Why Plural Marriage?

Note from the blog owner: Jason Melton is a new contributor to the blog. This is his first post.

A deep and sharp question that I have been asked is, “Why do you need more than one wife?”. To me, that is a damn good question. This simple question has provoked me to find out if I, in fact, need more than one wife, and why would I have that need. I have concluded that plural marriage isn’t about my needs, wants, or desires.

The true questions that should be asked are, “Why does a woman need a husband? Can she not do it on her own?” The statement that I wish to present, to provoke your thoughts is that plural marriage is more about the needs of a woman than that of a man.

I will give the reasons that I feel a woman should be married and why she needs a man. Before I go into these thoughts, I want to speak of marriage.

Marriage is simply a covenant between two people or two entities, for that matter. In the Bible, we are told that the Messiah will marry His people. This is done when we take His image in our countenance or take His name upon us (See D&C 20:77 Covenant renewed through the sacrament). As we see that a marriage is not always about a ceremony, but about a shared agreement. We see Isaac, son of Abraham, take his newly found bride into his tent and consummated the covenant with her, through sexual intercourse, prior to any ceremony being performed (see Genesis 24:65-67).

We also see that a man can marry more than one at a time, as we read a parable from Jesus in the New Testament, book of Matthew (Matthew 25:1-13). Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God is like unto ten virgins. So, the children of God, those whom Jesus, the Christ will covenant with, are like unto ten virgins preparing to marry the Bride Groom, the Messiah, himself. If Jesus wanted us to believe in monogamy only, he would have said the Kingdom of God is like unto a virgin…not ten of them.

Our modern society promotes a one man, one woman marriage. If you think about it, this is backed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but in a different manner. Marriage is between a man and a woman, but the man can make that covenant with more than one woman at a time. Each woman is given a husband to cling to, it just happens to be the same husband that another woman claims. 

In our society today, we are being taught the differences between a Free Market and Socialism. I would like to make an analogy between economic systems and marriage.

Monogamy is like unto Socialism. In a monogamous society, every man gets one wife, even if they do not really deserve what they received, and it is regulated by the government. There is much abuse in this type of society, as some men have not earned a place to properly provide for a woman. Too often, an abusive man will be left alone, only to take on another woman, due to the overabundance of available and seeking women.

Plural marriage is like unto the Free Market, where a man can earn as many wives as he can afford to obtain. He must do the work to keep the wives, and he must learn to adjust to the needs, wants, and desires in an ever-changing and growing home.

In plural marriage, the man must do most of the work (emotional and spiritual) and the women receive all the fruits of his labors. The women stand to gain more benefits than the man, and yet the man’s love (and self-worth) keep growing with his ever-growing family. This love is what sustains him through his relations, just as a bee making honey, receives the honey as food to feed himself.  

 The first reason that I feel a woman needs a man is a basic concept. In simple terms, there needs to be opposition in all things.  In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang).

I have asked different persons if they think the white part of the Yin Yang symbol is male or female. Most tell me that they thought it was female as she gives life to a child. When a child is conceived, it is the male that gives the living part to the union. He will plant his seed into the female who will grow the child within her. We often attribute characteristics of Yin to a Yang type person, and vice versa. Both parts of a relationship have their qualities that are distinct to themselves. When a mate finds its other half, it feels whole again.

When I speak of opposition, I don’t mean fire and water, pain and pleasure, or even up and down.  Opposition in relationships should be that one that compliments the other, such as one partner likes to do work outside gardening, while the other one will work inside doing dishes. This doesn’t mean both can’t go outside to work, but each may prefer to do a different task.  A woman needs a man who is the opposite of her, and yet compliments her in her goals of raising a child. He will build the house, while she will make the house a home. He will plant and harvest food and she will make it a meal. They complement each other in their tasks. In plural marriage, this is magnified where many hands make work lighter. Instead of one woman trying to do multiple tasks in part, multiple women can do a few tasks each to completion.

