Monogamy can learn from polygamy.

Jealousy is a symptom you can’t overlook.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the idea of jealousy because of the show Seeking Sister Wife. It’s a show on The Learning Channel where people search for a sister wife to add to their families.

There’s been three seasons, and this reality series follows various families with different reasons for participating in polygamy. 

One couple that really interested me was the Snowden’s. Dmitri and Ashley are black, secular polygamists who truly want to live this specific lifestyle. Through the series, they have various hits and misses in trying to add a sister wife to their family.

The woman, Ashley, is one of the most fascinating women on the series. And really it’s the women seeking the sister wives that are the most interesting. Certainly you end up rooting for them in many ways.

But, jealousy clearly is a main character. If you have seen HBO’s Big Love or the other TLC series Sister Wives, you may know about Mormon fundamentalist polygamous families. They want to overcome their jealousy and possessiveness for religious reasons. In a way, this makes sense because it’s a higher calling and purpose driving them.

However, Ashley and Dmitri are choosing polygamy as a lifestyle. They see this arrangement as the best type of relationship they can have as a family. They talk about wanting to have a larger family and the bond that exists between sister wives. They talk about basically wanting a tribe. 

In this dynamic, clearly jealousy is going to rear it’s ugly head. But Ashley has a fairly insightful perspective on jealousy. She says that jealousy reflects the insecurities of the individual and the weaknesses in the relationship itself.

And that’s exactly what we see play out in these various plural relationships. We see issues within couples and the families in general that are rooted in people feeling undervalued or taken for granted. We also see them struggle within their relationships because of deeper rooted issues.

But, overall, Ashley presents herself as overcoming these insecurities and weaknesses by personal growth. It doesn’t always seem to play out that way—for her or many of the other first wives on the series. But I think the idea that jealousy is a symptom of a problem. For example, the fear of being abandoned or feeling alone is brought to the surface because of polygamy, and not always caused by a plural relationship.

However, after this last third season of Seeking Sister Wife, there seems to be some deeper issues than just jealousy with the Snowden’s, where it looks like this couple had broken up amid accusations of abuse made by past sister wives they broke up with. Regardless, the displays of jealousy and struggles with that emotion makes the show relevant even for monogamous relationships.

In my own life, I’m celebrating with my husband 19 years of marriage. And reflecting on where we are now vs. when we first got together— I agree that jealousy is basically the symptom. It is rooted in a lack of trust. 

Not trusting your mate makes anything that occupies him or her a threat. Whether it is another woman or man, friends, parents, children, jobs, hobbies, vices or whatever. The idea that you aren’t the prime, and maybe even the sole focus, of your partner can threaten a relationship that hasn’t nurtured and grown in trust.

I’m looking forward to the next season of Seeking Sister Wife and how possibly these families navigate the issues of jealousy and creating healthy dynamics. I think watching plural relationships can teach us about monogamy and other relationship dynamics. Jealousy rears it’s ugly head in all relationships. But understanding it as a symptom can help you see what is missing in your interaction with a significant other.

For more of my thoughts on polygamy, monogamy, and jealousy, check this out.

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