Difference Between Monogamy and Polygamy

Key Difference – Monogamy vs Polygamy
 

 

Across the globe, there are many forms of marriages that are being practiced by people that come from different backgrounds. These forms are monogamy and polygamy. Monogamy refers to the practice of having only one husband or wife at a time. On the other hand, Polygamy refers to the practice of having more than one husband or wife at a time. The key difference between monogamy and polygamy is that while in monogamy the individual has only one spouse, in polygamy there are more than one spouses at a time.  Through this article let us examine the differences between these two practices with some examples.

What is Monogamy?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, monogamy refers to the practice of having only one husband or wife at a time. This is the most familiar pattern of marriage for most of us. If we look at our day today society, monogamy seems to be the popular and more accepted form of marriage. In monogamy after choosing a partner, the individual lives with a single spouse throughout his lifetime. However, there is another concept known as serial monogamy. In this case, an individual lives with a single spouse at a time.

When we examine the concept of family, most sociological definitions take the idea of monogamy as the norm. To be more explicit, definitions of family highlight the existence of two adults who are in a monogamous relationship. For example, even in Murdock’s definitions, it is clear that the various social, economical, sexual roles are performed by the two spouses. This is why we can state that monogamy is very well established in the present society. Further many societies have laws to uphold this practice.

Difference Between Monogamy and Polygamy

What is Polygamy?

Polygamy refers to the practice of having more than one husband or wife at a time. In the past polygamy was quite common in most societies. For examples, many kings had a number of queens during the ancient days, and this practice was considered as normal although now it is made illegal in most countries. When speaking of polygamy, there are two main types. They are,

  1. Polygyny
  2. Polyandry

Polygyny is when a man is married to more than one wife. Polyandry is when a woman is married to more than one husband. Although polygamy is practiced in certain parts of the world, there are different organizational bodies that are against this practice. When looking at this concept from a religious perspective, most religions do not approve of polygamy. Although it must be highlighted that Muslims are allowed to have more than one spouse.

Key Difference - Monogamy vs Polygamy

What is the difference between Monogamy and Polygamy?

Definitions of Monogamy and Polygamy:

Monogamy: Monogamy refers to the practice of having only one husband or wife at a time.

Polygamy: Polygamy refers to the practice of having more than one husband or wife at a time.

Characteristics of Monogamy and Polygamy:

Number of Spouses:

Monogamy: In monogamy there is only one spouse at a time.

Polygamy: In polygamy there is more than one spouse at a time.

Legal Framework:

Monogamy: Monogamy is now considered as the legal form of marriage.

Polygamy: Polygamy is considered to be illegal in most societies, although there are exceptions to this.

Popularity:

Monogamy: Monogamy is the popular practice of marriage.

Polygamy: Although polygamy was quite common in the past now it is only tolerated.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Old marriage at Plac Kaszubski” by Starscream – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons

2. “Mormon Family (Russell’s Polygamy in Low Life)” by Charles Roscoe Savage [Public Domain] via Commons