Book Review: Love Times Three
Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage by Joe Darger
Release Date: September 13, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Love Times Three is the true story of the Darger family. They are Independent Fundamentalist Mormons living in plural marriage. Yes, another polygamy book! The Dargers are unique even among polygamists in that Joe Darger married his first two wives, Vicki and her cousin Alina, at the same time. Usually polygamists wait at least a year after their first marriage before they take a second wife. Then, even more unusual, Joe married Vicki’s identical twin Valerie ten years later. All together the Darger’s have 24 children, which includes Val’s five from a previous marriage. (One child died in infancy so 23 children are living.)
I first heard of the Dargers when they appeared on the TV show Sister Wives a couple of weeks ago in an episode where they take a vacation with the Brown family. (Of course I immediately Googled them and that’s how I found out they have a book out.) Apparently, they’ve been friends with the Browns for a couple of years. Like the Browns, they are trying to take the stigma out of being polygamists by going public with their lifestyle.
I appreciated that this book went more in depth on the religious reasoning behind polygamy. Joe and his wives quote Mormon scripture as well as other important church documents like the Doctrine and Covenants when explaining the Principle of polygamy and why they have chosen the live the Principle. (Polygamy is also referred to as the Principle, plural marriage, or celestial marriage.) Also, in the back of the book, the different Fundamentalist Mormon communities are listed with a brief description that includes where they are located and what makes them different from each other.
I don’t want this review to turn into a theological debate but I feel I have to point out one inconsistency I found with the Principle as I understand it: People who live the Principle will achieve the highest level of heaven and live together as a family for all eternity. The Principle helps women to become more Christ-like, and thus deserving of the highest level of heaven, because sharing their husbands will help them overcome petty emotions like jealousy and ultimately make them more selfless people. It’s a daily sacrifice. However, even though this is the sixth book on polygamy I’ve read, I can’t figure out how living the Principle makes men more Christ-like. The only thing this book said was that Joe didn’t have any time for hobbies or outside interests because he had so many wives and kids that he needed to spend time with. It seems imbalanced to me.
That said, how consenting adults choose to live is with me as long as no one gets hurt. The Dargers make a good point that many of the abuses that occur in polygamist communities may occur because of the secretive life polygamists are forced to live. If they could live openly, perhaps the abuse would be harder to cover up.
I liked that three of the Dargers’ older children (one from each mom) contributed to the book. Most accounts I’ve seen from children who grew up in polygamy are negative ones where the children suffered abuse. The Dargers’ children seem happy and well-adjusted.
Like the Browns, the Dargers seem to be on the more liberal side of Fundamentalist Mormonism. As I am still quite intrigued with the polygamist lifestyle, I enjoyed this peek into the Dargers lives. Recommended for Nosy Rosies like me.