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to wonder why bigamy/polygamy is illegal?

(72 Posts)
YouBloodyWolf Sun 11-Nov-12 09:09:31

WTF has it got to do with the State? Granted, it'd make inheritance and taxation a bit messier but that's hardly a reason. Granted it's probably a throwback to more churchy times, but it never even seems to be up for debate.

I'm not polygamous, don't even know if I'd want to be, but it seems a bit unreasonable to me.

ArthurShappey Sun 11-Nov-12 09:19:22

I guess because it's normally entered into without the knowledge of the partner/s.

For example, if your DH had another wife and family elsewhere and you had absolutely no idea would you still ask the question why is it illegal?

I think in this day and age it provides women with a certain degree of protection. Certainly when children come into the equation, I would say men would be far more likely to have more than one 'spouse', and in event of a divorce the woman would be in a very weak position if there were more wives at home wrt division of assets etc.

YouBloodyWolf Sun 11-Nov-12 09:27:41

Arthur - but isn't that because it's illegal and it's not really part of our culture.

MissWinkly - do you think it would be men taking multiple wives, not vice versa? I wonder why that is?

OpheliaPayneAgain Sun 11-Nov-12 09:30:09

In polygamous societies, which are usually, but not always patriarchal, the man has to show he can afford wives. My collegue is from Ghana, his uncle has 100 plus wives - he can afford them because he has lots of goats (apparently) - I'm sure there's more to it than that, but 100 wives is 99 more bouts of PMT to deal with and 100 MILS as far as I can ascertain grin. Other than his core wives, he only see's the others once a year to impregnate them. They come from miles around apparently, he has super sperm and it only takes one night! (I feel a lot of that may be very tongue in cheek by my collegue.)

Monogamy is not a natural state. The veneer of civilisation is a thin one, if we were in a doomsday adventure, you'd find women gravitated to he-who-can-bring-home-the-dinner-and-stave-off-predators rather than your Mr Metrosexual, who would be a bit of a wuss in the event of a Mad Max style new civilisation.

Then when Mr Caveman has had his peak and overturned by a new challenger, all the women would move over to the young blood for their protection.

I can see the validity of having more than wife, many hands with child rearing, jealousy isn't usually isn't a factor, when you get older you do all the grandmothery things without any of the bedroom necessities as someone younger has come along.

ihavenofuckingclue Sun 11-Nov-12 09:34:11

Its illegal because marriage (which is meant to be a union between 2 people to the exclusion of others) is a legal ceremony and legal contract.

Why does it bother you? If you want more than one partner do it.

thebody Sun 11-Nov-12 09:34:27

Currently dh is snoring and intermittently farting.

One man is enough for me.

tiggytape Sun 11-Nov-12 09:34:50

I don't think that bigamist are forced to act in secret purely because it is illegal.
Isn't it more likely that most women who are a 'victim' of it wouldn't actually agree to it even if it were legal and their husband told them up front about plans to get another woman pregnant, marry her and pay for her house and her children too.
You don't hear of many bigamist cases where both women are totally fine with it and just hiding it for legal reasons. In most cases, one party at least is very upset and has been deceived and lied to.

The law protects people who would never knowingly enter into this kind of marriage.

But surely if it were legal and someone entered into another marriage without the knowledge of the other partners, that would be fraud, so illegal anyway?
If everyone is consenting, I dont see a problem with it.

Generally yes, I do. I don't see two husbands getting along without a power struggle. Only one cock in the farmyard and all that. And though my viewpoint is skewed (worked in dv for quite some time), all 3+ setups I encountered were one man, more than one woman, and the women were subjugated and played off against one another.

Of course there will always be exceptions, I'm in no way saying that there aren't healthy polygamous set-ups but they are very much the exception.

OpheliaPayneAgain Sun 11-Nov-12 09:38:15

Polygamy isn't illegal - bigamy is though. A person can have as many partners on the go as he/she likes provided they don't marry all of them at once.

YouBloodyWolf Sun 11-Nov-12 09:40:29

Interesting about the Ghana way of doing it, Ophelia. So the wives from miles away still have property rights? Been a long time since my anthropology degree smile I think one problem we have in the west is that we spend a freakish amount of time with our spouses - we expect them each other to perform so many roles that maybe it's no wonder things get fraught.

