Word-of-the-day: Compersion

I’ve been working on a blog post about polygamy and jealousy.  I needed an antonym for jealousy and came across the word compersion.

Compersion means feeling joy when a loved one loves someone else (as contrasted with feeling jealous about their love).

As a plural wife with plenty of opportunities, I’ve considered myself successful when I don’t feel jealous, especially in a situation which in the past might have summoned up negative emotions.  If I would have previously felt jealous about something but this time I don’t, that’s a win, I’ve matured, I can do this, bring it on.  (One of the benefits of polygamy is character growth, after all.)

But this is news to me: the opposite of “jealousy” isn’t simply “lack-of-jealousy”!  Can a plural wife go from feeling jealous to feeling emotionally neutral and from there progress to feeling joy in her husband’s love for his other wives?  The very existence of this word makes it seem possible.  It takes things up a notch.  I just found a higher mountain to climb.

By the way, if you’re like me and haven’t come across “compersion” yet, it might be because it seems to be a relatively new word.  It’s probably not in your dictionary, and the oldest quote on compersion’s Wiktionary page is from 1998, as used in a book called Romantic Jealousy, Causes, Symptoms, Cures.  Now that sounds like an interesting book!

Thank you for making breakfast, Aunt Vanessa

In the first scene of “Let the Seeking Begin!” [timestamp 03:30], Sharis prompts her children to say thank you to “Aunt Vanessa” for making breakfast.

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Aunt is a cute way to have children address their other mothers, although it seems inaccurate, given that Vanessa isn’t really the aunt of Sharis’s children.  I suppose one could argue that Vanessa is their mother’s sister[wife], and that makes the title Aunt reasonable.  Further, even if I find it strange, let’s remember that Sharis is the one who grew up in polygamy, so what do I know?

Another common way for children to address their father’s other wives is to call them Mom [first name].  In one plural family I’ve seen, the children refer to all the women as simply “Mom.”  This is heart-warming, but it seems impractical.  Besides, using the title Mom instead of the title Aunt doesn’t solve the problem of inaccuracy.

What do we do in my family?  My children generally call my sisterwife “Ma-Melissa”.  (Or is it “Mama-lissa”?  Or perhaps “Mom-Melissa”?  I’m never quite sure, given the first syllable of her name. 🙂 )  Other times they might call her “Mama Melissa” but sometimes just “Melissa.”  The phrase “the mamas” is often used to refer to both of us, as in, “Please obey the mamas,” or, “Ask one of the mamas for help with that.”  (Melissa’s children are from a previous marriage and they have never called me anything but “Charlotte.”)

It would be interesting to take a poll and get some data on what the most common naming practices are in plural families and what the reasoning is behind them.

The relationship between children and their other mothers is something in between Mom and Aunt.  I think there ought to be a term, peculiar to the plural marriage world, to describe this something-in-between relationship.

What about Maunt?  Or maybe it ought to be spelled Mont??  Hmmm… I wonder if that word would ever catch on…