did not look well-to-do and polished; they looked like women who led limited, insular lives, keeping only to those who would support their lifestyle. How cheery would you be, having to shun a potential friend because they were not of your lifestyle? Because you perhaps had a good deal to hide and only those who also lived compromised lives would stand your friend?

    In a life like that–where the husband occupies the position of god temporal–keeping to one’s own kind is not an option; it is a requirement subject to the husband’s interpretation as to who makes an acceptable friend. Isolation is Satan’s playground, particularly among women trying to live with a difficult man.

    The lifestyle may work for fictional Sister Wives; this wife doubts it works as well in real life.

    • We know that Christian marriages vary in pretty severe extremes. There are Christian marriages that require the women in the household to wear skirts and some where the man isn’t even the head of the household. The same thing happens in Jewish and Islamic marriages. No two marriages are going to be the exact same regardless of what their book of faith says.

      Why would the Mormon faith be any different? This tv show is meant to show this family’s life. Not the life of every Mormon marriage. The point of the post was not to say that everyone should turn to polygamy. It wad to ask if others are drawn to that desire for a sense of community as these women are. Do they have a point? I think they do, but I am happy being an only wife.

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