Personally, I'm in favor of marriage. The public declaration of fealty steers the focus of any marital problems onto resolution rather than dissolution. However, I don't think the question should be, "Should gay couples be allowed to marry?". It should be, "Why is the government involved, AT ALL, in how people wish to structure their households?".

We should be relying on government for assistance in enforcing contracts. But how these contracts are structured should be entirely up to the people involved. This, of course, includes people who wish to structure their households around participation by more than two individuals.

I guess there needs to be a set of default contracts (to protect children and establish ownership of chattels, etc.) which are deemed to be in effect when people share a household; but, other than that, the government should have no role. 

I know that polygamy facilitates some injustices that never occur in "traditional" marriages <joke>, but is polygamy sufficiently evil by its nature to require the government to ban it?

Tags: marriage, polygamy

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"Divorce when children are involved is the ultimate act of selfishness. If you have chosen by own volition to procreate, your need for personal happiness are no longer a valid argument"

this may be one of the worst things i have ever read about divorce! can you explain why divorce is selfish? or do you agree with the catholic church that women need to shut up and stay with a man who is abusive even if it means her ultimate death? are you married? are you telling me there are NO reasons why two people should not divorce? i suggest to you that your view of marriage is quite narrow and based on hate, not reason. I left my ex after 20 years of mental and physical abuse and her cheating on me. we have kids who are now in a much better place than if i had stayed there a continued in the marriage. I was at the point of suicide and had to get out. was that a healthy place to raise our kids? not at all, to stay would have seen my kids destroyed by the toxicity of the situation and i was not going to let that happen!

Until you have actually been in a situation where you can understand that marriage is just a contract and contracts do not mean 'til death do us part' as there are cultures and places in the world where that very thing happens! is that the only way out? many you would fit right in with the fundies on this one!!

 

please, do more research on a topic before making such a stupid statement!

 

Why is our government involved with marriage?

 

When our government started to handle marriages it took that right away from the church and gave it to the people. I'd much rather grindingly change government law then be denied outright by a church. The "Why is our government involved with marriage" argument has been used by the Christian Right to put it back in the church.

 

I don't think polygamy would work in our society. Relationships break down more and once you have more then one person in a group a certain dynamic kicks in where one person would be the most dominate one person and another would be a sub to two. If someone can handle that I'd say go for it make it legal but most the US population wouldn't be able to understand the dynamic enough.

Might be helpful to think about it this way:

 

As one person, I found another person to love - making a couple.

As a couple, why couldn't we find a third person to love? - this would make a polygamous relationship

From a polygamous relation it becomes less probable to find an addition person to love but as we all know, rarity does not prove non-existance.

 

In conclusion, I see no problem with polygamy as long as everyone is happy with their place in the relationship. With more additional persons it will be harder and harder to keep everyone at an equal level.

My romantic network has more than 50 people in it. It has not been my experience, or my observation as a community leader and activist, that it becomes less probable to find additional partners. Insisting that each person love everyone else in the group "equally" is more likely to cause difficulty finding partners, than just having multiple partners does.

The whole problem here is with the concept of an "equal level". Every relationship is different and unique. You can't really compare them as being "equal level" because they are relationships with two different, individual human beings. I could say that I absolutely LOVE chocolate cake, and I totally adore ballroom dancing. But to say which one I love more than the other, or if I love them equally doesn't make any sense. They're two different things, each with their own pros and cons, each providing unique experiences for me. I love them both, and asking me to give up either one would be a terrible heartbreak. But I couldn't possibly compare one to the other, and the word "equal" just doesn't hold any meaning here.

Trying to make everyone "equal" is about as futile as trying to rank everyone in a hierarchy, as some of those religious cults do, with the man as the head of the household, an alpha wife, and all the other wives ranked by seniority. We are all "equal" in the sense that we are all consenting adults and we all have a say in how our respective relationships look. But if you try to give everyone a status, and then make that status exactly the same, you are completely ignoring the individuality of the participants and you will get into the same kind of trouble as trying to rank their statuses in some kind of hierarchical order.

