Sister Wives

I’ve been watching that new show on TLC (actually I’ve mostly been watching it on demand) and I’ve gotta say, very interesting.

As a Mormon, as a product of polygamy myself (not directly, I just have the one mom but when you hit the grandfolks and the great grandfolks and so forth) it’s a topic that I’ve given some thought.

And here’s where I stand:  I’m opposed to marrying a 13 year old girl off to her 50 year old uncle.  I’m opposed to marrying a thirteen year old girl off at all.

Except now I’m going to play Devil’s advocate. I’m opposed to marrying a thirteen year old girl off at all in this culture but scholars agree that Mary, the mother of Jesus was probably not a whole lot older than that and that Joseph, her eventual husband, was probably considerably older than she was because that’s how it was done back then.  And I’m ok with it having been done that way for them because that was what they were used to and what they had grown up expecting, it’s just not ok now because it’s not who we grow up or what we spend our whole lives expecting.  Except in communities in which that kind of thing happens (the YFZ ranch etc.) that is the expectation, that is what they grow up expecting so… well, I’m undecided.  End Devil’s advocate.

But in the case of Sister Wives they were not married off at thirteen.  They married young but not any younger than this girl, or this one.  The husband is within spitting distance of all the wives in age (heck, I believe the Wonderhusband and I with our 6 year age difference are probably farther apart than any of them). They all knew what they were getting into.  When Kody (the husband) and Meri (the first wife) got married it was with the expectation that there would be more wives.  She was raised in a polygamist family and she liked it.  Janelle, the second wife, was not raised as a polygamist but she was friends with Meri and Kody for a few years before she married Kody and when she did it was of her own free will.  Christine, the third wife, was also raised in a polygamist home and according to her she always wanted to be a third wife.  What that says about her is not up to me to say (although I suspect that someone with a background in psychology would have a good time with her) but hey, she got exactly what she wanted.

What it all comes down to is that for what it is I think it’s fine.

It’s my understanding that the state of Utah is looking into prosecuting Kody for polygamy.  (How interesting that we prosecute the husband but largely ignore the wife who obviously enabled this criminal behavior.  Doesn’t that make each of the wives accessories?) To that I have to say, really?  We don’t have actual crime to prosecute?  Let me put my feelings this way: If it’s not legal to marry more than one wife then he’s only married to Meri, whether he “married” the others or not.  Which means that the relationship he’s having with the others is an adulterous one.  Is adultery illegal?  Is it something that we prosecute?

In all honesty I think that adultery ought to be illegal and I think that we ought to prosecute.  But even if it were and even if we did, can we not start with adulterous relationships that result in families being destroyed and in children being raised by single parents and in… well, problems?

Here we have a man who lives with and loves his wives, he lives with and loves his children.  I don’t know this as a fact, but I don’t believe that any of the wives are claiming welfare.  At least two of them work, Kody works, they look out for each other, they take care of each other and of each other’s children.  Maybe they’re just pretty good at hiding it but I don’t get any of the “bleed the beast”, “you’re all going to hell” kinds of vibes that you get from some of the other polygamists.  These are just people living the way they feel like they should and the way that they want to, just like we all do.  They’re not anti-monogamy, some of the children have said that they’re not interested in practicing polygamy in their own lives and they’re not shunned for that, they’re not disapproved of, that is a valid lifestyle and one that they’re free to choose.

Basically, as it’s portrayed on TLC, polygamy for this family is exactly what it says it is, one big family with three mothers, one father and a whole grundle of kids (although the Duggars still outstrip them by a ways) and they act like a family.  And that’s good enough for me.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. julie
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 10:46:17

    I know I have facinated by this show too..on my mom sides of the family , there are some cousins that practice this too.

    It interesting to see how the wives are portrayed and they all knew what they were getting into with this lifestyle. I know that this isn’t for me , but what happens in people homes is their business and like you said about 13 year’s being married..thats wrong on so many levels.

    oh don’t get me started on the duggers family too..I have issues with them too.

  2. Julie P
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 10:48:49

    I’ve gotten SO hooked on that show. Even found that their house was super close to me and did a drive by. I’m just fascinated by the psychology of it, and also interested in their religion, since they claim to be Mormon Fundamentalists, and the only ones I’ve known of before this are the Warren Jeffs’ ones.

    I did a little homework on Utah polygamy laws since I was in the boat that you’re in: they’re not abusing children, and it’s all of the adults free choice – so back off.

    In Utah, being legally married to one woman and living with another one is considered the same kind of polygamy as being legally married to two women. Also, adultery IS illegal here (at least in UT county), but a quote from one of the DAs in some paper (the Herald?) says he has never prosecuted an adultery case, and would never want to.

