Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No divorce, no consequences

Athol Kay argues that taking a firm stance against divorce can ruin a marriage:
Minus the question of my view on biblical grounds for divorce, I hear this exact same question from a reader about twice a month. “I’ve tried everything, but I can’t divorce because I’m a Christian. What do I do?” So this isn’t an academic question to me, it’s a real world issue and I do my best to help out. Unfortunately the “no divorce” rule makes Christian men very resistant with doing what they need to do to fix their marriage. They always worry it’s going to crash and burn into a sinful divorce. So they play it far too safe and end up bringing a banana to the knife fight.

Here’s the key problem that Christians miss with their “no divorce” platform. Once you remove the possibility of divorce from the equation, there is no longer an effective consequence for what would otherwise be a genuine relationship breaking problem. Which means relationship breaking problems can never effectively be addressed and end up simply being tolerated.
I disagree somewhat with Athol on this subject, although only because he is working off a different postulate. His actual logic is perfectly sound, as removing the threat of divorce for bad, but non-adulterous behavior absolutely does significantly weaken the possible consequences for a poorly behaved spouse of either sex. In fact, if we extend his logic a little further and take the legal realities of Marriage 2.0 into account, we quickly reach the inescapable conclusion that no man should marry at all, since maintaining a long-term relationship without marrying allows for an even broader range of more easily delivered consequences for negative behavior.

And indeed, not marrying is precisely what I recommend to men who are not religious. There is no real reason for them to marry in the present social climate and under the current legal regime.

Athol is actually pointing out what should be an obvious fact. If obedience to Biblical principles is your priority, there is a non-zero chance that your marriage will suffer as a result. But this shouldn't be news for the Christian, as Christianity does not promise the easiest path through life, it is supposed to be the hard and narrow way.

There are two mitigating factors, however. The first is that even when divorce is not a Scripturally permissible option, a second wife is. The theoretical prospect of that is much more likely to keep a wife from behaving badly than the hypothetical threat of a divorce, since the thought of a replacement is intrinsically more threatening to a woman than a simple parting of the ways. While second wives were not a legal option under Marriage 1.0, they are already tacitly recognized in both Canada and the UK, and will likely be effectively legal in the USA in the relatively near future. So, the prospect of potentially taking a second wife could serve as a replacement for the lack of a credible divorce consequence.

Second, let's be realistic here. Given what we know of female behavior in the current milieu, what are the chances that a wife whose behavior is dreadful enough to rationally justify the desire for a divorce on her husband's will not indulge in the sexually immoral behavior that permits Christian divorce? Especially if she's active on Facebook and ten other social media sites. Recall that the standard is "sexual immorality" outside of marriage, it is not limited to adultery. Women in the 35-44 age range are the women most given to "sexting"; 25 percent of them report doing it and it is unlikely that all of them are single or adulterous.

So I'm not saying that Athol is wrong, only that running the risk of reducing the range of actions for which divorce is a permissible consequence is lower than it appears, and that risk is something that Christian men simply have to accept and take into account when they consider marriage.

59 comments:

Mr. Nightstick said...

I highly doubt that polygamy will ever mainstream in Christian circles.

VD said...

I once highly doubted that Christians would ever support "gay marriage". Or permit openly homosexual church leaders. All bets are officially off.

Nate said...

the second wife threat works. Divorce holds no social stigma anymore... but polygamy does. Wives freak at the thought of everyone talking about them and their freaky marriage and what freaks they must be.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Polygamy does sound like it belongs in that group and is about as good an idea.

sconzey said...

Indeed. I didn't believe Vox when he said it was permitted, but a skim of Wikipedia indicates that monogamy is a roman invention, adopted into the church by the early church fathers. Curious.

Athol is right however, that by abdicating his role as head of the household and putting up with a disobedient wife, he is already in rebellion.

Vox said...

How good an idea it might be is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion. The point is that it is already legal in many jurisdictions, will likely be legal soon in the USA, and therefore can reasonably be expected to serve as an effective solution for the problem Athol cites.