I wonder how many of the common problems in the 'Relationships' folder would occur in a polygamous society?

cheekydevil Sun 11-Nov-12 09:40:44

I was going to say "why would any woman in their right mind want two husbands?" But I am now thinking deeper. What about if you have one who is super practical but is devoid of emotion and affection giving qualities and treats you like his personal maid and then one who is everything the first one isn't? hmm

cheekydevil Sun 11-Nov-12 09:43:20

I used to live by a bigamist his wife no 2 was not a happy woman when it came out.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-Nov-12 09:46:11

YABU. We've determined, as a society, that we acknowledge just the one marriage (or civil partnership) to one person at a time and state has legislated according to our wishes. Marriage may be a personal commitment between two people but it is also - at heart - a very hard-nosed, legal contract that confers all kinds of rights and responsibilities on both parties. Money, property, inheritance rights, next of kin status and so forth. Bigamy and polygamy breach that contract.

DontmindifIdo Sun 11-Nov-12 09:48:02

Yep, marriage is a legal contact between two people, to change this would cause massive headaches and would have to be done in a way that reduced the status of marriage.

For example, in the UK law an understanding that all financial assets are shared within the marriage regardless of who they came from (unless you have pre-nup). If then a 3rd party came into the marriage, where does that leave the spilt of assets? If the first wife had £1m when entering a marriage, this would then become an asset of both her and her DH. If he then took a second wife, would the second wife have a claim on that money if her marriage to the DH broke down? Argubly she would because it was also the DH's money.

In countries where polygamy is legal, first wives rarely have a say in who will be second/third wives. So you agree to share your life with one person and end up with other people in your marriage contract that you didn't agree to share your life with.

Sallyingforth Sun 11-Nov-12 09:49:02

If men generally had several wives there wouldn't be enough women to go round. So a lot of frustrated men looking for relief. Expect to see a lot more rape and prostitution.

Good point about next of kin status - if multiple spouses were allowed who would be NOK? First spouse? Or does one get allocated the role? Tricky situation if you're in hospital and your spouses can't agree on a treatment plan.

OpheliaPayneAgain Sun 11-Nov-12 09:49:41

wolf no idea re the anthropolgy of Ghana. I assume tribal, wives, quasi wives, concubines. Give a one of the villages you are over all chief of, a goat, and take your pick of virgins. However, the way it was sold to me was: the women all wanted this chaps baby! At last count he had 117 he was aware of shock

Mrsjay Sun 11-Nov-12 09:50:55

his uncle has 100 plus wives

WHAT shock that must be exhausting for him grin

It is a lot to do with wealth in some societies and banding together for working etc I do think modern relationships is about the mans ego rather than his wealth though i watchaa these programmes about when they are on and the man goes about like a dog with 2 dicks while his wives serve him and have babies , usually American men , you never see any like the man from ghana with his hundred wives or sheiks with their wives do you

Mrsjay Sun 11-Nov-12 09:51:41

oh excuse all the typos in my last post blush

Mrsjay Sun 11-Nov-12 09:53:13

Or does one get allocated the role?

I think NOK is a first wife the woman he married first and then any goats or whatever is distributed between wives , but id imagine some women and their children will miss out and be at the bottom of the pile

ihavenofuckingclue Sun 11-Nov-12 09:58:10

Tbh I am not sociable enough for more than one husband.

YouBloodyWolf Sun 11-Nov-12 10:22:05

Cogito - aren't you just saying that it's illegal because it's against the law? And who's made that contract? How many of us have ever even thought about it, let alone raised it with our MP?

Many of the societies that tolerate polygamy seem to hold women in pretty low regard and the situation seems to work out better for the man (although one thing I do remember from uni is that a lot of the time power relationships are not what they seem). I wonder how it'd work here, where we've mostly outgrown that?

Cheekydevil - I think that'd be one of the good points, having a range of personalities and attributes.

Sallying - I don't know how you figure that out. And you're looking at it from a many women per man view.

I'm not saying that I think it's a great idea, I'm just wondering about it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-Nov-12 10:45:09

"Cogito - aren't you just saying that it's illegal because it's against the law?"

Yes I am. The law of the land is determined by the people via the democratic process. Civil partnership is a new law which was brought in because of popular demand for equality and a government being elected that represented that popular demand. There is no such popular demand for polygamy or bigamy but, if there was, a government would have to seriously consider it.

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