This last episode (Episode 7, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) of Seeking Sister Wife was honestly very hard for me to watch. This difficulty had nothing to do with the quality of the filming or of the editing. It had to do with the raw truth of the matter: polygamy can be very difficult at times. And this episode, more than any of the previous episodes, highlighted many of the difficult things about it. Part of the reason it was hard to watch was that it showed the difficulties even well-adjusted, loving plural families (or potentially plural families) can experience.
We saw the very tense and awkward moments when Vanessa’s sisters were visiting in Los Angeles. Dimitri puts it so succinctly when he says that people are going to fall off, meaning relationships will be severed one way or another. It is a sad, painful, and unnecessary reality. We even got a glimpse into the struggles of (arguably) the most functional of plural families, the Alldredges, when Sharis tells about how she sometimes misses Jeff on nights he is not with her.
What’s more, it’s not just theoretical, or televised “plural families” that can have difficulties; it is my family. Watching this episode was difficult partly because it brought back memories of our own difficulties trying to live as polygamists in a society that largely frowns upon that. Fortunately, we have overcome most of those difficulties, both with others and with ourselves (but we’re not perfect yet), and things are so much better and smoother than they were in the beginning. There is so much to talk about in this episode that it is almost overwhelming.
As a plural husband, Paige McGee’s melt down was so hard to watch. I can tell that Bernie has a genuine, deep, and abiding affection for his wife. He is hurt when she is hurt. He is concerned for her welfare, for her physical and emotional well being. A person’s own emotions are difficult enough to manage. Handling other people’s emotions requires an added measure of patience and control.
I’ve talked about Paige’s issues with jealousy here and here already, so I won’t address it again – there’s not much more to say. Jealousy is natural and jealousy can serve a positive function, but jealousy also needs to be checked before it turns into envy. All that aside, I feel for Paige in this episode. When it comes to changes in plural marriage, the first wife has got some of the biggest adjustments to make. To be sure, everyone involved has to make some pretty huge changes when a new wife is added to the family. Of course, the biggest changes to any family come with the addition of the first two wives.
It is arguable that the biggest and most difficult changes accompany the marriage of the first wife. This is when the family is first forming, and therefore is experiencing the most dramatic changes. Consequently, this can also be the most difficult time for a family. I am speaking in general terms here, but the risk of divorce is highest during the first few years of marriage. There are so many adjustments that need to be made! And so many different types of adjustments – mental, physical, financial, logistical, etc. The stress can be crushing. But commitment pays off, hang in there, and give it some time and effort. Things get better with every passing year, and just because marriage is sometimes hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it!
Of course, adding the second wife is a huge adjustment for everyone too. The new wife has to adjust to being married (just as the first wife did), and adjust to the rest of the family and the first wife as well. The first wife has to adjust to her changing schedule both with her husband and also new interactions with the second wife. The children will certainly have adjustments to make, and the husband will obviously have a large additional load on his shoulders as well.
I don’t know the McGees personally (but I’d like to; they seem like very nice people) but my guess is that the mixture of emotions Paige was feeling have a lot of basis in a fear of the unknown. This fear is largely informed by our culture, which includes our family, friends, churches, laws, and a multitude of other factors. As I recall, Paige talks about her family playing the role of devil on her shoulder in the first episode – whispering doubts and encouraging envy. We saw some of the same with Vanessa Cobbs in this episode too.
Yes, it can be difficult. Yes, the fear, the jealousy, the envy, the uncertainty, and the negative responses are all real, but none of these things are sufficient reasons to give up. They are all obstacles to overcome, and, much to Paige’s credit, she pulled thru in the end! She is not even the one who asked Bernie to come back – that was TLC (and I think that was a bad move and poor form on their part). Regardless, it looks like things turned out anyway. It would have been an absolute tragedy if the date had not gone thru.
I feel for Paige and the difficult emotions she is dealing with in this episode. I feel for Bernie and his loving concern for Paige. And I feel for Brandy too! What thoughts must be going thru her head as she is waiting out in the car alone while Bernie gets called back in to console Paige? She seems to handle it well tho.
Paige knows what she wants, even if it is hard, and I admire her for that! Hard things that are worth it. We could easily make a list of a hundred things that fit this description (some harder than others) – things that you want and are willing to work and sacrifice for: Marriage, child birth, raising children, going to school, training for a marathon, quitting smoking, changing your life for the better, cleaning your room, getting up in the morning, going to work, going to church, etc. You get the idea.
There is pain and emotion connected to all of these things. That is real, and that is something that has to be dealt with if you want to accomplish anything useful or good in this world. Just because these things are hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. Just because they make you cry sometimes doesn’t mean you should give up. It is an uphill battle. Be patient with yourself and others. Things take time, and there will be setbacks. Get back on that horse and keep riding!
30 thoughts on “Doing Hard Things (Bernie, Brandy, and Paige)”
Agreed. Polygamy is harder than monogamy and this episode clearly showed it. The difference is that polygamists think that it is worth it. They believe that the benefits to the lifestyle are worth the sacrifices to get there.