Rock Throwing Peasant said...

Polygamy for Blue Pill types is a disaster waiting to happen.

At first, I thought this was a crazy idea. However, the more I think about it, I wonder if my future ex would really have been opposed. She's even said to me to get a girlfriend several times during our marriage ("Well, why don't you just find some woman!"). I couldn't, because of the immorality and, in Blue Pill mode, I thought I could make her love me the way I loved her.

Athor Pel said...

If you are still in thrall to blue pill thinking you need to understand one thing very well, women, and therefore your wife, do not define what is or is not righteous or sinful. If you let her frame the debate then you've already lost.

God set the rules, you as the husband have the responsibility to interpret those rules for your household. Not your wife, not your parents and not your in-laws, you. On this earth the buck stops with you in your household.

This means that you must be willing to go to jail and ultimately die for what you believe to be true. This is what "man up" really means.

But here's the catch. You better know where you stand in respect to what God really said, not what some pastor said, not what you heard in Sunday school, not what you read in some theology text. It is your job as a Christian to know, not sorta know, but know, what is in the Bible and how that relates to you and your family. If you can't come up with a solution just by reading the Bible then you pray about it, you will get an answer.

Doom said...

Yeah, there is that. When all else fails, God delivers? I am almost wondering if this faux gay marriage thing (if real to some thinking) was just a back-end ploy to introduce polygamy back into the game? As I have suggested, it is not proscribed by any Christian or Jewish religious teaching of which I am aware, and... this is still a Christian nation... for whatever that actually means sometimes. Further, it might give Christians a crack at populating enough to maintain the critical demographic edge, plus one wife gets tired of bringing her man a beer but two women can split the chore evenly! :p Keep the demo edge? Or... win it back? Something. It might rebalance everything from egalitarian to civil rights. Still, I think the problems with it are severe enough that... it would only add a little life to a dying political body. But in a little extra life is a little time to... rethink, retool, reset. Time provides some hope?

On a side note... I didn't realize you also didn't suggest non-Christians not marry? I don't know if that surprises me or not. I've taken some public flak for it, but... whatever. If I were still secular lite I wouldn't even consider marriage. And having three girlfriends, or one live in gf and a host of passing and static women on the town isn't even a social issue, it is... a norm... for some. Cat scratch fever can never truly be pacified. Wives ought to appreciate a good husband who allows only her to deal with his. He has become a monk if he stays straight with her.

PC Geek said...

Of course in the end this whole discussion hinges upon the single notion that the Bible prohibts divorce in *all cases except infideility* which it most manifestly does not.

vox is right about 99.9% of the time, but this divorce schtick is definiteily that .1%.

JP (real one) said...

Wikipedia is hardly the best source for such information.

Before the early Fathers, Paul said that each man should have his own wife (singular).

http://bible.cc/1_corinthians/7-2.htm

JP (real one) said...

The apostle Paul also said it's allowed for desertion:

1 Corinthians 7:15 NASB
15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [d]us [e]to peace.

Granted, desertion can be hard to define (or defined too liberally)...and remarriage afterwards might be a tricky question.

Mr. Nightstick said...

You truly are the AWCA.

Question said...

I guess the part I'm not getting about this "Biblical marriage" thing is why the hubby appears to be cherry-picking the Bible, and even more baffling, cherry-picking to his own disadvantage.

He can't divorce because the Bible forbids it. OK, got it. But doesn't the Bible also command his wife to submit to him and be a good housekeeper? If she is doing that, then there shouldn't be a problem that is so insoluble that divorce is necessary. If she is not doing that, then it's not a "Biblical marriage" and thus divorce should be an option. If it's only a "Biblical marriage" for him but not for her, then he's pretty stupid... I sure wouldn't sign up for that.

Rock Throwing Peasant said...

If she is doing that, then there shouldn't be a problem that is so insoluble that divorce is necessary.

