Bigamy and Polygamy: The More The Marry-er?


Bigamy and Polygamy

Bigamy and Polygamy

While numerous weddings are a feature of both bigamy and polygamy, their legality and permission vary. Being married to two persons at the same time without one spouse’s knowledge or agreement is known as bigamy. Contrarily, polygamy is a cultural or religious tradition in which a person has numerous spouses with everyone’s knowledge and oftentimes’ approval. While bigamy is usually prohibited, polygamy is permissible in some countries and prohibited in others under certain conditions.

We’ll look at two prominent non-traditional romantic partnership systems in this guide. We’ll also look at the parallels, divergences, and other relevant behaviors between bigamy and polygamy.


A marriage between two persons is referred to as bigamy if one half of the pair is already married.

Bigamy can occur purposefully and voluntarily, when one partner marries another while understanding that their first marriage is still enforceable and with everyone’s permission. Intentional non-consensual relationships can also occur when two or more spouses are unaware of one another.

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It might also occur accidentally, perhaps as a result of an attempted divorce that was never formally consummated. Bigamy is prohibited throughout the United States, making it a generally unlawful practice.
People who are in bigamous marriage are generally thought to be committing crimes. In many regions, living together under conditions that encourage bigamy is punishable.


The general uniting of three or more individuals into matrimony is referred to as polygamy. The majority of people think that a guy should only have one or more wives. But this isn’t always the case. A marriage that involves numerous partners and is practiced by people of any gender is generally referred to as polygamy.

Group Marriage, Polyandry, and Polygyny are the three forms of Polygamy.

1. Polygyny

Polygyny is the term for a guy who is able to marry more than one woman at the same time. In most societies, this kind of marriage is not the preferred option. Nonetheless, it might be noticed in regions where the number of female births has increased. It’s possible that the quantity of men accessible to women was reduced in these societies due to conflict. Usually, polygyny is necessary for these cultures to survive.

A man is typically regarded as wealthy if he is able to partner with numerous women. This is due to the fact that he needs to be able to support them all.

Types of Polygyny

These are the various forms of polygyny:

1. Sororal polygyny

When a man marries a sister from the family.

2. Non sororal Polygyny

In this scenario, the husband chooses wives who are unrelated to each other.

2. Polyandry

A lady who practices polyandry has multiple husbands at the same time. It is rare to find polyandry in societies. But the reason this is frequently done in countries where women outnumber men is a lack.

Types of Polyandry

When a woman marries more than one man at once, it typically happens with one of two sets of spouses:

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1. Fraternal Partners

A woman and a group of her brother siblings typically enter into this type of marriage.

2. Non Fraternal Spouses

In this situation, women may choose to wed a group of strangers as husbands.
Matrilineal polyandry, or the practice of men and women having several partners and ending relationships whenever they desire, is practiced among the Mosuo people of China.

3. Group Marriage

Polygamy can takes the form of group marriage. All of the parties to this arrangement enter into an agreement that is similar to a marriage.

Key Distinctions Between Polygamy and Bigamy

Bigamy and polygamous partnerships may have a common theme of a multi-partner union. These connections are not the same, though.

The following details should be considered in order to differentiate each union from the other:

1. Degree of Consciousness for the Partners

Spouses in polygamous relationships are typically aware of the other partners’ existence. But in bigamy, one or both parties frequently don’t know about their partner’s previous marriage or aren’t informed about it.

2. Various Legal Classifications

Polygamous marriages with several partners are accepted as lawful in several nations. This isn’t the case with bigamy, though, as it’s often considered unlawful to marry more than one individual.

3. Living Style

Usually, a bigamist keeps two houses to accommodate the two lovers. Polygamists, on the other hand, might maintain a single home in which every spouse resides.

4. Religion’s Effect

One may observe polygamy as a regional custom. In other cases, it could be supported by religion. It’s possible that bigamy is not supported by culture or accepted by religion.
When comparing the two customs, one must note that both entail a person who is simultaneously married to several people. Polygamy cannot be practiced without bigamy.

Additional Arrangements for Similar Marriages

There are additional arrangements that differ from the generally accepted monogamous unions, such as bigamy and polygamy.Among them are the following:

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Couples in Groups

When multiple men and multiple women are united as husband and wife, it’s called a group marriage. This type of marriage is extremely uncommon and may be observed for mutually beneficial financial reasons.

Open Union

The parties in an open marriage consent to engaging in sexual intercourse with others who are not part of their union. Since these partnerships are entered into with mutual awareness and consent, they are not regarded as cheating.

Intimate Partnerships

A Polyamorous partnership acknowledges that there are other ways to build romantic relationships besides monogamy. This kind of partnership acknowledges that you can love more than one person at once. It is acknowledged as a non-possessive type of love in which all parties to the union are conscious that there are more than one partner.
There are numerous varieties of polyamorous partnerships, such as triads, quads, polyfidelity, vees, solo polyamory, kitchen table polyamory, polycule, and hierarchical polyamory.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bigamy and Polygamy

1. What is Bigamy?

Bigamy is the act of marrying one person while still legally married to another.

2. Is Bigamy illegal?

A: Yes, bigamy is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions as it involves entering into a second marriage while the first one is still valid.

3. What is Polygamy?

Polygamy is a marital system where a person has multiple spouses simultaneously.

4. Is Polygamy legal Anywhere?

The legality of polygamy varies globally. Some countries permit it under certain conditions, while others consider it a criminal offense.

5. Are There Different Types of Polygamy?

Yes, there are different forms, including polygyny (one man with multiple wives) and polyandry (one woman with multiple husbands).

6. Why is Bigamy/Polygamy Prohibited in Some Places?

Legal prohibitions often stem from cultural, religious, or social norms. Concerns about potential harm to individuals and complications in legal and financial matters also play a role.

7. What are the Consequences of Bigamy?

Consequences may include annulment of the second marriage, fines, and criminal charges. Penalties vary by jurisdiction.

8. Can one be Forced into a Polygamous Marriage?

Forced polygamous marriages can occur, often due to cultural or religious pressures. However, they are generally considered violations of human rights.

9. How is Polygamy Viewed in Different Cultures?

Views on polygamy vary widely. Some cultures accept it as a traditional practice, while others reject it due to ethical or legal reasons.

10. Can a Person be Unaware of Their Spouse’s Existing Marriage in Bigamy Cases?

In some cases, yes. However, ignorance may not always excuse legal consequences, depending on jurisdiction.

11. Are There Any Societies Where Polygamy is the Norm?

Yes, some societies historically and currently practice polygamy as a cultural or religious tradition.

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