It always reminds me of that book “Do Hard Things” by the Harris brothers.
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The breakup was Paige’s fault. She was jealous and should be the one to leave
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I want to start this thought with two things, 1- I am not a polygamist 2- I recently found this blog due to watching SSW and SW’s.
I have read several entries of this blog and I am so intrigued by this family. I truly believe that if people want to live a polygamist lifestyle, they should be entitled to do so and have all the same responsibilities and benefits of “marriage”.
While, I am not led by God to live in a polygamist lifestyle, I truly believe there are people that are. I see the benefits. When I first started watching all of the shows on TV I became intrigued. It all started with the HBO series “Big Love” then Sister Wives, my Five Wives and Seeking Sister Wives.
I can see where this could absolutely work.
I can also see some of the negatives that could/can surround polygamists. The biggest negative would be the FLDS association with Warren Jeffs and his kind. Which would include, forced marriages, underage marriage, abuse of spouses/children. Abuse of Social Services and welfare. Etc.
All of these negatives can be found in monogamy, however it is surely multiplied by many in the “cult like” communities.
If a second and subsequent Wives are forced to be silent citizens and have little to no patriarchal involvement, financially then, to me, this is an abuse to our government.
If Polygamy was legal, then more than half of what I described above would be non-existent. Father’s could be involved with all of the wives and children’s lives and play a major role in regards to financial support, health insurance etc. marriage licenses could rule out forced marriages and underage women marrying much older men.
I am a proponent for LGBT marriage as well. I feel like it was worth mentioning this as this has been as controversial as polygamist marriages.
If people are living polygamist lifestyles, whether it being for religious or other reasons, it is no business of others as long as the family can sustain the lifestyle and consequent children. “Be all things to all members of the family”.
On to your blog post, concerning Bernie and Paige, counseling would benefit them greatly if they are seriously determined to live the lifestyle. (I have many doubts about their true intentions)
If it is something that they feel God has LED them to, they should let God lead them through the ups and downs of the jealousy. I truly get the everyday jealousy that I have seen other families talk about on just about every show that has been aired on tv. Paige’s jealousy seems to be very extreme for someone who claims that God has put this lifestyle on her heart to live for the benefit of their family. If it were not for a religious reason, I feel this family would always fail at polygamy. I really enjoyed the counseling sessions that were shared by the Brown family when they added Robyn and her children to the fold. Everyone had a voice, everyone’s feelings were taken into consideration and with counseling they tried to either learn skills that would help them adjust to the families growing status or repair relationships that through the years were ignored.
As for the Snowdens, they state they follow several religions and kind of pick and choose what they want for their family. It is ok by me, as they went into this process explaining to each other and defining their relationship from the beginning and as adding a 2nd wife, all expectations are out and on the table.
The Winders are a sweet family and I feel they are working their way to their religious beliefs and are being very respectful to each other during the process.
I like the Alldredge family the most out of all of the TV families I have seen. Both wives, although they had their issues with jealousy (minor compared to some) they are working together with their husband for the betterment of their earthly and celestial family.
I hope to continue to follow your blog page and find out more of your family’s dynamics.
Take care and God Bless
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Thank you for your very thoughtful comment.
We wholeheartedly agree that “If Polygamy was legal, then more than half of what I described above would be non-existent.”
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I don’t understand the McGee’s at all. Why at their ages, doesn’t make sense, Brandi daughter is 17, she doesn’t want more children. What is her purpose for wanting this?? Does she work? More questions than answers.
Not sure about them but maybe us “older” people are looking for friends, companions and love too. The poly benefits in child bearing years are obvious but the benefits to empty nesters can also be rewarding. Older single people would experience better health and financial stability if they had a family within a similar age group.
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It’s so true! Family is a lifetime endeavor, a lifelong effort, and affords benefits thruout the entire duration.
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I really appreciate this blog and have learned from the posts. Watching the various shows on plural marriage it seems to me that some, if not all the wives have been mild to moderately depressed. At times one wife seems very blue while another is doing well, then it’s seems they reverse moods as time goes on. Is this normal to have ups and downs?
Also, how does it work to have a part time husband? How do you deal with being by yourself at night without your husband to cuddle next to? He never experiences such a bereft feeling, but each wife must endure that loneliness at least half her nights with just two wives. With the Browns, they sleep alone 3 out of every 4 nights. They have a 25% husband. I feel like when it was my night I’d have 3 days of things to discuss, plus things to talk about to help us be reconnecting after 3 days apart. But kids would need time too. I feel like I’d always be trying to cram 4 days of family life into one evening after Daddy comes home from work. That seems kinda tense, maybe even a little frantic. It’s difficult getting needs met when you’re the only wife, so dividing time only creates less opportunity to grow in oneness and intimacy as a couple. I’d be quite lonely and fear I would realistically, inevitably end up being drawn to another more emotionally and physically available man. I don’t see how I’d be able to not drift away and feel less close to the man I married. I might love him as a good and decent man, but I don’t think I could remain in love with him because his time and attention are so much elsewhere. Also, what if my night I had a rough day and am not in the mood to be intimate or to reconnect smoothly and swiftly?—is it awkward, hit and miss, or even tense kind I’m forcing a mood I don’t feel?—does he feel distant or moody sometimes? What if he quarreled with the wife from last night and is thinking about that so he’s distracted from any meaningful talk with me? Or he quarrels with me and it isn’t resolved that night so he moves on to the other wives and we have to wait till my turn again to work it out. Seems like letting hurt and angry feelings fester for several days is really hard on a relationship.
