Most of us monogamous folks have hefty assumptions about plural marriage. Particularly in the case of polygyny (when a man is married to more than one wife), these descriptions aren't uncommon:
Misogynistic. Exploitive. Unethical. Ungodly. Distasteful. Selfish. Sexist.
But, how much do you know about it, really? How many of us have actually ever interacted with a polygamous family? (And, no, watching Big Love doesn't count).
Growing up, polygamy was a concept semi-grasped intellectually, but I had no observational understanding of it. In doing my research to prepare for this interview, I came across this very interesting statistic:
Globally, in a survey of 1,231 societies, only 186 were monogamous. Among the rest, 588 had frequent polygyny, 453 had occasional polygyny, and 4 practiced polyandry (when one woman is married to more than one husband at a time). (Source: Ethnographic Atlas)
...That means only about 15% of societies are monogamous.
This statistic alone raises a plethora of questions:
- Is polygamy the human tendency?
- Is monogamy the reason for our high rate of divorce in America?
- Are the reasons for polygamy around the world primarily economic?
- What does the Bible have to say about all of this? Is it more unnatural to be married to multiple people...or to one?
There are so many more, and this interview only covers the very tip of the iceberg.
But, what I can tell you about my experience during the interview is this:
The Darger family had some of the most interesting things to say about love and marriage. Any assumptions I had going into it completely melted away within moments of sitting down with them. We were greeted with open arms and hearts.
The husband, Joe Darger, said, "I feel undeserving of these three women." The wives, while admitting to struggles with jealousy, seemed to love not just their husband—but also one another. I listened to the pitter patter of their children's happy feet in the background (they have 26 kids in total, with 16 still living with them), and felt their warmth toward one another.
Polygamy is, perhaps, uncommon and frowned upon by most Americans. But, it is also misunderstood.
While my heart still desires a loving, monogamous relationship, I now have a deeper understanding of polygamy—and why some people choose it.
No matter what your stance on the topic, give this podcast a listen. If you take away from it what I did, you'll come out of this episode with an appreciation of people who love differently than you—and a richer knowledge of what it means to love big, communicate well, and honor the commitment of marriage.
Don't forget about our Kickstarter! We're raising money to travel the country to capture more love stories like The Dargers'. We'd love it if you'd contribute:
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- While you're at it, check out the Darger Family's book: