Stem divorce with polygamy
Letter from Lim Thiam Poh
TODAY Newspaper, 3 Sept 2005
I refer to the viewpoints regarding marriage and divorce discussed at great length recently in Today's Voices section.
What has been missing in the debate is the age-old concept of polygamy — though legally prohibited in our mainstream society — still being practised by some minorities which are not constrained under the law.
In most monogamous unions, adultery is the leading cause of divorce. After all, adultery itself springs from the concept of monogamy.
Moral and feminist revolutions have over the years pushed polygamy to the brink of almost non-existence.
Perhaps, it's time we re-introduce the concept of polygamy into modern society as another option in which the needs of men and women are taken care of.
However, allowing polygamy across all cultural groups does not mean it has to be encouraged — just because we allow the use of tobacco doesn't mean we advocate lighting up.
Many might argue that polygamy serves men's sexual indulgences and justifies extra-marital affairs at work.
But isn't allowing the existence of brothels for men to openly pay for sexual services equally "evil"?
Only if our society revisits polygamy in a different and positive light, and embraces the fact that it's men's natural tendency to stray and to have more than one sexual companion, would we be able to progress beyond the status quo and bring down high divorce rates and arrest the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases (contracted at brothels).
This is not to say that polygamy is everybody's answer to marital woes.
But — issues of jealousy and inequality aside — polygamy, unlike divorce, serves to add a new member to the existing family nucleus, not subtract from it. So, it could only do good and not bad.
At the end of the day, the players involved in a polygamous relationship should feel comfortable with such a union and be willing to make sacrifices to make it work, and to create a supportive, stable and loving family environment to raise well-adjusted children in.