Are these even issues in plural situations? Feeling you have a part time husband and are alone a lot, but the husband never knows such loneliness.
Is it possible for wives to find a nice man to be with on the nights you’re alone—someone to sleep beside you and let you share your thoughts and concerns about the day, the kids, etc. If the husband has a wife to share a bed with every night, can the sister wives have a man to fill in when he’s gone? If that is frowned upon, what is the reason to ask women to suffer loneliness while the men never do? Can you point me to somewhere in your scriptures that explains why God would bless his sons so much and allow his daughters to suffer alone. That seems very ungodlike to me. Honestly, it seems like the men are highly favored and the women are not as valued in this system. The men are very kind and the women seem to support the husband most willingly. But it still appears that men are favored by having attention and affection continually while the women sacrifice a considerable amount of attention and affection. Again, part time husband.
I ask out of a desire to understand how you view these things so that you feel it is good to live in such an inequitable marriage. I don’t fault you or think you’re bad or anything. I mean no condemnation or disrespect. Please forgive me if my wording has been lacking in any way. You seems so normal, healthy and committed to this lifestyle and I’d like to understand it more.
Thank you for sharing so we can learn and grow.
You ask some difficult questions. There are certainly ups and downs in plural marriage, but I believe this is inherent to the human condition, and not necessarily to polygamy. As for women being depressed, it is a sad truth that women in general are something like twice as likely to experience this than men. So, you are probably right that the women on the show might feel depressed sometimes. But, again, it has nothing necessarily to do with polygamy. It has to do with women – and men too! It has to do with humans. Everyone experiences ups and downs, and men and women have different problems to deal with (and they are prone to experience different challenges mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically). In fact, women in our society (speaking in general terms) are becoming less happy, less satisfied with their lives, and more depressed. There are debates about why exactly this is the case, but I’ll tell you why I think it is that way: Because women are trying to be men, and trying to make men into women. There is clamoring all the time for “equality” between the sexes, and now that our society is more egalitarian than it has ever been in the history of the world, the results are, I think, surprisingly disappointing.
Again, I am speaking in generalities here. Yes, men and women are different, AND OUGHT TO BE DIFFERENT! This is true in both monogamy and polygamy. It’s got nothing to do with one gender being “favored”, or “blessed” above the other. It’s got everything to do with being different and accepting, respecting, and even admiring those differences. Any attempts to diminish them will lead to dissatisfaction, strife, and disappointment.
It is difficult to fully answer the questions you pose because I believe they are based upon faulty premises. Namely, that men and women OUGHT to be the same, and that living polygamy is purely about sacrifice and loneliness on the part of the wives without any compensating factors, etc.
Yes, there is loneliness sometimes. Yes, there is jealousy sometimes. No, it is not all happy for the man and sad for the women. Yes, it can be more work to keep up relationships at times. Yes, plural marriage can be harder than monogamy. But there are rewards too! Humans don’t act without rewards (differences in actions depend on differences in what is valued)! And time is not always lost – it is often traded. And how much loneliness and lost time there is depends on many things – many of which are within our power to choose. This will take an entire post to explain what I mean, but keep coming back and I’ll write it one day.
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Thank you for your thoughts Joshua. But I respectfully disagree that the depression of the women has nothing to do with polygamy when it shows the women saying they feel “ignored” “abandoned” “unable to discuss issues” “jealous” and “lonely” as well as other difficult matters directly related to having a part time husband. Further, these plural wives are entrenched in believing and supporting traditional female roles, and definitely do not try to take on feminist roles, nor try to make the husband abdicate his traditional role as a man, head of the home, and provider. I feel the husbands have so many needs from multiple wives on their plates, plus the children’s mental and emotional needs that I can’t imagine how they can possibly accomplish meeting these needs fully. That must be so demanding. Husbands certainly aren’t ever feeling lonely, though I would imagine they feel overwhelmed frequently. I honestly don’t see how you can ever be fully successful and true as a husband to each wife if you are there for her only part time. I think some plural wives are getting some of their needs met by the sister wife instead of her husband. While that may work for them, that’s very sad to me to see substituting a sister wife for a husband. But again, I respect your choices and remain grateful for your willingness to teach honest seekers who are trying to learn a very mysterious type of marital relationship. God bless and keep you and your sweet family.
