By Emmeline Bisiikwa, Uganda:
In this day and age where polygamy is like the perpetual kid in the marital bed, relationships are evolving and people are beginning to question the safety provided by marriage and monogamy.
A common question would be; if you know you aren't the only woman in his life, why carry on the farce that you are? You suspected it when he didn't come home firstly, once, then several days in a row, you saw it when he took calls away from you but now he constantly texts and has a whimsical smile on his face that you haven't put there in forever. Do you move on, or evolve and make it work?
A slowly rising star, stifled by many is group marriages. No one wants to embrace the idea of a marriage-like arrangement between more than two people. It usually has three to six adults, where all partners live together and share finances, children and household responsibilities. That right there solves an important question; who will mind the children?
Certainly not the two-career or single-parent families who can't offer children full-time, loving caretakers and quality day care that is both scarce and expensive. Baby sitters and maids are a luxury out of reach for most families not only because of the costs but also since we can't trust them with our children. Here, some of the partners could be stay at home parents and look after the children.
Group marriage may help provide siblings for children who would otherwise be lonely, only children. It can also offer childless couples a solution to the challenges of infertility. Multiple adult families can soften the ticking of the biological clock by providing older women the opportunity to raise and mother children conceived by a younger sister-wife.
These marriages work in both heterosexual and bisexual ways. If all members are heterosexual, all the women may have sexual relationships with all the men. They view the women as their sisters. If the members are bisexual, they may have sexual relationships with the women as well as the men. In this scenario, a woman has husbands as well as wives.
Want to know why group marriages aren't considered polygamy? Sex is only allowed within the group – no outside sexual relationships are allowed. If someone wants to take on new partners, all members of the family have to agree to accept the new person as a partner. The new person then moves into the household and becomes an equal member of the family.
Because group marriage is so rare, the term is often mistakenly perceived as if it is polygamy. It's on a more communal basis, and is a matter of greater multiplication. Relationships have gone through several evolutionary stages, beginning with complete sexual license, group marriages like polygyny; marriage with more than one woman and polyandry: a form of group marriage involving plural participants of each sex
By definition, polygamy is only one of two things: polygyny or polyandry. A group marriage can be both.
Polygamy is also mono polygyny since the husband is identified as the polygamist, while his wives are not. The polygamist husband is only married to women, females, wives. He is polygamous to them, while they are each individually monogamous to him. The wives are neither married to each other nor to anyone else.
The same principle applies to polyandry. In this case, the wife is identified as the polygamist, while her husbands are not. The polygamist wife is only married to men, males, husbands. She is polygamous to them, while they are each individually monogamous to her. The husbands are neither married to each other nor to anyone else.
This shows that polygyny refers to a polygamous husband with his wives who are monogamous toward him. In that same way, polyandry refers to a polygamous wife with her husbands who are monogamous toward her.
In group marriage, everyone in the group is married to each individual in the group. This means that it is possible for more than one person in both genders to be part of the group marriage.
This explains the concept that polygamy is easily perceived as “poly monogamy” – but it would not be correct to view polygamy as a type or form of monogamy.
It is thus illogical to identify group marriage as if it is some type or form of polygamy in the same way it is improper to call polygamy a form of monogamy.
It can't be proven if group marriages have reduced the rate of divorce but it does give one something to think about in terms of a versatile more likely to work form of marriage. It opens your mind to the possibilities of a future our ancestors might have seen from their one sided point of view, only this time women and men alike can try this extreme resort to save marriages.
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