Friday, February 20, 2009

Suburban Polygamy #1

I read and post the forums on HBO's Big Love website..and the subject of Responsible Polygamy has come up. Everyone of course has their opinions but I've come to one conclusion that goes for any type of plural marriage one would enter into..mine is a little bit like the Big Love marriage in that it is what I would call Suburban Polygamy, instead of the compound type.

The most important thing for harmony in a suburban plural marriage or any plural marriage is something I find myself surprised to say...I think it's very necessary for there to be a strong, responsible, fair and kind but also structure inclined FIRST WIFE.

Let me explain from my own perspective which isn't all that good! The first wife in our marriage is sweet and kind, devoted to the family, hard working and fair, BUT she doesn't have much spine and has let #2 over rule her or manipulate both her and hubby for YEARS AND YEARS. I come along and expect a little bit of special treatment because I am so new to this lifestyle and #1 agrees to a point. #2 however, in her insecurity and clinginess has a difficult time giving up her "newness" 16 years into the marriage!!! #1 can only guide but #2 doesn't listen. She is the Nicki from Big Love in our marriage, without the sexual hang ups.

Because of confusion in a structural way, I wind up having to take charge sometimes when it isn't really my place, that only adds more confusion and resentment and around it goes in a vicious cycle. All the while hubby watching and waiting for his turn to speak up and take the ultimate charge of whatever situation is in the works being discussed and argued over. This puts hubby in an unfair position because occasionally he has to be the bad guy or make someone unhappy................ that then makes me mad! #2 will cry and #1 will retreat to her room.

If she were stronger, and was willing to risk being disliked on occasion the way Barb, the first wife in BL is, things would go smoother. But she's not. She hates conflict.

I think what I'm trying to say here is that most people don't realize the importan role the first wife has, nor how hard it is for sister wives to get along and really LIKE each other most of the time. The people in Big Love at least have their own houses, their own place where they are the ONLY woman in the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room etc. Thankfully, I bring no children to this marriage or it would be more difficult.

Living under one roof is extremely trying. The moments for intimacy of any kind are fewer I believe. I have to remind myself to leave time for romance and fun as I'm sure the others do. A strong first wife would somehow in someway make it easier...am I wrong? Maybe, maybe I'm looking for a scapegoat. I'm not sure but I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on this.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It looks like to me that until your husband steps up to the plate and becomes the leader, your family will continue to be dysfunctional. I don't think it should be your responsibility or #1's to reign in #2. It sounds like she has no respect for either one of you and will only respond to your husband's wishes.

It seems that each of you are married to him but not to one another. I was under the impression that the level of commitment should be the same across the board. Otherwise it would appear as three seperate marriages instead of the one as I thought was the goal of polygamy.

Pandering to #2's behavior is not what is best for the family and if your husband truly cares that harmony prevails, then he must put his foot down and stop enabling #2 to run the show. I think he's showing a lack of respect for you and #1.

I can't help but think that the show Big Love romanticizes polygamy. Real life is not like that all most of the time. In any relationship the key to making everyone happy is:

1. Chemistry
2. Commitment to all involved in the relationship.
3. Showing love & respect to all involved.
4. Healthy self-estem and self-respect
5. Feeling secure and trusting your husband & sister wives.

Your husband needs to honor his role and take into consideration everyone's feelings and concerns, not just one person's.

3rd... said...

I absolutely agree.. the first wife is crucial. I am always amazed at Barb. She is so kind and understanding yet very strong. Its a rare for a person to have all these qualities at once. 1st in our family is very strong, which sometimes makes her overbearing.. we have to appreciate the good qualities in each other.. sometimes I watch Big Love and wish to have Barb in the family - Nicky, I can't be bothered with, and 4th is pretty much like Margene - but, hey well, we're living in the real world, and we simply have good and bad characteristics to deal with

UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

I don't think it is just about a strong first wife....but it does help. I think that it is more about strong women. All of the women in a polygynous marriage must be strong. I have a tendency to over react....CW keeps it inside. I think both ways are dangerous....but anyway back to my point.....I think it takes strong, devoted, and loving women to embark on the emotional rollercoaster called polygny and make it work.

Anonymous said...

As an anthropologist that studies polygamy, I wanted to weigh in. Often the situation you face with a "defeated" 1st wife and dominant 2nd is common. In many plural marriages, the first wife looks to the third wife to change the balance of power. I have noticed that you have picked up on this a little. This is one of the reasons #1 is so open to you and #2 isn't. It's not just personality traits, but years of habits that make #1 the hard working sacrificer, and #2 selfish and not used to hearing no.

S

new#3 said...

wow S - I would love to talk to you more about this. It's fascinating to me that you are an anthropologist studying polygamy! What you have said here, says it all...in our situation #2 was almost...the only wife as far as day to day household life..that's how domineering she became in the situation. I have been told by ex husband, and others I'm afraid, that I can be domineering in some situations and that being a first child (along with other characteristics I won't go in to now) I take naturally to leadership roles..no wonder #2 and I have such conflict! If I could have your email so that we could discuss further I would appreciate it. thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog. Very interesting to a newbie polyamorist.

Gary K. said...

I agree with Anonymous: the man in a plural marriage sets the tone for the family; he must be strong, responsive, and responsible. Not all men are up to the task. As I wrote in an earlier note, plural relationships exacerbate dysfunctional relationships. But I disagree that the sister wives must be equally committed to one another. They must care for and respect one another, but the marriage bond is between the man and each woman, not between the wives, at least not in our case. As in any form of marriage, the ability to compromise and adapt is crucial. I should add for clarity that our suburban family was formed consensually and is not based on religious convictions -- in fact, we hold different religious views, none of which are related to FLDS or LDS.

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