Group marriage  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Group marriage is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental responsibility for any children arising from the marriage. No country legally condones group marriages, neither under the law nor as a common law marriage.

Line marriage is a form of group marriage found in fiction in which the family unit continues to add new spouses of both sexes over time so that the marriage does not end.

Group marriage is sometimes called polygamy or even polygynandry, from a combination of the words polygyny and polyandry.Template:Fact Others suggest that polygynandry and polygamy can only be considered group marriage under certain circumstances.

In fiction

Interest in, and practice of nonmonogamy is well-known in modern science fiction fandom. Group marriage has been a theme in some works of science fiction — especially the later novels of Robert A. Heinlein, such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Friday, Time Enough for Love, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Stranger in a Strange Land describes a communal group much like the Oneida Society.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress describes line families in detail. The characters argue that the line family creates economic continuity and parental stability in an unpredictable, dangerous environment. Manuel's line marriage is said to be over 100 years old. The family is portrayed as economically comfortable because improvements and investments made by previous spouses compounded, rather than being lost between generations. Heinlein also makes it a point that this family is racially diverse. A passing reference to Heinlein's marriage forms is made in David Brin's Infinity's Shore, where a sapient bottlenose dolphin crewmember is noted as belonging to a "line marriage, one of the Heinlein forms."

Group marriages of three partners (called triples) are described as commonplace in the 1966 award-winning novel Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany. The novel's protagonist, a female starship captain Rydra Wong, once lived in a triple, until one member died and another was put in stasis for an incurable illness. Other crew members, especially those who worked in close three-person teams, are noted for this type of relationship.

Line marriage is also commonly practiced in Joe Haldeman's 1981 novel Worlds. Haldeman describes how individual families joined forces, both in bed and on paper, in order to avoid inheritance taxes. Many of these consensual corporations were made up of three-mate marriages called triunes.

Group marriage is a central plot element in Donald Kingsbury's 1982 novel Courtship Rite. A six-partner group marriage (three male, three female) is considered the ideal norm in the alien society described in the novel; the main characters are in a five-partner group marriage, and much of the dramatic tension hinges on there being more than one candidate for the sixth position.

Group marriage is briefly addressed in the 1989 Star Trek novel Star Trek: The Lost Years, by J.M. Dillard (published by Pocket Books). A minor character, Lt. Nguyen, enters into a group marriage and is portrayed as a relatively normal occurrence within the society of the Star Trek world. Additionally, in Star Trek: Enterprise, the alien Dr. Phlox comes from a world where this is common.

William H. Keith, Jr., under his pseudonym Ian Douglas, describes line marriages as the norm, with large family clans extending through many generations, in his Heritage Trilogy, and its two sequels Legacy Trilogy and Inheritance Trilogy. These three trilogies are about the US Marine Corps battling aliens over a period of a thousand years.

In the television series Caprica, the character Sister Clarice is a participant in a group marriage.

Several short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin take place on the planet O, where a four-person marriage, called a sedoretu, is common. The sedoretu consists of a man and a women from each of two moieties; since it considered incest to have sex with someone of the same moiety, each participant in the marriage has a sexual relationship with only two out of the three other participants.

In the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel, the Sharamudoi practice group marriage in the form of "cross-mating" a couple from their land-dwelling clan with a couple from the water-dwelling clan. Children of both couples are considered progeny of all four mates, but the sexual relationships between cross-mates is not clear.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Group marriage" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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