Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Reads-Love Times Three

Last weekend, Kev, me, and three of our friends headed up to Wisconsin for a fat kid, sweatpants, green shot drinking, Packers losing weekend. It was awesome. Even more awesome was the fact that somewhere in all the gorging, I managed to wipe the Cheeto dust off of my fingers and finish Love Times Three a book written by four people involved in a polygamous marriage.

I have to admit, the topic of polygamy has intrigued me ever since I read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer While I firmly believe that people are people, no matter what their views, I've always been sort of skeptical of the assertions that sister-wives (wives who share the same husband) really have a strong, emotional, and equal bond with their shared husband. The women of Love Times Three (heretofore referred to as LTT) really do seem mostly like normal folk. They rely on their shared calendars and BlackBerries to make sure everyone in the home gets where they need to go, they struggle with weight and faith, their teenagers drive them crazy, and they have strong opinions on faith, values, and family time. I respect the fact that these women braved the personal and professional perils to tell their story, after being concerned with all the recent negative media coverage. They are also the inspiration for the HBO series Big Love

The women acknowledge that three wives= three times the drama, but fail to go into real depth when describing their family struggles and sometimes I found everything a bit too peach-keene for my taste. However, one woman asks a question that really made me sit up and take notice:

How is my husband's love for me diminished if he loves another woman just as much? Does it cheapen my relationship with him to know that he has deep and abiding love for another? No, no it does not.

And this, my friends, is how I know I am meant to stay monogamous.

I've learned a lot about marriage in the last two and a half years. I've learned that being selfish doesn't serve anybody. That neither my husband nor myself are perfect. That jealousy comes from insecurity. And yet, I feel blessed every day that Kev and I have entered this agreement together. That come what may, he will love many other people in his lifetime but none with the odd cocktail of passion, silliness, intellectual stimulation and physical need that he loves me with. If I knew he also had another wife living concurrently in the same house as us, I don't think I'd be able to keep myself out of the equation. While I'm sure his relationship would be different with Polygamous Polly than it would be with me, we would all be sharing the title of marriage, and equally responsible for making it work EVEN THOUGH we only knew 2/3 of the story. Yes, parents often realize they can love a second or third child as much as they do the first, but I don't know that I'd be able to offer the same generosity of spirit if it came to another woman joining our covenant.

The vacillation of opinion that I've expressed already in this post (between appreciating that people in this great country are entitled to live their lives as they see fit, that everyone's lives are more normal than they seem, and that I believe that the definition of a marriage changes if you invite more than two people into it) characterizes my experience of reading this book. It wasn't terribly well written, or terribly deep, but it made me feel grateful for the opportunity to grapple with these questions. It also made me grateful to get my husband to myself most nights. Definitely an engaging non-fiction read, if not Pulitzer Prize material.

Are you a jealous partner? Do you agree or disagree with the quote above? Why? Respectful thoughts only, please!

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