For clarification, I meant a wife may substitute a sister wife for her husband in getting her emotional and mental needs met and hope you know i in no way meant anything sexual. I apologize for any poor wording on my part.
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Thanks for continuing the dialog. I try to choose my words very carefully, so I will correct what you said just a little. I didn’t say, “the depression of the women has nothing to do with polygamy”. What I did say was that, “There are certainly ups and downs in plural marriage, but I believe this is inherent to the human condition, and not necessarily to polygamy.” In other words, there will be ups and downs no matter what condition you find yourself in. This is not something unique to polygamy, nor monogamy, nor sologamy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sologamy), nor any other conditions we humans may find ourselves in.
Just because monogamy has ups and downs, doesn’t make it not worthwhile. At least that is my view of it; however, there are many people who would disagree with me that monogamy (or marriage at all) is worth the trouble it brings.
I hope you could see that we feel the same way about polygamy. Just because it has ups and downs doesn’t make it not worthwhile. At least that is my view of it; however, there are many people who would disagree with me that polygamy is worth the trouble it brings.
It is as I said before. It is not illogical or inconsistent. The mindset is different, but it is an extension of the same thinking.
Perhaps another way to say what I mean is to depart from the theoretical and report the empirical. Chances are very good that you don’t personally know any polygamists, altho you might be surprised. Therefore, to understand them you can only do so by analogy with your own way of thinking and feeling, and rightly so. I know many monogamists of course (most of the people I know and interact with), but I also personally know and interact with dozens of polygamists too. So I know both sides, see both sides, and respect many people on both sides. In fact my wives and I have all lived both sides.
That being said, I know plenty of generally miserable monogamists (most people probably do as well), and plenty of generally happy monogamists too. The same is true about the polygamists I know. Some of them are or were miserable in their marriages, but most of them – by a very large margin – are happy, satisfied, well adjusted people, with delightful children, who, despite the ups, downs, and challenges, would not choose otherwise had they to do it over again.
I agree that plural women generally embrace traditional, biological female roles, and this is a part of the point I was trying to make. This actually lends to their satisfaction with their own lives which I have observed in the large majority of plural women (and plural men). However, if people are looking at these families thru the lens of modern day social philosophies, then it becomes very difficult to see how they could possibly be satisfied. Furthermore, using this lens, I believe one could only come to the conclusion that they are largely oppressed, bereft, and unfulfilled. But this is simply, and empirically, not the case, and part of this is the fact that this is not the lens that polygamists see themselves thru.
As for the time it takes, check out my most recent post (https://speakingofpolygamy.com/2019/04/01/family-is-always-first/). Making time is something that must be taken very seriously, but I love it. I love my family, and they are my “hobby”. Living together in the same house (https://speakingofpolygamy.com/2018/03/11/where-will-the-brineys-live/) certainly helps to facilitate this interaction. I see, interact with, and talk to all of my children and wives every day.
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Thank you Joshua. Your words are well written and informative. I agree that I cannot understand plural marriage well at all because I don’t see it lived day to day by anyone. I stumbled onto the show “Sister Wives” years ago and was morbidly curious—like driving by the scene of a wreck. But I’m glad I kept watching because I began to see the whole subject from a human point of view rather than as a subject in a history book. Further, I had a friend who let me read the journal of a polygamous maternal ancestor—this was decades ago that I read this journal. It was a heartbreaking saga of poverty, neglect and loneliness that really gave me a terribly negative view. Then there was the horrible Warren Jeffs trial that further soured my view. Watching current reality tv shows has helped me see plural marriage from more positive and healthy perspectives and I’m glad these families have been willing to share their lives so people like me can learn. This blog helps in ways the shows cannot, so I remain very grateful for one-on-one conversation. I’m glad your family is healthy and well adjusted and that you all spend time with everyone every day. May God continue to bless and keep you.
Perhaps “faulty premises” is not quite the best way to frame the difficulty in responding to your questions. A better way to say it might be that, it takes a different point of view, and a different sort of mindset. It is a different paradigm from the romanticized monogamist expectations.
There are always different ways of looking at things. And sometimes our views may even change in a dramatic or surprising way. Probably most people have had this sort of experience before. The sort of experience where they suddenly understand something in a new light (political, social, religious, or academic), and it changes the way we think and feel about it. It’s often like that with plural marriage, or rather, people who live plural marriage have often had (or are having) this sort of experience in relation to their views in marriage.
It’s not just a different way of living. It’s also a different way of thinking.
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I hear this all the time “How can you stand to have your husband not in your bed every night?”
To this, I respond, “How many monogamous women don’t have their husbands in their bed every night?”
Husbands who are shift workers, firefighters, nurses, surgeons who are on call, and others like them all have to be away from their wives at night. They have responsibilities to take care of and in so doing, are taking care of their families. I see my own husband not in my bed every night no differently.
My husband’s nights away from me happen to be with his other wife. He is responsible for her. He loves her. She deserves to have him with her.
