Polygamous Families: Unveiling Stories, Challenges & Joys

Oct 23, 6:27 PM | By Chris

Polygamy, a relationship structure that involves one person having multiple spouses simultaneously, has been practiced for centuries across various cultures and religions. While often misunderstood and stigmatized, many polygamous families have found joy, fulfillment, and a deep sense of community within their chosen lifestyle. In this article, we'll delve into personal stories from polygamous families, offering a glimpse into their unique experiences, challenges, and the joys they find in their relationships.

Understanding Polygamy

Polygamy is often associated with religious beliefs, particularly within certain sects of Mormonism, though it's essential to note that the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has disavowed the practice since the late 19th century. However, fundamentalist groups and individuals continue to practice polygamy, often in the face of legal and societal challenges.

Tom Green's Story

One such individual is Tom Green, a Mormon polygamist who lived approximately 200 miles outside of Salt Lake City. His life, captured in the documentary "My Six Wives and 29 Children," offers a candid look into the dynamics of a large polygamous family. While Tom's story is just one of many, it provides insight into the complexities and intricacies of living a polygamous lifestyle.

The Blackmore Brothers

Another compelling account comes from Merlin Blackmore, a 19-year-old who grew up in a polygamous cult in Canada. Born to Canada's most famous polygamist, 64-year-old Winston Blackmore, Merlin and his brothers, Murray and Warren, have shared their experiences of growing up in a family with 150 siblings and 26 mothers. Their stories, shared on platforms like TikTok, reveal the unique challenges and joys of growing up in such a large family. From attending their own school due to the family's size to the complexities of referring to their biological mothers versus other mothers in the family, their tales offer a rare glimpse into the life of children in polygamous families.

The Brown Family

The Brown family, featured on TLC's reality series Sister Wives, is another well-known polygamous family. Kody Brown, the patriarch, is married to four women: Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn. With 16 children between them, the family navigates the challenges and joys of their chosen lifestyle while living in the public eye. Their story highlights the importance of communication, understanding, and mutual respect in maintaining harmony within a polygamous household.

Historical Context of Polygamy

Polygamy has deep historical roots that span across various cultures and religions. In ancient civilizations, polygamy was often practiced for strategic reasons, such as forming alliances, expanding lineage, or increasing workforce. Many ancient scriptures and texts, including the Bible and the Quran, have references to polygamous relationships, indicating its widespread acceptance in earlier times.

In the context of the United States, polygamy became notably associated with the early Mormon pioneers. They believed that the practice was a commandment from God and integral to achieving the highest level of celestial glory. However, facing mounting societal and legal pressures, the mainstream LDS Church officially renounced polygamy in 1890. Despite this, various fundamentalist groups continued the practice, often in secluded communities to avoid legal repercussions.

Modern Polygamous Communities

Today, several polygamous communities exist, particularly in the Western United States. These communities, often isolated from the broader society, have their own set of norms, values, and practices. Life within these communities can be vastly different from mainstream society. Education, for instance, might be primarily religious-based, with a strong emphasis on family values and community roles.

However, it's essential to differentiate between consensual polygamous relationships and those where individuals, often young women, are coerced into marriages. The latter has garnered significant media attention and criticism, leading to a skewed perception of polygamy as a whole.

Societal Perceptions and Media Influence

The media has played a significant role in shaping perceptions about polygamous families. Reality TV shows like "Sister Wives" and "Big Love" have brought polygamy into the limelight, offering viewers a glimpse into the daily lives of polygamous families. While these shows have demystified certain aspects, they've also led to sensationalism, often focusing on the controversies and challenges rather than the mundane, everyday life aspects.

Documentaries and news stories, on the other hand, have sometimes showcased the darker side of polygamous communities, such as forced marriages, abuse, and isolation. While these issues are real and concerning, it's crucial to understand that they don't represent the entirety of the polygamous community.

Challenges in the Modern World

Polygamous families in the 21st century face a unique set of challenges:

1. Digital Age and Privacy: With the advent of social media and digital technology, maintaining privacy becomes challenging. Younger members of polygamous families, eager to connect with the broader world, might find themselves torn between their community's values and the allure of the outside world.

2. Economic Challenges: Larger families mean more mouths to feed, more bodies to clothe, and more minds to educate. Economic sustainability becomes a pressing concern, especially in communities where higher education and mainstream jobs are not encouraged.

3. Legal Implications: As mentioned earlier, polygamy is illegal in many jurisdictions. This legal status means families often live in fear of prosecution, leading to a life of secrecy and caution.

The Way Forward: Acceptance and Understanding

For polygamy to be understood, there needs to be a bridge between polygamous communities and mainstream society. Open dialogues, educational initiatives, and cultural exchanges can pave the way for mutual respect and understanding. 

It's also essential for legal systems to differentiate between consensual polygamous relationships among adults and situations involving coercion or abuse. Blanket bans on polygamy might push these communities further into the shadows, making it harder for those who need help to seek it.

Moreover, members of polygamous communities should be encouraged to share their stories, both positive and negative. Authentic narratives, free from sensationalism, can offer invaluable insights and foster genuine understanding.

The bottom line is

Polygamous families, like all families, have their unique challenges and joys. Their stories offer a window into a world that many may not understand, highlighting the universal themes of love, understanding, and the desire for connection. As society continues to evolve, it's essential to approach the topic of polygamy with an open mind, seeking to understand rather than judge.

This article is for Sister Wives, established in 2008, a platform dedicated to the poly community and those seeking to understand and embrace polygamy.

Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


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