Rather, I think it makes more sense to say:

As one person, I found another person to love. As time went on, I found yet another person to love. Just as you did. Only I didn't have to be parted from the first one in order to love the second one. My first partner did not have to die, or break up with me, or turn into a horrible person that I had to leave, in order for me to love the second one that came along.

When a monogamous person falls in love, and then falls out of love, and then falls in love with someone new, that monogamous person has loved two people. Poly people just skip the "falls out of love" part.

When a monogamous person falls in love, and that person dies, and the monogamous person then falls in love with someone new while *simultaneously* still loving the deceased partner, that monogamous person loves two people at the same time. Poly people just avoid requiring that one person dies first.
Thanks for the reply Joreth, I was actually hoping to talk to you about this anyway.

Having not been in anything other than monogamous (and painfully few of those) relationships, I was of course speculating. I think what I had in my head about polygamy is a bit different from the reality that you describe and I am interested in both thoughts.

What I thought polygamy was about was a more literal multi-way relationship. For example a couple might have a midnight picnic under the stars together. Polygamy (in my mind) would be that but with an extra person (or people) all sharing the experience together on a deeper level than what friends would (since friends might share similar experiences but not have the same feeling).

What you describe sounds closer to having multiple couplings, in some cases living all under the one roof?

If I may pose some questions? (feel free to pass me off to another website if there are answers there)
If you start with a couple(composed of person A and person B) and then person A finds someone new(person C), is person B given any choice in the inclusion of person C? how much and what type of contact do person B and person C have? is all of these dependent on the specific people involved?

In polygamous relationships, how is it decided when(or if) to have children? how is it decided who should be the biological parents?

As an extension of the above questions: How are important decisions regarding the group resolved? and how are any conflicts resolved?

You make polygamy sound rather like having multiple 1 on 1 relationships. I make polygamy sound like a single multi-way relationship. Are either of these right? is the typical relationship somewhere in the middle? are there a wide range of relationships?

What stops coupling in polygamous relationships? e.g. 3 people but two of them spend the majority of time together while the third gets only limited attention.

Ok that's all I can think of at the moment. Again, feel free to not answer any (or all) of these if you want.

Thanks,
Matt

Matt,

Think of it this way... in every relationship you are exchanging something with your partner that you are either unable or uninterested in providing for yourself with something they want. Could be money, sex, affection, a good tennis partner or someone to watch movies with...

 

In monogamous relationships people tend to wager on their partner being a "perfect match" who will be interested and capable in providing their every need. This tends to put a lot of pressure on your partner to try to be some things that they're not or for you to compromise your own happiness by settling for not having all of your wants and needs met. Hence the high divorce rate when people decide that their needs are not being met by their partner.

 

Imagine if instead of this, you and your partner simply come to terms with the fact that having other people in your lives will mean having more of your needs met while at the same time meaning that you have an overall happier partner which means everybody wins. The trick is to stop thinking of relationships as competitions for attention and start looking at them as a cooperative effort to get everybody's needs met.
interesting, thanks for the reply.

matt

 

In polygamous relationships, how is it decided when(or if) to have children? how is it decided who should be the biological parents?

As an extension of the above questions: How are important decisions regarding the group resolved? and how are any conflicts resolved?

in societies that are polygamous, children tend to be raised by the community, not a set of parents per se. our concept of man, woman kids needs to be dealt with as we see this as the natural construct of history, which it isn't. it is a construct of a misogynist society, yet the belief that monogamy is the correct way still permeates our thought processes. our closest relatives in the primate structure are not monogamous nor were we as a species until the church decided that sex was not good.

 

as for conflict resolution, it is just like any other form, communication is crucial to make it work. that is true for all relationships...

read "Sex at Dawn" if you want a better understanding of our history regarding how we developed sexually.

 

 

Another interesting reply, thanks.

 

I definitely think the challenging of existing (arbitrary?) social constructs is a good thing. Thats why I am interested in polygamy: it is different to what I have experienced and observed.

 

I agree that communication is crucial in any relationship.

 

Thanks for the book suggestion, definitely sounds like something I would like to read.

