Polygamy is a form of marriage arrangement where man takes on two or more wives. Indeed, it involves a practice where a man takes several wives for their own specific reasons. Polygamy is a common marriage pattern in most regions of the world and America in particular. However, polygamy in North America has been sidelined with regard to the legal system and, therefore, not allowed within the legal framework since it was colonized by European. Similarly, in 1892, polygamy became not only a family-specific issue but also social and political issues within the United States legal framework and the national values at large.
In particular, polygamy came to the public domain in the event that Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) church which validated one form of polygamy commonly called the Plural marriage. However, although the government interjected, it resulted in politically heated resistance through legal conflicts. Consequently, the president Wilford Woodruff announced the abandonment of the practice by the church in 1890. Although the practice was officially declared illegal and subsequently abandoned by the church, other regions broke away with the Mormon fundamentalists which resided to the west of US, and Mexico had the practice in place to date (Musser & Cook, 2013).
With respect to the legality of the marriages, the North America practiced bigamy illegally which involves the marriage of two wives while at the same time retain the first legal marriage with the first wife. Essentially, the United States outlaws the practice and subsequently provides it as a punishable offense which is subject to imprisonment. In particular, polygamy is punishable in US through fines, imprisonment or both depending on the circumstances of the offense within the individual state.
Indeed, most courts in US such as Turner v. S consider bigamy so strictly with regard to punishable accord. At certain points, the crime is punishable as a conviction of a felony even in the instance that only one legally married wife existed. For example, if a person makes a mistaken move that their first wife is dead and, therefore, proceeds marrying another, such victims can be convicted of bigamy within the legal systems of the United States.
In Canada, the systems with respect to polygamy crimes are aligned with Criminal Code of the State of Canada which outlaws polygamy arrangement and provides a punishment of a maximum of five years imprisonment. In this regard, polygamy is identified as a major contributor to a chain of social problems to both children and wives within such setups. This study will focus on the psychosocial effects of polygamy marriage on women and children with a special focus of polygamy in US (Altman & Ginat, 2006).
Psychological Effects of Polygamous Marriages on Women
Essentially, jealousy is a common feature in polygamous marriages among the wives. Besides, more often, wives are left alone to work on domestic chores feeding their children while their husbands struggle to make money elsewhere. Within polygamous settings, women are constantly fighting for resources which are ordinarily scarce. In US, polygamous marriages are quite unstable, immature as well as unsustainable, hence, posing significant challenges in the family members within such settings.
However, women are the main partners who are affected adversely as they act as the mangers of the entire house businesses in the presence of children who also gradually become part and parcel of the struggle. In the context of African nations, polygamous has been successful in most case scenarios (Altman & Ginat, 2006).
However, for successful marriages in polygamous settings, there are a number of measures that have been employed to mitigate or promote social interactions at the family levels besides captivating cohesiveness between husband and the wives. The major ingredients of successful polygamous marriages include marriages that are aligned with measures that strengthen tribal ties, discouraged love between grownups with a view to decreasing chances of jealousy, confined sleep rotation schedules while at the same time, older wives entices the young wives with a view to integrating them into the polygamous settings.
Similarly, parents marry off sisters together whenever possible since such instances work well with the group. However, although highly embraced in certain cultural backyards, women do not accommodate the entire picture as such and creates a psychological disturbance in the event of such effected polygamous marriages. At times, women are denied the right to undertake any economic activity with a view to owning properties (Altman & Ginat, 2006).
As a result, at times, women are married off together, on a large scale, a fact that forces them into accepting the arrangement without due disregard of the men demands. Indeed, women in a polygamous setting often have their sons denied the successful winning of the wife lottery besides being alienated with their family which they may have claimed to value most. Indeed, the love thing in marriage is always troublesome in polygamous marriage setups.
For instance, the escapees of the FLDS have historical claims of experiences in both alcohol and drug abuse related habits with a view of creating a scenario that drives away painful memories in polygamous marriages. In the contemporary society, polygamy is practiced in countries that have backward development practices today. In a free society, polygamy is not warranted due to its significant psychological challenges that it provokes on women and children and, therefore, only often executed without the due regard of the public and the government (Musser & Cook, 2013).
Ideally, some regions of US still practice polygamy. In particular, certain sects are associated with the allowing of polygamous marriages. Examples of such denominations include Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Apostolic United Brethren and the Latter-day Churches of Christ. Among these groups, polygamy exists widely even to date and is a rampant practice in regions such as Arizona, Colorado, and Utah among others. Similarly, this practice is also rampant in the spin-off colonies.
