If I Were Going to Be in a Group Marriage, Who Would I Pick?

I know picking Luckybuzz is kind of cheating, because I don’t know her, but I also kind of believe that, if you are going to be in a group marriage, best to have at least one spouse who knows what he or she is doing.

My dad claims that Colonel Sanders was in a group marriage of sorts–divorced his first wife, married another, but the three of them lived together for the rest of their lives.  If that’s true, it’s suspiciously absent from his wikipedia biography.  I hope one of my Kentucky readers will be able to verify this rumor or debunk it. 

Anyway, dead or alive, I don’t want Colonel Sanders in my group marriage.  If I had to pick someone from Kentucky, it would, of course, be J.D. Wilkes.  A girl needs at least one husband who knows someone with an upright bass.

I mention all of this because Sarcastro sent me this story about the originator of Wonder Woman, William Marston, who lived in what appears to have been a very pleasant group marriage. 

All the time, conservatives piss and moan about how, if we let gay folks get married, what’s to prevent poly folks from asking to have their arrangements legally recognized as well?  I don’t mean to be an idiot, but if everyone’s consenting adults, why would that be some big problem? 

37 thoughts on “If I Were Going to Be in a Group Marriage, Who Would I Pick?

  1. Other than the whole inbreeding/old men marrying 12 year olds/etc. thing, I think polygamists have the right idea. Have you ever seen Big Love on HBO? Faboo show. How cool would it be to have a few sister wives to split up the housework and childcare with, man? Plus, say you have 3 total sister wives, that means 2/3rds less being bothered for sex when you really just want to sleep. Yep, I’d be a polygamist in a heartbeat as long as we could leave all the crazy relious crap out of it, and I had cool sister wives.

  2. Ivy, I’d be your sister wife.At least I know you’d help with the dishes and keep the kids from driving me batshit when I was cooking.

  3. Oh dear. I’m just totally wrong on this, then. As nice as a multi-wife marriage may look on HBO, long oral traditions from cultures where they are common (China, ancient Israel, Arabia) all very vividly paint the picture of what hell it is for women in multi-wife marriages. 1. There is a caste system, with the First Wife being credited "wifely" status as co-head of the household and the subsequent wives being treated as concubines. It’s far from a club where everyone is equal. It’s sort of like having a really crappy job you can’t get out of.2. In most polygamous societies that I’ve studied, the women are purely objectified in a way that makes trashy lingerie ads and bad porn look decent. Subwives–those not the First Wife–are literally PROPERTY. Books about polymarital life in China as recently as 75 years ago attest to this. 3. My dad and uncle are children of a polymarital family. Hence my interest in this cultural phenomenon, and the reason that I’m in the middle of writing a book about it. Two sisters lived as wives with one man. My dad and his brother were put up for adoption because they were born of the "lesser wife" and "First Wife" (The older sister) wouldn’t keep them in the house. In the last ten years my dad and uncle have met 6 of the 8 siblings and half-siblings–all of whom grew up in the house. The stories they tell about that kind of lifestyle would make your skin crawl. And remember–it was all they knew. They had no idea what a "one father, one mother" world was like. But everyone pretty much agrees that my grandmother was treated like one of the cows on the farm, while her sister had rights and priveledges. For instance, my grandmother had a daughter that for years her sister claimed as her own because she hadn’t yet had a daughter. My aunt Carole was the only one of my grandmother’s three children from the polygamous relationship to be allowed to live on the farm. While that turned out well for my father and uncle, it went not so well for my grandmother, who eventually committed suicide.

  4. Oh my goodness. I’m blushing! I would *totally* be in a group marriage with you. Thanks for asking. :)And (probably unsurprisingly) I couldn’t agree more with you on the who-cares about consenting adults. GB and I used to say that we wouldn’t get married until gay marriage and group marriage were legalized. We live in Gay-Marriage-Friendly State, so we figured we’d go ahead and do the hitchin’ anyway–since I really do not expect group marriage to be legalized in our lifetimes. BUT–and this is the giant "but" for me–THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between polygamy and polyamory that conservatives/liberals/the media/most everyone seems to ignore. Multiple partners of both sexes? Fine by me, if everyone is happy. One guy, many wives, with no other options? Not so okay by me (my grandfather had multiple wives. Nothing progressive about that–that’s patriarchy at its clearest.) Why is that so hard for so many people to get? Sorry to rant. I have strong feelings about this issue. But I’m thrilled to be picked. :)

  5. I could never, ever live in a poly-marriage because I’m way too needy and want all the attention of my husband focused soley on me, I’d get too jealous in a heartbeat. And, for your question: "I don’t mean to be an idiot, but if everyone’s consenting adults, why would that be some big problem?" I don’t think that makes you sound like an idiot at all, I think everyone who says that consenting adults aren’t allowed to make their own decisions about who they’re married to is an idiot.

  6. Luckybuzz, that was going to be my point exactly. What Coble describes is clearly evil bullshit. But a lot of heterosexual marriages are evil bullshit and have been throughout history.That doesn’t mean that heterosexual couples who love each other shouldn’t be married; it just means they shouldn’t have evil bullshit marriages.And if there were ways to protect people from being coerced into fucked up situations, I don’t see why other groupings of people (read: consenting adults) that love each other shouldn’t also be able to have their relationships recognized.

  7. Polyamorist and/or polygamist set-ups always run afoul of what I call the Thanks For Nothing Law.The kind of people who are nudists are the last people on earth you want to see nude.The kind of people who are into swinging are the last people on earth you want to swing with.The kind of people who want you to join their poly-lifestyle…http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/02/09/EB166621.DTLThe pictures are especially enlightening.

  8. I like the *idea* of polygamy among consenting adults very much. It ought to be a mutually helpful, loving situation. But I think that in practice we humans are so complicated that dealing with all those emotions in one household (or set of households) has even more chance of turning sour than a marriage of two people. That doesn’t mean it always must or has/does, but I think it’s more likely. But we’ve been discussing what I would call accrual polygyny (adding one wife at a time to the marriage). Would it be different if a cluster of adults married each other all at once? That’s how the surviving cultures where polyandry survive do it: a woman marries a bunch of brothers and/or cousins, all together.

  9. Heather: you’d make the most awesome sister-wife, too. :D Kat: Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t *have* to be that way. My imaginary perfect polygamist marriage would include none of the first wife stuff, and everyone would have an equal vote. I think the biggest problem would be jealousy, because that’s human nature. And whoa, holy shit about your dad. I can’t wait to read your book, though. luckybuzz: I totally dig what you’re saying. The only reason I could picture myself in a polygamist and not poly-marriage is because I like women a lot better than I like men. (as people to hang out with and live with) Sarcastro: I couldn’t agree more. I went to a nudist colony once. Ack. I’ve met some swingers. Double ack. Too bad all the nudists and swingers are all butt-ugly, ha.

  10. I wasn’t speaking to polyamory, on which my opinion is pretty much a "live and let live" thing. I’m speaking solely about the glamourisation of polygamy, which near-personal experience and tons of research tell me is nothing but harmful.

  11. Hmm. I’m kind of delighted by the idea of marrying a bunch of brothers. I even like how "bunch of brothers" sounds.I will marry W. and his brother and spend my days watching them play baseball.Oh jeez. If you could marry a whole baseball team all at once… I’m marrying the ’88 Cubs.

  12. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are ALL butt-ugly, Ivy. Rather, there is either a Trekkie/New Age flakiness or a amateur porn creepiness that those folks tend to exude.

  13. As for Col. Sanders, I don’t think it was a thing where he had them both as wives. He started the business with the first wife and she kept on working at the restaurant…or something. His Biography on A & E is most interesting. One time he cracked his skull in a wreck and he put it back together with mud from the creek he wrecked in. How in the HELL do I know this? Gosh, I am a weirdo.

  14. Notice in the pics, Kat, how Wynter Fox, or whatever her D&D handle is, doesn’t look real stoked to be in her happy little flow chart of a family.

