Happy Appearances

Vicki at Liesl's Birthday Party

Here we go again!  Somebody thinks we are not happy, big surprise! So we get challenged with questions about our personal life, questions that people wouldn’t dream of asking their closest friends such as details about our intimate lives. It is a case of people being fixated on jealousy and other things that challenge their view of what is “normal.”  So we just have to deal, but frankly I sometimes get tired of these types of questions that we get asked because “America wants to know.”

Krista

Not too long ago we were interviewed via satellite by Dr. Drew Pinsky.  The interview was short but seemed to go well for the most part, I haven’t watched it yet.   Dr Drew asked a few questions and then had a caller who was ‘standing by’ come on and ask a few questions.  The caller was a well known anti-polygamy person, and begin saying that she had followed a few of our interviews and that ‘these ladies don’t appear to be happy, you can see it in the eyes.’

Birthday Girl

We responded as best we could in the short time we had, knowing that no matter what we could have said, her mind was made up and there would be no changing it.  Some people flat out refuse to accept that we could possibly be happy sharing a husband, oh, and sharing a kitchen, too.

Tavish

I thought about it after, as I often do, about what I could have or should have said. It’s not always easy to think so quickly on the spot.  If you have seen us, or read our book, you know that we are honest and real, but we also know that with a sensitive subject we also have to answer carefully because our answers could possibly get torn to shreds by an antagonist, well-meaning or not.

Liesl

But I know one thing, I am not always happy about having to expose my personal life just to gain acceptance that is just a given for most people. I am not always excited about having to open my home to strangers that I don’t even know and hope they give a balanced perspective on my life (something that has not always been the case). I am not happy about feeling like I have to defend my faith. Nor I am happy that I cannot just live according to my conscience without fear of persecution and even prosecution. I am not happy that my children have to worry about how they will be treated with each new interview that comes out, which friends will still be friends, which peers with make fun of them or disassociate themselves from them.

My sister the sisterwife

Guess what else?  I am not happy every blasted minute of every day!  But I am okay with that.  I am happy with my choices.  After 22 years I still get jealous sometimes.  But I feel blessed every day to have the family that I do.  I am even happy with the relationship I have with my husband and sister wives, even though to many it may seem like I must be short-changing myself.  I cannot easily describe the deep fulfillment and joy I get from my family and my faith, especially not in a 10 minute interview where there are assumptive questions and very derogatory remarks like “I think  you are all nuts!”

So, it is possible to be happy and not happy at the same time, about the same subject.  Not everything fits neatly into a box.  And if you are one of those that already have your mind made up about this subject; I will not likely change it, because you are not open to another possibility than the one you have created from your own perspective.  I will keep doing interviews though. Not because I am not happy about doing them all the time, because I am happy I share a love of a family that fulfills me every day, a family that deserves to be acknowledged as happy and treated like any other family.

Liesl with her new outfit

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24 Responses to Happy Appearances

  1. Tracy Roth-myers says:

    I saw your interviews and you Dargers rock! I thought that anti-poly lady was very small and very ignorant. My thoughts are if you actually sit and really listen to other people you might actually learn that you just may have a common denominator with each other. I always feel strangers are friends you haven’t met yet! I feel like I know ya even though I do not…but I have immense respect for you and your family and I would honor a friendship with you all. And the more I listen the more I learn. I think if most people would just listen more they would not be as bias or bigoted. It makes me sad how others behave!

  2. Nancy Nielsen says:

    Thank you for posting this. It seems like every positive interview on plural marriage is followed by comments from someone who is bitter about it. They are often called “polygamy experts” or “long-time polygamous advocates” by the media. Fact is, happy polygamists far outnumber the unhappy ones. Just like in monogamous families, unhappy circumstances are often causes by the hand of an abusive adult who would have been just as abusive in any other form of relationship. But polygamy sells, and these unhappy few know how to get fame and fortune by claiming abuse at the hand of a polygamous. When is the public going to choose to be educated and quit buying into the “polygamy” drama? In a society where every other alternative lifestyle involving consenting adults is condoned and even celebrated, plural marriage still gets a bad wrap because it is one of the few minorities it is okay to discriminate against. Incidentally, because it is a minority and society seems preoccupied with sex, people are curious about it and it sells newspapers and air time, but the media wants to keep in favor with the masses, so it doesn’t want to look like it’s condoning it in any way, so the last word is given to the prejudiced and the bitter. When is the last time an interview from a happy gay family was concluded with someone who resented gay rights? Or when is the last time a lesbian couple had to intrusively be asked to explain their sleeping arrangements and then after opening their private life to the world, be told from some “anonymous caller” that they weren’t really happy? According to the media’s rule for polygamists, this anonymous caller could possibly be entitled a “gay expert”. I would term such a person, a bigot.

