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Plural Marriage is His Thing, Should She Make It Hers? - Relationship Advice

Updated on March 21, 2011

Dear Veronica

I'm writing to you because I am in real need of an outsider's opinion. A little background I am 36 and never married. I want to have children, and I want to be part of a family. I am dating a man that has 3 wives. One is legally his wife but they all live together as husband and wives. They all have children with him. They are not mormons. Just so you know, when he married his first wife they were both 25 years old. his second wife was in her 30's when they met and married, and his second wife was in her late 20's when they met and married. I do not want to give too many details. But I want you to know that there is no abuse here. I want to know what you think of this. You seem to be very understanding towards alternative lifestyles. Yet you have such a strong sense of values as I read in your hubs about cheating and stealing. I would like your opinion on this as an outsider. He is a good person, hard worker, good provider. All of his wives and his children all seem very happy and content. I am considering being a part of it but it's so strange to me. Can you please share your opinion? I'm asking you not to publish my email address. Thank you.


Dear JulieMakes4,

I never share email addresses or the names on them, never worry.

First I really want to say that I am not qualified to advise you or counsel you on this very huge life decision.

I will share some of my thoughts though since you've asked for them.

My husband was raised in a very oppressive christian home. He was taught ridiculous things like that dinosaurs didn't really exist, the bones were planted by the devil to confuse us. That the earth is only 6000 years old. That safe sex is a sin. He never received decent dental or health care and didn't go to college because his family didn't have the money yet they could afford to give a percentage of their income to the church every week. I could go on and on about the way he was raised; the things he missed, the things he suffered through, the price he still pays today for the insane decisions they inflicted on him. This was all perfectly legal and never questioned by society.

In the United States, adultery is handled on the state level. In the few states where it is illegal, it is very very rarely prosecuted. Think about this: a man can marry his wife and have children with her, have a secret affair with a mistress, get her pregnant, and never be charged with a crime. Yet, if he invited this other woman with the consent of his wife to live with them, and he supported her and the child, and referred to her as his second wife, he would be prosecuted.

That doesn't seem fair to me.

I believe that what consenting adults agree to do in their relationships is nobody else's business. If they want to be plural, if they are gay, if they feel comfortable with power exchange, if they choose not to have children, if they decide to give their faith to some insane oppressive religion - it's their choice. Freedom doesn't just apply to situations you happen to agree with.

But, and this is a very big but, one person's freedom can not infringe upon the freedom of another.

The real question we need to ask ourselves is where does that line fall.

I have the freedom to open a liquor store, or a newstand that sells triple X magazines, I have the freedom to go shop in MACYS. I have the freedom to work as a construction worker, or open a business in my home. Right? Well, not always. I do not have the freedom to open a liquor store on the same block as a church. I do not have the freedom to open that newsstand with the adult material within so many feet of a school. MACYS can not open their doors in Paramus NJ for example, on Sundays because of Blue Laws. I can not begin my workday at 6:00am as a construction worker if it violates a noise ordinance. And I can not open a business in my home if my home is not zoned commercial.

There's a certain building that comes up under this umbrella as a topic of discussion around me often. And it floors me how many people just don't get it.

All of the above represent the fact that, simply put, you may have the freedom to do most things, but you can't do them whenever or where ever you want. You can't build that thing that you're allowed to build in the place you want to build it, if it violates a Blue Law, or it's near a school, or it's near a church, or during a time that violates a noise ordinance... or if there should be some kind of regulation to protect the sanity and safety of the community. You can't just do something because you are "free." You have to work with everyone around you. Either everyone is free, or no one is free.

Julie, let's take it one step further to pull in your situation. Some of those rules and regulations make sense, some are outdated or cater to a religion that many of us do not respect. But I think we can all agree that those impositions, those laws, were devised with the intention of harmony. They were created so that children would be safe, people would be respected, sleep wouldn't be disturbed. These laws were created to insure freedom while protecting freedom at the same time. And it's tricky.

Think of it this way. Put three little kids in a room and tell them they are free to do anything they want to do, with no restrictions. Then start the countdown to the crying. You will have three screaming children pointing fingers at each other in a matter of seconds.