Pretty much anything by Stephanie Coontz is also good for the "evolution" of the family structure in Western society (www.stephaniecoontz.com)

There are some groups who are exactly like a monogamous couple, only with 3 instead of two, where all 3 are romantically involved with each other just as if there were only 2.  But that's not the only way to do it.  There are also people who have groups of 4 or 5 where everyone is romantically involved with everyone else.  Then there are people who, because of sexual orientation or compatibility, are in a group of, say, 5, who all consider each other family, but who are not necessarily romantically involved with everyone else.

 

For example.  My "family" has about 50 people in it.  I am not romantically connected to all 49 other people.  Our family has, sort of what we call, "houses", which are primarily designated by proximity.  So, for my "house", there are 6 of us who all live within 100 miles of each other (I'm the furthest away from the other 5, but not by choice, only because of work).

 

In my group of 6, there are me, Datan0de, Zensidhe, Jessie, Kim, Shelly.  Datan0de and Kim are legally married.  They live together.  Zensidhe and Jessie are legally married and live together.  I am dating both Datan0de and Zensidhe but not Jessie or Kim.  Datan0de is also dating Jessie (Zensidhe's wife) but not Zensidhe.  Kim is also dating Jessie.  Kim is dating Zensidhe too.  Shelly is actually the former partner of another one of my boyfriends that I have not listed here.  Shelly is just beginning a relationship with both Kim and Datan0de (but not me, Zensidhe, or Jessie), but because of her previous connection to the group (via my other boyfriend), even though her relationship with Kim and Datan0de is just beginning, she has actually been a part of the family for many years.

 

So, picture a square.  Each point on that square is Datan0de, Kim, Zensidhe, and Jessie.  Put the two men (Datan0de and Zensidhe) at the top two points of the square. and erase that line, so that it's really more like a square-shaped U.  Now, put a dot for me above the U so that when you draw a line from me to each of the top points of the U, it looks like a child's drawing of a house with a pointed roof.

 

Now, within the box of the house, draw an X connecting the four corners of the box, so we have a child's house with a peaked roof and an X in the middle.  Finally, draw a point for Shelly off to the side so that she makes another triangle on the side of Datan0de and Kim, sort of like someone started drawing a 4-pointed star but only got 2 points done.

 

Those are the romantic connections, but all 6 of us consider each other to be family, as important as spouses, whether we are romantically connected to any given person in the family or not.

 

To address your questions specifically:

 

If A starts dating C, does B have a choice?  That depends on the structure of the individual relationship grouping.  That's what sets it apart from religiously-mandated polygyny.  Each individual & each group can make their own rules for what works best for those involved.  In some families, B might have "veto" power, where he can say "no" to C and A has to abide by that decision.  In some families, A might consult B first and B's feelings on the matter will be very heavily weighted, but the decision will ultimately rest with A.  In some families, B has no say in the matter at all since B will not be relating to C and B can choose to remove *himself* from the equation if he is unhappy.

 

What type of contact?  That depends on those involved.  Within the poly community, it is generally assumed that a minimum of a direct line of communication should be established between B and C, for example.  We call that relationship the "metamour" relationship, which is two people who are connected by a mutual partner but who are not romantically involved with each other.  The general consensus is that the metamours should be ABLE to contact each other if they want to, but there is no doctrine or creed that dictates what kind of relationship they ought to have.  Some prefer it when the metamours (i.e. B and C) are also very good friends with each other and some prefer it when the metamours have no relationship at all, including a friendship.  The key to making it work, however, is to not force a relationship that doesn't want to be.  In other words, don't force B and C to be friends if they just don't have that chemistry, and don't force B and C to stay separate if they actually do get alone.

 

Children?  When and if to have children is decided exactly the same way monogamous parents decide.  They talk about it and reach a consensus and/or deal with accidents when they happen.  Not all polyamorous adults want to be parents, and not all polyamorous adults care if they are biologically related to their children.  Same as with monogamous people.  I am adopted.  My parents (the people who raised me) are heterosexual, monogamous Christians.  The fact that neither one shares parental genetics with me does not make them any less my parents.  

 

People get awfully territorial when the issue of kids comes up - and by people, I mean monogamous people who are questioning polyamory.  For some reason, it's a huge deal to them to know who contributed the genetic material and how could 3 people possibly decide who will do it?  Well, monogamous people have those same kinds of issues.  In this day and age, many people come to a marriage with kids from a prior relationship, so there are an awful lot of kids out there being raised by people who they are not genetically related to.  Why is this not confusing, but polyamorous families are?

