Sister Wives

So, I've never really been into reality television. I rarely watch television as it is, and when I do watch it, I am usually watching Star Trek, or something equally as dorky.

A few months ago, TLC announced plans for a show called "Sister Wives" about a polygamous family in Utah. After the success of the HBO series "Big Love", polygamous marriages are definitely a hot button topic and TLC was sure to get quite the attention to this series that follows the lives of a real, American polygamous family.

At first I thought.."Hmmm..bigamy is rather illegal. I wonder how they plan on showcasing this without facing legal charges". As the series premiered it came out that the husband was only legally married to the first wife and the other 2 marriages (soon to be 3) are simply commitment/religious ceremonies. So technically, he is only legally married to 1 woman. However, soon it was announced by Utah officials that they were opening an investigation of the Brown family for Felony Bigamy charges.

I'm not a lawyer, nor have I ever played one on t.v. But this got me thinking, Utah recognizes common law marriage if the following criteria are met:

  • Both parties are of legal marriage age and are able to give consent
  • Both parties are capable of being married
  • The parties live(d) together as man and wife
  • The parties assume(d) marital responsibilities and duties
  • The parties "held themselves out" as husband and wife, and others perceive(d) them to be married.
Now, while all parties are of the legal marriage age and able to give consent, they live together as man and wife, they assume marital responsibilities and held themselves out as husband and wife, both parties are not capable of being married by Utah law. So they don't meet all requirements for a common law marriage. But then again, I am not a legal expert at all. 

As I was watching the show with my husband, we started a discussion on how people can live this lifestyle. 

I know that it is not something I can do myself. I am much too territorial. I am too prone to jealousy and I don't do well without having my own space and quiet time.

But at the same time, who am I to judge them on their lifestyle? Just because it isn't what I would choose for myself, and just because it isn't the "norm" doesn't mean it is wrong.

I want to back this up and say, that all 5 people are adults and of sound mind. They are able to give consent to this lifestyle and were not married off by others. THAT is key. They are giving consent. Not being forced.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I care very little about other people's business. I try not to get involved in things that don't effect me. This doesn't work all the time of course. But I've found that it definitely keeps me from getting worked up over things I cannot change.

Opponents to this family and other families that don't fit into society's view of normal always have the same rants.

"They are probably on welfare! I shouldn't have to pay for that!" or "Poor children/wives! They never get one on one time! That is just wrong" But they have no proof to this. It is simply the go to response. The "One on one" time debate is one I find particularly odd when many people that use that card, rarely give their own spouses and children one on one time.

Proponents of the same sex marriage movement (Which I am definitely for) claim that "Love is Love" should this not apply to polyamous relationships? Who am I to judge something that I do not know the full story?

It takes a village to raise a child...and this is sort of like a village. There is no evidence of abuse, neglect or fraud. The children are well rounded, (They attend school) they have very vibrant personalities and they seem to be extremely well loved.

Perhaps I am too self centered. Perhaps I am focusing too much on my own life to really see the injustice in this family. But at the same time, while I have faced scorn for my own personal choices, I don't see the point in telling someone that their love is wrong.

I am not an extremely religious person. It isn't part of my makeup. But at the same time, everyone interprets their religion differently so perhaps this is simply their way of interpreting it.

Some would claim these women have no self-esteem. But there is no law against that. If they are low in the self esteem department that is something they, as adults, must contend with on their own.

I will reiterate. I would not condone this in a situation in which the parties are not adults and are incapable of giving consent (i. e.: animals and children.)

Perhaps people need to focus more on their own lives than worry about what their neighbors should or should not be doing.

1 comment

  1. You raise an extremely good point. I try really, really hard, when confronted with other cultures and mindsets, to understand their point of view and to make myself believe that if they're happy, and it's legal and no one's getting hurt, then I shouldn't care. In this case, though, the big issue for me is gender inequality. The original Morman polygamists started taking multiple wives because they thought that having more children would increase their power in heaven. But no thought is given to the women's future lives in heaven. I can't understand a culture that's based on men having all the power and women just being baby-making pawns. Like you said, I'm sure the women are not mistreated or abused and they're in that relationship of their own free will, but it bothers me nonetheless. I wish I could be more eloquent about my opinions! But you get the basic idea. Thank you for being so open-minded though! Great post, as always.


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