  3. Natja says:

    Well said Vicki,

    I abhor those blanket statements which claims to know your mind. You really can’t argue with that because they will claim they know you better! In our community some younger Poly women were being interviewed and they brought in an “Agony Aunt” who berated those ‘girls’ and told them that they do not really know what “they want yet” nor “what they are missing” and how it would not work for older people with children. Not only were her arguments blanket statements but they were impossible to counter as well.

    That kind of argument lacks any real scientific/social value and yet it is very common, my sister tried it the other day and I was appalled, she does not realise that by insulting Polygamists she is also insulting me! And that is where a lack of critical thinking on a subject gets you.

  4. S. says:

    I got a much clearer picture of your family and life after reading your book and, to a much lesser degree, this blog. I think the problem with interviews that you are invited to do is that the media wants to focus on the topics that will bring them ratings–ie the twin sister/cousin thing, sex, jealousy, etc….but the topics that show the reality of your lives and the reality of the depth of your commitment to your faith and your family, well, that takes a LOT more time to express and is not sensationalized enough to pull in ratings—-sadly, to show the world more clearly why your family should not be penalized for plural marriage also means that you will, at least to a certain degree, be pawns of the media….I think you are doing a fabulous job of balancing that and ensuring that the media doesn’t corrupt the reality of your life….

    Have a wonderful Indepence Day!

  5. S. says:

    And, just for the record, the questions they always ask on these interviews that they claim “America Wants to Know” are NEVER the questions I want to ask! I want to know more about your chickens–do you still raise them, if so, how many, what kinds? LOL

  6. Rella Vaughn says:

    K, we don’t share a home, yet. So, the sharing a kitchen thing surpeised me. I’m good w/ sharing hubby, but the kitchen? Hmmmmm That might b a little difficult. He he

  7. MarriedUK says:

    No one can assess the happiness of another (especially if that assessment is based on a TV interview) but whether you are or not is neither necessary nor sufficient in winning the argument to legalise polygamy. Being unhappy is not a crime nor is happiness justification for illegality. Even if it could be shown that every polygamist marriage was miserable, that should not be a strong enough reason to render the lifestyle illegal. Adulthood and freedom demand choice. Equally, the basis for criminalising incest would continue unchanged even if every incestuous relationship was shown to be happy. Happiness is not relevant the measure.

  8. Liz says:

    See, and I think your book did a great job in showing that things aren’t all rainbows and butterflies *all*the*time*. Your transparancy made that clear–struggles with communication sometimes, medical issues, etc. People who want to know “sordid details” or “the truth” need to read your book. To be honest, when I read the part that told of a disagreement between your husband and two (?) of you, one of you got up and said “go to hell!” (Alina, perhaps?). AFter I read that, I was like, “whew, other spouses have the same difficulties, too, polygamous or not!” It’s all in one’s perspective, and I think you said that quite succinctly–to quote, “I am happy I share a love of a family that fulfills me every day.” That’s what it’s all about. :)

  9. Jenn says:

    Touche! I feel the exact same way about some of the questions I get asked on my blog. I’m talk about my beliefs in this lifestyle, how I’m being courted by a family, and want to become a sister wife some day.

  10. Christie Miller says:

    Whether you as an adult are happy with your choices in life or not is something only you can determine for yourself, just like the rest of us. Whether you choose to answer personal questions or not is also your choice, just like the rest of us! Of course most of us aren’t going to interviews and writing books about our marriage or we most likely WOULD be asked personal questions about our marriage, right?

    I’ve never heard any of you answer my questions either, so I’m going to toss them out there for discussion and you can decide if you want to answer it or not.

    Does it concern you that your family is sending such a large amount of children into the public school system for taxpayers to shoulder the cost? I’m glad the children are getting an education, but everything costs money and it has to come from somewhere. Do you think it’s fair that a family who has one or two children in the school system pay the same as someone who is sending 22 to be educated? Do any of you volunteer with the school or contribute in any way to offset the huge costs of your children’s public education?

    • Valerie says:

      Christie,

      It would concern us if we were net takers to the system and not contributors. Education is something we value and find important in that an educated work force is a investment that historically tax payers get a positive return from. Those economies that do not have that are struggling, so much so that places like Australia, Germany, Japan and Singapore are paying their populations to reproduce. In our state, education is that largest burden of tax. Ways we contribute to that is that it is primarily funded through property tax. Our larger home is taxed at a higher rate and hence we pay more. We also have to make more money to support the kids and probably pay a higher state income tax than most because of such. However, even if we are not paying taxes proportionate to other families, the reason the State taxes all citizens regardless of whether they have children or not is that the state benefits. One of the reason Utah attracts so many businesses here is the young educated workforce they have to draw from.

      We have not only volunteered regularly, but have served on community councils at the school, have home schooled (without State assistance), use Charter Schools and have used whatever means we can to educate, teach and raise productive children. The problem is not big families, the problem is uneducated and poor families that live out of their means, and unfortunately that happens everywhere.

