Faith Based Support Groups - I have a question about multiple wives

05-02-2011, 03:48 PM
The Mormon practice of multiple wives has been outlawed in this country for a long time.

However, over the years I've learned that some religions, including Islam, allow multiple wives. Outside the U.S., is this common for many Islamic men to marry multiple women? What other religions do this?

To my knowledge, China isn't practicing this anymore.

What do they do if they want to come to the U.S.?

05-02-2011, 04:08 PM
I don't know about common currently but the reasoning for allowing men in Islam to have multiple wives was because there were many more females in relation to males due to war and other circumstances. In Islam is a shame for a woman to not marry and have children SOOO they allowed men to have multiple wives PROVIDING they could care for all of them equally. Each wife must have her own home, assets, and dowry and usually the wives do not interact with each other.

I'm Muslim I personally don't know any Muslim men today who have multiple wives- that's including Muslims I know not living in the US.

Just to add the practice is becoming less common in Islam also. A lot of muslim countries do not allow polygamy anymore such as Turkey and Bosnia. In some of the countries if the man cannot equally care for his wives it's considered illegal. Some countries require written permission from the first/other wives, etc. I think only Islam countries with high female populations still encourage this.

05-02-2011, 04:12 PM
Thanks, Beerab.

I wonder if there is a religion that allows multiple husbands.

05-02-2011, 05:51 PM

I'm reaching back deep into the vaults of my brain, but I remember watching a video in my college sociology class about an ethnic group in China in which the women *sort of* have multiple husbands. From what I remember, everyone stays in the home they were born in. The women choose who they want to sleep with (I will be "walking" to your house tonight). It is the men's duty to stay home and help his SISTERS care for their children as opposed to the ones he may or may not have fathered. Likewise, a woman who gets pregnant gets help from her brothers rather than the father(s) in childrearing.

I can't remember the name of the culture, but it was very interesting.

05-02-2011, 07:24 PM
I have two mothers-in-law because my husband has two moms and one dad. He's from Nepal. There's a long practice in Nepal that's mostly dying out. I do see it here in the Nepali community where husbands are arranged to marry one wife by parents then want to take on other women. It's more of a condoned extramarital on these shores. However, there seems to be families that won't tolerate it and others that thinks it's alright. My husband is Animist/Hindu from the hill area of the country. There are straight Hindus, Animist/Buddhists, and straight Buddhists (my own categorizations).

In my family, my moms-in-law are blood sisters. The first sister was not producing children so the tradition allows her husband to go back to marry another sister who may produce children. Both of my moms-in-law actually had sons at just about the exact same time. They do seem to have some social dynamics from the children of the oldest (first wife) and the youngest (second wife) that are not appreciated (second wife kids--including my husband--seem to feel their mom has lower status than first wife).

In the mountains, most folks are Buddhist and they have women with multiple husbands. As it's been explained to me, one woman is shared between several brothers. All children belong to the eldest brother no matter who is the father. The situation is not appealing for the wife as she needs to mediate several men's feelings. I believe the agreements are because there are few women and men are frequently out herding animals in the mountains.

I'm seeing the allowance of multiple wives break out in to strange situations here in the US and it's really not good. I've been talking some but it's a touchy subject. Also, marriages aren't often talked about which means difficulties such as the above or domestic violence or other issues just are hidden.

05-02-2011, 07:30 PM
This article goes over polygamy in the US

Those that practice it in the US basically have 1 legal wife while the others would not be considered legal.

I have a friend who lives in another country with a large Muslim population. She told me that she was asked to be a second wife but was so shocked because the practice of having multiple wives is so rare and even somewhat taboo.

05-02-2011, 08:09 PM
Thanks, Beerab.

I wonder if there is a religion that allows multiple husbands.

Yes, though it's not just religions, but more general and secular cultures as well.

There are all manner of cultural variations and taboos concerning marriage customs not only regarding multiple spouses (and even group marriages), but also varying customs regarding not only who can marry whom, but also which relationships are forbidden or taboo, and to whom children of the relationships belong.

There are a lot of books and articles written on the subject, and the diversity is amazing.

Customs regarding arranged marriages, dowry and bride prices and other "financial/wealth transactions" (actual and symbolic) and gift customs related to marriages are very interesting too.

05-02-2011, 08:53 PM
Completely anecdotal, but I teach adult ESL (English as a Second Language) here in the States, and have several Saudi students - men and women. None have multiple wives, and all of the men (ranging in age from 18 and unmarried to 40+ and married) say that they don't want to have multiple wives. At the same time, most of them come from families where their fathers do have more than one wife.

When I do a family vocabulary unit with these students, it becomes difficult to translate the cultural ideas of family from one language to the next. When I teach my Saudi students about "half" siblings, they generally laugh with real humor. To them, a sibling with a different mother is just as much a sibling as someone who shares the same mother and father.

As a language teacher who lived in China, the most interesting thing to me is that, as China has made concubines illegal (in the early part of the 20th century) and after the One Child Policy began (in the early 80s) many Chinese words describing specific family relationships have started to die. For example, in Chinese, there's a specific word for your older sister's son, as opposed to your older brother's son, where in English both would be "nephew." What I noticed in my younger Chinese students is that they're forgetting these words, because they don't have those family members now. (Sorry, that was very rambly and off topic, but I think it's fascinating!)

Back on topic, this term I'm alse teaching my first student from Equatorial Guinea, where apparently a form of polygamy is practiced. My student, who describes herself as Catholic, says her father has 4 wives and she has more than 20 siblings. I know VERY little about Equatorial Guinea and need to do some research on that.

05-02-2011, 09:26 PM
My ex-boyfriend was part of a group of Mormons that broke off from the original LDS Church. Not the FLDS that has made the news in recent years, but yet another competing sect that moved into Mexico and Belize. My ex-boyfriend's Dad had multiple wives, and I think something along the lines of 80 kids (I didn't fat finger that- 80 kids!). I met several of his cousins with the same story- their dads all had multiple wives. It was actually THE contributing factor to why I broke up with my boyfriend. He wanted to move with me to Belize and would not guarantee me that he would not have more than one wife. I wasn't willing to be taken to a foreign country where my rights might be nil and I would have no family to support me, so we split up. I have heard since that he did marrry, only once, had a couple children and runs a power plant in Belize. I say, good for him. :)

As to what they do if they come to the U.S., they have one woman be their legal wife, and the rest are "maids", "nanny's", whatever.