None of my children is old enough for dating and courtship, but I’ve still had had many important conversations about choosing a spouse, preparing to be a good husband/wife, what to look for in a potential partner, how to really get to know someone, etc.
I have repeatedly talked to them about dating versus real life.
You can go on a planned date with someone, where you’re both dressed up and presentable, you’re on your best behavior, and you get to just have a nice time at a restaurant where someone else is doing all the work. Enjoying one another’s company when the event is low-stress and nothing but fun is a facet of compatibility.
But it’s also important — and arguably more important — to see what someone is like when they’re in a stressful environment or when there’s work to be done. How does he behave when he gets a flat tire on the way to the restaurant? How does she treat you if you forget your wallet? Does he have a sense of humor if you’re spending time with children and he gets messy? Does she pitch in and work hard if you’re doing a difficult project together? Does he step up as a leader if he’s put in charge of motivating a group of children to help clean up after an event? Does she make it into a game and a challenge if she’s asked to help with something unpleasant?
When you are exploring whether a person is a good match for you, it’s essential to see them in situations that are closer to real life, and not just fun. Everyday life is work. Everyday life can be stressful. Everyday life isn’t just pleasant and relaxing, hour after hour, day after day.
My plan for my children when they start dating/courting is for them to invite their date to service projects, the big events we host, our family time, the work days. I want them to have opportunitites to interact with each other around parents, siblings, children, and people who need help. I want them to get to see each other in action when there’s work to be done, tool belts and boots to wear, mud or chicken poop to wade thru, fences to put up that catch on clothes. I want them to see each other at their best but also at their worst, in those kinds of situations that let the person’s character shine thru.
There’s a Kristina Kuzmic video about her as a divorced mother dating a man who wanted all of it, even cleaning up the vomit:
This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. He didn’t just want Kristina when her makeup was done and her children with with a babysitter. He was willing to take on the entire package, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.
Seeking Sister Wife, S3E2, titled “Irreconcilable Differences”, shows Garrick and Dannielle at dinner with some family. They are planning on yet another trip to Mexico to vacation with Roberta and spend some time her. Their sister-in-law Samantha points out the problem with meeting Roberta only on vacation.
I do have some questions about Roberta ’cause you guys only met her in Mexico because it’s different in a vacation. And then you come out here and it’s reality.
Samantha (Dannielle’s sister-in-law)
I agree with Samantha. Putting aside all the cultural and language differences the Merrifields will have to overcome, I am genuinely concerned that they are in for a reality shock when their relationship with Roberta moves from vacation to real life. I’m happy for them that they enjoy each other so much when the situation is fun and entertaining, but I wish they had the chance to see each other in the more realistic daily life and make sure they’re still compatible.
As Garrick acknowledged in the episode,
Yeah, I think there’s definitely gonna be a huge adjustment.
Did you know that polygamy doesn’t always mean a man with more than one wife?
The new season of Seeking Sister Wife is here! The Snowdens and Winders are back on Season 3, and a few new families have joined the cast.
One of the new families is from North Carolina and currently has 2 wives. The husband’s name is Jarod Clark, and in Episode 1, he brought up some of the vocabulary surrounding polygamy:
We practice polygamy; specifically, polygyny. Polygamy is the umbrella term for a multi-person relationship. And in polygyny … the male [has] separate wives.
The distinction he makes is correct. Polygamy means basically “many marriages” and can refer to a man with multiple wives or a woman with multiple husbands. The former is called polygyny, and the latter is called polyandry.
So why is polygamy the word used in so many contexts when referring to polygyny?
One reason must be the fact that one man with multiple wives is far more common than a woman with multiple husbands. Someday, I may write about why this is the case, but for now I’ll just point it out as a fact that thruout history and across cultures, polygamy almost universally means the husband has more than one spouse.
It’s universal enough that Dictionary.com acknowledges it in its definition of polygamy: “the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, especially wife, at one time.”
I admit I perpetuate the lack of distinction on this blog by using “polygamy” instead of the more specific “polygyny” most of the time. The simple reason I use “polygamy” is that it’s a much more familiar word.
I should mention that most fundamental Mormons prefer the phrase “plural marriage”. I think that’s the terminology used in Sister Wives most of the time.
Now let’s discuss the title of the episode: “Polygamist and Proud!” along with some grammar.