    • Mrs. Richard says:

      I know that you did not address the question to me but I would just like to add something in. Although they have a large family, you can see that their family is provided for. They do not appear to be a burden to the state. Their children have 4 parents that take responibility for them. The burden would be having that many children and NOT taking responibility for them. Allowing them to go uneducated which would create uneducated adults that would burden the state in the future.

      What is the difference between 22 children coming from 1 household or 22 children from 22 seperate households? If they can financally support and provide for their children, then there is no law that states that they can only have 3 children.

      I think the burden is not this family but rather children who are born to parents that can’t afford them and yet still have children and use the state as their main source of provision without being active contributors in some form (for example, tax payers, working citizens).

      It’s hard for some people to look at a situation without thinking of themselves and how that situation effects them. Sometimes another persons situation doesn’t effect others as much as they would like to believe it does.

      • Paweł Szulik says:

        I think that Christie’s argument is is very weak one in the discussion. When you have no REAL argument, you use any and think that you brought every polygamists to their knees, whilst you’re wrong.

        Your argument seems to be against every family larger than 2+2. My cousins (monogamists) have five children, wonderful children. Should they feel sorry that the state pays for their education? Should they feel sorry they have more than two children? And, as Valerie said, the bigger family you have, the bigger money you must have and consequently the bigger taxes you pay. Problem solved.

        • Christie Miller says:

          Interesting.

          It appears that you, Pawel, are questioning my motives, rather than applauding the fact that I had a REAL question and had the courage to ask it. Valerie answered the question and gave her opinion on the subject and I thank her for that. I will also continue to form my own opinions and continue to do research on this subject which is fairly new to me. I get the impression that that is one of the reasons they wrote the book, which is to reach people like myself who actually are open-minded and want to learn about other cultures and people.

          Now, if I had wanted to get into an “arguement” and said anything disrespectful, then I would understand that you could question my motives. Until then, perhaps I can quote innumerable teachers who have stated that “for one who wants to learn, there are no wrong questions.”

          Also, I am not “against” big families. My aunt has 9 children and is in a monogamous relationship. By today’s standards, that is a very big family! I know they work very hard to support their family and the children’s education.

          Back to the subject at hand.

          The property taxes on a polygamist’s home would be the same as anyone else’s, as long as the house and property were basically equal and regardless of the amount of children a family has (that’s not even a question as far as property taxes go). State (and federal) taxes are charged based on income (the whole “need to make more money to support more kids” point) , but remember that a person can take deductions to lower the amount of taxes due, and one of those deductions is the number of children one has. Potentially someone could be better off financially because of having a large family. And that is without even bringing up the (alleged) abuse of the system by some polygamous wives who claim to be “single” in order to qualify for government or other benefits. It seems the answer is common sense: Let them get legally married!!

          I would personally love to see polygamous marriages become legal so that husbands and wives could see each other in the hospital or whatever other “rights” they perhaps do not currently have. Also, for those polygamists who may be using this loophole in the system to claim benefits, then they wouldn’t be able too, since they would be married legally and could not claim to be single when it suited them.

          If you take out the religious/spiritual/moral problems that some people have with this lifestyle, then I feel the answer becomes much more clear. Not everyone is the same and not everyone has the same values. But legally speaking, I really can’t see any reason that polygamists should not be able to legally marry (as consenting adults, of course).

          So, as you can perhaps understand a little more clearly now, I am not trying to have anyone “brought to their knees” (far from it, actually!) and I am sure that many people are not shocked or upset by a question (or even many questions) that are respectfully stated and are asked with the only motive being to understand something which may be very unusual in comparison to what someone is used too.

          Respect goes both ways, you know. ;)

          “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  11. Angelo says:

    I think you all are amazing! I am inspired by who you are for one another and the phiolsophies and values you adopt to deepen your relationships with one another. I think it’s time people ask themselves honestly one question, if monogamy is so natural and the only way, then why does it take so much effort to preserve and ok make it 2 questions “Why is polygamy such a threat to an institution that is supposed to be natural inside “God’s Law” “.
    I’m not anti monogamy, but I am anti bigotry against love amongst consenting adults! I see love when I see the Dargers, it’s all I see just as it’s what i see amongst many monogamous couples. Who, in their right mind, wants to claim love in this increasingly hostile, indifferent world to be wrong?
    Keep spreading the love, plenty of people out here love you for who you are and what your love is for one another, I for one am not swayed one iota by “moral” prejudice!

  12. Anna says:

    Hi,
    I just stumbled on your site this morning. My husband and I have discussed the idea of a 2nd wife a few months ago. He recently told me he liked someone and would like me to consider her for a 2nd wife. I have since then (in the last week) been experiencing an array of negative emotions to include anger, betrayal, and jealousy. I can’t speak to anyone in my family about it. I am confused and frustrated. Please, any words of advice. I will be speaking with this other woman later this evening.