Furthermore, it is also practiced by individuals who are less affiliated to the polygamy. Those churches with a strong affiliation to polygamy are commonly called Mormon fundamentalist. Although the LDS church is taken to accommodate polygamous marriages, the larger LDS church does not accommodate the practice. Indeed, the church uses the previous revelation of John Taylor, September, 1886. The church I particular sidelines the practice on the ground that it produces significant challenges in the scenes of social cohabitation between a husband and wives (Spencer, 2008).
Due to the outlawed aspects of the polygamy marriages, most men use multiple divorce practices as well as legal marriages as a loophole towards running away from legal punishment of polygamy. In this regard, a man may marry first wife and then take off his first name followed by divorce. Consequently, a man marries another wife taking his name. In such a context, a man craves to find mistakes with the women producing a series of combats with the first wife.
Therefore, this provokes a series of social distress that leads to psychological torture on women due to uncalled for struggle. It is repeated involving numerous wives who also fall in the trap of significant distress after divorce. However, men do not really go for divorce but rather a disguised polygamous arranged which is paved way by divorce of previous wife (Spencer, 2008).
However, women in such settings often feel justified to be associated with such men by titles such as Misses .... although they are legally divorced from their initial husbands. Indeed, women also take into account the fact that they were married and think that other people around them must acknowledge that they are associated with the men they were previously legally married but currently divorced. In any case, since only one wife has been subject to legal marriage to the husband at any particular time, then the law does not restrain such polygamous family setting. In this regard, polygamous units of marriages, therefore, could overt their relationship (Spencer, 2008).
Women and Children
Polygamous marriages are also comprised of many wives and even more children. In most cases, the competition for resources by the children all channeled from a common father is constrained. Consequently, this leads to protracted struggle among children while the same time generating ignited conflict among wives. In particular, in a scenario where we have many children, the love, time and attention accorded to each child by the father is limited considerably. As a result, some children are given more attention than others while at the same time channeling resources to the favorite children. Such differences are often clear in most polygamous marriages (Wall, 2008).
Therefore, children are stressed by such scenario leading to an instance of struggle between children and their parents who if not handled immediately may rekindle struggle in the long-run. Hence, this can result in aggravated social disharmony among the various players in the society. In particular, polygamous marriages at present are very rampant in US and Canada. Indeed, tender aged girls have been subjected to marriages and trade like cattle.
On the other hand, young men are cast aside without due prosecution or subsequent investigation from federal, local or state administration. However, actual figures of polygamous marriages are currently not posted due to constant discouragement of government officers as well as census bureau (Wall, 2008).
In the religious settings, the Churches in the LDS doctrine had believed in their church prophet, Joseph Smith who was the founder of the church in 1830. Indeed, Smith had led the church towards the legend of angel Moroni who had been reportedly visiting Smiths bedside annually. In the visit, the angel was indicatively alighted to inform Smith about a text inscription on golden plates which were buried about 1400 years ago under the rock submerged in a nearby hillside. Gradually, the plates were to be converted into the holy book of moron. Using this facet, Smith wished to teach about the practice of plural marriage.
Indeed, Smith had many wives and such was the gradual trend among the rest public in the Smiths church. Indeed, Smiths church considered polygamy as perhaps one of the most sacred credos in the church and, therefore, fit for its members and the world in general. According to the prophet, plural marriage is one of the holiest and significant doctrines with ever revelation to human beings. In Smiths teaching, a man should have at least three wives in order to have full exaltation in afterlife (Carlebach, 1997).
Indeed, after about 180 years of the time of inception Smith Church, polygamy was an ongoing practice despite legal measures that were put in place to provide a legal framework towards limiting the spread of the practice while the perpetrators were unpunished by neither state nor federal government. For instance, regions like Bountiful and Colorado City seems critically exempt of the legal legislations against polygamous practices as perceived in most parts of the world. More often, women at tender ages are married off to husbands of two or three times their ages. In some states, polygamous marriages are extreme. Indeed, some young girls are taken to new houses and asked to perform marital duties on a set of days (Darger, 2011).
On the other hand, young men are employed as slaves on farms as well as local business enterprises. However, law enforcement agencies do nothing to curtail the trend. In such marriages, the number of women married is not dictated by availability of financial capacity to put up the children. Consequently, the result is protracted struggle among children. This scenario also increases the vulnerability of children in polygamous marriages. Young men and girls are often subjected to unpaid labor within very perilous constructions as well as forestry jobs.
Most of these activities are done with the utmost idea of propagating faith and believes. Such primitive cultures have existed over time while some children have been forced out school at tender ages. This creates a psychological disturbance in children which can lead to depression (Wall & Pulitzer, 2012).