I don’t envy, nor am I jealous. I simply see that I am married to a man who is taking care of his responsibilities.
Historically I have “handled” this in different ways. For a time, I worked nights as a maternity nurse and my “off” nights were spent caring for others and making a wage.
For a time I got on teenagers’ schedules and stayed up late with them and built stronger relationships.
These days, I go to bed early as I have a day job I love and want to get a jump on in the morning. Unless I’m doing other things like I am tonight which is commenting on Charlotte’s blog, giving support to another plural wife, and killing spiders. Other stay up late nights I stay in touch with friends, watch movies (shhhh don’t tell Joshua) and read. I do what I want to because I have the freedom to do so.
I may even go for a vaginal steam. LOL!
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“To this, I respond, “How many monogamous women don’t have their husbands in their bed every night?”
Husbands who are shift workers, firefighters, nurses, surgeons who are on call, and others like them all have to be away from their wives at night. They have responsibilities to take care of and in so doing, are taking care of their families.”
Yes, but husbands in plural marriages are not doing any of those jobs you’ve mentioned. Instead, they’re spending those nights with their other lovers.
Yes, but no one said they were doing those jobs (altho they might be doing those jobs as well). The point of the comment was about responsibility, and the fact that responsibility takes priority over the desire to be together most of the time – even in monogamy. The use of the analogy with the occupations was simply a device to help those without any personal experience with polygamy, and who are not already polygamy-minded, to understand the way that polygamists view things.
Every person’s life is made of a mixture of moments. Some of our time is spent alone to work on ourselves and our own projects. Some of our time is spent with our spouses to work on our relationships with them and shared projects. Some of our time is spent with our children, working on our relationships with them and our shared projects. Some of our time is spent with co-workers, friends, extended family, neighbors, fellow church members, etc. All of these different types of moments have their time and place, and every individual’s life will be composed of varying proportions of these different moments. That’s all. Polygamists have all these types of moments too, they just might have a them in a little different proportions.
Please note, I am in no way arguing that polygamy is better or acceptable for everyone. Quite the contrary, I do not think it would be better for most people. I’m just trying to communicate how it could be possible for those who do choose to live it to be satisfied with their lives and the benefits it can bring.
Thank you for you insights Melissa. I can see how you make the time Joshua is away from you a time for you to enjoy things important to you. That’s such a positive way to handle his absence. However, I’d point out that shift workers aren’t being intimate with another lover while they’re at work. That is a huge difference to me. But more and more I’m coming to believe that plural wives just aren’t into two becoming one so much as a group becoming one. Again, you have a part time husband and that seems to be lovely for you. At times I admire how plural wives deal with that, but mostly I feel you are robbed of a fullness and oneness only found in monogamy. The type of group oneness you strive for may be positive in some respects, but to my way of thinking could never reach the pinnacle of joy between two who are there for each other full time, nothing divided. But again, I truly thank you for teaching me so openly and respectfully about your beliefs on this. I wish you all the very best as you go forward in your sweet family.
A few more points in this comment need a response. You wrote:
“Is it possible for wives to find a nice man to be with on the nights you’re alone—someone to sleep beside you and let you share your thoughts and concerns about the day, the kids, etc. If the husband has a wife to share a bed with every night, can the sister wives have a man to fill in when he’s gone?”
For us the answer is, no. That would be adultery. It might be easy to find a man who will be happy to commit adultery with someone else’s wife, but it will probably be very difficult to find a, “nice man” willing to do so. There are a few posts about adultery on this blog that you can read if you want to know what we think about that idea (https://speakingofpolygamy.com/2018/11/07/adultery/) and (https://speakingofpolygamy.com/2019/02/26/isnt-polygamy-really-just-adultery/)
Continuing you wrote:
“If that is frowned upon, what is the reason to ask women to suffer loneliness while the men never do?”
This is a perfect example of what I called a “flawed premise”. The presumption is that polygamy necessarily causes suffering. I cannot even answer the question because I don’t even agree with the presumption that women “suffer” in polygamy. When I say that I don’t believe this, of course you will understand that I mean that I don’t believe it is inherent to polygamy. I believe this in just exactly the same way that I do not believe women “suffer” as a result of monogamy, even tho it is an undeniable fact that there are thousands upon thousands of women who have been abused, neglected, etc. in their monogamous marriages.
If this is still hard to grasp, consider this: There are people who believe that traditional, monogamous marriage is abusive to women, period. They feel that marriage degrades women, makes them slaves and subservient to men, stunts their personal growth, limits their potential, etc., etc. From your comments I gather that you would disagree with this ideology (and I would as well). That being said, how would we answer such a person if they asked us this question, “Why would women sacrifice their happiness and freedom by being married and bound to a man?” We could not really answer it, because we don’t believe that women do that when they get married. We believe that marriage leads to happiness rather than suffering, and cooperation rather than oppression. Furthermore, we believe this despite the fact that there are a great many unhappy marriages. In other words, we don’t believe that unhappiness is in any way inherent to the married state. We disagree with the very premise upon which the question is based, and so the question, as stated, becomes largely meaningless.
