How Many Wives?
“…my father had two wives,” Sanni says as one element of our conversation about his home life.
After a measurable amount of silence I ask, “Babe, how many wives do you want?”
Sanni, aware that it’s a loaded question, replies with a smirk, “three wives, three problems; two wives, two problems; one wife, one problem.”
Clever man. Correct answer.
Polygamy, a marriage with multiple spouses is common among many African cultures, however, it is considered illegal, and some think wrong, in western countries. I believe that each to his own; we should be able to do what we like as long as it causes no harm, however I personally would not like to be in a polygamist relationship. The idea that Sanni would invite another woman into our home, to share our lives and his body sickens me, perhaps it could be considered selfish but there would have to be a bloody good reason why I’m not enough for him, and if I weren’t enough, then sign on the dotted divorce line.
What’s most interesting about this is that we’re not married however this is one aspect of dating one from another culture that we often don’t give enough attention to. As a western woman it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that because he’s dating a white girl he would choose to live in a western way but until this conversation it never occurred to me how arrogant that is of me.
I choose to love Sanni. I choose to learn about his culture. Yet, when I come up against something that goes against my moral high-ground I reject it wholeheartedly before I’ve truly considered what it is that works about it. Let’s take polygamy for example, clearly for many families in Africa and around the world (think Mormons) it does work. It is giving people happiness but because my society taught me that it’s wrong I apparently must continue to think it is. Why?
I’m not suggesting that I’m going to change the preference I have for my relationship but I am suggesting that without enough education and experience understanding polygamy then I have no right to reject it.