Is sharing caring?

Today, I read a Yahoo! article (yes, I know) about the TLC Show “Sister Wife”.  At the bottom of the article was a real life interview (did you catch the sarcasm?) with a true sister wife–a woman who had entered into a plural marriage with her younger sister’s husband.  She admitted that she was (and is) unhappy in her marriage; she admitted that she and her sister don’t often talk.  However, she calls one woman extending a plural marriage to another a gift.  A gift?  You just said that you’re unhappy, and you and your sister have so many issues with each other, not a few because of this polygamous marriage, yet you say she gave you a gift?  I don’t get it.  What about this is a gift?

An FLDS man with his wives. Stephanie Sinclair/VII for National Geographic.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t (and wont) prohibit or demonize any lifestyle that a consenting adult wishes to enter into.  Adults have a right to do what they want, as long as it doesn’t harm another.  But I do have the right to express my confusion at this particular practice, and wonder at the blind adherence of the adults who ascribe to this particular lifestyle (I speak of those fundamentalists who practice polygamy, not the people who decided, outside or regardless of any religious or societal mores, that they’d like to give it a go).  How, exactly, do you consider this a gift, an honor?  To me, a gift is something you endow to someone that is wholly their own; asking them to halve their own happiness is a burden of self-sacrifice–and why would you think it right to ask someone you respect and/or trust to sacrifice their happiness for someone else’s?  I won’t get into all the other concerns I have about plural marriage; I just wanted to bring up a point that I hadn’t yet seen anyone else mention.

I’m reminded of a book I read many years ago, called The Kitchen God’s Wife, (by Amy Tan, if you’re at all interested).  In this book, the mother, Winnie, bemoaned her daughter’s guest bedroom, which was much smaller than the master bedroom the daughter and husband shared.  She called the reservation of second best for guests a very American way of thinking, while the reverse (only the highest and best for honored guests) was the Chinese way of thinking.  (By the way, readers, I do see the irony in using this fictional literary anecdote to question the fundamentalist view of polygyny–as the practice was very widespread in China–but I’m using it anyway.)  Whatever happened to the tenet of “give others the better of yourselves” that I learned in Girl Scouts?  Is this only a Girl Scout thing?  Did the dear GS teach me wrong?  Or does this only apply to children and those not allowed or deemed unfit to decide upon their own welfare?


About The Drunken Spinster

Aspiring writer. Lazy Bum. Shameless self-promoter. Sneaker pimp. View all posts by The Drunken Spinster

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