Except that you're to remain faithful to your marriage, even if the other person is not a believer or acting as a believer should. It's fairly explicit in this message. This is different than if the non-believer deserts the marriage.

My question is, "What is a believer?" My ex (future) has never cracked a Bible and I'm pretty sure I can say that in the literal sense. She belongs to a local church, but never attends. She's a "practical atheist." Like I said, she all but signed off on permitting me to cheat. I just refused to do it.

I wonder if it comes down to how the Bible defines, "believer." From what I've studied, though, that's even murkier.

Rock Throwing Peasant said...

I wouldn't call it cherry-picking to [our] disavantage. I think Christian marriage is simply disadvantaged in the modern, civil society. There's nothing wrong with how marriage is constructed in the Bible. The problem is how our society has perverted the laws to weaken marriage.

Stickwick said...

I can't speak for all women, but for me the social stigma would not be much of a factor. My husband having the power to effectively replace me with a younger, prettier, more compliant wife -- with whom I would not compare favorably -- would be.

Viking said...

Coming from the Catholic perspective I would posit that the mention of infidelity justifying divorce by Jesus was a bit tongue in cheek. In that environment the penalty for adultery was death. To say that adultery allows for divorce is to point out that death is your only reason for divorce. Also Jesus said "What God has brought together let no man put assunder." When the King says "let it be thus," it is so.

But that is more of a side issue to all this. I just point it out to emphasize that when divorce is entirely impossible after a valid marriage there can be, at least in theory, a strong benefit from it. That is, if there can be no divorce there can never be a remarriage, but their can be a separation. A woman who is getting completely out of line can be put out for a just reason. Then what will she do if she can never marry again? Of course the problem here is that our society completely undermines marriage with no fault divorces. And since what the state calls a marriage is effectively not permanent, it is not in fact a marriage. It is just another worthless civil union. The only way this all works is if the culture is willing to enforce the rules on women.

The other problem is that men are no longer able to enforce any kind of discipline on their families. Some but very little on children and absolutely none on their wives. I am not saying that wives should be treated as children though it might sometimes be necessary. But if it is your wife that is causing the bulk of problems then it should be her that you deal with. And yeah a physical punishment should be a last resort but consider how much kinder that is than going straight to the nuclear option of sending her away.

Families are the most basic unit of societal governance. The fact that men are not allowed to take care of their responsibilities is why everything is breaking down.

Mr. Nightstick said...

That's why a smart woman works on being a good wife and a good mother. It's easy to put a new woman in your bed but it's not easy to get a good mother for your children.

HeligKo said...

@viking if you are to believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God to be passed down through the generations, then you must also consider that JC's tongue and cheek comment of the day was also directed as instruction for the modern era considering divorce and infidelity of the wife.

HeligKo said...

Athol explains very well the scenarios that I saw in my Christian marriage, and in those of my friends. At times I wondered if the women got together to compare notes on how to torment their husbands that would not leave them.

It should also be noted that there are almost no women who take divorce off the table for some of the most mundane reasons. I was threatened with divorce if I was beat on a promotion by another man we knew. Needless to say, it ends with her being unhappy and her personal Jesus wouldn't want her to be unhappy, so divorce is coming now.

TLM said...

A woman could rationalize that her husband not going with her to see Wicked for the 5th time is abandonment.

Question said...

Except that you're to remain faithful to your marriage, even if the other person is not a believer or acting as a believer should. It's fairly explicit in this message.

That's just a variation on my original point. If he "remains faithful to the marriage no matter what" then he is behaving as if he's in a "Biblical marriage" while she is not. Why would any man sign up for that?

I think Christian marriage is simply disadvantaged in the modern, civil society.

OK, so again, why would any man agree to be in a "Christian marriage" if the woman is not required to be in exactly the same type of marriage?

She has a "get out of Christian marriage" for free card, but he does not. That's crazy.

The problem is how our society has perverted the laws to weaken marriage.