Similarly, it is clear that all species on the Earth multiply equally. Consequently, polygamous marriages imply that a certain group of men is left aside without marriage partners in excommunication. In this regard, such men enter their own world which may lead to their subsequent bewilderment. Similarly, boys who may not necessarily be kicked out of polygamous families may also be persuaded to leave their families or else forced out of the families. In such instances, such boys are called lost boys.
This adds up to psychological distress on children of underage because they struggle for food and other basic needs. However, in the context of Bountiful, Colorado and Canada, US such children are forgotten by their parents while anything that could rekindle their memories at home is cleared. Similarly, mothers also try to forget their childrens names. Such aspects mean a lot to the families. However, husbands are less victimized compared to both children and women within polygamous marriages. With struggle young boys grow up to become respectable society members after settling down within their communitys set ups (Whitaker, 2006).
However, some children turn to low paying jobs due to lack of access to education while some may get into prostitution or decide to live for salvation. Indeed, children within polygamous marriages have had very stringent living conditions in the sense that they are not expected to question anything as such may provoke their being sent into exile by the elders decree. Indeed, more often, boys are left to feed themselves. Indeed, both women and children within the enclosure of polygamous marriages have more dreary future. Congestion may also be a case scenario of families living in polygamous settings.
As the family expands fast, the family rate of supply by virtue of resources often remains relatively constant. Consequently, congestion becomes inevitable. Young girls, for instance, thirteen years old being married off to a man, forty six years old, with other wives as co-wives and many children located in a long distance location. Indeed, the latter is a common scenario in both the United States and Canada (Musser & Cook, 2013).
Due to this forced marriages into polygamous settings, the young wife lives in distress for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, their children also have a pass to such distress through protracted disputes at home between husband and mothers as well as the co-wives. Essentially, the young girls are often ripped from homes and married off while at the same time forced to perform sexual conjugal acts with respect to house schedule.
Most often, these houses are composed of contentious feelings besides lacking familial support to novel wife. Despite the fact that polygamy is illicit in both USA and Canada, the perpetrators are never subjected to legal punishment. Indeed, the manner in which polygamy is propagated is done through taking of legal marriage while subsequently marrying other wives as spiritual wives (Hammond, 2008).
By the tone of the latter, polygamists are shielded from prosecution from bigamy. Similarly, this arrangement is advantageous due to its impact of government funding. The enormous families also qualify in acquisition of welfare besides others assistance from the government. Although, polygamous marriages view the government as satanic coercions with the intent of destroying polygamous society, the government allows about $6 million every year as per the share of public funds. Indeed, women and children who have been products of polygamous families but have abandoned them have serious and deep impacts by the government with regard to their every aspect of lives (Hammond, 2008).
Indeed, the psychological impacts sustained by children brought up in the context of polygamous marriages portray a similar scenario in which children are bought up in abusive environments or households. Indeed, research indicates that survivors including both children and women from polygamous torture, religious cult, all are subjects of struggles for the rest of their lives, both physically and mentally.
As a result, the US government intervenes through consolidated funds. However, most woman living in polygamous marriage setups often do not portray negative commentaries nut in absolute terms, these women often undergo sharp contradictions in their lives between normalcy and struggle to survive. However, the women escapees reports or accounts often reveal a lot of negative experiences. As a matter of fact, such negative experiences lead to long term psychological torture that derails future progressive prospects.
According to one of the case escapees in US, any woman who escapes from a polygamous marriage is not to blame, only that they had reached the maximum level of coping with the conditions for both her children and herself. Indeed, the obstructions along their paths are often inconceivable. However, one of the hardest obstacles in life comprised of emotional damages which both women and their children sustains. In particular, children and women feel guilt of leaving. Similarly, they also feel uncertain unsteady novel lifestyle besides a complete lack of both relatives and friends.
In addition, escapees of polygamous marriages including both women and children have obstacles from bereavement. Essentially, most women who retreat from polygamous marriages also have themselves shy off from talking about the issue publicly as such as contrary to the expectations of the society (Brower & Cummings, 2011).
Within the settings of polygamous communities, there exists a regarded chain of command focusing upon a central leader commonly referred to as prophet as well as leading patriarch within the community. However, the latter chain of command is problematic in the sense that it is often dictatorial comprising of a single power hungry individual in control. Indeed, the corrupt powers tend to beef up the controls exercised by polygamous husbands and fathers. However, the father often falls guilty of maltreating their own families which often results in a scenario of domestic violence or child abuse.
In this regard, children and women in these kinds of families are the most affected mentally and physically. Psychological distress in such children includes regrets for being born. Furthermore, the named corruption is also demonstrated through child bride girls comprising of either fourteen to fifteen and below aged girls who are given up for marriages (Bello & Madaki et al., 2009). Consequently, these girls are subjected to marriage lives, and polygamy in particular in the absence of their conscience and is essential in increasing psychological distress for the rest of their lives.