Polygamist is a noun. A polygamist is “a person who practices or favors polygamy.”
Polygamousis an adjective. (Quick review: Adjectives describe nouns. In the sentence “handsome man”, “handsome” is the adjective and “man” is the noun.) “Polygamous” is an adjective that describes something or someone as being “of, pertaining to, characterized by, or practicing polygamy” and is synonymous with the less-commonly used adjective polygamic.
Used in a sentence, you would correctly say:
“Garrick Merrifield is polygamous.”
“Sidian Jones is a polygamist.”
“Jarod Clark is a polygamous man.”
“I know a polygamist who writes a fascinating blog called ‘Speaking of Polygamy’.”
“I know the polygamous family who lives in Kody Brown’s old house.”
“I know a bunch of polygamists.”
“I am polygamous.”
“We are polygamists.”
You wouldn’t say:
“Dimitri Snowden is a polygamous.”
“Colton Winder is a polygamist man.”
“I am polygamist.”
I’ll bet the person/people who titled Episode 1 meant to pair the adjective “Polygamous” with the adjective “Proud”, rather than awkwardly pairing the noun “Polygamist” with the adjective “Proud”. I asked my teenaged daughter what she thought of the title, and she caught the presumed error as well. In other words, I think title should have been “Polygamous and Proud!” instead of “Polygamist and Proud!”
I’m not nitpicking with the intention of criticizing the show. I enjoy watching it and I’m sure my own writing has plenty of grammar mistakes for someone who cares to look. My goal here is simply to educate the reader about some of the vocabulary and grammar in the world of polygamy, clear up any confusion about those words, and provide a little help on correctly using them.
Here’s an example of the usefulness of knowing the proper vocabulary and grammar: In writing this post, I discovered that, according to Dictionary.com, polygamists include people who simply believe in polygamy, no matter whether they are practicing it or not.
From time-to-time I come across someone who is unmarried or monogamous but who calls himself or herself a “polygamist”. This has always bugged me, because I thought their marital status was incompatible with the category “polygamists”. I did not realize that the actual dictionary definition of polygamist really does include a person who simply “favors polygamy”. I stand corrected.
I have hesitated in the past to call myself a “polygamist” because I’m only married to one man, so technically my husband, and not me, is the one with multiple marriages. Realizing what the full definition of “polygamist” is gives me more confidence in calling myself a polygamist.
Getting back to S3E1, what is the deal with not having a schedule? Two of the families said something similar in E1.
Here, one of the couples that is new on SSW, Sidian and Tosha Jones, say that back when they were polygamists, they didn’t have a schedule:
Mostly at night, we would sort of switch off time.
Yeah, it wasn’t really scheduled.
And here, Jarod Clark says it’s “natural” and “fluid” to switch between wives without having a schedule.
It feels very natural to spend some nights with Kaleh and some nights with Vanessa. No schedules, no rules. We just keep it completely fluid.
My sisterwife Melissa, our husband Joshua, and I like to watch Seeking Sister Wife together, but they were both out of town when this episode aired, so we watched it separately and then discussed it later. When I asked Melissa what she thought of the episode, the very first thing she brought up was the lack of scheduling.
Not having a schedule honestly makes no sense to me. I wrote about this in “I don’t want to have a chart on the refrigerator“, a post about a conversation between Dimitri Snowden and Joselyn in SSW Season 1, Episode 4. In that post, I included a tweet from @TheBrineyFamily saying, “Good luck with no schedule for time in plural marriage!” I won’t repeat all my arguments here.
A major factor at play is whether the wives share a home. When I wrote that post, Melissa and I didn’t live together, so whether Joshua was coming to my house or to hers vastly changed the evening’s plans and the home’s atmosphere. Nowadays, we are under the same roof, so it matters a lot less. However, we still do certain things separately. If we shared a kitchen and shared every meal, shared the living spaces, and never did anything separately, maybe the small detail of which bedroom Joshua went to at bedtime would matter even less.
But how does a husband choose who to sleep with, if it’s not based on a schedule? Does it depend on which wife is more/less demanding? Does it depend on the husband’s mood? Does it depend on the moods of the wives? The whole concept simply does not compute for me.
I don’t want to think that my husband will only come to my house if he feels like it. He has duties to me and I have duties to him. Marriage is important enough that sometimes spouses need to spend time together whether they both want to or not; otherwise it might become all too easy to avoid working out problems and just go with the easier route of avoiding each other.
I don’t care what the schedule is, and there are plenty of forms it can take (I give several real-life examples in the Refrigerator post), but the logistics of polygamy are already complicated. I say, let’s not make them more complicated by going without a plan.
I completely understand basing the schedule on what is going on with every family member on any given week. Maybe that’s what is meant by the people on SSW? Rather than having a schedule that is repeating and predictable, perhaps it’s simply flexible, depends on the week, and is based on the needs of the husband, wives, and even children. That sounds fine, and from time-to-time Joshua has adjusted his schedule depending on all those things. I guess “no schedule” just sounds to me like the husband waiting until 9:00 p.m. to announce which bedroom he’s sleeping in, or in the case of wives living in separate homes, waiting until 6:00 p.m. to decide at which house he’ll be spending his evening, eating dinner, and going to bed.
I admit that my personality type may be to blame for my strong preference for a predictable schedule. I like to plan. I like to visualize what my day/week/month looks like. I make time for myself and my projects and tasks, I have one-on-one time with each my children every day, I make time for my husband and for the entire family; for me, all that requires scheduling.
My entire life, I have always been frustrated at changes of plans, even when the change is potentially for the better. I admit this is a personality flaw, and maybe if I was better at going with the flow, I wouldn’t care so much about knowing when my husband is going to be with me versus not. Maybe the wives on SSW are different enough in that respect that it really does work for them.
The more I comment on it, the more I think I should write a whole post about the plural husband’s schedule when his wives live together versus separately, since we’ve now experienced several years of both situations.
As a homeschooling mom, I was interested to learn that another one of the new families on SSW, the Merrifields, also homeschools. We’ll see if that comes up again in a future episode.
We have two boys… We homeschool them… [to their two sons] All right, do you guys wanna get your books and stuff ready?
I liked hearing Garrick and Dannielle Merrifield’s story about not coming from a polygamist background but being Christian, reading the Bible, and realizing plural marriage was practiced by godly people that were loved by God.
The way I see it is living a plural lifestyle is a great way to follow Christ and be like him.
I do not envy this family for courting and becoming engaged to a woman in a different country who speaks a different language! We have several friends with at least one wife in a different country, and they all have definitely chosen a hard way to live. The sisterwives don’t get the benefits that come from living together, and they end up living alone and almost like single mothers for weeks or months at a time. Melissa and I used to live only 1 hour apart, and that was difficult enough.
She [Roberta] lives in Brazil … so she speaks Portuguese, and only Portuguese.
Here’s what my preteen son has to say about it: “It seems like such a dumb idea to marry someone who lives in a different country and you don’t even know each other’s languages. They should probably know the same language!”
One last thought about the episode. I like the comments Jarod Clark made about polygamy and kings and queens.
[Polygamy] was something that I [came] across in some research on how tribes and kingdoms were built, where a king had multiple queens, and each wife played an intricate part in that king’s life and in building and growing the kingdom.
In my home I present myself as a king. … Same thing with Vanessa and Kaleh: they present themselves as queens.
The blog’s header image is a castle I designed with the Mars and Venus symbols, meant to symbolize the husband in a plural family being a king and his wives being queens.
And, finally, I wrote some about the king/queen concept in this post about being proud to be a polygamist. In that post, I talk about how wonderful I think my family and my husband are, how I consider Joshua a king and Melissa and I his queens, and especially about how being polygamous used to be embarrassing for me but now I hold my head up high.
I guess you could say I’m “Polygamist and Proud!” … or should I say “Polygamous and Proud!” ?
Mothers everywhere know what it means when their husband is traveling for work: All the parenting, 24 hours a day, falls to you.
Such was the situation I found myself in, with my husband across the country on business, and I was discouraged and exhausted. The days were long, our routine disrupted, and the children tired of not seeing their father.
My son blew the shofar to call us to our evening family time, where everyone has a chance to show something or tell about their day; we lovingly call this time “Shofar & Tell” (a play on “Show and Tell” — get it?).
We gathered in the living room of my sisterwife Melissa, and as I routinely do, I pulled out the family Happy Book to write in while we shared our lives and visited together.