Your next question was:
“Can you point me to somewhere in your scriptures that explains why God would bless his sons so much and allow his daughters to suffer alone. That seems very ungodlike to me. Honestly, it seems like the men are highly favored and the women are not as valued in this system. The men are very kind and the women seem to support the husband most willingly. But it still appears that men are favored by having attention and affection continually while the women sacrifice a considerable amount of attention and affection.”
Again, I disagree with the premise of your words here. I do not believe that men are more valued than women, or that women suffer while men are blessed, and my belief is backed by scripture. So, a partial answer might be, No, I cannot show you any scriptures that say those things – because I don’t believe that they do. However, I do believe that men and women are different in many ways – but this is not the same as attaching different values to them. I also believe that men and women both suffer at times, but sometimes in different ways. Adam was told that he was going to suffer in toil and wrestling with the earth for his living by the sweat of his brow. Eve was told she would suffer in child bearing. There is a cooperation here, even in their suffering, and even their suffering is the source of some of their greatest joys! I could show you many scriptures that show how men and women are different in God’s eyes (and biology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and sociology all agree!), but that is not the question you were asking.
And finally you wrote,
“Again, part time husband.”
Would you say that men who go to work and leave their children at home with their mother is a “part time” father because he does not spend every minute with his children? Would you call a monogamous man a “part time husband” for the same reason – because he is not with his wife every moment? Again, I question the very presumption of the statement. I am a full-time father and a full-time husband, and I make time for every member of my family every day.
This comment is now getting quite long, but I think I have responded to as many points as I deem necessary at this time. Thanks for your comment. It’s good for me to think about these things too. Having a respectful dialog, even while disagreeing is one of the pillars of our free society. May it ever be so.
Thanks for the answers Joshua. I think a lot of puzzlement I have is because your answers are mostly opinion without factual substance. For example, how can a plural wife having a plural husband to be with on the nights her other husband is with other wives be considered adultery but you having multiple wives is not adultery? I know the Bible pretty well and Sara gave Hagar to Abraham, and we see how terribly awful that turned out. Look at the problems Jacob had with his four wives and their twelve sons. Look at David with his hundreds of wives and concubines. Nowhere does it say God commanded these plural marriages. But if God allowed it, why would He not allow wives to be able to be with someone every night just as you are able to be so blessed? And how is it you cannot see that you are indeed more blessed to never be lonely all night, every night than your wives who sleep alone half of every month if you have two wives, or two-thirds of a month if you have three wives, etc. Even if they agree and support this setup, you can objectively see that you having 100% companionship is a joy these wives do not also have. It’s simple math. But that math virtually makes you a part time husband every night. Yes, you may see your wives every day, but when you go to bed at night, you are depriving one or more wives of the special time reserved for her. Yet you are never deprived! They abide and endure it. But you thrive.
You mention men going to work all day and being away from his wife and children. To me this is the crux of the matter. When you come home from work, there are only a few hours to be with kids and your wife. After the kids are in bed, that time belongs to the two of you. It nurtures and feeds the marriage. Falling asleep together makes for a peaceful, feeling-safe wholeness vital to well-being. Humans are a social species that seek pair bonding. So, no, I don’t consider my husband part time because he works all day to provide for us…..because when he comes home he’s there for the kids, and later for me and I for him. Every time you sleep with another wife you rob whoever is left alone of that special time to nurture your marriage and grow closer as a couple. That’s also factual math.
I recognize that there are horrific monogamous marriages as well as plural marriages. I’m not addressing the horrific ones in either form of marriage. I’m trying to understand the good and healthy plural marriages by seeking answers to tough questions regarding these issues of husbands being fulfilled every night (and it isn’t considered adulterous) but wives are valiantly making the best of being alone a large percentage of their nights. How can you not see that you are never deprived but they are? They are deprived of you. They are deprived of your snuggling and pillow talk. This isn’t a matter of opinion. This is a fact of the reality of plural marriage. To me this clearly indicates favor toward men and sacrifice toward women. I’m not saying they are abused or that the husbands are evil. I recognize these wives choose to live this way of their own free will. I just can’t see any other way to objectively look at this form of marriage than that the husband has abundance and the wives make the best of whatever amount of special time they get. This is clearly an unfairness, one that contradicts that “all are alike unto God, male and female,” and “God is no respect or of persons.”
I do not consider these to be false premises, but rather observations that are proven by math and sound reasoning. Matters of faith seldom abound in the realm of math and sound reasoning. But I truly have the utmost respect for every good thing you do as a plural family and for your well-spoken responses to my questions and concerns. I’m glad you all seem to be happy with your choices and continue to wish all the best for you.
How can you expect any sort of serious answer when you begin your comment with: “your answers are mostly opinion without factual substance”?? This, says the monogamist who is trying to tell the polygamist what polygamy is like. Try again if you are serious at all about getting my point of view about things. Otherwise, we are done here.
