Funny. I was reading during my early morning random research reading...about John Humphrey Noyes (imagine, right?) in The Atlantic Magazine in this article "Multiple Lovers, without Jealousy"
"In its history, America saw only a handful of collective dalliances away from two-person marriage model. In the 1840s in upstate New York, the Oneida commune practiced “complex marriage,” in which the 300 members were encouraged to have consensual intercourse with whomever they desired. As its leader, the lawyer John Humphrey Noyes, put it in his proposal letter to his wife, Harriet: “I desire and expect my [wife] will love all who love God ... with a warmth and strength of affection which is unknown to earthly lovers, and as free as if she stood in no particular connection with me. In fact the object of my connection with her will not be to monopolize and enslave her heart or my own, but to enlarge and establish both in the free fellowship of God’s universal family.”
By some accounts, the Oneida way of life was far more feminist than traditional marriage was at the time: The women only had sex when they wanted to, for example, and some of the female members relished having multiple sex partners.
But this was no erotic utopia. The commune’s elderly true believers regularly initiated its less-experienced teenagers into sex in order to strengthen the younger generation’s devotion to Noyes. Members were publicly chastised if they were discovered carrying on exclusive relationships. People who wanted to be parents were matched in arranged marriages and prevented from bonding with their children, all as part of Noyes’ plan to create a superior uber-race. In 1879, Noyes, fearing arrest for statutory rape, fled the country and wrote to his to his followers that they should abandon complex marriage. The 70 remaining commune members entered traditional marriages with whomever they happened to be living with at the time."
So, the word according to Noyes still continues on in discussions of American Polyamory...and the followers of that tradition. I am fascinated as a reader and a historian but horrified as a person living and breathing on this planet. I am by nature, a jealous and highly monogamous person..so the idea a shared love is beyond my puritanical thinking. I am saddened by the stoic Harriet Noyes as well as the wife of Joseph Smith, Emma Hale...and the crisis of more women in her marriage as dictated by God and her Prophet and husband. Stiff upper lip, indeed.