The idea of relationship and marriage is something very relative. The concept I believe in might be completely alien to you and vice versa. Some might like to be in a committed relationship, whereas some might prefer a friends-with-benefits relationship. And everyone must have their own personal reasons behind it. And this is not just about relationships but also about marriages.
Initially, when we think of a relationship or a marriage, the thought that would come to our mind immediately was the union of two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together. But things are not that simple; now, thighs are a lot different and complicated. Not everyone functions the same way and might want something different out of the partnership they are in.
The constitution of marriage is a different one; some might prefer monogamy or a monogamous relationship, while some might prefer polygamy or a polygamous relationship. Some might want to be in an open relationship. As I said, it is a relative topic, and everyone might have a different opinion.
But what if someday your partner asks if you would be completely comfortable being in a polygamous relationship? Do you know enough about it? Do you even have an idea about it? What is polygamy? Let’s dig deep into the matter and find out all there is to know about polygamy and a polygamous relationship.
What is polygamy?
According to Britannica, polygamy definition is “the state or practice of being married to more than one person at the same time.” Simply put, polygamy is the kind of marriage where one person is married to more than one partner. If a man is married to more than one woman, that is poly, but when a woman is married to more than one man, it is termed polyandry.
In a polygamous relationship, at least three individuals are involved. But it doesn’t have to be limited to only three people. One person can be married to multiple people people. There is no rule that only three people have to be involved in a polygamous relationship. However, polygamy is illegal in most countries, and in some places, it is highly frowned upon.
Bigamy vs polygamy
Polygamy is a relationship, where one person is married to more than one person at the same time. But in this relationship, all parties are aware of the fact that they are not the only exclusive members in this relationship.
But in bigamy, there is one condition. In bigamy, the person who is marrying the other person is not aware of the fact that the respective person is already married.
Polygamy vs polyamory
As we have discussed, polygamy refers to a person, being married to multiple partners at the same time. However, in polyamory, the people involved do not believe in the norms of a regular relationship or marriage.
Here, both the partners involved in the relationship can be involved in various other intimate relationships. Or, for that matter, they can be married and have a stable relationship with one another, but they are also involved in other intimate relationships. People who believe in polyamory do not believe in conventional monogamous relationships and being committed to one single person.
Let’s take a look back(the history of polygamy)
If we look back, polygamy can be traced back to the beginning of time, and monogamy is a relatively new concept that has evolved with time. Centuries ago, people mostly used to prefer being in a polygamous relationship. It is recent that polygamy is judged in certain places.
In the United States, polygamy is often linked with the LDS church or “Mormon.” The Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints started the practice of men marrying multiple women, which they termed plural marriage, back in 1852. They made it part of their church doctrine.
The Edmunds Act made the practice of polygamy illegal in the year 1882 in the United States. Wilford Woodruff, the prophet of the church in 1890, confirmed that the church was abandoning this practice. Though it is illegal in the United States, many Mormon fundamentalist groups living in the Western US still practice polygamy.
Types of polygamy
Popularly there are three popularly known forms of polygamy: polyandry, polygyny, and group marriage.
Who thought that the concept of one woman being married to multiple men had a name? Well, it has, and that name is called polyandry. When the men in the marriage are brothers or are said to be brothers, this institution is known as fraternal polyandry or adelphic.
In this specific polygamy form, a man marries multiple women. This term is interchangeably used with polygamy and is not used colloquially. This is the most common form of polygamy.
This is exactly what the term has to say. Group marriage is something when multiple women and men marry one another. This is not a very common form of polygamy.
To some people, this is a part of polygamy, and for some, this is an entirely new concept. People who think it to be a part of polygamy, often use the term interchangeably.
Polygamy is illegal in most countries, so people who wish to practice polygamy generally do not get married in the traditional way and opt for a more casual agreement.
Polygamy is often confused with the concept of polyamory. To be honest, polyamory is a more accepted form and legal way of being in a relationship these days. In polyamory, all the partners are aware of the other partners and know that this is not anything exclusive.
Where is polygamy legal?
Polygamy is legal in some parts of Asia and the Middle East. There are parts of Africa where polygamy is permitted and is widely practiced, especially in the western part of Africa. In the western region of Africa, it is mostly Muslims who embrace polygamy. In the Islamic doctrine, it is mentioned that a man can have four wives at the max.
