Mothers everywhere know what it means when their husband is traveling for work: All the parenting, 24 hours a day, falls to you.
Such was the situation I found myself in, with my husband across the country on business, and I was discouraged and exhausted. The days were long, our routine disrupted, and the children tired of not seeing their father.
My son blew the shofar to call us to our evening family time, where everyone has a chance to show something or tell about their day; we lovingly call this time “Shofar & Tell” (a play on “Show and Tell” — get it?).
We gathered in the living room of my sisterwife Melissa, and as I routinely do, I pulled out the family Happy Book to write in while we shared our lives and visited together.
My son disrespectfully jumped on my case and told me I shouldn’t have a “toy” during Shofar & Tell (referring to my writing in the Happy Book). He’d been nitpicking and criticizing me a lot, so the uncalled-for criticism was especially frustrating.
We officially got started with Shofar & Tell, and when my daughter’s turn came to hold the shofar and show/tell us something, she took the opportunity to complain about me.
I was hurt, and since I had been struggling for some time with those two children disrespecting me, questioning me, and dishonoring me, it got to be too much.
I said to my sisterwife Melissa, “Why does everything come down to criticizing me and complaining about me? Everyone in this house seems to be starting from a place of ‘Mom is wrong. Mom has wronged me. What is Mom doing wrong right now? What can I criticize Mom about right now?’ I feel like everyone is assuming my guilt until I’m proven innocent.”
Melissa saw the problem, recognized my need for support, and she truly stepped up.
She launched into a scolding lecture about about how lucky the children are to have me; how lucky they are to have a mother who stays home with them and focuses on taking care of them; how they shouldn’t be rude to me; how they should treat me with respect and love; how they ought to show gratitude for me and the good life they have.
She went on and on. A couple of the children got teary-eyed over it. When she was done, she gave every child a chance to say something. To me she said, “I want you to write down in the family Happy Book what they say: I want you to recognize it and embrace it.”
Each of my children expressed their sincere gratitude for me and came over and hugged me. Melissa even had her young child say something nice and hug me, and then she also expressed her love and gave me a hug.
I felt extremely validated and supported. Someone saw me and wanted me to feel appreciated. Someone wasn’t going to stand by and let me be treated with disrespect by my children.
I wasn’t doing all the parenting by myself after all. Melissa and I were together, taking care of the children, trying to teach them, being a good team.
If I had been the only parent home that week, things would not have gone so well, I can promise you that. I would have continued to be sad, and I might have lost my temper with the children and just made things worse.
If our husband Joshua had been there, he certainly would have shushed the children to keep the peace and given me moral support later in a private conversation.
But Melissa took it further and worked right then and there to truly change the hearts of the children and let me know how much she supports me.
This is one real-life example of the benefits of a polygamous family.
My children are lucky Melissa is invested in them the way every mother should be invested in her children, and I’m grateful to have her as a co-parent.
I distinctly remember the first time someone looked up to me for being a polygamist.
We had been invited by some polygamous friends to a Thanksgiving dinner that was attended by an eclectic group of fundamental Mormons (some were members of a sect of Mormonism, but many were independent). I knew almost no one there. (This was the first time I met Benjamin Shaffer, the attorney who purchased Drew Briney’s law firm when the Brineys moved away from Utah.) I was introduced to a married couple and I asked them if they were polygamists. The wife said, “No, not yet. I wish. Are you guys polygamists?” When I answered in the affirmative, she said with sincerity, “Oh, that’s so great. I hope I can be a plural wife someday.” (She’s a plural wife now and one of the best I know. As one example of how she’s so supportive: She has a huge picture of her husband and sisterwife on their wedding day on her living room wall.)
That was a very nice moment for me. Up to that point, people expressed many different feelings about my marital status, ranging from outright rejection to disgust to fascination to neutrality to supportive, but I had never met anyone who was actually jealous of me for being a polygamist.
I didn’t consider myself a fundamental Mormon, but after that Thanksgiving dinner I started to feel more and more comfortable hanging around Mormon fundamentalists because of their general belief that polygamy is acceptable, desirable, even preferred.
I still spend plenty of time with people who merely tolerate my polygamy. When I’m around those people, I will either hide my polygamy or at the very least I feel an overarching sense of embarrassment/shame about it, like the girl who keeps brushing her bangs in front of the zit on her forehead.