My son disrespectfully jumped on my case and told me I shouldn’t have a “toy” during Shofar & Tell (referring to my writing in the Happy Book). He’d been nitpicking and criticizing me a lot, so the uncalled-for criticism was especially frustrating.
We officially got started with Shofar & Tell, and when my daughter’s turn came to hold the shofar and show/tell us something, she took the opportunity to complain about me.
I was hurt, and since I had been struggling for some time with those two children disrespecting me, questioning me, and dishonoring me, it got to be too much.
I said to my sisterwife Melissa, “Why does everything come down to criticizing me and complaining about me? Everyone in this house seems to be starting from a place of ‘Mom is wrong. Mom has wronged me. What is Mom doing wrong right now? What can I criticize Mom about right now?’ I feel like everyone is assuming my guilt until I’m proven innocent.”
Melissa saw the problem, recognized my need for support, and she truly stepped up.
She launched into a scolding lecture about about how lucky the children are to have me; how lucky they are to have a mother who stays home with them and focuses on taking care of them; how they shouldn’t be rude to me; how they should treat me with respect and love; how they ought to show gratitude for me and the good life they have.
She went on and on. A couple of the children got teary-eyed over it. When she was done, she gave every child a chance to say something. To me she said, “I want you to write down in the family Happy Book what they say: I want you to recognize it and embrace it.”
Each of my children expressed their sincere gratitude for me and came over and hugged me. Melissa even had her young child say something nice and hug me, and then she also expressed her love and gave me a hug.
I felt extremely validated and supported. Someone saw me and wanted me to feel appreciated. Someone wasn’t going to stand by and let me be treated with disrespect by my children.
I wasn’t doing all the parenting by myself after all. Melissa and I were together, taking care of the children, trying to teach them, being a good team.
If I had been the only parent home that week, things would not have gone so well, I can promise you that. I would have continued to be sad, and I might have lost my temper with the children and just made things worse.
If our husband Joshua had been there, he certainly would have shushed the children to keep the peace and given me moral support later in a private conversation.
But Melissa took it further and worked right then and there to truly change the hearts of the children and let me know how much she supports me.
This is one real-life example of the benefits of a polygamous family.
My children are lucky Melissa is invested in them the way every mother should be invested in her children, and I’m grateful to have her as a co-parent.
I was still an active member of the LDS Church, and I was substituting as the pianist in primary. Singing Time was over for the Junior Primary, so I had a few minutes to relax before the Senior Primary came in.
The Primary President was in charge of Sharing Time, and she was having the children role play some Bible stories.
Since we believe we are Israelites, Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) is a key person in our story and covenant heritage. The trouble for a strictly monogamous Church is that Jacob/Israel inconveniently had 4 wives, and each wife was the mother of at least 2 of the sons who would become the namesakes for the “tribes of Israel.”
How does one tell the story of the family and hold Jacob/Israel up as a good example we should emulate without condoning his polygamy???
When trying to role play this awkward marital situation, what is a Primary President supposed to do?
She did what any self-respecting monogamous Primary President would do. She pretended that Jacob had only one wife, giving her the credit for birthing all 12 of his sons (and 1 daughter).
I wasn’t a polygamist back then — in fact, I didn’t even like the idea of polygamy — and yet I was shocked at this blatant mis-telling of the common Bible story.
(Side note: The famous musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatmentions Jacob’s “wives“ and states that Joseph’s mother was Jacob’s favorite wife. As far as I remember, the play leaves it at that; the plural wives are not major characters and they are never explicitly named, so the screenplay skirts around the polygamy issue without either making a big deal about it or being inaccurate.)
Back to the Primary President. She invited 1 boy and 1 girl to the front of the room and let them dress up in some simple homemade costumes. Then she introduced them to the primary as Jacob and his “wife“, who were the parents of the 12 sons we know as the tribes of Israel.
I was stunned. I couldn’t let this error pass without comment, so from the back of the room, I raised my hand and opened my mouth and said,
“Excuse me, ma’am, but Jacob had 4 wives.”
The Primary President blushed and hemmed and stammered and couldn’t find a way to remove herself from the embarrassing situation she’d put herself into. The story was cut short and the children were shooed back to their seats.
I felt bad for correcting the Primary President in front of everyone, and yet, what would you have done?