    • Valerie says:

      Anna,

      My first question is why? Why are you looking into plural marriage? We can endure almost any how as long as we know our why? Secondly, if you cannot express your feelings to your family, you should not be doing it. Adding a sister wife to a marriage is a difficult process and you should be fully expressed in your relationship currently. If you are not fully expressed as a monogamous couple adding a plural wife will destroy the relationship, not enhance it. All your emotions you are feeling are normal and healthy, there is no such thing as a positive or negative emotion, only positive or negative intent. If you cannot find a love for the person I would question the wisdom in moving forward. In our culture the woman is instrumental in courting and bringing the other wife into the family, it is not a license for him to have an open marriage. The problem is not facing her, the problem is facing yourself and then your husband.

  13. Mrs. Richard says:

    Personally, I think that your entire family is inspiring. Regardless of my own personal beliefs, I cannot deny the joy, truth, love and pure intentions that radiate from your family. I do not believe that it is anyones right to say what is true love. Just as you stated “Not everything fits neatly into a box”. Neither does God! We can’t think for one minute that one person, one family, one faith has it completely, perfectly and accurately right. We can only do our best to live out what we believe to be true at te core of our belief system. I have always believed that God’s love is demonstrated through love for one another. The way that we embrace, treat, honor and care for another should be a direct reflection of God’s love towards us. I feel that I can see God’s love in your family.

    I wish you and your family nothing but the best and although we don’t share the same beliefs, I believe we share the same desire to love God and love family. Thats all that matters. God bless you.

    • Valerie says:

      Mrs. Richard,

      Very well said, you are someone that has a firm grasp of love and we could not agree more. There is more that binds us all together as brothers and sisters on this planet, than the differences so many choose to dwell upon. Thank you for your expression of love, I could not have said it more beautifully.

  14. Paweł Szulik says:

    As to the article…

    Vicky (and all the Dargers), I know you know :) , but remember there’ll always be people who disagree and they disagree because they chose to disagree by deliberately shutting their ears to the truth.

    The anonymous woman from the interview showed she has no REAL arguments against polygamy. How do I know it? Some time ago I read Schopenhauer “The Art of Being Right” and he said there that if someone cannot formulate the real argument he uses “ad personam” argument – he or she attempts to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it. And very often those claim are not fact, but speculation and that happened when that woman stated: ‘these ladies don’t appear to be happy, you can see it in the eyes.’

  15. Don says:

    Greetings,

    I am an Orthodox Jew. Our faith, based on the Torah, accepts the legitimacy of polygamy, and some Middle-Eastern Jews still practice polygamy to this day. (European Jews do not practice polygamy due to a rabbinic decree from the middle ages, but there is some discussion as to whether this decree still applies today.)

    My question is regarding your family’s particular situation of sister-wives. Specifically, how does your faith understand Leviticus 18:18? Do you consider this verse non-binding due to the fact that Christians are not required to observe every detail of the Torah? Or is there a particular Morman teaching which provides instruction contrary to the plain meaning of Lev. 18:18?

    Thanks and God bless.

    Don

    • Paweł Szulik says:

      Don, thank you for your sincere question. I hope to help you to resolve your problem.

      At first I want to say that your doubts are very reasonable. That verse used to be a problem for me for a long time. Why? Because I knew that Jacob the patriarch had two wives and both his marriages were blessed. How do I know it? Because God listened to their prayers. Rachel was the second wife and a sister of a first wife and despite of this fact “God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22). Alegorically God was married to the sisters. Let me quote Ezekiel 23:1-4: “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity. >>And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her SISTER: and they were mine<<, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah". I asked myself a question: Why would God place Himself as a sinful husband (sinful, because having two sisters for wives)? God hates sin and wouldn't put Himself as a sinful example.

      Now, let's look at Leviticus 18:18. What does the text say? "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time." The point is not to distress one sister with the other, not to make one rival to another. If both sisters live in peace with each other and aren't adversaries then the prohibition from Lev. 18:18 is not tresspassed.

      That's what I understand.

  16. Henna says:

    i just loved reading ur book. the day i saw it in public library i just was not sure what exactly and how the polygamist live. i remember seeing couple clips from you tube and some other sites what got me all confused as i thought it was all about stone age living where u just lock ur self to the outside world. all those bulky dresses and puffed hair. no networking and no friends was giving me a bitter taste to it. after i started reading ur book i couldnt keep it down took me two days to finish and am i happy to see the other side of polygamy. i know it needs a big heart and lot of sacrifices to live under one roof. and i must say u guys are blessed to have such a wonderful husband. who not only loves but respects all three of u equally. a big hug to four of you. lots of wishes for ur future life
    good luck

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