Now, put those same three kids into a room and tell them, they are free to do anything they want, but they can not bother or upset each other.

The peace will last longer but you will still eventually have the crying. The reasons will vary. One may say, he is upset because another child hit him. Well clearly, that isn't allowed and you'll rule on that in favor of the cryer. But another may say they are upset because one of the other kids is singing. You compromise on that one, you have to make it fair for both so you say, no singing while kids are trying to sleep, but other than that singing is ok if it's not loud. And then there's the kid that is upset because "That kid is wearing purple." You must see no harm comes from this, and you rule in favor of the purple child.

Plural marriage between consenting adults, in my opinion, is nobody's business but theirs. I wouldn't judge them even though it's an option that isn't for me. But it's not that simple. There are other's involved. Namely, the children.

And what a can of worms that topic opens up. You have children being raised legally and without question in this country by crazy christian families that aren't doubted or questioned, like my husband's parents. It isn't right that those wackos weren't questioned. You have gay couples wanting to adopt children and meeting resistance and judgments in exactly the same way as plural families. My reaction is that gay couples should be allowed to adopt of course. But is it the same for children in a polygamy home? You have a guy that cheats on his wife and has a kid with his mistress falling within the law. There's no way in hell that should be all right. You have Christian Scientists that don't take their children to the doctor when they are sick. You have all kinds of extremists who are allowed to raise their kids with ideologies that are dangerous and harmful. And have you ever watched Wife Swap? Kids are being raised by tree huggers that won't let them use toilet paper, Inn keepers that force their kids to work, and stage moms that spray tan little girls.

Julie, I have thought a lot about this and I have come to a conclusion that surprised me. I would probably question whether or not many people should be allowed to raise children in the ways I've mentioned above that have the law on their side, before I would question a plural family. I believe the law in this case as in many other cases needs to be seriously re-examined. And the best example of that I can give you is: infidelity should be a prosecuted crime long before consenting adults using terminology like "second-wife."

There are laws on the books to protect us from each other and from ourselves. There are rules and regulations designed to keep us free, and to keep us respecting the freedom our neighbors have the right to enjoy as well. Some of them work, some of them don't. It's not fair that my husband's brother was hit by a car when he was a little boy and wasn't taken to a hospital because the family had no money, yet wrote a check to the church the next day and decided all they had to do was "pray" he would be healed. It's not fair that a guy can lie to his wife and have a secret mistress, but not agree with his wife and have a second wife.

Julie, right now in this country polygamy is illegal and please know that I would never advise you or anyone to do anything illegal. You asked my opinion, and there it is. I'm fine with the idea of consenting adults making choices that concern only themselves. I'm confused about how I feel about the children, but that's not just regarding plural marriage children. That's regarding pageant children, scientology children, christian fundamentalist's children, lots of children. If as a society we're going to question the choice of plural marriage, and the rights of those willing adult participants to raise children, then we also need to re-examine many other choices and rights. 

I want to give you one more opinion though, Julie. And that's my opinion of you in particular. Your email calls me an outsider twice. I think subconsciously you're saying I don't understand. But I don't think it's the polygamy you feel I don't understand. I think it's your loneliness.

You chose certain wording, and you omitted certain words. He's a good guy but you didn't say you're in love with him. There's acceptance in their home but you didn't say you accept it. Julie I think you are lonely. I think you are feeling your time clock ticking. It feels like you have found an option. And with an open mind you've considered it. Good for you, it's always good to think, and to see, and to be aware that life sometimes has a path for you that you hadn't considered. However in your situation I think you aren't a polygamist.

Julie, if you said you believe in the merits, you have faith in the idea, and you can't imagine living any other way I would be saying something different here. But you didn't express any of those things. Julie, I don't think you really want this. I don't think this is right for you.

Big Love, End of Days, Finale, Season 5 Final


Submit a Comment

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from NY

    Thanks Lisa!

  • Lala_Lisa profile image


    7 years ago

    Veronica, it's easy to see why you have over 1280 fans and followers on this site. You gave this topic such thought. You made me think about things in a way I didn't before. I loved Big Love and I thought they ended the show in a good way. This article made me think about how I feel about being told who I can and can't love. I never thought about polygamy like that before. I don't see any difference between judging polygamists with judging anyone else. Thank you for this gentle reminder to put it all in perspective. Excellent advice you gave her too.