An hour later, when the same activity was being done with the older age group, I noticed that the Primary President still had children act out Adam and Eve, Noah and Mrs. Noah, Jonah, Daniel, David and Goliath, and so on, but she didn’t dare repeating the Jacob-and-his-monogamous-wife incident, and that story was left out.
I’ve been a plural wife for almost 6 years. We have lived separately for 5 of those years as I got my teens grown and launched.
Charlotte had 3 children when I joined the family. Now she has 4.
It’s been very interesting being a second mother to her children.
I am very grateful that the basics of early parenting are so similar. Cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, etc. I”m grateful that we agree on discipline techniques and are constantly looking for better ways to parent each individual child.
For a long time, because I was only around parts of a couple of days a week, it was difficult finding my voice as a parent to the portion of the family I didn’t live with daily. Now that I live in the same overarching home, it has gotten much easier and I have much more enlightenment on the day to day running of the household. I’m beginning to understand how kids can work the system, and how much more plural parents have to be in communication in order to limit treats and deal with chore assignments.
I am a parent to these children of Joshua and Charlotte. I have a very vested interest in them and even more so now. We are a family.
We support each other in parenting. If we believe another adult to be out of line or too harsh, we save those criticisms for out of child earshot. I have been very neededly pulled out of situations where I escalated too abruptly and too loudly (AKA lost my damn mind). A pair of scissors and a Bluebird flour bag come to mind.
There are a couple of funny things which have happened recently:
Each night we have family time which consists of Joshua reading, each person sharing something about the day, and family prayer. A while ago, while gathering the 10-year-old came in sulking and complaining “In the last 5 minutes, I’ve been asked by 3 parents if I’ve brushed my teeth!” Sorry kid; it’s just a parent thing, and you have more than most.
I was reading a book to the 2 1/2-year-old about 5 little monkeys and their mother’s birthday. The little monkeys were making their mother a cake. Our toddler was very confused and asked “Where is the other mama?! as she thumbed through the pages looking for another mother. I told her that there was only one mother in the monkey family and she kept asking why. I just explained that there are many families with only one mom. She was very dissatisfied that that was the case.
We were at a Sunday meeting with other multiple-mother families and the 6-year-old was on a stairwell with a group of other young girls. She was attempting to explain who I was, “She’s kind of like my Stepmother, but she’s not.” I called up to her, “Just call me your other mother. All of these girls likely have at least 2 maybe 3 moms.” She had a sigh of relief and the other girls collectively nodded their heads in understanding.
One of the most exciting and joyful things about being in my family is that I am expecting a baby in about a month.
As hard as it was to wait for so long, I am so happy this kiddo is being born into a plural family who lives together. I’m excited to have other parents who are so good at parenting and are much closer to the tiny years, so I can ask for help on things like baby carriers and EC. I’m excited that this baby will be like an only child, but with older siblings who are eager to help and excited for a new family member.
I want to write about a serious deficiency that many families face. It is a plague upon the modern family: absentee fathers. Sadly, much of the blame for this plague can be placed at the feet of our own government. For generations now they have incentivized (in other words, encouraged) fatherless homes, and encouraged our women to marry the government. Fatherless homes are perhaps the biggest problem facing our culture.
The percentage of children born out of wedlock has increased dramatically in this country over the past few decades. A generation or two ago only 5% of births were to unmarried women. The current figure is hovering somewhere around 40%! One of the amazing things about this trend is that it has happened after the invention of modern birth control! Shouldn’t the availability of birth control methods have lowered the incidence of births out of wedlock? It seems that it has had the opposite effect in some regards. It has simply helped to create a culture of ever deteriorating morals. It doesn’t take a psychologist or social scientist to realize that this trend is detrimental to our society in a great many ways.
Children do better in every way with both a father and a mother in the home! And fathers especially seem to have a large positive influence. Children do better in every way you could think to measure when there is an involved father in the home. There is a large body of evidence supporting what we already instinctively know about fathers, but in a time such as ours, when truth and wisdom are so often seen as foolishness (or “backwards” or “outdated” or “sexist” etc.), it is good to have some facts at our disposal.
Here I have gathered some statistics from various sources. Please don’t write any comments about exceptions to these statistics. I know there are bad fathers and husbands out there. Maybe even your very own father was abusive. If so, I would be very sorry to hear it, but it in no way contradicts the numbers I am about to share. These numbers are speaking about fathers in general, and, generally speaking, fathers are very good to have around.
