Jess McCabe // 21 November 2006
A ‘sisterwife’ – or woman in a polygamous marriage – sets out what life is like as just one of a number of women married to the same man in the Guardian today.
It’s a truely fascinating account, for example note the paranoia about sex between wives:
We sleep with our arms on top of our bed covers so it doesn’t happen. And in any case if any wife was foolish enough to try all would feel it in our bed; a simple rule – no touching or kissing in bed or at any other time between one woman and another sisterwife and another.
Who sets the rules?! Why, the man we assume. And no wonder he’s paranoid with all the sexual frustration flying around:
The downside is the sex, not the quality, I have no complaints about that, but just the quantity and we all know that it will get worse when the final two wives join in the next two to three years. Then it will be like two to three times in six weeks. As you go higher in the temple government the more wives you have to have and as our husband has been appointed as group treasurer and deputy convenor of our temple it means he now must have six wives. Us wives get no say in how many wives our husband has but we do have a big say in who joins us – as a sisterwife it’s really the only power we have.
Yep, the higher up in their society the man rises, the more wives he must own.
All income from the wives goes into the same account and each wife gets the same allowance for their personal needs, the rest is saved for special events and needs for us wives. Husband’s income pays for all the household bills as would be normal in any marriage and he has his allowance that comes from his account.
I don’t know what’s more problematic – the fact that all the wives get pocket money or the fact she assumes that men paying the household bills is the default setting. One of these wives is actually a deputy headteacher at a local elementary school. Another is a nurse. Setting aside what lessons this deputy head must be teaching those children, these are professional women.
It’s not so much that these marriages are non-monogamous. It’s that it seems to re-enforce and inflate all the worst elements of marriage and gender relations. In case you’re wondering what prompted the Guardian to run this testimonial, it’s the trial of a polygamous Morman husband for raping a minor.