Dear Ms. Manners: The Etiquette of Bigamy

Defenders of Marriage
Defenders of Marriage (Photo credit: Mike Licht,

Like most people, I never though much about bigamy.  If pressed on the issue, I would have mentioned Showtime’s Big Love, where one man has several wives and they operate as a single family.  When bigamy entered into my life, it was so absurd, so out there, that the only way that I could respond was with humor.  Because bigamy is not normally discussed in polite company, I had some issues arise that I wasn’t sure how to handle gracefully.

There was an 8 month period that the two of us were married to my ex.  During this time, I referred to her as, “my husband’s wife.” This was wordy and awkward, and caused eyebrows to furrow in confusion.  I needed a more direct and concise way to refer to her.  I propose (no, not THAT kind of propose!) that we create the term, “wife-in-law” or “husband-in-law” to describe a spouse’s new spouse.  Which I guess now makes her my ex-wife-in-law.  And, if they are divorced, my ex-ex-wife-in-law.  Damn. Wordy again.

Is it strange that I felt a bit slighted that I was not invited to their wedding?  My understanding is that it is rude  to invite one partner in a marriage and not the other to a co-ed event.  It would have been even funnier if the invitation was addressed in the formal manner: Mr. and Mrs. Ex-Husband’s Name.  It could get a bit confusing.

As it was, I didn’t find out about the wedding until a few days after it occurred.  Then, I was left with the dilemma of a wedding gift.  Is one obligated to purchase a gift for a spouse’s wedding?  Or, did the fact that my paycheck purchase their wedding rings count as a gift?  Maybe a congratulations card?  Or, in this case, a condolence card to her?

You see, it all gets so confusing.

In all seriousness, I was glad to discover that he solidified the relationship with a felony.  Unlike many caught in the crazy world of divorce, where one partner lies and manipulates the system to try to harm the other, creating an endless he-said, she-said, I had proof that my husband lied.  I had irrefutable evidence of infidelity.  I had a mugshot and a felony charge to support my case.  I am thankful for all of that, but I am sorry that my ex-wife-in-law became another of his victims.  I hope that she, too, has learned lessons from her marriage.

Thank you for sharing!

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