Ok, I’m coming out. I sometimes watch the TLC show Sister Wives. And I just read (ok, skimmed) their book. Not familiar? Here’s the deal. The reality show follows the life of one fundamentalist Mormon (NOT part of a Warren Jefs cult, but definitely much more mainstream in lifestyle) and his 4 wives and their too-many-to-count kids. I tuned in to find out what their lives were like and to watch the drama unfold as they left Utah because they were worried about prosecution, married the 4th wife, had a baby, and had to move into separate homes since they couldn’t find one big enough. I also got a kick out of it when the wives all joined a gym together to lose weight (see the one on the right side of the photo – her waist has been 100% photoshopped in which I find ridiculous: let her be a plus-size woman for goodness sake!). I also couldn’t stop watching because I was trying to figure out what was so fantastic about this guy that 4 women would all want to share him (I don’t have an answer to that yet. He seems ok, but I don’t know what’s so amazing). It was also interesting to see how they all lived in one big house that had separate apartments for each wife when they were in Utah. Now things have settled down a bit and the show is a bit boring and I don’t watch as often.
But I was interested to read the book. Each wife takes a turn telling her own story: how she became polygamist, how she got married, and what it’s like to live this way. It was slightly fascinating, if repetitive. What married woman has not thought how fantastic it would be to have a wife? Someone else to help with child care, cooking, transportation, etc. A built-in best friend. They share their finances and have family business meetings. They support each other and function as one big family. If I just had one person here with me during the day who could let the freaking dog out sometimes I think my life would be so much better! These benefits makes it sound like a good deal. And the sister wives do talk about how they never have to miss a day of work for a sick kid and often pick up groceries for each other and act as additional parents. There’s always someone able to go to the school concert or baseball game for their kids. And their kids have built-in playmates. I love all of that. They also say they like having some space and time to themselves when the husband is with the other wives.
But, they also talk about deep personality conflicts among their marriages and lots of misunderstandings, jealousies, and hurt feelings. Basically it sounds like being in high school again on some level. I was surprised to learn that all of the wives, other than the first one, came into the marriage with little or no dating/courtship and had hardly any history with the husband before signing up with him for eternity (they believe their marriages are celestial, lasting in heaven). I don’t know how they expected it to work without getting to know each other beforehand, but their religion discourages an already married man from spending too much time courting a new wife. That seems like a screwy system to me.
They don’t talk or think about each other’s intimate relationships with their shared husband (seriously? There have to be SOME things they are just DYING to compare notes on) and are uncomfortable and jealous when he shows affection to any of the other wives. I definitely couldn’t handle sharing my husband or having him rotate through my house only every 4 days! It doesn’t sound like a great way to live at all.
The book satisfied my nosiness though – I wanted more details and this definitely offered them! If you’re interested, get it from the library if you can. It was a quick read for me, but it really did tell me a lot about their beliefs and the truth about living in a polygamist marriage. I know a lot of people are appalled by this lifestyle, but I’m pretty much a “to each his own” kind of person, so if it works for them, go for it.
Ok, I’m coming out. I sometimes watch the TLC show Sister Wives. And I just read (ok, skimmed) their book. Not familiar? Here’s the deal. The reality show follows the life of one fundamentalist Mormon (NOT part of a Warren Jefs cult, but definitely much more mainstream in lifestyle) and his 4 wives and their … Read more