What “Big Love” Teaches Us About Marriage

When I first heard the concept for the HBO series “Big Love” I thought I was going to hate it. Hearing of a show about polygamous marrige I figured it would play into male fantasies about how a polygamous marriage would be and give the producers an excuse to provide titillating scenes unhindered by the restrictions placed on commercial television stations. I was SO wrong.

Once again HBO has delivered a series full of complex and interesting characters in situations that make us question and consider our own beliefs. The main subject explored is the nature of marriage and what is it that defines a relationship as a marriage. The main family in the series is comprised of Bill Henrickson and his three wives Barb, Nicki, and Margene. The most interesting aspect of this marriage is not that this one man has three wives but that each of the wives has one husband and two wives. As much as each of the wives is married to Bill they are also married to their “Sister Wives.” Ok, let’s just get all the giggling and fantasizing out of the way because this really isn’t about sex it is about the commitment these people have made and how much they love each other. These four people have their differences and some of those differences are pretty huge but they all love and care about each other deeply. Is there really anything wrong with their desire to commit to each other and build a family? If no one is being coerced or harmed why shouldn’t a group of people who want to try making such a marriage work be prevented?

Personally such a marriage is not something in which I would have any interest. It’s time consuming enough trying to make a couple work! What I do understand is what it means to love someone and want to make a life with them. When you have that deep a relationship with someone and want to spend your life with them it should give you some rights and standing in their life. I can’t begin to imagine how painful it is to be denied that status in a relationship. What must it be like to have to stand by and be denied your true status as the person, or one of the people, who best understands and knows the wishes of your partner. At its core marriage is about love and who are we to define what it means to love another person. Obviously this goes far beyond polygamous marriage. Shouldn’t any combination of people and sexes be able to commit to each other and form a longlasting bond as long as it does no harm to anyone? I’ve yet to have someone demonstrate the damage done by any willingly made loving commitment.

Living in America, Losing My Religion, The Body Politic

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