What's The Difference? Bigamy Vs. Polygamy

Apr 1 '2023, 10:56 AM | By Chris

Two different kinds of marriage practices, bigamy and polygamy both involve multiple spouses and marriage. The following is an examination of a hot topic: Bigamy vs. polygamy.

Two or more spouses are involved in a polygamous marriage – both/all being aware of the other’s union with the spouse. Two or more spouses are involved in a bigamous relationship as well but are usually unaware of each other.

What's more, while bigamy is not typically practiced for religious or cultural reasons, polygamy is. Can one be participated in without participating in the other, however? Technically, you must partake in bigamy to partake in polygamy because bigamy is defined as the following: “While legally married to one person, partaking in a marriage ceremony to another."

That doesn't make them the same, however.


Bigamy can be consensual and intentional. An individual knowingly marries a second spouse, being completely aware that their initial marriage is binding, legally. Everyone involved consents. On the other hand, it can be non-consensual, but still intentional, where the spouses of an individual are completely unaware of each other.

But wait, there's more. As the result of an attempted divorce that was never finalized legally, it can also be unintentional. Regardless, all parts of the United States outlaw bigamy.


When three or more people participate in a general union/marriage, this is referred to as polygamy. In the minds of many people, polygamy is reserved for a situation that involves multiple wives and one man. This is not, however, always the case. Technically speaking, a general description of polygamy involves any gender, with marriage being carried out with multiple partners.

There are several kinds of polygamy including the following:

• Group marriage

• Polyandry

• Polygyny

Let's look at those individually.

Group Marriage

A type of polygamy, group marriage is an arrangement in which a marriage-like agreement is made and participated in by all parties involved. The ratio of male to female is not specified but, rather, determined by the individuals involved.


Here, more than one man can be married to one woman. To break things down even further, there are two types of polyandry:

• Non-Fraternal Spouses: A woman marries husbands that are completely unrelated to each other.

• Fraternal Spouses: A pair of sibling brothers is married to one woman.


Two types of polygyny also exist including the following:

• Nonsororal: Wives that have no relation to each other are chosen by one man.

• Sororal: As his wives, sisters of a family are taken by one man.

Polygamy Versus Bigamy

In both of these, there is a running theme involving multiple partners involved in a union. The following should be noted to distinguish polygamy and bigamy from each other:

• Religious influence (customs)

• Living style (number of households)

• Law classifications (multiple partners are legal in some countries where polygamy is concerned)

• One spouse being aware of another or others

Important Note!

As of February 2020, a bill passed the Utah legislature that states – for the first time in 85 years – that polygamy is not a felony crime. But, some 18 months later, the bigamy law was reinstated by a federal appeals court and a law re-criminalizing bigamy was passed by the Utah State Legislature. The difference now is that Utah views polygamy, more or less, as an "infraction" – similar to a speeding ticket.

Interested in Polygamy as a Lifestyle? Want to Meet Others Who Are as Well?

To whom can you turn if you want to meet other polygamists and/or are in search of a love connection? Answer: Sister Wives. We want to help women become sister wives and/or introduce them to people who also live a polygamist lifestyle. Connections are made online, every day. Check our "Blogs" to see what others have to say.

By attending some of our activities and events, you can become even more familiar with Sister Wives and the polygamist lifestyle. Contact us today to find out more.

Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


No comments
You need to sign in to comment

Related Articles


Your rate:
Total: (0 rates)

Recent Articles

Most Viewed

Most Discussed


Password protected photo
Password protected photo
Password protected photo