Why a man would marry one woman is a mystery, why he would marry two is a bigamystry
Interesting discussion over at Olaf's about polygamy.
The strongest arguments of legalizing polygamy came from the social change front. What happens with benefits? divorce? parental rights? etc. etc.
Change, we're always afraid of it aren't we? Its interesting that in any change we always look to the negative. And yes, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I suppose its a survival mechanism, it kept enough of our ancestors from doing crazy things to ensure the survival of the species.
Up front, I don't think there are enough emotionally mature people capable of forming a successful polygamous relationship. If divorce rates are any indication, we have a hard enough time as couples. But that does not mean it is in any way an impossible relationship.
Which means, that such relationships could have benefits to society as well. Having 3 or more adults sharing a home could make it run more smoothly as there are more people to do the household chores. For homes with 2 or more wage earners, a death or permanent disability need not be as financially onerous. In other words, to borrow a computer term, a polygamous relationship could have built in redundancy that cushions any loss of one member. From picking up the kids, reduced day-care costs, getting groceries, paying the bills etc. the potential options of achieving these goals increase.
A multi-adult home is not that unusual. We see these benefits in households where multiple generations share a home. Having a live-in grandparent to care for the kids and the home while mom and dad work is fairly common. This (until recently) was the normal household setup. It isn't unrealistic to believe that the same outcomes could be had within a polygamous household.
Multiple generations in a home can lead to conflict, and if not handled properly, is detrimental to everyone involved. But we don't ban live-in grandparents (or cousins or friends) because of the potential conflicts, so why would we use that argument in the case of polygamous families?
PS Speaking of male/female relationships.