(Closed) S/O: Are there any sister wives on the bee? Or anyone living plural marriage?

posted 7 years ago in Married Life
Post # 3
Member
7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

I am not a sister wife, and have not seen this show. However, I have worked in communities which do traditionally practise both polygamy and (more rarely) polyandry, so perhaps I could offer some insights here?

Post # 4
Member
645 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

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@Rachel631:  Two questions! Not sister-wives relavent but polygamy.

1. From what I’ve read, it seems like those in these relationships never get jealous, but human behaviour in general would make me think this is pretty unlikely. Not all the time, just every now and then, in the same way you might with a spouse’s friend that they are hanging out with a lot. I guess, do you see any major attributes of jealousy/non jealousy that you wouldn’t otherwise expect in polygamy?

2. Always wondered about this. If one member of the group wants to bring in another person, but the rest of the group is not okay with it- do they usually split up or is there a general way of handling it (be it- making that relationship separate from the group, or etc). 

3. Bonus question: Do group members, for the most part, have relationships with every other member of the group? Say, A is involved with B and C, and B is involved with D, does D usuall have a relationship with A and C as well? Or is it sometimes just like a member of the family instead?

 

I hope this sounds respectful, I read up a lot on it a few years back but never met anyone I could ask. 

Post # 5
Member
757 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Our Backyard/Steakhouse

@priyawouldntwannabeya:  I’m not a ploygamist by Fiance and I are swingers…

If anyone has any questions go ahead!

Post # 6
Member
8036 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2013

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@missfrillycoat:  I’m not a polygamist, but I can tell you that there are definitely jealousy issues… they freely admit it on Sister Wives. I don’t know how they do it… I would not want to share lol.

 

Post # 7
Member
1380 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: February 2017 - Seattle, WA

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@canarydiamond:  I was going to say the same!  They have discussed jealousy issues a lot on that show.

Post # 8
Member
256 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012 - Motor museum

Bumping to follow

Post # 9
Member
3751 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

commenting to follow, totally curious!

Post # 10
Member
2571 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

Commenting to follow, but I will say one thing – I’ve read quite a few memoirs on this topic, and one of the things they mentioned is that they tend to be very private about their lives and are known to the public as “aunts” to not arouse suspicion. I guess the “Sister Wives” group deviated from that norm.

Post # 11
Member
488 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Bumping to follow as well. I honestly love watching that show, makes me see polygamy very differently and that they are a loving family. 

Post # 12
Member
7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@missfrillycoat:  Ok, so I have been living with former hunter-gatherer indigenous groups, first of all.

1. From what I have seen polygamy is more common with sisters (I suspect this is where the idea of “sister wives” comes from). Usually, the man marries two or more sisters, or women who are “classificatory sisters” ie they have been raised as sisters (a bit more complex than that, but that’s basically it). This serves to keep the family together, especially if the parents are dead. Also, because many groups practise patrilocality (so the couple move to the husband’s location after marriage) then new wives can be isolated and upset. The rate of divorce increases as the new bride is taken further from home, but decreases if she can take a sister wife, in the form of an ally from her childhood, with her.

The other time I have seen it is if a close female relative is widowed or orphaned, and she is taken in by a close female family member as a “sister wife”.

The key thing to bear in mind is that these communities often take a shared interest in childcare, which is largely communal. They also swap children for several social purposes, so the child a woman calls her “son” or “daughter” may not be biologically hers. Tracing descent is therefore less important, especially for former HGs, who have very few possessions to pass down to the next generation etc.

Jealousy is not as important as social cohesion here… you practise polygamy to maintain social peace.

You can also see this in Judaism, where a man was expected to marry his dead brother’s wife in order to keep the family together, and in Islam, where temporary marriage is designed to protect a widow or orphan by marrying them to a family member until they can receive their inheritance.

2. HG groups are very, very democratic in general. Everyone must agree to a decision. If they reach an impasse, the group would traditionally separate along factional lines. If not, they keep negotiating. This is more of an issue now that most HGs are settled in permanent villages and cannot escape from each other physically. Divorce is generally permitted in HG groups, but not encouraged.

3. HG groups are usually very small, and polygamy and polyandry are specifically designed to keep families together. A good relationship between the whole band is a prerequisite, and everyone has to get along for it to work. Fun fact: amongst the group I worked with recently, only leaders were allowed to have more than one partner, because it was thought that only group leaders had the interpersonal skills to maintain a harmonious household with more than one spouse. This involved managing ALL of the relationships involved, inclusing those between spouses.

Post # 13
Member
1768 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 1997

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@LDay1983:  since you said it was ok…how do you pick other people to “swing” with? Are they always other couples? Do you do it in the same room? Are either of you bisexual?

If you don’t want to answer any or all the above, that is fine.

 

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@priyawouldntwannabeya:  I watch sister wives too!

Post # 14
Member
645 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

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@Rachel631: Ahhhh. I was wondering what area/demographic you would be in. I based my questions off the emerging polygamy families I’ve seen in the United States, so I definitely think it would be different for them but thank you so much for sharing- it is so interesting! 

Another question with your specific group in mind- you said that they are former hunters/gatherers, and mention that the taking of sisters (more or less) is often due to the practice of patrilocality (as opposed to taking in an orphaned/widowed relative/friend). Is patrilocality still commonly practiced even though they no longer maintain a nomadic lifestyle? 

Post # 15
Member
7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@missfrillycoat:  I would say yes, although it is harder to tell because as communities settle and begin to farm, the community expands, and people are soon able to marry from within the community, so both spouses are from the same area. When they are nomadic and travel in bands then the band size is very small, and spouses must often be separated from their families.

The exception would be in the case of religious conversion, because there are various laws regarding Islam in my area of study (it’s complicated).

Interestingly, as people settle then women tend to become less and less important and have fewer rights… AND polygamy becomes less common. Two things people would not expect!

Post # 16
Member
9541 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

Not a polygamist, but we just got back from our honeymoon in Kenya where the Massai still practice both polygamy and sharing wives.

The polgamy seems pretty standard, a guy can have 1 to several wives. Each wife has their own hut and they are formed in a circle around the cow and goat pens. Then there is a prickly bush boma that is in a circle around the whole thing to keep out predators. The kids are raised together. The women leave their birth home and come to live with their husband. There does seem to be jealously among the wives but more about who has the power and honor in the family, not about the guy having sex with multiple women. The women work together. They deliver each other’s babies. They raise children communally. They help build each other’s houses. When a man wants to bring a new wife into the home she comes to the entrance to the boma and can’t enter until everyone agrees that she should be part of the family. So women absolutely have veto power. Althought it sounds like there is social pressure to accept a new woman and try to get along. 

The wife sharing is also quite common. The group of boys that gets circumsized together are considered brothers. So if your brother is traveling through your area he will stay with you (just like having your friend stay in your guest room) but the wife comes with the bed. He puts his spear outside the hut where he would like to stay that night and he will stay and can have sex with your wife. I didn’t really hear much about jealousy at all in the wife sharing thing, but it’s generally not for an extended time. They have really no concerns about paternity at all. They love kids and want to have as many as possible. If a child is born to your wife, you’re the dad no mater the genetics. There was a guy at our camp who married a woman who was already pregnant from another man and he thought it was great because he got to start a family faster and knew she was fertile!

 

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