    More interesting stuff to think about…

  3. evitafjord
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 11:38:44

    I think that this is an instance where marriage would be hard. I can’t imagine sharing the love and intimacy of marriage. I CAN imagine sharing the household chores and child-raising. That part rocketh. I agree that if they’re not abusing children, etc. etc., why should I care? (which is kind of how I feel about gay marriage too, but well, never mind)

  4. Jaime
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 11:58:36

    I totally agree with you. I could never figure out what the crime was since he’s only legally married to one woman. The part I find really interesting is bringing in this fourth wife. I mean the others came along pretty close together so that “makes sense” to me. This is so far after the fact seems like it would be hard for the wives, the kids etc.

    They seem like a loving, happy family. Their kids seem relatively well-adjusted (from what we’ve seen) and while it seems like their world is small (mostly other polygamist families) they seem nice to each other and others so let ’em be I say!

  5. Kristina P.
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 12:14:54

    I could not agree more. I was really surprised by how I felt after watching the show. They all seem happy, and the kids are totally well adjusted and normal. And I was impressed that they said that they don’t care if their kids are polygamists, they just want them to be happy, good, ethical kids.

  6. LisAway
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 13:19:21

    Oh my weirdness. It’s a little too much for me, not having seen and therefore been immersed in the whole idea, but I agree with you about adultery and how this would be a silly place to start prosecuting.

    All very interesting.

  7. cheryl
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:04:33

    Yes. And no. I dated a guy many, many, many years ago who had been “kicked out” of his polygamy religion and then baptized into the LDS church (the real one). He had some pretty crazy issues (psychologically) that he had to work through before he was able (nearly 6 years after we dated) to finally settle down into a monogamous relationship.

    One could say that his family had been loving and normal and happy –but…not really. That’s not to say that these people are not (I haven’t seen the show), but I guess I’ve seen the ugly side of the modern polygamist idea, and it’s just too weird for my taste. Way too weird.

    I’m with evitafjord. Sure, sharing childcare, household duties, jobs, etc. would be great! But the intimacy of sex? The emotional connection between two souls? Sure, I’m a product of polygamy (all four sides, baby!), but those polygamists lived in a day when women had no rights. Without a husband, they had very little chance of succeeding in life, period. Now-a-days? It doesn’t make sense to me. Emotionally, physically, financially –none of it.

    Anyway, as you can see, I’m not really a fan. Blame the ex-boyfriend, I guess.

    P.S. Prosecuting polygamy in this instance is just stupid. Marrying off 13 year old girls? Prosecute away!

  8. Chris Jones
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 19:31:21

    I love commenting on these things. But I am a man. So I can’t.

    So I will comment on the legality. There is absolutely no way on earth this behavior can be in any way considered illegal. Not any more. There once was a time when society had and acknowledged that it had a responsibility to encourage one man and one woman to set up a stable and lasting relationship. Society has abandoned that idea and now actively crusades against any such thing.

    I see absolutely no reason whatever why gay marriage should enjoy the protections of the Constitution when polygamy does not. Other than the political reasons, of course, most of those being that polygamists are overwhelmingly Christian and devoutly religious, and most gays are not. It is okay to persecute Christians.

    Now, I know Darren Paul, who is the policeman responsible for chatting with the media about going after these people for practicing polygamy. There was absolutely no secret about their polygamist behavior prior to this. They don’t live in a secluded spot. Everyone in Lehi knows right where to find polygamists in this town, including these polygamists. Why the Lehi PD chose this particular time to go after them, I don’t know, except that TV coverage is kind of embarrassing for the city.

    And yes, there are actual crimes being perpetrated in Lehi that need stopping. But the PD here is led by a very good man, and he’s done a great job of keeping that to a minimum.

  9. Melanie Jacobson
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 22:49:20

    My knee jerk reaction is to totally disagree but then, I haven’t seen the show so I guess I’ll have to reserve judgment. I think I just hate how they use LDS or Mormon in their titles and it makes it that much harder for the rest of us because what they do has nothing to do with Mormonism. And that makes me mad. But I don’t guess that makes them bad parents.

  10. evitafjord
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 04:51:30

    One of the things I noticed right away was how careful he was in the first episode to distinguish between the two. I can’t remember exactly how he worded it, but I remember thinking, Thank goodness he’s being clear that they are not the same thing. Of course, I don’t know if that would stand out to a nonmember. It seems like they also refer to it more as a lifestyle choice and hardly mention the religion part at all.

  11. E
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 15:56:25

    Learn you family history girl! We had polygamy on at least three sides. Not sure about Grandpa Harrison, but it’s a pretty safe bet.

    Seriously if you’re going to prosecute polygamists you’ve got to prosecute adulterers.

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