Polygamy versus other forms of relationships.

I saw a topic about a man who wanted to speak about polygamy to his daughter and got a court order that forbids him to do so.

This makes me wonder what you think the difference is between



  1. being married and having a mistress (or 2/3/4…)

  2. LAT relationship with one partner while entertaining relationships with with one or several others at the same time.

  3. living together unmarried and having 1/2/3… partners “at the side”.

While polygamy is forbidden in many countries, the other forms of relationships are not at all uncommon in those same societies.
Any thoughts about why the polygamy system is seen as so ugly while the other forms are no at all uncommon and not sanctioned at all?
When you are married and have 1 or multiple mistresses you can expect your wife to get a diveroce. But I don’t think you can be send to jail for that, can you?

Salaam. A

If you think the other relationships are not “sanctioned”, just ask Clinton. (By “sanctioned”, I assume you mean “disapproved of”.)

No, I mean “sanctioned” as “sanctioned” when one brakes a law, like someone who would engage himself with polygamy in your society would do.

There are laws against polygamy. But are there the same kind of laws to punish the other forms of relationships I describe?

If not, don’t you think that is a form of hypocrisy and an example of encouraging selective morals?
Salaam. A

The overriding factor between polygamy and the other forms you describe are largely legal. Polygamy would entail marital rights (inheritance and so forth) for all partners and the other, um, less formal relationships do not. Therefore they’re no concern of the government.

Bear in mind I think polygamy should be legalized. What two or more people agree to contractually doesn’t really bother me.

“[…]selective morals?” Are there any other kind?
Forbidden to speak to his daughter, on any topic whatsoever - sounds strange to me.
Personally I think polygamy (as mulitiple wifes or multilpe husbands or what the heck ever you can think of - including homosexual marriages) should be legal as long as all persons involved are adults.

Will wild guesses do?

Monogamy entails the contractual binding of assets between two adults. Traditionally polygamy would entail the binding of assets between the man and his wives. There would be no contract made between wives. Since this massively complicates stuff (why should wife #1 loose property in the case of a divorce of her husband from wife #2) no one likes it.

As to mistresses, casual partners etc., they normally have no claim to the shared assets of the two partners.

Now if you introduce a polygamy were the A marries B and C, B marries C and A and C marries B and A then I guess we’d all be happy with it though I’d invest heavily in various legal corporations as the legal wrangling in divorce cases would likely stagger the imagination.

And on preview John Mace said it better, but damn it I worked on this reply. :slight_smile:

Opp. Jonathan Chance not John Mace.


Well, my issues with the legality of polygamy are more a matter of mucking up the system than anything. contract law is a bitch in general, and I don’t see it becoming any easier by allowing multiple people to engage in all of the benefits of marriage. It’s not the getting together that scares me- it’s the breaking up. a multi-party divorce/custody fight gives me nightmares.

That said, I think that for every loving, caring, adult relationship you can think of (and yes, I know we have several here on the SDMB) you have to recognize the specter of underage brides and the exploitation of women that has actually happened in the US, as well as other countries. While not applicable in most cases, I think that people’s discomfort with the idea is not crazy.

I think you have a wrong perspective on this.
In case of a divorce the only one who needs to come up with property and distribute it to the partner, is the man.
No other wife needs to give anything to the one you divorce.

Exactly. (Exeption made for that “shared”, see above)
Mistresses and casual partner have no right. That is why I call it a hypocritical and unjust system.

To ben honest: the divorce system - and then especially the $$$$$$$$$$$ claims made by partners - in the USA passes my imagination. I wouldn’t even dare to get married overthere :slight_smile:

Grey, as I know that you can virtually skinn me alive most of the time of my presence on this website, your effort is extremely much appreciated.

Salaam. A

The age of brides varies but I agree that there are many cases in which one can speak of “underaged” brides. But that is not only a problem in countries where polygamy is permitted.
And even when it would be…If you see how many abaondoned teenage-mothers there are all over the world, you would almost wish they were legally married before they got pregnant, no?

As for exploitation of women… I agree that a coutry where polygamy is legal there are some doors open to that which are closed in other societies.
Yet I don’t think that “exploitation of women” needs to be directly connected to polygamy.
Salaam. A.