85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes.
71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
71% of pregnant teens have no father present in their life. Fatherless children are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership whatsoever.
90% of runaway children have an absent father.
Fatherless children are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs in childhood and adulthood.
Fathers are the natural protectors of their families. Therefore, fatherless children are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Preschoolers living only with their mother are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused, and 5 times more likely to experience physical abuse and emotional maltreatment (with a 100 times higher risk of that abuse being fatal).
Fatherless children report significantly more psychosomatic health symptoms and illness such as acute and chronic pain, asthma, headaches, and stomach aches.
Children with absent fathers are consistently overrepresented among those with anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies.
As adults, fatherless children are more likely to experience unemployment, have low incomes, remain on social assistance, and experience homelessness.
Children with absent fathers are more likely to divorce, or dissolve their cohabiting unions.
Fatherless children are more likely to die as children, and live an average of four years less over the life span.
Given the fact that these and other social problems correlate more strongly with fatherlessness than with any other factor, surpassing race, social class, and poverty, father absence may well be the most critical social issue of our time.
Fathers are an absolutely vital part of human life and development, but a part that is often discredited and marginalized. Our society at large is screaming at men and boys that they ought to be ashamed for what they have done (i.e. existing as males), and for the negative effects they have had on the world. And that they ought to apologize for some imagined and unearned “privilege” which they have stolen from women – whom they have horribly abused and oppressed for the whole of history, and continue to oppress to the present day. Our children are constantly being fed the lie that men ought to be more like women, and that women and men are equal in every way. It is all a part of the attempted suicide of our western culture, and there are real and concerted efforts on many fronts to achieve this end.
For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) recently released their Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men wherein they state, “Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment.” The entire premise of this sentence is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen in print. Conflict of interest much? In other words these psychologists are saying, “Teaching boys to be strong, self reliant, and to manage their own problems, makes them not give as much money to us when they are adults.” Just think of it, they are criticizing teaching boys to be self-reliant, strong, and to manage their own problems! These people are actively engaged in the destruction of everything good and right in the world.
Let me translate this opening salvo into something approximating clear and blunt English. The authors are claiming that men who socialize their boys in a traditional manner destroy their mental health. This translation/clarification needs to be extended to the second major claim of the document, which is distributed more subtly through its body. We’ll begin with this quote, taken from the Guidelines (p. 3): “Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment,” in combination with this one (p. 3, as well): “Men are overrepresented in prisons, are more likely than women to commit violent crimes, and are at greatest risk of being a victim of violent crime (e.g., homicide, aggravated assault; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015).” So, it’s not only that men who encourage their boys to be “self-reliant, strong and manage their problems on their own” destroy the mental health of their children: they also produce adults who are a primary menace to their families and society.
This is all bad enough (and by that I mean inexcusable) conceptually, rhetorically and politically. But it’s also a lie, scientifically—and worse (because not merely a lie; instead, something more unforgivable). To indicate, as the writers have, that it is the socialization of boys and men by men that is producing both a decrement in the personal mental health of males and females and a threat to the social fabric is not only to get the facts wrong, but to get them wrong in a manner that is directly antithetical to the truth…
It’s simple – and it is this simple fact that is absolutely damning to the claims in the APA document. What kind of families produce violent young men? Fatherless families. The pernicious effect of fatherlessness is exceptionally well-documented. No serious researchers question it. Even the generally damnable sociologists admit it (see, for example, http://bit.ly/2HB27JL). Fatherless girls tend, for example, toward early sexual experimentation (something in itself linked to antisocial behavior) and, unsurprisingly, higher rates of teenage pregnancy. What might be more surprising, however, is that there is even evidence for earlier puberty among girls whose fathers are absent. Fatherless boys are over-represented as alcoholics, addicts, gang-members, prisoners, rapists and murderers. And there’s plenty of what is positive that is lacking among fatherless children, in addition to the negative that is more likely to be present (here’s a decent summary, in lay language: http://bit.ly/2HB27JL)
Consider this (it’s of primary importance): If it is fatherless boys who are violent, how can it be that masculine socialization produces harm both to mental health and society? The data should indicate precisely the opposite: that boys who are only raised by women are much less violent than boys who have men in their lives and, similarly, that boys who do have fathers are more violent than those who do not.