The problem in the case in point has nothing to do with society. There is no reason a man and a woman can't have a "Christian marriage" today if both agree to it. The problem only arises when she does not abide by the rules of the Christian marriage, and yet for some incomprehensible reason he thinks he is still bound by those rules.

"We won't get divorced, as the Bible says we should not, so long as you obey me as the Bible says you should." A simple and just agreement.

Question said...

You should have served her with divorce papers the instant she made that threat. You can't stay married to a woman who uses that threat as a club to beat you with, that's absurd.

Wayne said...

Was the "Canada" link supposed to differ from the "U.K." link and actually reference an article about polygamy in Canada?

HeligKo said...

Trust me, I know. I should have done it long before that. I had bought into the church view of marriage, and had very little perspective at the time. You know the view that if the man were leading correctly she would follow like a little lamb, and that it was my failings that were the cause.

Athol is correct that the men are out of obedience Biblically in their marriage. They are taught to be by the church. I just think that the infection in the Church is pervasive that most men taking on the Captain role in Christian marriage are marched to divorce court in hand cuffs for abuse anymore. There is a distinct advantage in the modern era to be the atheist that Athol is, and to set your ground rules for the relationship. Christians need to lay down up front what their expectations are in marriage and toss most of the Church teaching out the window.

Matthew said...

At the time Jesus spoke, the Romans did not permit the Judeans to execute their own criminals. This tends to suggest that the "cast the first stone" story is an interpolation (as already indicated by textual issues), and it undermines Viking's proposal that Jesus was being droll.

Silent Planet said...

As a Christian man who not only raised the option that Vox references but actually implemented it, I can attest that it works very well. While a very long and difficult road, there seems to be something about your husband bringing in another woman that snaps things back into place.

sconzey said...

'Wikipedia is hardly the best source for such information'
That was my first thought too.

sconzey said...

@HeligKo: I don't see why not. Meaning is composed of both content and context. The Bible doesn't record the words: 'do not divorce your wife like ever. Xxx God', it records a story where jesus speaks to his disciples.

Question said...

I would start from the perspective that my marriage is my business, and nobody else's, not even that of the church. It simply is not a suitable subject for external discussion or criticism. If there is a problem, my wife and I will solve it without reference to the advice of third parties.

The second you let anybody else - anybody - have any authority over your marriage, then you (the man) are doomed.

Anonymous said...

What is AWCA?

Starviolet said...

If polygamy catches on most men won't be able to get a second wife, or any wife at all. It will fast become an empty threat.

Anonymous said...

Curious as to how that affected your Christian social circle...

Mr. Nightstick said...

Award Winning Cruelty Artist

The Last Gentleman said...

There are other threats besides divorce or polygamy:

- getting into shape and dressing better than her.
- ignoring her, especially when in bitch mode
- treating her like a child, especially in public (From "I Love Lucy", the classic line uttered by Ricky: "If you're going to act like a child, you will be treated like a child.")
- spankings (both a threat and a reward)
- removing sources of wifely disrespect from the house. Television, Cosmopolitan magazine, etc...
- disappearing for awhile with cellphone off and no explanation given, and no defensive "but, honey..." when you return.
- clear communication of your expectations (yes, what a thought)

Silent Planet said...

It destroyed quite a few relationships as the other parties didn't want to fellowship with us anymore. It did bring us into contact with quite a few other like-minded Christians who felt the same way. In the end we ended up with more friends, but no church.

Anonymous said...

The problem started when the church became tied to the state under Constantine and the Council of Nicea when the church stopped relying on God but the state. Churches only blessed marriages, marriage was a function of the state.

Jim said...

In my own experience, if you leave an ultimatum off the table, the marriage is probably already over. Usually when the woman decides on leaving the relationship, her decision was finalized after many weeks and months of discussion with her friends. You won't have a chance to respond after this point. It is over by the time you hear about it, but you knew that the relationship is dead. Any attempt to make it up after the fact is useless. Thus, do it early and emphatically and while the marriage can still be salvaged.

