...from those who have lived it: Mormon women.
“The house was a perfect hell, and every polygamous household is,” wrote one woman. “I defy any man or woman in [Utah] Territory to cite one instance of a polygamous household where there is anything approaching harmony – where there is not bickering, constant jealousy and heart-aches, even where the semblance of good relations is most rigidly observed.”
“[Polygamy] renders man coarse, tyrannical, brutal, and heartless,” wrote another woman. “It deals death to all sentiments of true womanhood. It enslaves and ruins woman. It crucifies every God-given feeling of her nature. She is taught that to love her husband as her heart prompts her to do, and to feel the natural jealousy that comes from seeing her husband marry another woman, is wicked, and springs from her innate depravity; that she must crush out and annihilate all such feelings.”
Yet another wrote, “How can a wife have those holy and tender feelings which should always be associated with the marriage tie, and which are inseparable from a true union, when she can speak, and to all appearances calmly, of her husband's having ‘gone to stay with some other woman?’ What ideas of home love and home associations can children have who talk about 'father's week at the other house,' and who discuss freely which woman is his favorite, and why she is so, and which woman's children he is most indulgent to, and provides for the best?”
The article points out the irony that Utah had to stamp out polygamy (a part of Mormonism from its inception) in order to become a state, but that now the trajectory of American laws makes Utah's increasingly difficult. A man can simply live with as many women as he chooses, which means that Muslim men will be able to do likewise -- anywhere in the United States.
Chris Gacek of the Family Research Council makes the natural point that polygamy causes women to suffer:
“Monogamy benefits women on many levels, and research shows that includes the emotional and spiritual,” Gacek said. “Efforts to undermine the definition of marriage in one area (e.g., number of marital partners) inevitably lead to conceptual murkiness about the nature of the conjugal relationship that men and women can expect of each other.”
Competing for your husband's attention on a daily basis has to be traumatic, but the anecdotes also remind us of how difficult it is for the children -- each of whom witnesses to the husband's infidelity. How they must suffer from the rivalry within the house, and from constantly dealing with a number of women who resent his very existence.
While Mormon polygamy is quite rare, Muslim polygamy covers vast swaths of the globe. One can draw her own conclusions about the families that comprise those cultures.