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I apologize Joshua. I sincerely meant my comment as a point of observation that while I respect your opinion for your answers I was trying to address these things from facts, as I explained. I truly meant no insult. I’m very sorry it came across to you that way. I felt you were not understanding how I could claim you are not a full time husband to each wife and you replied that you spend time with every wife and child every day and are full time. I was trying to show that you are dedicated and full time to the group, but it is impossible to spend a fullness of time with each wife — they’re time with you is divided. Further, you tried to say men are not more favored/blessed, but I was trying to show that I felt this was inaccurate because you spend all night every night with someone, but your wives do not have that blessing and joy. You clearly have more in that regard, and I think most people in happy marriages cherish that time together every night. And still further, I couldn’t see how it’s not adultery for you to do this but it would be adultery if each wife had another husband besides you to be with all night on the nights you are gone. It seems to be a huge double standard.
I think I’ll let all this it go now because when trying to get down to understanding these issues I’ve observed about plural marriage, you have been offended and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. These inequities in your marriages greatly trouble me, but I think you and your wives just accept them for reasons I cannot fathom other than its how you were raised to look as marriage — as a group endeavor. Blessings, sacrifices, and fairness are defined differently than how the rest of us see these things. That’s what I’ve learned so far, and I remain very appreciative for coming to understand these things. We look through scripture very differently and I remain intrigued by how you come to your understanding of them. Please know I respect your views because you are very sincere, and are kind and respectful to your wives and children. And I truly do hope for the best for you as you go forward in your lives. Thank you for teaching me. May God bless and keep you in His tender care.
I came to this site via a search for an intelligent discussion about the complexities we see in these families’ marriages. I think you raise excellent points, and the “defenders” haven’t offered any substantive answers to your respectful questions. Thank you for your thoughts.
Hey there joninboston,
Be patient. We do not do this for our day job. I know it can be frustrating when people don’t reply on-line as quickly as you would like. But we do try to respond to every question eventually. Peace.
Thank you joninboston…..I appreciate you saying that. I really want to learn more about this form of marriage from those who live it and am grateful to Joshua and Melissa for engaging with me so thoughtfully and patiently. My paradigm has shifted considerably, even though I now know I will never believe this type of marriage isn’t incredibly favoring of the husband and depriving to the wives. I don’t think the wives feel (or can even admit being) deprived, and I don’t think the husbands can recognize (or admit) how they are never deprived of time and affection. There is an inherent lack of balance. Some years ago one of the Brown wives (Christine, I think) said she’d rather have only 25% of Kody than 100% of any other man. That still boggles my mind! But she grew up in a plural family and I think her cultural upbringing formed her ability to find satisfaction and happiness in these circumstances. This intrigues me and yet saddens me at the same time. But I don’t doubt that plural families are intrigued and saddened by my perspectives regarding monogamy too. It’s good to ask and seek….and to learn. That’s how we grow, right?
Perhaps you are not consciously aware of the fact that you’re being disingenuous. I believe it’s unintentional, but your comments are incredibly presumptuous and offensive. If you want people to seriously engage with you in the future I recommend you reconsider your approach.
Ultimately you FEEL the way you do about polygyny simply because it’s how you feel. I learned years ago that it’s impossible to reason a person out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. I don’t blame Joshua for choosing not to spend any more time discussing this subject with you.
I respect your right to believe whatever you want; however, whether you respect Joshua’s same right to live according to the dictates of his conscience is not negotiable. If you’re unwilling to keep a civil tone in your discourse then you are not welcome here. This is not a forum for antagonistic people to grind axes.
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Wow…..I have been nothing but respectful and sincere. I have not been disingenuous at all.Not at all! I have asked true and heartfelt questions about this type of marriage and have asked those questions respectfully. I have asked in a very civil and respectful manner for explanations to those observations — which are not presumptions, but rather things shown on the various tv shows — about polygamy discussed above. I have not condemned this lifestyle, nor Joshua and Melissa at all—I feel no condemnation toward them whatsoever. I’d just like sincere answers to how those in this lifestyle deal with the fact that husbands have companionship, security, and affection every night all night, but wives do without that blessing and joy a great deal of the time, and how this circumstance favors and blesses men far more than women. How do you explain this? That’s a fair and honest question anyone outside of polygamy looking in would want to understand. It’s a huge concern. And also, why is it acceptable for men to have many wives but if a woman took another husband so she wasn’t alone on the nights her first husband was gone to other wives it is considered adultery. Again, from the outside looking in this appears to be an obvious double standard. That’s not being rude (or the other ugly things you accused me of) to notice this and ask about it in sincerity and a desire to understand how you view these hard questions that are real and important to understanding this type of marriage. Why not answer them respectfully rather than turning mean towards me? It is very hurtful and undeserved.
