Love Times Three Review by Nancy Mereska

Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage

By Joe, Alina, Vicki, and Valerie Darger

with Brooke Adams

 

Review by Nancy Mereska

 

            Love Times Three is one long re-run.  The “authors” of this book—Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie Darger—are obviously led through interviews by Brooke Adams.  In these interviews each participant tells his/her story along the same story line with very little change.

Joe’s allegiance to the practice of polygamy is told on pp 61-62 where he shares the story of his grandfather who married in the Salt Lake Temple (mainstream LDS) in 1926.  The family story is that Apostle George F. Richards, the president of that temple, encouraged David Brigham Darger and his new wife, Eliza Aldora McDaniel to “pledge to live plural marriage if they ever got the chance.”  Thus, the connection with the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), not the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) was formed.

It is a fact that the mainstream LDS church did not start excommunicating those practicing polygamy until the early 1930s.

The double-standard of language between Mormon sects flows through this book.  CTR in mainstream LDS means Choose The Right; in the Darger family it means communication, trust, and respect.  Certainly no one would disagree that either of these mottos is not a good goal to have in any relationship—AND, the narration of this book goes to great lengths to show how Joe keeps his relationships with his three wives separate.

The “family” dynamics of this marriage are just as convoluted as any other polygamous grouping.  Alina Darger, Joe’s first and only legal wife, is actually Joe’s aunt.  Her older sister is married to Joe’s father.

The forever-young image for women tromps its way through this book.  Alina and Vicki go through phases of weight-loss and gain with their baby-making.  Their self-esteem is wrapped up in their body image.

All families have their own sense of humor that helps them get through hard times.  In a conversation with her Aunt T., Alina comes to realize that Joe “is just a man—nothing so great!”  She and her aunt laugh until their stomachs hurt.

Each of the women in this book refers to the children to whom she has given birth as “my children” not “our children” as monogamous couples who share children do.

The attitude of polygamous women toward each other takes on a note of misogyny when Valerie decides in her first polygamous union that one of the wives just ridiculed by their husband deserved it.

Valerie is the most honest of the three plural wives as she relates her experiences in her first abusive polygamous marriage.  Her experiences parallel one-hundred percent of those shared at the polygamy reference trial in Canada—those who testified for the Attorney General’s position that Canada’s law against polygamy is constitutional and should be upheld.

The greatest challenge in this book is for the women: setting natural feelings aside, taking turns with one man, dealing with a great number of children, sacrificing all they have to make polygamy work.  Joe talks about his “sacrifices”, too—all the boy toys he cannot buy for himself because he has such a large family to support.  It is obvious in this book that the women are supposed to be the givers in everything personal, emotional, physical and spiritual.  No room for any individuality here, no autonomy, no “feminist” terminology in any of their thought trains.

The story of the new bedspread and having to take it back because Vicki had not talked to Joe first about the expenditure shows the power and control Joe exercises over these women.  Joe truly believes that he practices agape, a Greek term meaning a higher and purer form of love.

The reader can certainly grieve with Alina when little Kyra dies, but their ignorance of severe post-partum depression is astounding when Vicki goes through her travails with it.  Where is the pre-natal education for these women?

Lastly, the children are discussed as if they are only an extra-familial part of this relationship.  Two dozen children are a part of this family by the time the book ends.  Adams did a very poor job of presenting at least the views of the older children.

EXTRA NOTE:  Alina Darger, being the only legally married woman in this tri-sexual relationship, testified for the Amicus side in the Canadian reference trial.  The affidavit she presented to the court in her name was written with input from Joe, Vicki and Valerie.  She was able to identify only one passage specifically written by herself.  Alina was asked if her name was on the title of her home.  Her reply was that she wasn’t sure but she thought it was.  Then she was asked if the names of her sister wives were on the title, she became agitated and said she didn’t know.  She assured the court that she would be able to leave her marriage without difficulty if she so chose.  What a legal wrangling that would be!

Love Times Three does nothing to dispel my disdain toward polygamy and what it does to women and children, and the rights it takes away from them.

 

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