This is not the case. Period.
What does all of this have to do with polygamy? A lot. Diminished influence of a strong father figure is obviously a potential problem facing polygamous families as well – especially if the wives live in separate houses (and more especially if those houses are separated by great distances). And of course, the danger of this increases with each additional wife in a family (assuming the branches of the family live separately). Having the father absent every other evening, or whatever, is potentially going to have a negative effect on his children, and that is a problem that plural husbands need to address!
A few episodes ago Vanessa Cobbs has her two sisters visit in L.A. and there are some tense moments between them – especially between her and her twin sister Adrienne. At one point Adrienne tells Vanessa that she will never be the center of Dimitri’s world. I ❤ Vanessa’s reply: that Dimitri’s universe is big, that she and Ashley are both the center of it, and that his children are at the center of it too!
In the next episode we see Adrienne talking to Ashley and Dimitri around the pool. She’s still not convinced, but she is showing some openness to the idea, and wants to actually know more about it. At one point she is talking to Dimitri and I ❤ this exchange as well! It so completely shows the outlook that a successful plural husband must have.
She asks him about the difficulties of providing for the emotions and well being of two women. In reply he speaks of listening and giving each woman what she needs. She then asks him about time, and his response is that he, “builds around his family”, “keeps them in the center”, and makes his “family always first”. In this way he can allocate his time and resources to meet his family’s needs. From what we are seeing, Dimitri seems to be doing it well. I love too that she eventually came around, and even apologized to Vanessa for her earlier offensiveness.
Men need to be there. They need to make their families a priority. There is no substitute for a father in the home, and polygamous men, if they want to have a successful family, need to work extra hard to make it happen. They need to be thinking of their families all the time, and acting in a way that puts them first. Polygamous men don’t have time for hobbies – their families need to be their hobby, or they need to find a way to involve their family in their hobbies. Seriously; if you are a video gamer, you probably shouldn’t be a polygamist. If you spend all your evenings watching sports with the guys, you probably shouldn’t be a polygamist. If you spend every free weekend at the golf course, you probably shouldn’t be a polygamist.
I am not speaking against recreation. I am speaking about priorities and life-habits. By all means, read a book, take a walk, watch the big game. All that is a needful part of a healthy life, but these things will necessarily occur much less frequently for plural men. At least, they will occur less frequently without your family present.
The difference is that polygamous men might read a book – to their children, take a walk – with their wives, and watch the big game with their sons – rather than with the guys. I am not saying that monogamous men don’t do these things; I am saying that polygamous men must.
There are amazing plural families and amazing monogamous families. Of course, both can be dysfunctional as well. In either case the difference, I believe, is largely a difference in dedication.
No matter your position in life, or the type of family structure you are a part of, let’s raise healthy, strong, confident, self-sufficient children – and unapologetically so. Let’s push back against the cultural suicide that is occurring. Let’s make this country and this world a better place!
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!
Q: You want to know what problem with polygamy is?
A: Multiple Mother-in-Laws.
OK, joking aside (and I’m only partially joking), I feel the need to say a few words about the Snowdens’ most recent interaction with Ashley’s mother, Donna. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Snowdens are doing great this time around! But I did find something very disconcerting about the most recent episode of Seeking Sister Wife.
Let me also say, I am very happy that Dimitri’s surprise turned out so well. It was a bold move for Dimitri, and, after all the extreme discomfort, Mama Donna was ultimately very graceful. It was a gratifying moment, and a lot of the credit for this had to do with Vanessa’s heartfelt and touching words – she is a gem. I think she won Mama Donna over. I also have to give some applause to TLC and the producers of Seeking Sister Wife. They are the masters of suspense and of the awkward situation. The awkwardness was so thick it was palpable. I’m sure there was so much editing and splicing in this scene, but it was entertaining nevertheless.
Alright, here is the issue I wanted to address: At 20 minutes and 24 seconds into the episode Dimitri says,
“If Mama Donna is not on board with Vanessa, you know, this could be the end of our relationship with Vanessa.”
As I mentioned earlier, I am very glad that things worked out for them, and I hope that this is not really what Dimitri meant to say; because, it is completely wrong to involve your parents, or your in-laws, in your marriage to the point of giving them veto power. Yes, parents need to be respected and indeed honored, but they are also supposed to be left behind.