  15. Coble–"Are those folks polyamourists or an SCA club?"–comments like that are going to get you married to me and the ’88 Cubs in about two seconds flat.

  16. I dunno, B. Marry a couple or five brothers? I can see the advantages, at least in an idealized sense. Marry 25 guys all at once? I *know* I couldn’t manage that many egos all at once. Even the starting 8 and the pitchers would probably be too much emotional work for any ordinary woman.

  17. But it’s the ’88 Cubs, a line-up that includes Ryno, *Mark Grace*, Dawson, Sutcliffe, Jody Davis… Shoot, I’m not going to get any work done this afternoon if I keep up that train of thought.Damn you, polyamory discussion! The Cubs were dead to me, dead. I would not cotton a mention of them in my presense, and yet, here I go, as Crystal Gayle sang, down that wrong road again.

  18. I can see where Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmiero and maybe even Rick Sutcliffe or Shawon Dunston would be right there in your strike zone.But Don Zimmer and Andre Dawson? You can do better.

  19. Hell, I forgot Vance Law. He’s Mormon. So there’s your guy with experience in the "life".You could have your whole poly-doodle with Mormon baseball players. They would be totally up for it. God’s will and all that crap.Orel Hersheiser (oops, just SOUNDS like a Mormon)Dale MurphyHarmon KillebrewKyle FarnsworthBobby BonillaRick Aguilera

  20. The whole idea of getting busy with Don Zimmer puts me off an otherwise delightful notion. Dammit, he’s the anti-Grace. If it’s my hypothetical, I say that I don’t have to pull the bench coaches but can swing with position players only. That would restore the 88 Cubs to contention in my book.Of course, I was awoken this morning out of an erotic dream about helping Johnny Damon shave his mustache. My mind is on both sex and baseball at this time of year.

  21. I don’t think I’d like the idea of 20 something men, in my house, all watching Celebrity Poker at the same time and trying, in vain, to get them to listen to me while I’m speaking. That many men lying around with their hand in their pants, Ed Bundy style…neh.

  22. I will never, for the life of me, understand why straight men watch baseball. It seems to me so obviously an elaborate mating ritual that goes on a deliciously long time. I guess that’s why they give straight guys all that bullshit about following the stats and ERAs and batting averages. Keep them distracted with numbers while the rest of us engage in a long flirtation.And now I feel a little bad for Don Zimmer, though, I also don’t want to have to fuck him.

  23. B, as flattered as I am, and as pleased to marry you as I would be you can leave the Cubs out of it. One baseball player is enough for me.But in case you all were interested, here’s a bit more background on polyamourist Oberon Ravenheart:http://www.caw.org/clergy/oberon/"Oberon attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri from 1961-’65. There, together with Richard Lance Christie, he founded the Church of All Worlds on April 7, 1962, inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land."Yep. You can always count on Science Fiction. Why, Lord, WHY am I a scifi geek?

  24. I’m sorry, Lord. It is wrong to laugh at other people. But when you say things like this in your official bio, I can’t help but bust a lung:"During much of this period Oberon traveled around the country exhibiting Unicorns at Renaissance Faires, and was largely inaccessible for public Pagan appearances,"

  25. I think it’s very interesting that B mentioned ‘group marriages’ and everyone immediately jumps to the ‘one man, many women’ model. What does that say?

  26. What does it say that you’re conveniently overlooking my ambition to marry you and your brother and the 1988 Cubs?

  27. I think my family has had every possible discussion about the Cubs (imagine Bill Swerski’s Superfans, but discussing baseball as well as football) except marrying the entire team. From any year. Now I have heard every Cubs conversation possible.I don’t know, that was a fast turn around from a couple years of the Cubs are dead to me, I can no longer support the Cubs to I’ll marry the ’88 team… Be that as it may, should you marry the ’88 Cubs please prepare for a non-stop parade of visits from my extended family.

  28. W, it’s just me that goes to the one man, many women model, I think. I like women better than I like men. No, not in THAT way, not really anyway, haha.

  29. Ivy, you would be a great sister-wife. You and Heather together? Shoot. It’d be like Kill Bill but with you two taking on the whole world.

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