There’s this stigma that’s been given to the use of ordinal numbers when it comes to identifying wives.
Stranger: Who’s that?
Man: Oh that’s my first wife, that’s my second, and that’s my third.

This identification seems to have people up in arms. And I’m wondering if it’s ONLY the ones that aren’t even in a polygynous situation as of yet.
If you take “first” to be synonymous with better or favored then that’s disappointing. How does the man point out that this wife is the one he married when he was 19, and that one he married when he was 25, and the other, he just married her last year, at age 32?
How does he say that?
Why are ordinal numbers freaking people out?

I said it on my facebook fanpage — the first wife experience is one experience. The second wife experience is a whole ‘nother, totally unique experience. The third wife’s experience will also be very different (and they might not like it, but any wives after the third one, their experiences will be similar to the third’s…they may find camaraderie there).
The first wife, depending on the amount of time in the marriage, will have had the man to herself for a time. No matter which one initiated the idea of polygyny, she will be the one that will have to psychologically open herself to the idea of her man, that she’s been monogamous with for x amount of time. Typically the new wife moves into the family’s existing situation — so first wife has to be ready to allow someone into their already-running dealings. She has to be ready and willing to lend assistance and help someone know the ropes of the household (because there are days when bills are paid, there are days that shopping is done, there is a way he likes his coffee, there is a way he likes his shirts ironed — and she’ll know ALL that) She’s going to have to open her heart and mind to this person being family. She is not better, she is NOT the boss of her house (should not be), she is NOT to tell the other wives what to do. She is NOT to be treated as a queen over the other wives and her treatment of them should NOT be as if they are lesser wives (now HOLD ON — Ancient Asian polygyny tends to have the first wife as “Big Mother”. I am not referring to Asian polygyny, and in this day and age and in this country you should never think of polygyny as being this construct. If someone is asking this of you, and you choose to join such a situation, that’s on you. But this is not a framework that I’d support as fair and equal and balanced). If she is older, she should be like a big sister; if she is more experienced, she should be there as a wiser friend that can lend guidance and give suggestion.
The second wife will be the FIRST new addition to this endeavor. Most mistakes will be made here, lol. She’s like the guinea pig, lol, unfortunately. If the husband hasn’t had another wife before he will now learn many things (as will first wife). The second wife has the ability to set the pace for anyone who could possibly come after her. She should understand that she’s basically latching her car onto an already-moving train (depending on how long the first wife has been there). So she should be ready. The husband may have time here and there to romance her on some level. There may be jealousy between she and the first wife; this is where they will learn how to communicate their feelings of unfairness, or their needs for more attention or more say on family situations. If she’s a team player, willing and able to help and be cooperative, things will eventually be harmonious. She would do good to understand the family she’s coming into, the goals and purpose of the unit; if she has her own personal goals, they should be incorporated into the family dynamic. If she’s younger, she will be like a younger sister — fun, needing assistance and needing at times protection and to be understood. If she’s less experienced she will need guidance. If she’s an experienced wife (or has had wife training), she may bring in some positive characteristics that should be incorporated into the family. (First wife needs to understand that second wife needs time and space to solidify her relationship with the husband! It is imperative!)
The third wife, when she comes in, the family has “experienced” polygyny and the adding of a new wife before. This may be her first rodeo — but it’s not their first rodeo! They know what mistakes were made previously and if they have been successful, they will know how to bring her in, allow her to bring in who she is and how she is, and how to help her settle into this new situation. Depending on how the mistakes in adding the second wife were ironed out, her joining the family should be mostly a positive event (this isn’t to say that the third wife’s coming wouldn’t destroy a previous relationship? Like I always say, it’s the people who make or break this dynamic and not the dynamic itself.
All other wives their entry will be similar to the third’s. This is a fact (and it’s why when you read Dr. Dixon’s book, you’ll see full chapters for first and second wife and all the other wives have the same section).

Stop equating these ordinal terms to how valuable a person is. Each person is valuable; “first wife” doesn’t mean better or good. “second wife”, “third wife” or “fourth wife” (or more) doesn’t mean lesser, worse, or bad.
These terms are truly ordinal terms. If first wife means bottom b*tch to you, then we know what world you come from; that’s evident, and telling.

Have a good day!

 

P.S. — if you have anything to add to this, please chime in in the comments! What are the charateristics of first wives, second wives, third wives, etc? What can one wife learn from the other? How does the husband relate to each of these wives?!? (*singing* any insulting responses or anti-polygyny responses will be deleteddddd; it is what it is)

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