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
They are supposed to be left behind in many ways. They are no longer supposed to be relied upon for financial or emotional support. And, while they may be consulted for advice, they are no longer to have any authority to make decisions for your life. Adults, and especially married people, must live their own lives, be responsible for their own decisions, and responsible for their own support, independent of their parents and other relatives. There is no closer relationship, and no bond tighter, than the one you have with your spouse(s).
This can be a very difficult thing for some people to do – difficult for both the parents and the children! I remember making announcements to our own extended family members when we had become polygamous. I had to remind so many of them that they could not make decisions for us, and to stop trying, and to stop fretting about it. After all, it would not affect them any more than they allowed it to.
I liked so much what Sophie Winder had to say on this subject a little earlier in the episode when she was talking to her brother,
“I feel like I’m living this lifestyle with Tami and Colton because I was called to it. My marriage with Tami and Colton is what we build up, not what your opinion of it is.”
She goes on to say,
“The fact that my brother doesn’t necessarily agree with this lifestyle, you know, kind of sucks, but I firmly believe in my lifestyle, and I don’t feel like there’s any need to apologize, and so I’m going to choose what feels right for my life.”
Oh boy, do I remember those days. A year and a half of staying hidden.
I told my family very early on. Because of the chaos and backlash it created, I still have nightmares about interacting with my father, now 5 ½ years later. Thus, we decided to keep our marriage secret from everyone else for a time
One of the parameters of my becoming a wife was that in spite of the legal and social risks involved, I was not going to remain secret forever. However. the immediate repercussions of outing our marriage with people with whom I stood to have a lifetime continuing relationship was incredibly daunting. Also, we needed some recovery from the upheaval which was created by my family. These things were a higher priority than announcing to the world that we had entered a union we believed was heavenly but would be treated contemptuously.
Thus began the interaction with Joshua and Charlotte’s extended families which rapidly became a bane to my existence. I was part of the family and there was concern about me being left out as well as we wanted the extended family to meet me and perhaps create a relationship with me before we gave them the news. I was invited to every extended family activity by Charlotte and Joshua as well as in contact with Joshua’s brother’s family on a regular basis as they were living in the same house as Charlotte. I went as Charlotte’s friend. This rapidly proved difficult.
Every time we interacted with family or in public, I made sure that I walked separately from Joshua and that I did not make eye contact with him. I never sat next to him and we made sure we only spoke about trivial matters in voices loud enough for others to hear.
At the time, hiding everything seemed so vital. Now I realize that we were much more concerned about it than we probably should have been. However, it was quite a shock to others when we began to reveal ourselves.
When we thought we were ready, we started telling people one at a time; knowing that the risk of rejection was very real, as it had already happened with some people very close to us. There was new trauma with every reveal, and we felt the need to take time to regroup after each.
It’s been 4 years of living openly, and apparently, we still have people to tell. At a recent family Christmas party, one of the great-uncles came up to me and asked how I fit in the family. I responded, “I’m Melissa.” He then asked exactly how I was related. I told him that I was Joshua’s other wife. I watched him as he rapidly swallowed several times, blinked furiously, and then stammered “Oh!” Thankfully another of Joshua’s uncles was standing nearby and came to the rescue. He redirected the conversation in a very deft manner.
At our Chanukah party, we had this delightful experience.
Things are better now. I have much more confidence in sharing, and I am much more at peace with peoples’ reactions – regardless of what they are. There is nothing anyone can do that hasn’t already been done by someone closer.
I have gotten to a place where I’m kind of unfazed by responses. Simply because those who will accept us will, and those who will not will not – regardless of former relationships or perceived expectations. That is hard won, bitterly painful knowledge.
I’m at the point of telling shopkeepers and others in my daily life randomly, and it has been extremely interesting as I have shared. People will share that they too have polygamous backgrounds, and it almost seems conspiratorial as they do – like we are both in on some great secret. It immediately becomes a shared reference point between us and creates a sort of bond.
Those early days were so tough, and revealing ourselves to a largely unfriendly world was incredibly painful stuff.
Last week I had a moment of realization. I realized that because of how hard it was, and the constant stress and difficulty of that time, it is literally a miracle that I am here, married to the man of my dreams, and living happily with our plural family. Only by the grace of God could we have gotten to this place. He is so much bigger than the rejection of men.