How to refer to specific wives? ...and other polygamy etiquette...

Discussion in 'Family Issues' started by IshChayil, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. joe88

    joe88 Active Member Male

    One downside of using co-wife is that if you forget the hyphen the eye can see it as cow-wife, which of course is not flattering at all.

    Seriously though, Ginny brings out a great point about a woman's need to be honored as "wife." That's one of the hardest parts of current marriage laws (especially in areas which have "proports to be" married statutes) -- that you can't legally use the term wife in reference to any subsequent woman without divorce entering into the picture. Otherwise it would be easy to co-opt terms such as "life partner" and the like - which mean essentially the same thing - but subtly demean subsequent wives.
  2. Curtis Gerhart

    Curtis Gerhart Well-Known Member Male

    “Grate” response. :p I get your humor too. Should I be afraid? :D:D:)
  3. Curtis

    Curtis Active Member Male

    Side note: I assume everyone already knows this but if we were to go back to the places in which the word "wife" is used in scripture in both the Greek and Hebrew we'll find that the term "wife" was contextually inserted by the translators and is biblically synonymous with the word "woman." If thinking from this perspective it makes the terms "sister-woman" and "co-woman" both sound kind of funny. OR woman&t=KJV&ss=1 (677 total reference results through 14 pages)

    Just click on the Strong's number next to the word to see the underlying information. The consistency you'll see is quite amazing and the exceptions hold interesting insights into the intended nature of male/female relations that further shake the cultural norm of our day.

    Here's the male equivalent...

    This is particularly insightful considering the popularity of using arguments about whose called a "wife" in scripture and who is not.

    Just thought I'd toss this in as an example of how dramatically language frames our thinking.
    Mojo likes this.
  4. IshChayil

    IshChayil Esteemed Member Male

    Blue letter bible is a very good free resource.
    Just make sure you always drill down below the strongs definitions if you want to get real meanings of words (they have decent public domain lexicons there).

    You're totally right about wife in Hebrew and Greek.
    For Husband in Hebrew, the language can choose to be nuanced or use a more specific word בעל Ba'al.
    This word is like Master/Husband so still some ambiguity but less. If you asked an ancient Israeli girl "do you have a ba'al?" it's clear it's husband or master if she's a servant girl; either way she's unavailable if she answers 'yes'.

    For the guy, if you ask him "do you have an ishah (woman)?" doesn't really matter how he answers ... he's available.
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  5. aineo

    aineo Moderator Staff Member Male

    Ish, that is really good. Thanks.
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  6. MeganC

    MeganC Well-Known Member Female

    For us we just call each other by name. In the bedroom we've noticed that Steve mostly calls all of us "Kitten" and that's probably not as bad as it sounds because it's very memorable to be in the middle of things and to be called someone else's name. Outside of the house we go by first names and skip the descriptions except around the church and then I might say, "Hi, I'm Megan, one of Steve's wives." I have noticed a few families where the wives call each other 'sister' and that's kind of nice.
  7. cnystrom

    cnystrom Well-Known Member Male

    It is the same in modern French. "ma femme" means "my wife" or "my woman".
    Kevin likes this.
  8. IshChayil

    IshChayil Esteemed Member Male

    Modern German kinda also. "Frau" just means woman but "Meine Frau" is understood as "my wife".
    They developed colloquially a new word for girlfriend Freundin.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017 at 12:09 AM
    Kevin likes this.
  9. Kevin

    Kevin Esteemed Member Male

    In Romani, Romni means wife and Chey means Girl/daughter. All other words for woman are borrowed. The distinction is that she is either a wife or she is still a girl in her fathers house.
  10. FollowingHim

    FollowingHim Administrator Staff Member Male

    A search for wife in an online Maori dictionary is very interesting, as the first result is murimanu, which means secondary wife...

    Basically, Wahine means woman. Hoa wahine means "partner woman", ie wife. Whaereere means mother (interchangeable as another term for wife in the sense of "mother of your children").

    But polygamy is at the root of the entire language, all words regarding marriage are describing it in a polygamous context:
    Wahine matua means first, chief woman (first wife). Murimanu means secondary wife / concubine.
    Kaitamāhine means to seek a wife. Ihupuni means to take a second wife.
  11. rustywest4

    rustywest4 Well-Known Member Male

    I find it fun to simply refer to my wife as "female"... For instance, "Female, what is for dinner?." Or, "Female, make me a sandwich." ... I'd encourage all you guys to use this approach and experience how fun it can be! Lol

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