No you misunderstand me. I’m saying that in a monogamous relationship the assets of each partner are merged. Each has a claim on it.

Now in the polygamous relationship (1 man 2 wives for simplicity) The assets of all partners are merged but wife #1 and wife #2 have no contractual claim on the others assets. The husband however does, as he entered the relationships with each woman. Wife#1 did not marry wife#2 and so has no claim.

Well the condemnation in those cases is in the breaking of marriage vows. The condemnation in polygamy is in its illegal nature.

Historically it seems that religion and the pressure on sons/inheritance drives a simplification of marriage relationships. A husband/wife pairing has fewer quarrels over succession while a wife/husband/wife relationship likely has more. Likely why monogamy is more common than bigamy, which is more common than polygamy.

Besides who could afford the extra spouses anyway?

Assets not necessarely merge in a marriage. That depends on the stipulatoins of the marriage contract.

Which I claim to be rather hypocritical in societies where relationships outside marriage are completely legal, common and moraly accepted by a great part of the society.

I don’t think so.

Not necessarely. In many societies the patriarchal/tribal system is the main factor for succession.

Underscribred:) prematurely grey at age

Salaam. A

from Alde:

This struck me as kinda of an odd thing to say. How can polygamy be anything BUT an exploitation of a woman? Since as far as I know where Polygamy is legal it is only legal for a MAN to marry as many women as he wants. I dont think I know of any place where a Woman can marry as many Men as she wants without being stoned to death!!

And to clairify a bit more, while having a mistress is technically not illeagle like polygamy is in the US. Cheating on your wife is still a legal grounds for divorce and generally if a man/woman is caught cheating on there spouse you can throw out any chance of getting out of the marriage without having to pay a hefty alimony or child support of some kind!

Do you claim that in your society no woman is exploited/abused? You must live in some kind of heaven overthere.

Could you explain in detail why it can’t be anything “BUT”…

Where do I need to move to marry “as many women as I want”?

I wouldn’t know… It is in my view possible that there are societies or communities where women have more then one husband.
Do you know all existing societies on this globe? I don’t.

But in case you talk about those we commonly know of, you have a point.
Although “being stoned to death” sounds a bit hysterical and largely uninformed.
Since women in those societies can’t marry more then one husband at the time they obviously can’t risk “being stoned to death” for being married to two at the same time, no?
I mean: you must be married, to be married. Or do you see someone prevented to be married as married or how do you picture this.

Well, I wouldn’t like to feed to global population that gets out of a marriage (for no matter which reason) without paying one cent to the other half or to the children.
As I said: You must live in some kind of heaven.

Salaam. A
Needing some time off board now in order to go exploit wives

Aldebaran I apologize in advance if I misunderstand you. I understand that English is not your first language, but I’m having trouble wading through some of your post.

A couple of things.

I think that there are some cultures w/ multiple husbands. Among the Inuit (sp?) there is a high infertility rate, so the best solution is to have several men attempt to impregnate one women. Anyone, please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for the divorce thing, yes, cheating on your spouse is basically forfeiture of all shared assets in a divorce proceeding. Children aside, infidelity is a big no-no. And in the military, I believe that it IS a criminal offense.

Like I said…it’s not a moral issue for me, just a legal one. But to ignore that there has been some serious exploitation of women (of any age) through this practice is disingenuous at best.

And that is what people think of when they think polygamy. And the pro-polygamy movement doesn’t do much to reassure people that legislation allowing for their relationships will not result in the other.

I don’t know guys…I have to side with Aldebaran on this one. I don’t see WHY there would be additional exploitation of women if polygamy was legal. Could someone spell out exactly why this would be ADDITIONAL exploitation of women? Do you suppose that, if such a thing was made legal, that men would rush out, club unsuspecting women on the head and drag them to the alter, just so they could have several wives?? I’m really not seeing this.

Exploitation of underage women? huh? How do you figure, unless you are also saying to lower the age of consent as well. Also, how do you figure this would have to comform to the one man, two women model (thus be exploitation of WOMEN)?? I see it as likely to be two men and a woman. I actually know a few ‘couples’ that conform to this model, though obviously only one pair is ‘married’.

