, the reality TV that has given us a inside look at a polygamist family, is now in their third season (which started May 13, 2012). Although polygamy
may be a relatively new, (other than Mormons), and controversial topic in the United States, it has been happening around the world since ancient times.
In modern times, it has been outlawed in many countries, including China and Thailand. Even so, in many countries and cultures it is quite normal for a man to have two or more wives at the same time.
Of course, certain religions permit more than one wife - and in some cultures there may be no legal, religious, or moral restrictions against this. But when more than one wife is involved a distinction has to be made between them, so the question is – who takes precedence, who comes first? Well, usually the first wife is regarded as the Major wife, and the others as the Minor wives.
Some might ask why a woman would agree to such an arrangement, why would she agree to become a Minor wife? Well, sometimes she might not know, and, when she did, it might already be too late and so she might accept the status quo. Sometimes she might know and might not care, feeling probably that, in the end the, man would be all hers and hers alone. But often it would seem to be a question of money. If a man is clearly affluent and the woman has no assets apart from her body, is it likely that she would reject any good offer?
Of course, any man making such an offer would have to be confident that his Major wife would not find out, or if she did, would do and say nothing. He would also have to be sure that both his assets and his reputation were not put at risk. A good example is the late Sir James Goldsmith, a millionaire who had one wife in England and one wife in France and treated both equally. By all accounts the women had no problems with each other and both attended their husband’s funeral.
But who was the Major wife and who was the Minor is not known – or perhaps they were both Major!