Within the polygamous marriage settings, the husband acts as a central coordinator of all events in the family. Both the children and their mothers in such settings are subjects to their father and husband respectively. In some case scenarios, the father in polygamous settings also dictates the person to whom their girls will marry, work or even dictating the period of service in any of the above setting.
In some culture involving polygamous marriages, the prophet may also take away the children and assign them to other parents of their wish. This further subjects the children into prolonged distressed as they are permanently separated from their parents especially in the event that the children are at their tender age.
Furthermore, the prophet may also make unilateral decision affecting the society without the due questioning from anyone. Studies show that such prophets claim that revelations from God forms the basis in which the central figure (Prophet) operates and, therefore, never subject to queries. Indeed, the Mormons are also subject of worshipping the prophet as God. In the event that the prophets make a ruling among the sect members, its bound to become a law applying to all the members.
However, most of the time, the prophets ruling are often unreasonable but are subject to follow up since they are taken to come from God. Consequently, both women and children in polygamous marriages suffer silently in belief that their lifestyles are at par with the will of God (Spencer, 2008).
In this regard, free thinking is also prohibited. Fathers within polygamous marriage are dictatorial and, therefore, subjecting women into unnecessary pressure where they are supposed to obey with the commands of the husbands. On the other hand, children have no rights to ask any information or clarification other than the orders as given by their father which is expected to be complied with wholly. Furthermore, children and women are curtailed from establishing relationships with other people outside their cult without exceptions.
Furthermore, the prophet has the discretion to decide whether or not, the level and type the children have to study. This form of marriages affects the future of the children most adversely in the sense that children lack the right to shape their lives according to their physical and psychological capabilities (Hardy, 2007).
Furthermore, polygamous marriages often comprise of violence. Indeed, violence often acts like a de-facto rule that ensures things are done. The extension of authoritarianism and control projected by polygamous fathers is often violence. Polygamous escapee mothers often report cases of extreme violence experienced by both children and they but endured them in the domain of their husbands which were subjects of approval by the prophet. Indeed, the patriarch incorporates violence in controlling his numerous children and wives.
More often, husbands claim that there are limited resources to perform jobs. In this regard, children are subjected to physical punishments as a way of enforcing rules within the framework of polygamous marriages. Similarly, violence in the context of polygamous marriages is also manifested with regard to perception. Violent fathers are often perceived as strong with manifestation of control and authority over their family. However, violence creates a conspiracy of understanding in both children and women who are psychological depressed under the rules of their father and husband respectively (Bramham, 2008).
Polygamous marriages also seem to poses from old castes systems. Consequently, family members including both children and women from polygamous marriages comprise the caste system instituted by the father. In this regard, children live in deep distress because they try to fit in the society without the due right to express their views or initiate any form of the idea. Similarly, polygamous marriages also experience other levels of distortion.
For instance, a man with many wives often has a favorite wife who is accorded among other things, e.g. better rooms, more expensive cloth allowances as well as high access to the husband relative to other wives under the same husband. In this regard, the isolated women often suffer psychological sense of unworthiness often accelerated by rapid deterioration of access to quality life for themselves and their children at the expense of their co-wife. With time, this may develop into a mental disorder if ample measures are not taken into account (Wall & Pulitzer, 2008).
Furthermore, the husband also shields the favorite wife from others which further creates a sense of disregard for women in polygamous marriages. Similarly, this form of segregation also happens to children. When children are isolated from obvious benefits that are accorded to their siblings, they feel unwanted and at times fall in despair as they grow. Furthermore, children within the polygamous settings grow up within a setting that discourages further development of individuality.
Consequently, this scenario causes such psychosocial problems such as paranoia, insecurity as well as protracted anxiety and a resultant fragile sense of merit. Indeed, secrecy is often the lifeblood of polygamous marriages. This form of life is highly unappealing and can significantly compromise integrity, superiority attitude among other vices. However, in such settings, secrecy becomes essentially the part of life for children in polygamy marriages.
Finally, the repressing of both the women and children feelings often lead to anger and low self-esteem among another personality disorders. Indeed, studies indicate that polygamous marriages make the foundation upon which children begins to display major emotional and mental issues across their lives. Assuredly, both women and children who have been subjects to polygamous cult abuse often have their entire quality of lives destroyed. Similarly, children also lose hope for their future.
Last but not least, polygamy has been identified as a real phenomenon that cause significant societal problems particular in the lives of victimized children and women. Poor regulations acts as a major contributor towards the enhancement of polygamous practices in US while in the African context, other measures are out in place to enhance the coexistence between wives, children and the family head.