Venus & Mars: How About Polygamy?
Katrin Figge & Tasa Nugraza Barley
Polygamy. The word alone sounds like a disease to me.
I don’t care what reasons are used to justify legal marriage to more than one partner, be they religious, financial or the fact that some men think they’re kings of the world and need a harem to complement their wealth and power. I simply can’t wrap my head around the concept.
And, just to clarify: It’s not only the image of a man with more than one wife that troubles me. I am equally disturbed by women who think they need more than one husband — but, let’s face it, that doesn’t happen as much.
I guess that if everyone involved in a polygamous scenario is happy with the part they are playing, then by all means, they should live their lives. But more often than not happiness is not the case, and sadly, women in some countries simply agree to polygamy because they don’t have any choice.
Personally, I could never be a second or third wife and share my husband with others. To me, that would simply feel like he was cheating on me, even though the other women might be legally bound to him as well and living under the same roof.
I can imagine that when a man announces to his wife that he has decided to marry a second woman, many of these women lose some of their of dignity and pride, and feel unworthy and insufficient. Furthermore, it seems that jealousy and rivalry may take root among these women.
And what about the children? What kind of effect will polygamy have on little kids?
I remember a movie where a young girl was utterly confused because she grew up in a household with her mother, her biological father and what she called her two “voluntary daddies,” who were only roommates, but still, the other kids in her preschool were quick to make fun of her living arrangements.
If anything, I wouldn’t want to expose my children to ridicule and laughter simply because of something their mother did.
Call me a romantic old fool, but I still believe there is that one person out there for me. One person to grow old and spend the rest of my days with. If I ever recite wedding vows, then I will surely mean them.
But even if I can’t find that person, I’d rather be on my own than play second fiddle in an already crowded house. But I am grateful that I have a choice in this matter and don’t need to get married to survive.
Katrin Figge is deputy features editor at the Jakarta Globe.
As a proud young Muslim, I have long believed that polygamy could only be practiced in very extraordinary conditions. And based on some research I did a few years ago, I came to the conclusion that the practice could only be justified during the time that our prophet lived, an era when it was fine for a man to have 10 or 20 wives.
But I admit that I’m no expert on religious issues, so let’s leave all the technical issues behind. I’d like to use logic instead.
As a son in a happy family, I know that my life would be miserable if my father suddenly decided that having two wives was a good idea.
With all due respect to men with two or more wives, I think I’m on the ladies’ side this time.
As someone who grew up being told that cheating on your wife is a sin, I simply can’t understand why some men think it’s normal to have two or more wives. I mean, can’t you just focus on your one wife? Why is it so hard to be happy with just one wife? Well, perhaps men can just be selfish sometimes.
I’m no saint, but I think polygamy is a barbaric tradition. I believe every man is destined to get married to one woman in his life. That woman is called your soulmate, who supposedly owns half your heart. I think you’re a monster if you have the heart to hurt a woman who’s so important to you.
We’ve all seen it. Every woman who lives in a polygamous relationship says she doesn’t mind that her husband is sharing his love “equally” with other women. That’s a lie. There’s no woman in this world who would genuinely accept a polygamous family. Her lips may say “yes,” but deep down inside, her heart is crushed to pieces.
I’m certain there’s no way for polygamous men to treat all his wives equally — it’s simply impossible. Most polygamous men, being men, will favor the younger women over the older ones.
And don’t forget about the children. Just like women, children around the world would no doubt hate to see their parents practice polygamy. I mean, imagine if you have two mothers in the same house. Imagine if your father had to share his love and wealth with two women. That could be messy.
If men have the desire to help others, then I think they’re dumb to think that polygamy is the answer. What they need to do is find an orphanage and start buying the orphans clothes and books.
Tasa Nugraza Barley is a features reporter at the Jakarta Globe.