Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Would "Sister Wives" be helpful for Chronically Ill patients?

**First I want to say that in the beginning I was NOT going to watch this show.  I felt it was another "Jon and Kate" situation where the parents were going to be living off the kids once filming starts and I was NOT going to support that.  I caught them on the Today Show and on Oprah and the difference is that they actually work and support their family- so I gave it a shot and it is actually very interesting. **

Now- I am not endorsing polygamy, I realize that it's illegal and in many cases historically it has involved perverted men essentially "marrying" children a la Warren Jeffs and the compound in Texas.   That said- if you have not seen the Brown family, these are all consenting adults.  Only the first wife was 19 when they married and he was 21.  The rest were all adults and didn't make their decision lightly nor was it made for them.  When I see this family, I can't help but think that they got something right. 

Years ago, a bunch of us were joking about moving out to the middle of nowhere and creating a commune.  That's what this family reminds me of- a commune.  Here's the thing- other than the whole "sharing the husband" thing, which they have down to a science (he spends X number of nights alone with each of them- according to Meri-wife #1- "there's no weird stuff going on") they each have separate "apartments" within the house and a common area.  Two of the wives work outside the home, as does the husband, one wife is a SAHM and it looks like the new wife will join her once they do the addition that allows her and her children to move in as they are currently in a house down the street.  Now that you have the background- where am I going with this? 

When one becomes chronically ill, one of the most important things you can have is a strong support system.  These women have created that for one another.  They have created a family where they really are more like sisters that they have been able to choose.  They each have their strengths and shore one another up where they are weak.  They work together to raise the children, to do the housework, to make the home run smoothly and they have wonderful communication.  It's like having live in best friends. 

When you become chronically ill, some things have to fall to the wayside.  You just don't have the energy or strength to be "superman/superwoman".   Usually the first thing to go are the things you dislike the most.  For me- that is housework.  I will be 100% honest and say that I have NEVER been good about housekeeping and it has only gotten worse since I developed RA and Fibro.  If I could afford to employ a housekeeper, that would happen ASAP, but instead I do what I can, when I can.  In the Brown Family- one of the wives decided when she was a child that her ambition was to be a stay at home mom.  She aspires to take care of the home.  I can't tell you how much having someone like that in MY home would be helpful.  I can't think of any woman that works outside the home and raises children who could NOT use a "wife" like that at home.  No matter how helpful our husbands are- we still try to do it all.  Having someone who wanted to take that off of our hands would be miraculous.

Do I think I could ever be a part of a polygamist family?  Probably not.  I love my husband dearly but neither of us is remotely as low key as the adults in the Brown family and I think you would have to have that "go with the flow" attitude to do it right.  Would I like to have that kind of dynamic that these women have created?  Absolutely.  They work together within their home to be able to do it all.  They talk through their issues, they support one another, they have open and honest communication, they work to their strengths and have more than one someone to count on to pick up the pieces where they might fall.  When one is ill or indisposed, the others step in seamlessly to do what needs to be done.  It's almost a utopian society within their not so little home. If there weren't the horrific compounds out there using polygamy as an "excuse" for child abuse- and if every plural family worked the way this one works- I could support this almost as much as I do gay marriage.    So while I may not necessarily agree with plural marriage-  I can see how it would appeal and how it would be very helpful for those of us who have to come to terms with the fact that we can't do everything any longer.  One thing I will say about this show and this family- it definitely makes me think. 


Stacia said...

I have a chronic illness & just had this conversation last night. Someone brought up Sister Wives thinking that was a reference for something else. Ut wasn't but before I corrected her I said "oh please, if I could get someone else to do the housework, we could work it out!"

mmmarmalade said...

I too am chronically ill with fibro and chronic fatigue. I have found some relief through a book called "What your doctor may not tell you about Fibromyalgia". A number of people in my fibro group have reversed their symptoms and gone back to leading mostly normal lives. For myself, the medication has stopped my flare-ups which used to occur every 3 to 4 months and last for a week or two. I know how awful this disease can be and I have nothing but empathy for you in my heart. I hope you find relief.