 

Decision making?  Decisions are made exactly the same as monogamous relationships.  Some mono families have a "head of the household", some mono families have certain people "in charge" of certain areas and responsible for those kinds of decisions, and some mono families do everything by couple consensus.  Poly families are the same way.  Conflicts are also resolved the same way as mono people.  We talk.  If there is a serious enough conflict, we go to mediators and therapists.  Just like mono people.

 

Also, please note that I am talking about polyAMORY, not polygamy.  Polygamy is currently illegal, and is also just as varied.  There is no one-way to be polygamous, but most people hear the word "polygamy" and think "polygyny".  I am not talking about either.

 

There is no "typical" polyamorous relationship, just as there really is no "typical" monogamous relationship.  Every relationship will be unique, according to the individual people involved.  Even if you think back to your own relationships (or any person, if you haven't had any or more than one ever), even though hypothetical-you were a common factor in each relationship, the dynamic between you and each of your past partners made each relationship itself unique.

 

Now, even in the example that you give, of a "single multi-way relationship", it is still made up of multiple one-on-one relationships.  If you take 3 people who are all involved with each other, you do not have a single 3-way relationship.  You have a relationship between A and B, a relationship between B and C, and a relationship between C and A, and yet another relationship of all three together.  Every group relationship is built on a foundation of pairings, and the strength of each of those pairings (including the non-romantic ones, such as the metamour relationships) provides the strength for the entire group.

 

Just like a family with kids, or a family with 3 generations living together, or a monogamous family with the spinster aunt who lives with them.  Every group family is built on a collection of pairings, and the dynamic between each of those pairings will be completely unique, which will make the entire group have a completely unique group dynamic that will *not be the same* if any member leaves and/or anyone new is added.

 

Nothing stops coupling in polyamorous relationships.  In fact, it would be a mistake to try and stop it.  If you're asking what stops any two people from being unfair to someone else in terms of limited time or attention, communication stops that.  If B is feeling left out because A has been spending all her time with her new partner, C, then it is up to B to communicate to A that B would like more time with A.

 

Another thing that helps is not arranging the relationships to be zero-sum.  In other words, there are 24 hours in a day, but if A works 8 hours, then sleeps 8 hours, then she only has 8 hours left to divy up between B and C, so she spends 4 hours with each.  That's zero-sum and it's a stressful and, frankly, ridiculous way to arrange things.  If A can spend time with both B and C at the same time, then A ends up with more than 24 hours to be divided up into chunks.  A can go to the movies with both B and C and have all of those 8 hours with both of them.  If A can also then sleep in the same bed as B and C, then that's another 8 hours.

 

But that was just to illustrate the concept of non-zero-sum.  When an actual family really starts counting up hours to see who gets more, that family is already doomed because there is a much larger issue going on than just counting hours.  We don't really count hours, and even if we did, not everyone requires the same amount of time.  I do much better being separated from my partners than Jessie does, for example.  Even if I lived with them, I would spend a great deal of my free time alone in my room working on projects and managing my businesses.  Jessie needs to be with her partners much more often than I do.  So when she spends 4 nights a week with our mutual partners and I only see them twice a week, that is a completely fair distribution because our needs are different.  Fair does not mean equal.  Equal is rarely "fair" in poly relationships.

 

However, if I felt that I wanted more time with my partners than I am currently getting, I just ask for it.  Many times, we all spend time together as a group, so two of those four days that Jessie is with her partners, are days that I am also with my partners, who are the same people.  Not always, of course, I'm trying to keep things simple for illustrative purposes.

 

I'm happy to answer any questions you have, even if you have more, but if you would like to do more reading on the subject, visit www.theinnbetween.net/poly1.html

Wow thanks for the long reply. Sounds a bit like the social network of a monogamous couple who have both mutual friends and separate friends, but with the allowance that those relationships can go beyond friendship.

 

Personally I don't think a poly lifestyle is for me (at the moment at least) I barely have the time for one relationship lol. Still a very interesting subject, I'll do some more reading when I get home tonight.

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