WARNING: THIS POST MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUNGER OR IMMATURE READERS.
One common question (or complaint) about polygamy has to do with the “fairness” of sexual encounters between spouses. There are a lot of assumptions that must be rolled up together to fully form this complaint; nevertheless, it seems to be a simple, mathematical fact that the practice of polygamy itself will make for one sexually fulfilled man at the expense of all his wives being unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
This complaint is generally raised by women (tho not always, as you will see if you keep reading), and it should be no big surprise why. Everybody knows the reason; it is because, even monogamously married women are often sexually unsatisfied. This is a sad but genuine reality for many women. I even had a woman leave a comment about this very issue on my previous post about sex and polygamy. The reality of the situation is all the more saddening when you realize that this particular disparity between the sexes is completely needless.
Of course human sexual satisfaction and fulfillment is complicated, but a large portion our satisfaction has to do with how frequently we experience orgasms (along with all of the physiological and psychological fireworks that accompany them). There are various studies and surveys that have been conducted dealing with this subject, so you will get different numbers depending on where you look, but the general consensus seems to be that about 90% of men report experiencing an orgasm with every single sexual encounter (no surprise there – unless you are surprised that the reported percentage is that low). However, for women this number is considerably lower; only about 40-50% (probably no surprise here either), with a broad range depending on context (some studies say it is as low as 30%, others as high as 60%). No wonder this is a concern! In my family we have a playful euphemism that we sometimes use for orgasms; they are called, “waffles”. If we were to use “waffles” as a measure of the sexual inequality of the “average” marriage it might look something like this:
If sexual satisfaction (again approximating this with waffles) in women is only experienced sporadically in monogamy, then it stands to reason that it must be worse in polygamy; since the frequency of sexual encounters between a woman and her husband will be more spaced. This is obviously a valid point, and it is not only made by women.
We once had an elderly man named Lee visit our house for worship services. He was very nice, and we enjoyed one another’s company and fellowship just fine, but he made it very clear that he disagreed with polygamy as a system of marriage. In conversation after the meeting he proceeded to tell us why. He was a fairly recent widower, but in his 50+ years of marriage, he had never been able to bring his wife to orgasm even a single time! All those years he had been having waffles in front of her and never sharing. It was a great disappointment to them both. However, as he was complaining to us about his wife’s frigidity, and blaming all this frustration on her lack of responsiveness, I was silently thinking how sad it was that years of problems were probably due to the lack of a simple anatomy lesson. I did not take the opportunity to give him a lesson (it wouldn’t have made a difference anyhow), but just listened. This was a serious objection to the practice of polygamy in his mind. He could not begin to fathom trying to satisfy more than one female, when he was never able to satisfy even one. Fair enough, I said, and agreed with him whole heartedly that he had made the right decision:
Lee, and other men like him, should never become polygamists.
Sex is a lot of things. It is an obligation between spouses, and a command from God, but it is also a blessing from God, and a part of the joy of the marriage relationship. Spouses should seek to please one another in this respect.
The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.1Corinthians 3:7 (NLT)
There are many other places in scripture that could be used to show God’s approval of sex between husband and wife for physical pleasure, for the sake of desire, and not solely for the purpose of reproduction. The fulfillment of your spouses’ sexual needs is not only a matter of frequency of interactions, but also the quality of those interactions. This sexual connection is important not only for spiritual reasons, but for our emotional and psychological wellbeing also.
This brings us to a very important reality that ought to be understood in order to figure out how to accomplish satisfying your marriage partner. The reality is: men and women experience sexual arousal and satisfaction in different ways.
The human sexual response can be separated into four phases as shown in the graphs above. These same four phases (Arousal, Plateau, Orgasm/Climax, and Resolution) occur in both men and women, but with some obvious differences. Acknowledging that individual experiences may vary, the first difference to note is that it takes women more time to reach orgasm. This should come as no surprise; their plateau phase is generally longer in duration. If the graphs were superimposed (and all else being equal), we could easily see that men will reach climax, then descend quickly into resolution, before their wife ever gets a waffle. In addition, males generally experience a refractory period after resolution. During this time (which is variable, but see my post here for more about this), the man will not be sexually aroused by his wife. Husbands, listen up! Taken together these facts mean – You ought to take care of her first! If you don’t serve her first, there is a very good chance she will miss out entirely (this conclusion is borne out by the statistics mentioned at the beginning of this article).
Of course the most dramatic and remarkable difference between these graphs is that women are multi-orgasmic creatures! They can have waffle after waffle as long as they are hungry for them, and they are still being served. The line on the graph is dotted because the number of climaxes is variable; however, this is something that most, if not all, women are capable of. Things seem to be evening out a bit if you ask me.
I don’t speak for any other plural families, but I have a rule that the husband should be able to serve his wives at least as many waffles as he has wives. In other words, if he has only one wife, then she should get at least one waffle every time he does (this practice would solve the disparity in the statistics quoted at the top of this article). If he has two wives, they should each get at least two waffles every time he gets one waffle. If he has three wives, then they should each get at least three waffles every time he gets one waffle, etc. It is a beautiful system and a good rule to live by – no matter how many wives you have. In this way, even tho individuals may get served at different times, they all get fair portions, and everyone comes away satisfied.
In my family I try to meet or exceed this rule. My wives are always served at least two waffles (because I have two wives), but they will usually have three or four (sometimes more). If we were to use waffles as a visual representation of the sexual inequality of the marriages in my family, it might look something like this at the end of a week:
I don’t think that’s too much to complain about.
7 thoughts on “Math, Waffles, Sex, and Plural Marriage”
Your wives are very lucky ladies to have a husband so committed to their sexual needs. This is rare regardless of polygamy!
Since you can’t possibly expect your detractors (or anyone else) to believe this is a solid argument for or reasonable expectation of polygamy, my conclusion is that you are attempting to convince someone else, possibly your wives, that it’s time for that third wife.
This post is not an argument for polygamy. In fact, I make the argument that some people should not be polygamists. On the contrary, this post is an answer to a common question, and it is an argument for taking care of the needs of your spouse – regardless of your family structure. Frankly, I’m surprised that anyone would have a problem with that! Specifically, I am dismayed that anyone would think that sexual satisfaction is not a “reasonable expectation” in marriage. I am sorry for your spouse that you feel that way, unless you both feel that way, I guess, then I say good for you. Obviously you are not alone in your views, and I am in the minority (as the statistics show). Still, I will respectfully disagree with you.
However, I am “attempting to convince someone” – its you, dear reader. I want to convince you to be a better spouse, and to take care of your wife and family the way you know you should (if you’re a man) or to take care of your husband and family (if you’re a woman).
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When one thinks of orgasms (however pleasurable – no contention there, sir) as boxes to be checked off on a chart, I am hearing clearly what you are telling me about the motives/focus of polygyny.
Read more than one post on this blog before you decide what the focus and motives of polygyny are (heck, you could even re-read this post). You might find them more similar to the focus and motives of monogamy than you would think 😉
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I like having a waffle when I’m hungry. Most people do since waffles are nice. However, food is something you need on a regular basis and when you’re full you don’t want any more. Seems to me you get a waffle a day, while your wives have to eat double rations every second day? And a third wife would mean going without food two thirds of your life while eating mountains of waffles every third day? While you comfortably get to eat a normal and healthy amount every day?
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