REVIEW: Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage

by Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie Darger


The HBO show Big Love’s depiction of a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon marriage stoked controversy and drew a big audience. Now the family that inspired the series have written an intriguing, rotating, first-person(s) account of their union that produced 24 children. It reveals that polygamy requires more labour and sacrifice than most of us are willing to put into a monogamous marriage.

The Dargers, all raised in plural unions, knew one another growing up. Joe’s simultaneous courtship of cousins Alina and Vicki, though disconcerting, is candidly rendered, with the women experiencing jealousy and insecurity, suppressed passions and much negotiation. Joe and Alina wed legally in 1989; the same day he married Vicki in a church ceremony. A decade later, Vicki’s twin, Valerie, and her five children joined the clan after she was given a church “release” from her union to an abusive husband. Eventually, the quartet began speaking publicly to engender tolerance of what they see as their right to religious expression.

Obvious points of curiosity are addressed. Sexual intimacy (“nothing kinky,” writes Joe) is organized on a rotating nightly schedule; the wives never discuss sex lest it spark jealousy. Polygamy is no male sexual bonanza: “there are easier and cheaper ways for men to get sex,” Joe writes, as only a man with two wives sharing a birthday and two with the same wedding anniversary would know. The women, all distinct and opinionated personalities, view one another less as rivals (though it happens) than as “soulmates.” Their 5,500-sq.-foot, 10-bedroom Salt Lake County house is run with precision but also flexibility. That polygamy renders women vulnerable is addressed, if in passing. Imprisoned Mormon sect leader Warren Jeffs horrifies him, Joe writes, as did some Big Love plot lines—which isn’t surprising. Real life in this case is far more tame.


REVIEW: Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage

  1. Don’t these silly women realize the danger they are drawing on to themselves and their children? Only the first, legal wife and her children are entitled to share in the man’s health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, pensions and tax benefits, etc. The rest of the women are mere concubines in a harem and must fend for themselves should the man die and leave them nothing in his will …. his estate, of course, being much impoverished by having to share it among many women and their children. God help these women should one of them or their children have a serious health problem. And why are they helping the man to maintain the ancient double standard ….. lots of sex with multiple partners for him, while they are supposed to have only him, and share him among themselves! These male-centred practices are why polygamy is condemned by the UN Tribunal on Human Rights,which states that polygamy contravenes women’s equality rights and impoverishes their children, and why Muslim women’s organizations are petitioning their governments to end the practce. Polygamy comes from the dark ages when women were considered property, and the richer a man was, the bigger his harem. It should be kicked into the garbage can of history, where it belongs. The year is 2011 AD, not 2011 BC.

    • Well Jancis, In Canada people can legally have multiple spouses under provincial legislation. So far though, it has only been women who claimed multiple husbands and received half from each man when “divorcing” later. Usually the women were married and broke before meeting a man of wealth, then they cohabit with the new man but don’t divorce the first one. In two years they are also legal spouses under provincial family law protection. Then the woman “divorces them both (or more) and she is rich and no longer broke! Works really good in Canada. The men do not get to refuse to become the spouse of a person who has a spouse. The province declares that they are spouses period.

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