However, I DO see the legal complications. Certainly if a 3 (or more) person marrage broke up, it would be a complicated legal mess, based on todays laws as I understand them.

Myself…I’m a live and let live kind of guy. I have no problem with same sex marrages, or with marrages over 2 people. If the legal issues could be worked out satisfactorily, I think Alsdbaran is right…it IS more honest than the alternative which is having one (or more) of a pair bond having an extramarital affair.


What a relief that someone here finally understands this (Enlgish not being one of my languages, that is). I was already accused -several times - of being a liar about that. Don’t ask me why; they seem to know it.

Well I assume you speak for US situations.
Don’t you people make marriage contracts ever?
Don’t you have any opportunity to stipulate what happens in case of divorce or whatever?
Don’t you have the choice between separation of goods and lumping everything together, no matter who bring it into the marriage and when?
As I said before: I wouldn’t even dare to marry under such conditions.

I can’t believe what I’m reading here. How can they possibly defend that?

Where did I ignore that? I said the contrary.

Quoting myself on this very topic:

**The age of brides varies but I agree that there are many cases in which one can speak of “underaged” brides. But that is not only a problem in countries where polygamy is permitted.
And even when it would be…If you see how many abaondoned teenage-mothers there are all over the world, you would almost wish they were legally married before they got pregnant, no?

As for exploitation of women… I agree that a coutry where polygamy is legal there are some doors open to that which are closed in other societies.
Yet I don’t think that “exploitation of women” needs to be directly connected to polygamy.**
Salaam. A

Have to go again… Must go exploit my wives. I couldn’t find them when I said this previously.
Oh God, now I remember… They aren’t here. That shall take a long flight home. Do I have permission to suspend this treatment for now or can I order somebody to do it for me… Or how must I furfill the conditions set here under my very eyes in order to save my married life?
Almost forgot to ask to the persons informed about it:
What exactly are these conditions for exploitation. I’m not educated in the matter. Thank you for every useful information. (Please exclude everything that could make me sweat ).
Ah yes… Almost forgot to ask to everyone participating:

What is in your opinion the difference between a woman exploited in a multiple marriage and a woman exploited in no marriage at all by a married or non maried man.

I mean: which woman is better off:
The one with a husband who has to take responsiblility or the one used by the husband or partner of an other woman and who thus can’t count on anything legal in case he drops her (and her children).
Salaam. A


I think and am almost certain those who refer to “expliotation” have situations in mind that aren’t exactly directly connected with the Western societies.

No doubt exploitation of women happens everywhere.

But it is true that in some societies where polygamy is legal there are situations where a man of a certain age exploits the law (read here : based on a religious law, yet influenced largely by traditional societies and -customs) to switch the first wife for a younger version. We all know that such abuses exist and are tolerated.

Salaam. A

Well I certainly can think of patriarchal polygamy. I don’t know of too many (if any) matriarchal polygamy instances.

As I’ve mention in my view it’s a horrific mess just from a contract perspective. Unless all parties marry each other. Again typical polygamy is setup A marries B and A marries C. Note the lack of relationship between B and C. Now if B and C were also married then I’d be ok with it, but now you’ve entered various societal hang-ups over same sex marriage.

I believe at this point I get bonus points for bringing gay marriage in. Thank you very much!

As to exploitation within my traditional polygamy. The women are not equal partners with the husband. He has claim on their property, but wife #1 does not have claim on the property brought into the marriage from wife #2. Definite imbalance in my view.

Aldebaran, my point about succession was with respect to family property/assets being assigned to the first born. Now the first born of wife #1 or wife #2. I would imagine, people being people, that that could led to problems. Hell it leads to problems now between step-children.

Aldebaran you show admirable openness on this subject – I wonder, does your openness also extend to such things as homosexual marriages or polygamy involving several husbands (both, if I’m not mistaken, not sanctioned by Islam)? Also I must say, my take on polygamy has everybody involved married to each other and everybody with equal rights. I believe that’s not the sort practiced those places where polygamy is allowed today.