A woman’s need to be with a man has always been a familiar reason; a man can provide a shelter, food, and safety for his family. I spoke of this briefly in the above paragraphs. I have married shorter women, who often can use my height and long arms to reach items on the top shelf. When I milk our goats, I can do it in a third of the time that it takes my wife. I can carry full buckets of water without breaking a sweat, while my wife will struggle as she carries them to water the sheep.

Now I am not saying the women need a man just because he is stronger or taller than them. A man can provide much, with a decent job, or good working skills, leaving other skills for the wives to help with. There is something to be said about getting a hug from a motherly woman after an emotional day, or a kiss on the knee after playing too roughly. I can do most of what a woman can do in a house, but I am truly aware that they do it so much better. When a man provides for a woman through his labors, she will provide the children for him, raising them in righteousness.

A woman doesn’t need to join a plural family to enjoy a long, fulfilling relationship with her husband. If there are enough men to provide well for the women, then monogamy is well suited for this society. Today, we see an attack on men and women. Men are told not to be masculine and a woman can be a man claiming to be a woman. If society cannot provide strong men to fulfill their role and strong women to fulfill theirs, then the society will fall. With fewer men stepping up, the availability for women finding a good man is going down. Women will start seeking plural marriage as an option to help her attain her goals and growth for her family.

When a man marries plural women, the children can have multiple mothers to gain advice and experiences. The children do not have to go to a babysitter, who usually is physically and emotionally overtaxed and financially underpaid. The children can stay in the home and stay close to the other children being raised with them, keeping out introductions of community illness, newly discovered unpleasant habits, and other issues when being raised in a daycare environment, from other families. 

I feel a woman’s needs for a man are the emotional, sexual, and spiritual needs that she can only receive from a man of God. There have been men throughout history who have had more wives than they can manage, such as King David and King Solomon. We have read how God does not approve of his daughters just being a number to their husbands, or worse, being abused or neglected.

We have also seen in past times and modern times, when a man thinks his salvation is attached to the women he marries, he will marry young women so that he may have much offspring. In the past, a girl as young as fourteen could be much wiser and ready to raise a family. Today, these young girls are not ready for such responsibility. Even if the girl has had to raise her siblings, there are laws and morals that dictate marriage should be saved for consenting adults.

A man of God will show some characteristics of God, such as kindness, patience, understanding, charity, meekness, forgiveness, and humility. As he learns how to communicate with his wife, they will grow in a bond that cannot be broken, except by themselves. He will learn to see a flower that is her favorite, or to make a meal that is more than just nutritious, but also comforting to her.

As a man accepts more wives into his life, he must separate his interactions and get to know each wife individually. When a plural man can do this, he is able to see to their individual needs, while maintaining the well-being of the family.

Too often, women who have been separated from a marriage through divorce, are left to fend for themselves. Often a woman becomes hardened and off balance. She is not able to maintain her needs, as well as the needs of her children, and she lets go of herself to take care of the children. It is to be applauded for the efforts of women everywhere, who take care of the needs of children, and many times, it is someone else’s children who also benefit from the love she shows. But day after day, she gets increasingly drained and soon is not able to function at top quality.

When a woman joins a plural family, her burden is made lighter, and her cup of vitality is refilled, even one drop at a time. In plural marriage, though it is tough at first to find one’s place, it can be very comforting and will ease the burdens of single parenthood.

I have found that a man is able to love more than one woman at a time. He can show love to each one, according to their needs and their personality style.

A woman can have relations with many men at once, but I believe she will choose to love only one man at a time. This woman will love with all of her heart that one man until she can no longer do so. There is no doubt that this cycle has been revolving in the universe from the beginning of time and seeks no end.

We can have as many different views as we want, but in the end, there is nothing like the love between a man and a woman.

Why plural marriage? A man is able to maintain a relationship with multiple women at the same time. Women are also made to find the man who best suits their needs, wants, and desires. There are many men out there who want a wife. Are they doing what the Gospel teaches us on how to love or are they just taking advantage of the system? Men need to step up their game and presentation in order to receive the prize.

Doing Hard Things (Bernie, Brandy, and Paige)

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!