Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

May 15, 2007

"Where Mother's Day Strikes Thrice"

Time magazine

A debate recently raged on the LovingMorePolyactive Yahoo group about how broadly or narrowly to define "polyamory" — and, in particular, what we might have in common with Mormon-based polygamist families. Most of the debaters (including me) were skeptical that any connection between secular, egalitarian us and the literalist Book of Mormon followers would be possible or desirable, on either our part or theirs.

But you've got to hand it to Principle Voices, the leading pro-polygamy group in Utah — they know how to do public relations. They recently helped get this fine article into Time magazine (May 11, 2007) on the occasion of Mother's Day. We could take lessons here.

And for that matter, doesn't this household sound kind of familiar?


Since last fall, eight-year-old Sam Jensen has been nurturing a seedling, along with his other classmates at school, to give as a Mother's Day gift. This Sunday, he'll proudly present the thriving plant to his moms — all three of them — who will also receive corsages from their husband, and a giant card from their 11 children....

For the Jensens [a pseudonym], being outside the law is simply the price to pay for a lifestyle consistent with their faith. Robert Jensen, like his wives, grew up in polygamous households. "This isn't something frivolous — it is deep-seated in us to do this," he explains. They follow the original teachings of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, which include the practice of polygamy [as a requirement for males to enter Heaven]....

And Robert Jensen believes they've gotten a bad rap. Disgust crosses his face at the very mention of Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who is currently under arrest and facing charges on two counts of being an accomplice to rape.... "To stereotype polygamists as all one way, is like picking one monogamous family and saying they are all like this," says Robert, visibly irritated by the question.

His own wives see one another as an indispensable network of emotional support and load-sharing. "I wouldn't be the mother I am or the wife I am without my sisterwives," says Abigail. Since marrying at age 18, she has shared a life with her husband his two other wives for 14 years. The intimacy of their sisterwife relationship has been forged by sharing the experience of witnessing births, weathering deaths, caring for the children, running a household, and sustaining a good marriage. "You are closer to them than your own sisters," says Regina, as she dishes hash-browns and fried eggs on to plates for all the family's fresh-faced children streaming in, hair parted, pigtails still wet, shirts tucked in.

Like girlfriends, they go shopping, to the pool and on vacation together. Like sisters, they share their clothes and shoes, and the same maternity wardrobe. Like mothers, they veto each other's wardrobe choices and provide perspective checks on minor problems. And the bond with her sisterwives saved Regina's marriage when her four-year-old son was killed in a car accident. Men deal with death differently than a woman, she says, but her sisterwives grieved with her, reinforcing and validating her emotions, which they shared because of their intimate involvement with the child she had lost. "Without their support through this, I would have been in the 90 percent of marriages that end in a divorce after a child's death. I can see why they don't make it," says Regina, mad and sad and pausing for breath. The kids have left the kitchen; only Robert hears this.

Regina sees other advantages in the polygamous relationship: "This lifestyle helps things from becoming overwhelming and it has given all of us more choices," she says.... Judy, who has a new baby, is the designated stay-at-home mom. Regina is a successful home designer whose job requires travel, while Abigail recently began work as a teacher after the family agreed that a third income was needed — her sisterwives covered for her at home, allowing her to earn her associate's teaching degree in one year rather than two. In fact, the women constantly cover for one another on many of the commitments familiar to any suburban parent, from piano recitals to Little League games.

...Lest their picture of domestic bliss seem too idealized, Judy points out though that not all polygamist families work as well, and that the husband sometimes pits one woman against another. "Some of my friends have loved it and others hated the plural marriage lifestyle."...

Read the whole article.



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