As for marrying again and a second marriage, it took a long time for me to get over the first marriage. I justified the second marriage for several reasons. (1) She said she wanted to look for someone better and that I should too. Since Jesus said just looking at a woman is adultery, does this mean she has already committed adultery for expressing this intent? After much soul searching, I decided that she already committed adultery; however, I didn't date until 8 years after the divorce. (2) I didn't want to miss out on having kids and a second marriage. As what the Bible says, do not live alone and be fruitful. I cannot imagine living another 30 years alone and not having kids. My first wife didn't want kids. I wished I saw the red flags.

Oh well, life goes on. You won't live a perfect life, but my life today is much better than before.

Desert Cat said...

I wonder the same thing, as I get a similar line. In red pill mode I use it to my advantage when required, telling her I'm out concubine shopping (agree & amplify). The reality is she would completely flip if I followed through though.

However if the law and culture supported polygamy, it would almost certainly be a different story...

HeligKo said...

Good ideas, but they are just as likely to backfire as work in the current church culture. A man actually leading his house is offensive to the other women in the church, and they will actively sabotage you with your wife to prevent it from coming to their house. Even though they would probably love it after the initial pains of adjustment.

HeligKo said...

Jesus was referring to the spiritual implications of lust are the same as the real life implications of adultery. He was not defining a legal standard for men and women to judge each other by.

Now the standard of sexual immorality that is there for divorce seems to imply that any sort of impropriety with another man, including inappropriate texting, reaches the mark.

You are correct women have solidified their position before they leave I think you underestimate to what point though. Its usually a period of 1 to 3 years of discussing it and aligning herself with people who are going to support her. In my case I saw that the friends that she had bonded with in the last 2 years were all newly divorced, getting divorced, or have reached that point since we split. Its not some weird sociological trend that groups tend to divorce together in our culture. The women are discussing this and giving each other ideas until they are ready to execute. It only takes first woman "brave" enough to start the dominoes to falling.

Anytime a man sees a major shift in his wife's friends, and the friends that you share as a couple changing, you should be alarmed. She is likely disengaging from people who would not approve of her leaving you. If she ever says she can sympathize with a woman leaving her husband, put together a kit of clothes, money, and essentials at someone you can trusts house. Preferable someone related to you by blood. Then get a lawyer and start divorce proceedings. Its only a matter of time before she is going to pull the trigger.

Daniel said...

Considering that the threat of polygamy hasn't exactly caught on, and is effective in the objective of recalibrating the wife, I think it is safe to suggest that your fear is wholly unfounded.

Trust said...

Good point. Many women would choose the divided attention of an alpha over the full attention of a non-alpha. And the pool of available millionaires would multiply fast.

herman said...

I think the “threat” of polygamy is brilliant, not because polygamy strikes me as practical for most men, for I don’t suppose it ever has been or would be. But its potential would certainly make clear that a woman has no inherent, moral right to be the only woman of a man, which would go a long way to reminding her of her place and the authority of her man.

Jim said...

I didn't say Jesus was defining a legal standard. He was defining a Christian standard for divorce.

You refer to texting. Is that all? Sexual immorality should be more encompassing for the simple reason that it is cheating. Divorcing to be alone would only be reasonable life post-marriage. Since many women don't desire a life of singleness, divorce is only the beginning. Her former husband should have a clear conscious to pursue a second marriage.

Joe Blow said...

I'll go you one further than that. If you are going to take the word of the Bible as literal truth and your sole guide, you'd better be confident in the translation, and in your ability to understand what God's intentions are.

I'm not that sure b/c despite my literal belief that the sun rises in the east, as it says in the Book, I found out it doesn't, the earth actually rotates so that portions of the earth come into the light in an east-to-west direction.

