Inspired By Love

Polygamy: Is It a Trend or a Basic Instinct?


Over the weekend, I was catching up with one of my very good friends who lives in another city. It was a looong telephone conversation, and it reminded me of how my grandmother used to talk on the phone for what seemed like hours with her own friends. They used to talk about everything, especially about other woman's marriages. Our modern-day conversation was no different, and yes, the marriage topic came up, but it wasn't the usual. We found our conversation drifting to plural marriage, or polygamy as many would call it.

How did we get to this topic? Well, my friend happened to mention that one of her aunts was a second wife to her husband. I was so shocked, because I had never heard her aunt mention that her husband had another wife! But, it turns out that it was never a secret and that I had actually been to a function where both wives and their husband were present, it just never clicked to me why they were sitting together. Any way, the conversation led to my friend asking me if I would ever be in a polygamous marriage... would I?

In the past, say, five years, I have interacted with at least twenty people who were somehow affected by polygamy. To share three examples:

  1. One of my friends was dating a prince, a real life Prince of a Nguni tribe, who of course comes from a family where his father (the King) has more than one wife. So, chances were that if they had stayed together she would also be in a marriage where she wasn't the only wife.
  2. And then I had another friend whose parents were married before she was born, then one day, at over the age of 50, her father put in a petition to her mother to marry a second wife. I actually have two friends whose families have been in those situations, and both the wives refused.
  3. Then, I once worked with a young businesswoman who received a proposal to be a second wife from one of her clients who had fallen deeply in love with her. She also refused.

I could go on and on... basically in most cases the first wife refused. What fascinates me is that in many of the cases I know of, it has not meant the end of the man's relationship with the "other" woman. This begs me to question if monogamy is unnatural to many men. 

A couple of months ago one of my married male cousins posed a question on Facebook: "Why Do Men Cheat?". The responses were intriguing. Many men that responded said that it is unnatural for them to be monogamous and that monogamy has been created by society to instill controls and measures. One even sent links to articles and scientific studies that "proved" that monogamy is unnatural for men, like this one which I'll quote:

Men need to play the field and spread their seed, whereas women don’t have that same biological urge — it’s not natural.

Lately, in South Africa, it feels like there's a surge in men either declaring that they would want to be in polygamous marriages, or even asking their wives if they can take on more wives. I wonder if it is a trend influenced by wealthy polygamist, Musa Mseleku, and his wives who had many South African woman, married and single, wishing that they could be taken as his second wife from watching the family's reality TV show Uthando NeSthembu (Love and Polygamy). Or could it just be a basic instinct?

We'd love to know what you think, please drop us a comment!