  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from NY

    I would like to give a nod here to the HBO original series Big Love which has just ended its run. It is fiction, but it did bring the concept of plural marriage into the living room with a much deeper and expansive glimpse into the kinds of people that might practice polygamy. While there were the Juniper Creek compound types we see on the news and have formed pre-conceived notions regarding, there were also the kinds of people that don't make the news: Bill, Margene, Nicki, and Barb. If you watched, you know that some of these people were good people, loving people, family orientated people, spiritual people.

    Well done, Big Love.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    i like ur hub keep it on

  • katiem2 profile image


    7 years ago from I'm outta here

    For Julie, NEVER ever do anything you don't have peace about, if there is any doubt, it will snowball into something big and painful.

    Peace is your guide to happiness in life and a life partnership is def a vital choice to happiness. Having gotten married with doubt before, allowing myself to convince the doubt away, but did I, nope it grew to be something very out of control.

    When in doubt don't and if you truly want this nothing will keep you from it as desires of the heart are strong and a force all their own.

    Please be honest with yourself as you deserve the love of your life to be just that, the love of your life.

    Best Wishes, Katie

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thank you so much Orchid!

  • profile image


    8 years ago


    That was such a well thought out article. Its a complex situation and you have unravelled it beautifully - wow!

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    Thanks so much for the comment, and for all the Twitters to me too. I really enjoy interacting with you on Twitter.

    You're right, lots and lots of things to consider. And Juliemakes4 did not ask me for my opinion of her, just my opinion in general on plural marriage, so she didn't give enough detail to really comment on that further. She has emailed me since this posted, I'm encouraging her to comment here. I think she'll be fine.

    I admit I first received her email and had an idea of how I thought, but the more I actually looked at the real issue the more I felt myself changing. I admit I am confused on how exactly I feel. I don't like anyone being judged for what they do as consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes. I also don't like it when my freedoms are infringed upon by someone else's. And I don't like many of the laws on the books. It's really not black and white; it's a very layered and involved subject. I guess I think that if we're going to question if one type of person should be allowed to raise kids, then we need to question all people. And, do we really want to go there? Who would be the judge? Many people seem to say, "You can't tell me what to do," while at the same time are too quick to want to tell other people what they can do.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Wow Veronica, this is a challenging question and I think your answer does an excellent job responding sensitively to Julie's concerns and avoiding getting caught up in cultural prejudice or gender issues. I think you're right and the issue is whether this choice is the right one for Julie. I also think your observations about Julie's possible reasons for entering this relationship are very important matters for Julie to consider. Some other matters to consider could be, what would be the terms between the partners? What would happen if she were unhappy and wanted to leave? What would be the status of children she may have? Of course these questions would apply to any relationship. But more to the point, what does Julie want and hope for from a relationship, and will this relationship meet those needs? What is unconventional can be 'right' but it will probably also feel right. Very thought provoking, well written, hub.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks Dallas.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Always three sides to every topic. Thanks for your insights...

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks Mr Kumbah.

  • mr kumbah profile image

    mr kumbah 

    8 years ago

    Very well written and thought out. Its true, some religions are very hypocritical and it does make you wonder what doctrines they are teaching anybody except cruelty, some religions do seem to exsist just inside the law. Some paedophiles seem to hide behind the safety net that religion offers , namely trust.

    Plural marriage is not something I entirely understand(this did help me understand better ),from my own point of view one wife was quite enough !

    Great read once again and most definately food for thought .

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thank you very much Earth Angel!

  • Earth Angel profile image

    Earth Angel 

    8 years ago

    WOW Veronica!!

    As a life-skills coach of many years I am always impressed with the depth and understanding of your Hubs! Your words are sound and it is obvious you have given the subject at hand much thought before writing!

    I hope 'Julie' reads your heart-felt suggestions and makes her decisions based on her True Self - not her feelings at this particular point in time!!

    GO Veronica!! You are always a pleasure to read!!

    Blessings to you and yours, Earth Angel!


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