My point being I'm not presumptious enough to think I know the will of God or to trust my interpretive abilities to learn it. I'm comfortable as a Catholic following the stuff that's dogma - mostly it's consistent with the bible - then adding a bit of study & prayer & SWAGs* to try to do the right thing. All is not contained in the bible; it's the Google Map instructions and if you follow them and make your best guess at how to fill in the gaps, you'll probably get there. Only God owns the Road Atlas.

As for game not being biblical, well, most of the actual physical things in life aren't. God didn't micromanage, he just gave us a framework to live within. It's our job to determine how to get to the goal. Game seems an okay way to get there. And as for divorce... if my wife ever asks me for one, I'm telling her fine, go now, take your shit and your car. Leave the kid and my dog. *Zero* hesitation. I'm not going to play that Relationship Drama shit and scar my kid. I don't think she would but you have to keep the right frame of mind, and as soon as you lose it - as I did some years back - it's harder than hell to get it back and regain the ability to lead in the relationship.

Joe Blow said...

The real threat of polygamy is having to put up with two women's bullshit.

As a plate spinner / soft harem keeper in my youth, I imagine it works out mainly that way, with added legal and financial obligations and post marital bedroom decline coupled with extra kids, 2x the shit tests, etc. This mystery Alpha who manages a polygamous harem is a fantasy. Well, unless he does it the traditional way, by cruelty, beatdowns and fear. That's totally do-able, if that's your thing, Gunga Din.

Within a western legal and social framework? I don't see polygamy being a viable option. I probably don't speak for all men, but I'm not interesting in having to tapdance that much and that quickly. And wait until you're divorce by three women instead of one.

Two women is a nice fantasy. But I suspect it'd suck.

Heh said...

My dad was divorced by four women. =)

Serially, not simultaneously.

Serial polygamy sucks for the man as much as simultaneous. Just ask Johnny Carson and John Cleese.

Daniel said...

Of course, when you've got 99 problems and it's Mitch Albom, the last thing that is going to solve your woman problem is another woman. But the threat of mutually assured destruction is enough to make the Russians back down or go bankrupt, so to speak. Pity the damned soul who marries a Soviet.

The Last Gentleman said...

Forcing things to either succeed or fail is the point. Why prolong the agony in stasis? Decisiveness and risk-taking are primary male attributes. Fence-riding and constantly hedging bets are female attributes.

Stickwick said...

Two women is a nice fantasy. But I suspect it'd suck.

Somewhere I saw some Arab guy talking about the optimal number of wives. Two is no good, because they'll just bicker with each other all the time. Three is no good, because they'll unite and gang up on you. Four is apparently the right number, because the inter-wife dynamics are sufficient to prevent them from bickering with each other too much and also to keep them from uniting against you.

Markku said...

At the time Jesus spoke, the Romans did not permit the Judeans to execute their own criminals.

I think this would actually explain what is going on, since I've always wondered why they'd ask Jesus in the first place. I mean, of course you stone an adulteress to death. It wasn't like this is some complex theological trick question, like the usual stuff that the scribes were asking Jesus.

But if the Romans had forbidden it, then it all makes sense. "Will you uphold the Mosaic law, even though you know it is going to have extreme consequences when the Romans arrive?"

Duke of Earl said...

Actually a study of ancient legal codes would show that "the death penalty" was generally applied to indicate how significant the crime was. In almost all cases the penalty set would be commuted to a fine of some description. The only exception, spelled out in Numbers 35:31 is the crime of murder, where the only acceptable penalty was a life for a life. The penalty for falsely accusing a wife of adultery (remembering that generally the penalty for a crime was to repay twice what was taken) was to pay the father of the wife 100 shekels of silver (the bride price was 50 shekels, which was what he was trying to get back) and lose the right of divorce.

That said, the letter of the law said death, and that was what those who brought the adulteress to Jesus were appealing to in order to trap him in a Catch 22. Either endorse Moses, and break the Roman law against execution, or obey the law, and show that he rejected Moses. Jesus of course caught them in their own craftiness.

Redlegben said...

