All You Need to Know About Sister Wives
Would you be in a sister wives relationship? Could you see yourself sharing your husband with multiple women? While the concept of polygamy or plural marriages isn’t new and has been practiced through out history and still present day in some cultures, to the mainly monogamy practicing United States and Western cultures the practice of multiple wives is a bit taboo or just down right wrong.
Alternative lifestyles have been growing rapidly, especially in the US, where people are becoming more accepting of the personal decisions one chooses for themselves, even if they don’t fit societal norms. That’s where the practice of sister wives comes in.
Table of Contents
- What Are Sister Wives?
- Why Do People Have Sister Wives?
- Are Sister Wives Illegal?
- Sister Wives on TV Shows
- TLC’s “Sister Wives”
- TLC’s “Seeking Sister Wife”
What Are Sister Wives?
To simply put it, a sister wife is woman who will enter into an already made relationship between a husband and wife. She will act as another wife to the husband taking on household duties, child rearing, and intimate activities, just as a typical wife would. Some couples limit themselves to a three or foursome while others go all out and the husband may take on anywhere from 5-15 wives. The larger families tend to be more religious couples who may be practicing the ‘quiverfull’ lifestyle but is not always the case.
Mostly known as polygynous or polygamous relationships, some couples will have all of the sister wives and their children living in one house with the husband. Others prefer to live nearby in their own homes and the husband will rotate days between households. There really is no set in stone dynamic in sister wives relationship.
It seems in most sister wives families the wives do have close relationships with each other but for the most part they are not intimate or in lesbian relationships. As the name states, it’s more of a sisterhood where sharing and taking turns seems more common. In general, the majority of sister wives relationships have all wives on equal status, all though some cultures and relationships give the older or first wives a bit more of a senior status where they have more power or privileges over the newer, younger wives.
Why Do People Have Sister Wives?
Not all men and women who have sister wives do it for religious reasons. When we think of polygamy the first thought is usually people in fundamental religions like Mormonism practicing polygamy. It is simply a lifestyle choice for some. Some men want more than one woman and more children than most women may be comfortable having. They also feel if they have the means to help out another woman or household, why not help, so long as the woman is his wife.
Many women in sister wives relationship may feel it’s the only way to keep their husbands happy or to keep them from cheating. Other women may truly want to bring in another women to not only satisfy their husbands but also to get help around the house, for intimate reasons for themselves, or to have another woman to have a sisterly friendship with. It could be a combination of many reasons! Alternative lifestyles are becoming more and more common where relationships don’t always have to be between man and woman or one-on-one.
One common trait that does stand out is it often seems like people seek out partners specifically for this type of arrangement rather than have a group of two or three people naturally fall in love and start a poly-amorous relationship. Besides those who are born into the lifestyle through religious households, it seems there’s usually a couple who’ve been married for a good amount of time who then decide to search for a second or third wife. The yearning for a sister wives lifestyle seems to be what mainly draws couples in rather than the attraction to the additional member of the relationship.
The women who get courted usually seem to know they are entering into a sister wife situation and may enter due to being interested in the plural relationship lifestyle or for financial and security reasons. Some may be recently divorced with children of their own. Some may be looking to have a big family with many children. Others are drawn to sister wives relationships due to not being able to have children of their own so the appeal of joining an already made family is high.
The whole courting process seems to work much faster than a usual relationship where two people will start dating and won’t even discuss marriage for years. It seems often couples will find a potential sister wife on the internet, through dating apps, or through mutual acquaintances. After a few dates, if the connection is there, the second wife will usually move into the house of the couple she’s marrying into bringing her children along or quickly getting pregnant herself.
Are Sister Wives Illegal?
In most sister wive relationships, the husband will usually be legally married to one wife and ‘spiritually’ married to the others. This is primarily due to polygamy (the practice of having one or more wives or husbands) being illegal in all of the 50 U.S. states. Laws surrounding polygamy are handled at state level so states may have different criminal consequences for people found practicing polygamy.
In the state of California, being found guilty of practicing polygamy can lead to a $10,000 fine and a year in jail. On the other hand, in February of 2020, the Utah House and Senate reduced the punishment for consensual polygamy to no longer be a felony and to now be a simple infraction on par with getting a speeding ticket. Utah is obviously a hot spot for people in the sister wives, polygamist life style, especially with their high Mormon population.
Today, people are rarely prosecuted for living with multiple romantic partners so long as they are not illegally married to more than one spouse. The social taboo is probably a stronger threat as many are not accepting of the sister wives lifestyle. Those in sister wife and polygamous relationships often feel the need to hide their relationship status from neighbors, their families, and the law for fear of discrimination or being accused of breaking the law.
Sister Wives on TV Shows
One of the main factors of sister wives relationships growing in popularity or at least having their lifestyles more known is due to the emergence of reality shows featuring sister wife relationships. TLC has two hit shows ‘Sister Wives‘ and ‘Seeking Sister Wife‘ which focuses on the daily lives of couples who are in these types plural relationships or following the journey of couples who are searching for a sister wife to bring into their home.
Polygamy isn’t all that new when it comes to reality television as we are all unfortunately familiar with the Duggar family from their show ’19 Kids and Counting’, also a TLC production. The ‘Sister Wives’ and ‘Seeking Sister Wife’ shows focus more on the relationships of the wives with one another as well as their husbands, with less emphasis on the lives of the children.
TLC’s “Seeking Sister Wife” debuted in 2018 and focuses on the journey of 3-4 different families who are in different stages of seeking a sister wife. Viewers follow along as husband and wife or wives put out online dating profiles, go on dates, get intimate, and ultimately decide whether to marry and bring on a new wife into their home.
The show is a great way to see the inner feelings and emotions when it comes to having and being a sister wife as well as its effects on not only the couple but their children, immediate family, and society. In some relationships it seems the wives go along with the newly structured plural relationship as a necessity to keep their husbands happy while experiencing a lot of uncertainty and jealously themselves. Other relationships show wives who seem to want a sister wife more than their husbands and are very active on the search as well as getting involved emotionally. The dynamics between different families all over the country are all so different yet similar at the same time.
While polygamous relationships can be found through out history spanning different cultures and customs, the concept of sister wives is becoming more common in modern culture as well as in America. There are even online matchmaking services to help assist couples seeking a sister wife. Traditional, monogamous relationships are still definitely the norm but with stigmas attached to non-traditional nuclear families being broken down, you may find yourself living next door to a family with plural sister wives or may even be drawn to this kind of relationship yourself.
Who’s to say what is the right or wrong way for a marital relationship to thrive. Divorce rates have gone up and the number of millennials and generation z’ers getting married has gone down. Sister wives and other alternative lifestyle relationships may have real benefits when it comes to a group of people mutually agreeing to enter into a relationship with one another while pooling time, effort, and resources to take care of a household.
It can also be seen as highly sexist and misogynistic where the desires of the man are catered to while the wives are reduced down to one of many women who may otherwise not be able to provide for herself or her children. Just like any other relationship, people enter relationships and form bonds for the right or wrong reasons.