Arranged marriage and polygamy

In this week’s readings we encountered some marriage patterns from other cultures that are markedly different than traditional American marriage patterns. The article “Polyandry: When Brothers Share a Wife” gave us the example of a typical household in Tibet with multiple husbands and one wife, while the article “Kinship in Village India” presented the elaborate rituals that go into an arranged marriage. In the comments section below reflect and react to one of these readings.

In about four sentences, answer the following questions for one of the articles.

  • What seem to be the pros and cons of this marriage pattern for the people who practice it?
  • If you could ask someone from this culture anything about their marriage custom, what would you say?
  • How would you like to be a spouse in such a marriage? Justify your opinion.

About Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is a project cataloger at The Mariners' Museum library. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and was formerly a professor at ODU. You can find him on Twitter @m4ttTh0mps0n.
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7 Responses to Arranged marriage and polygamy

  1. Kurtis Jefferson says:

    Being a spouse in such a marriage where my brother and I share the same wife is totally mind blowing. Throughout our infant and adolescent stages in life, we were always taught that sharing is caring. Even in some householdsthe children that are same gender has to participate in the same sports, activities, etc. In some point in life (usually through puberty) one starts to discover the sense of self-confinement and establishing his own legacy becomes a goal to reach. Finding a wife is an amazing moment in one life because she’s suppose to be your perfect match in life. She supposed to be the one who supports and understand you, your queen, your rib, and your best friend. So sharing something and someone that is so special to you could already be devastating, and sharing that with your brother would be even more depressing and frustrating because all through life you was forced to share everything with him.

  2. Jacob Patrick says:

    In Tibet polyandry is something that is acceptable in their society. The pros in this type of marriage is that the brothers are all working and providing for the household, which means they have a higher standard of living. It also keeps the family together and chores can be shared. The cons of having one wife and multiple husbands is that they cannot all have her at once. The brothers take turns being with the wife, Tibetans travel a lot so if one brother is gone it is the other brothers turn. Cons are also that you may not have a close relationship with the children who grow up treating each dad the same. If I could ask somebody that practices polyandry it would be if they thought it was hard not knowing which child is biologically theirs and which one wasn’t. I would also ask them if it gets hard sharing one wife with multiple brothers. I would not like living in this type of marriage. I think that it would be really weird sharing a wife with my brother and not getting to know which child was really mine. I would not be comfortable living this way at all, and do not know how they do it.

  3. Johnny Carter says:

    The concept of polyandry to me is completely foreign. I understand the benefits of this arrangement but i personally would not like to be in a marriage like that. I like the idea of marriage being a union of two people who love and want to be married to each other. For me polyandry takes away from that bond. I am curious though if there’s more or less jealousy among the brothers in this type of arrangement.

  4. Emily Mercy Kiragu says:

    In the article “Kinship in Village India”, they usually have arranged marriage. The pros to this kind of marriage is that the parents and the community at large knows that the daughter is getting married into a wonderful and respected family. Also, there is certainty that the girl and guy are not related in any way. The cons of arranged marriage is that the girls get married off when they are really young and have not experienced life as much as they should before settling down and having children. Another con of arranged marriage is that they may get married to a person they have never met before so there really isn’t any sort of attraction between them and the girl just has a lot of adjusting to do with moving in with the husband’s family. If I could ask a question to a person who participates in this culture, I would ask the females if they are happy or think their parents made the right choice for them. I would not want to be a spouse in such a marriage because I already know I would not be happy. I personally would like to live out my years until I am 25 years old before I consider being someone’s wife and someone’s wife because that is a lot of responsibility. And I would like to be married to a person I have actually known for a while not just someone my parents think is the perfect match for me yet maybe the guy may only portray what they look for and not what I look for.

  5. Matthew Brassard says:

    On the topic of arranged marriages, there are some pros and cons and i can see both sides of the coin. Not being able to pick who you are marrying may be difficult for some people because they may end up marrying people with certain traits or qualities they do not like, but can do nothing about. but on the other hand, with marriages that are not arranged, the same thing happens, just those traits or qualities are not always shown until the marriage has taken place. On the other hand, you dont have to go through life wondering if you will find someone willing to marry you. As a married man, i found that it was fun, and eye opening to not have an arranged marriage, and had to seek out my wife. i met a lot of different types of people, good and bad and would say that all the previous relationships made the one i have with my wife better for it. So with that said i would not want to have an arranged marriage. if i could ask one question of the wife in these marriages, it would be to ask if they ever came around to loving their husband or if they just hold the house together and treat it like a business deal.

  6. Damion Allen Anderson says:

    Arranged marriage to me is a wild concept. You’re parents basically pick who you spend the rest of your life. That seems more of a decision I’d like to make by myself. I guess some pros include already knowing that the bride will be married into a respected family. In this situation, in my opinion, the cons outnumber the pros. One con includes marrying a complete stranger is risky because you may not get along well with your spouse. The other con is the marriage seems more like a business deal to me. It really just shows you how different and diverse cultures can be.

  7. Benjamin Kellogg says:

    Having grown up in the United States all my life the idea of an arranged marriage is completely alien. After reading the article “Kinship in Village India” I can see some of the pros being that you are almost guaranteed to get married. It also establishes far reaching connections to other families. It would also allow for families to remain close by by only arranging marriages to partners from the same areas. Lastly it for the brides family you would get the gifts and money that go along with an arranged marriage. Some of the cons would be that you don’t get very much input in the person you are going to marry, it would happen at a fairly young age (by American standards), and your family would always be present in your marriage for most likely the rest of their lives. If I could I would like to ask how the men and women who are in the process of having their marriages arranged feel and whether or not they wish they didn’t have to have arranged marriages at all. I personally would not want to be a spouse in a arranged marriage because no matter how much you eventually grow to like and appreciate your spouse it will never be someone that you chose for yourself. Naturally I wont both my parents and whoever I married parents to agree to our being married but I want it to be a decision that we make and agree upon because it is what we wanted and not what our families decided for us.

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