The polygyny is a term that comes from the Greek poly and gyny which means many women or wives. This term refers to a form of marriages where one man is going to have two or sometimes even more wives, all at the same time. In those countries where the polygyny represents an illegal practice, the man is most of the time referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist. This term most be distinguished from the situation where a man has one or many other sexual partners outside of his marriage.
The polygyny is considered right now to be one of the most common form of polygamy that you can find in all the region of the world, where these practices are popular. There is also the polyandry, which means that a woman is going to have at the same time two or more husbands.
The polygyny is something that has been practiced for a very long period of time in the past. Back in the ancient Hebrew society it was something that was partially accepted and most of the time tolerated.
Along with that we can see it appear through out history in almost any corner of the world: in the classical China, traditional Native Americans, African, Polynesia, India and ancient Greece. Everything was tolerated and the polygyny was practiced most of the time with no restrictions until the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church has imposed that having just one wife is mandatory.
Another interesting fact about polygyny is that some researches have shown that statistically the males who are part of polygynous marriages will live longer. This means that the male will live 12% longer on average compared to a man that isn't part of a polygynous marriage.
At the same time the polygyny is going to make women to have an increase chances to be left unmarried or to be widowed. One of the reasons why this is happening is because the men have always had a higher mortality rate compared to women.
In present day there is the impression that things have changed and there are only a few states that permit the polygamous behavior and marriages. But at the same time this can be observed by the fact that there are many men in our society that have a polygynous behavior with misteresses who are secretly or sometimes openly supported. By adopting this behavior the men are going to be monogamous technically speaking, but the truth is that they are polygynous de facto.