I think the polygamy stick is mightier than the divorce stick. My wife has backed several wives down from talking divorce by asking if they were ready for their husbands to start frakking another woman. The look of horror on their face when confronted with such an idea is priceless.

My Uncle lived as a polygamist for all practical purposes. He had a wife in one trailer and his mistress in another 50 feet away. He had five kids with each. They worked together in the family bar and restaurant. According to Vox's mentality, he didn't commit adultery then. That would be news to my mother and the rest of the family. I'm not saying it is, but I find it an interesting quandary. I did see the repercussions to the children/my cousins. It wasn't great.

Anonymous said...

Pity the damned soul who marries a Soviet.

Men who have to resort to the Soviet tactic aren't the ones initiating the threat of destruction if we don't get our way. We're just letting the woman know that if we're going to go down hard, then we might as well go down crazy and take them with us as well.

The only way to deal with a bluff is to call it.

Anonymous said...

"have your own wife" in Paul's context in ICor:7 means "have your OWN wife," since the early Christians were HAVING each other's wives. Even if it were otherwise, the singular does not preclude the plural. Except for the Neo-platonists who hijacked the church around 300 AD.

Just because the law tells me to drive my own car and not steal my neighbor's doesn't preclude me from owning two cars.

--Niccolò Arminius

Foster said...

Vox, do I really have to scold you that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve and Edna?

MaMu1977 said...

@Rock Throwing Peasant

To women, (male) infidelity is a "Get Out Of Marriage Free" card. It doesn't matter if she hadn't slept with you since she went through menopause, if she was caught sleeping with other guys, if the two of you are "separated" due to her arrest for assaulting you in public... Once you insert your man penis inside of the vagina of a different woman, most women will see the marriage as irrevocably broken (and she *will* pull out the thumbscrews.)

@starviolet

You're funny. You're very funny.
I live in New York City. I don't even need to look among the various immigrant populations in this city; between "career" women, "tired of being career" women and liberal polygamy supporters/practitioners, finding a woman who's willing to take a 25% share of a rich man (or a 10% share and free lodging and child raising from a "sexy" married older man and his understanding wife) isn't that difficult.

Go read Beltway Banging. That woman wouldn't want to be Wife No. 2 (as a house cleaning and dinner cooking hausfrau), but do you think that she would turn down her most satisfactory customer if he negotiated "definite bi-weekly hook-ups"/a quarter of a house with her own bathroom/a first wife who was agreeable with the idea of letting her take on the "bother" of satisfying her husband's sexual needs? "Marriage" has always been a negotiable idea. There have been societies (and relatively large ones, at that) in which "loyal" women would receive nothing less than a side eye if her husband's siblings got a taste (a few of the dynasties in China had flexible rules re: sibling marriage or concubinage.) Cultures as diverse as Jews, Norse, Kikuyu and Tongan saw nothing wrong with the idea of a widow marrying her former husband's brothers or cousins. We bristle at the idea of nebulous paternity, but the idea of paterfamilias is based on the idea that *all* children in a Roman family are the property of the oldest self-sufficient man (and with their militaristic nature, it can be assumed that there were plenty of bastards in any line), yet the percentage of murdered/aborted children in Roman society was low. Likewise for the Spartans, where its quite likely that a large percentage of Spartan children were conceived on the other side of the bed (when you consider that the majority of Spartan men were de facto homosexual, its easy to assume that there was a sizeable minority of married men who would take a knee when breeding time came around.)

Or, to put it simply so that you would understand: its not a difficult task to find women who will wear a ring if the actual responsibilities are limited. If a man can entrance two women (with one of those women loving sex and hating housework and the other one wanting to be a mother and homemaker but who is prone to "headaches"), you can't say that its "wrong" for the three of them to live in a "one hot girl for bedroom and public appearances, one cool girl for dinner and diaper and bathroom duty" relationship. You can argue the morality, you can't argue the functionality (unless you're willing to subvert the agency of those women.)

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