I express again that I sincerely want to learn about polygamy from people who live it rather than people who are critical monogamists. If I want to learn about Catholicism I ask a devout and happy Catholic, not a born again Evangelical. Some of the questions are just tough. It is this way with all paths in life. I’ve been asked hard questions about my life choices, and sometimes from people yelling and swearing who have no intention of trying to understand or learn, but rather are just trying to put those choices down by shaming me. Shutting me down and out only serves to leave an honest seeker to whatever can be learned by watching tv shows about polygamy, which offers no opportunity to ask and learn about areas of this form of marriage not covered in the shows. I have friends who’ve been impressed with the dialog here—good people who think very poorly of polygamists and polygamy. Their views have softened a bit, as have mine. But all of us have wondered about the troubling things I’ve asked, and we truly hope you’ll answer so we can understand how happy, healthy polygamists explain these parts of their lifestyle, thus helping us to no longer be left to our prejudices born of ignorance and propaganda given to us all our lives by monogamists.
It’s no fun to be called disingenuous or insincere is it? I think it is very easy to consider other people as such while we are nothing but sincere, genuine, and correct. I am sure I do this also. It is only natural. We are not enjoying this exchange with you as much as we could, and I will give you some examples why. As Taylor said, perhaps you are unaware how you are coming across. You say you have been nothing but respectful and sincere, and I am sure you feel that way, but it is difficult to receive it that way when you say things like:
“your answers are mostly opinion without factual substance.” It’s not productive at all to claim that you have all the facts and that the other person’s words are simply without basis.
When you continually beat the drum of polygamy being adultery, despite being directed to several posts on this blog that address that concern. You obviously have not respected us enough to read what we have already written on the subject. This makes us doubtful that you actually want to know what we think about things, but rather just want to keep poking at us for your entertainment (or something).
Similarly, you keep beating the drum about polyandry, when you have already been given our view on that, and, since you claim to know the Bible well, you should already know the answer to that anyway. We feel a little like we are being trolled.
When you say, “it’s how you were raised to look as marriage”. When if you had actually been interested in how our family operates you would have read, in several places on this blog, that we were all raised in traditional, mainstream, LDS families, with monogamous parents (who despised polygamists), and we have even taught our children to despise polygamists as well. We have all lived monogamy as well. Charlotte and I were married monogamously for more than a decade. Melissa has been married monogamously twice. You’re preaching to the choir. We love monogamists, and think the world should have more of them!
When you say, ”Thank you…I appreciate you saying that” to another commenter that only had insults for us.
When you claim that your, “observations that are proven by math and sound reasoning” When you have no observations except for watching reality TV, and you do not even fully understand the “math” involved (but have no fear, I am going to derive the complete formula for you).
When you say that we are “robbed” or are robbers. When we object you say that our words are merely opinion while yours are fact. You rob us of our truth. You deny us the sincerity of our own words.
We don’t feel you are sincere when you say that polygamists can’t recognize (as if we were stupid) or can’t admit (as if we were dishonest) the difficulties involved in allocating time and resources, when the entire subject of the post you commented on was about that very topic. Furthermore, I admitted several times in my responses that it was true, that there are difficulties, that there are ups and downs. It strains your credibility to accuse us of denying things we have never denied. It is called the straw-man fallacy. It takes some special effort to turn a point of agreement into a disagreement.
Despite your insistence to the contrary, our disagreement is not one of facts as much as it is one of opinions, or more correctly of values. Read the very first comment on this post again (By Chris Nystrom). It is so good, and so true, and so concise. Polygamists don’t deny that polygamy is hard. In fact (to use yet another fact), they would tell you that it is more difficult than monogamy. And yet they do it anyway. Any why is that? It is not because the facts are different. Not because they deny the math. Not because they don’t realize the difficulties. Not because they are clueless about what monogamy is like. And not because they are ignorant about what the scriptures say. None of these ideas are true. The simple truth is, as you have already been told several times – and by multiple people, they think about things differently. They value different things, and hallelujah for that!
I realize that most every comment made by you has also ended in something about my “sweet” family, and blessings for us, etc. Perhaps these wishes are sincere, but (given the implications of the rest of the comment) it reminds me very much of the phrase, “bless his heart”. If you are not familiar with this phrase it is always followed by (or follows) an insult or criticism. It is not a blessing at all. As in, “Bless his heart, he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.” Lol.
Can you see how any of this would be frustrating to us?
Therefore, given that you have not accepted any of our answers/opinions/views as having any validity (and even deny them sincerity while continuing to say, “I’d just like sincere answers”). Given that you continue to pound on ideas that we have already given answers to, and given that you claim we continue to deny things that we admit to, I have decided that this thread is simply no longer serving any useful purpose. I have decided to close further comments on this post for now.
However, I want you to know that you have brought up some very poignant questions, pointed out some of the very hardest parts of living polygamy, and none of your comments will be wasted! I am going to write a post (or perhaps a series of posts if it gets to long – which it probably will) responding to all of your comments. Have no fear, it will all be respectful and in good taste. I will reopen the comments on this post after this is completed.
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