Some of the countries like Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, less than 1% of men with more than one spouse. There are other countries as well, like Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and their neighboring countries as well, where polygamy is legalized.
Things to consider before getting into a polygamous relationship
Maintaining a polygamous or polyamorous relationship is slightly more complicated than a traditional monogamous relationship. So, if you are trying to pursue a polygamous relationship in a place where it is considered legal or a polyamorous relationship where it is illegal, there are things that you must consider.
- Think of the partner you are considering to be in a polyamorous and polygamous relationship. There are both advantages and disadvantages to every kind of relationship, but before getting into this non-conventional type, think about what your partner is thinking if they would agree to that kind of relationship. Both the kinds, that is, polyamory and polygamy, have to be mutual.
- Communicate well with one another. Communication is an essential and key ingredient to having a healthy relationship, be it polygamous or monogamous. But if it polygamous, then you should consider this even more; the other partner has to know about everything.
- It might not be the correct type of relationship for you as well, so before getting into one, ask yourself. Think carefully if this is the correct sort of relationship for you if you would be comfortable being intimate with multiple people, and how this would affect other aspects of your life.
Impacts of polygamy
Polygamy has been a topic of discussion over the years, and people have been arguing about it for a long time. The pros and cons of being in a polygamous relationship have been under the microscope.
It violates women’s right
It is mentioned by the United Nations Human Rights Committee that polygamy violated the nobility of women, and it should be abolished in the limited regions that exist presently. The committee believes that it infringes on the free will of women.
It is often found that in polygamous relationships, women are often married to men whom they do not want to marry. The laws of polygamy are mostly in favor of men. For example, in the Sharia Law, which is practiced in a few parts of West Africa, allows men to have multiple wives but doesn’t allow women to take multiple husbands.
Polygamy benefits children
There have been arguments about the fact that polygamy creates larger families. In Tanzenua, a study was conducted in 2015 that showed in polygamous families, women and children have better wealth and health.
Adverse effects of polygamy
The adverse effects of polygamy are mostly for women. Mostly in polygamous relationships, men and women do not share equal power in the relationship. This is because the concept of polygyny is more common than polyandry.
A study in 2013 showed that women who are in a polygamous relationship suffer from mental health issues more than women who are in a monogamous relationship. They are seen to have high levels of depression, decreased marital and life satisfaction as well as anxiety.
Research further shows that polygamy impacts women’s health as well. Polygamy is often associated with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Mothers in polygamous relationships show loneliness, powerlessness, despair, and anger.
However, there have been researches that show that children who are born into a polygamous relationship have more role models and people whom they can look up to. According to that study, children growing up in polygamous relationships get more affection and warmth.
Debunking the myths of polygamy
- Polygamy is practiced mostly for sex – it is easy to assume that people would like to practice polygamy because they want to be physically intimate with more than one person in their married life. And this could be a legal way of practicing that.
But if we talk to any person who practices polygamy or is in a polyamorous relationship, they would confirm the fact that it is not just about sex; it is a lot more than that, and their concept of marriage and commitment is different from the stereotypes.
- Only men are allowed to practice polygamy – well, there is no rule that allows only men to practice polygamy. There is a concept where women can also have multiple husbands, and it is termed polyandry.
But yes, there have been studies that showed that it is men who practice polygamy more than women, and in certain places, it has been found that women are not allowed to have polygamous relationships, like in some parts of Africa.
- People in a polygamous relationship are prone to STIs – Getting STIs is not just about being polygamous or polyamorous. People who are sexually involved with multiple partners are at risk of getting STIs. But it is all about the precautions that you take. It is important to inform all your partners about your intimate life so they can be aware of the facts as well and take necessary precautions.
In every relationship, there are upsides and downsides. But polygamy is something that is highly frowned upon. In monogamy, people often experience sexual boredom, infidelity, and high divorce rates, and these are the reasons why people who are into polygamy are inclined towards this type.
These are the people who think of polygamy as a healthy alternative. And there are people who like being committed to one person for their entire lives. As I discussed at the beginning of the article, it is a relative subject. You might think of something which I can oppose, and I might think of something that you can oppose.
Learn More On This Topic:
Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.