However, those feelings of shame or embarrassment are left over from when I cared what those people thought. I’m not ashamed to be a polygamist. I’m actually quite proud of my plural family and in particular of my husband. I’m proud of my husband for keeping two emotional women happy most of the time. I’m proud of him for financially supporting a large family. I’m proud of him for bearing the weight of a marred reputation caused by society’s feelings about plural marriage. I’m proud of him for always putting his family first and for being the most selfless person I have the privilege of knowing. I’m proud of him that God trusts him with such a great responsibility. I’m proud of him for keeping peace (and restoring it when it’s lost) between all the members of our family. I’m proud of him for his wisdom in difficult decisions. I’m proud of him for functioning on 2 hours of sleep when one of his wives needs to talk with him all night. I’m proud of him for never putting himself first but for always always serving God and his family and others around him. I’m proud of him for being stable when one or both of his wives are being crazy. I’m proud of Joshua for so many reasons. I think of him as a king and I feel it an honor to be married to him. I’m proud to be one of his queens.
The feeling of pride I have over our functional, beautiful plural family has grown and expanded almost imperceptibly until an event that happened yesterday. We went to a party for Joshua’s aunts, uncles, and cousins. This party is held annually, but it was our first time attending since becoming polygamists. We used to go every year (and to other events with these people as well), and Joshua and I have been married for 17 years, so I’ve known these people for a good long time.
The family is a pretty big group, I would say about 85 people, and almost all of them are active LDS. This is the kind of group I have historically felt awkward to be around. None of them are excited that we’re polygamists, and many of them openly disapprove (even writing letters and making phone calls to make sure we know how they feel).
And yet, yesterday when we walked into the party, I held my head high. I felt like a queen. I look at Joshua as a king and Melissa as a queen, and yesterday I felt no shame or embarrassment whatsoever. I greeted everyone with a confident hug and just acted like my old pre-polygamy self. If anyone felt awkward, it wasn’t me. If anyone wished I wasn’t there, it wasn’t me. I didn’t feel like I was inferior to any of the monogamists in the room. I didn’t feel like I had anything to apologize for. I didn’t feel like I had a zit on my forehead I was trying to hide. I just felt proud of my plural family and proud of my kingly husband. It was a wonderful experience and certainly made me feel as tho I have progressed in my journey as a plural wife.
There he stood, in the front of our Ethics and Values classroom, curly brown hair, leather jacket that couldn’t hide his muscular arms, sexy 5 o’clock shadow, a deep voice. He was discussing the pros and cons of capital punishment, the controversial ethical topic assigned to his group.
I had dated a lot in high school, but now that I was in college, I was trying to be pickier, trying to figure out what my type was, and I had picked up the habit of analyzing men to discern which of his physical traits I liked and which I didn’t. I had never found a man I couldn’t improve upon, but as I sat on the back row that day watching and listening to Joshua, for the first time I couldn’t come up with a single thing I would change to make a man more attractive. I had found my ideal man, at least on the surface. Not only was he the most handsome men I’d ever met, but he was intelligent, well-prepared, and well-spoken.
At the end of Joshua’s presentation, I raised my hand to add to the discussion. Was it just my imagination, or did he like what I had to say? A little while later, I raised my hand again, but then I noticed that class time was almost gone, and I lowered it again. He noticed the question left hanging, and he approached me as the classroom emptied and asked what I had intended to say.
We talked for a few minutes before going our separate ways. But that was enough to get the ball rolling.
It was a series of coincidences that had led to our meeting. You see, we weren’t exactly classmates: We were taking the same course, but we were in different sections taught by the same professor. If things had gone according to schedule, Joshua and I would never have met. But something happened to shake things up: My brother had been called on a mission for the LDS Church, and I wanted to go with him and the rest of my family to see him enter the MTC, or Missionary Training Center. The end of the college semester was approaching, and since class time was being taken up with group presentations, my professor had started making class participation part of our grade to prevent attendance from declining. If I was going to see my brother enter the MTC, I would miss my class, so I talked to my professor in advance and got permission to make up the participation points by coming to another of her Ethics and Values sessions. I searched my schedule for a time when that would be possible. Most school days at 1:00 p.m. I was busy as an ASL interpreter for a religion class. Fortunately, those classes weren’t held on Fridays, which meant I was available for that one hour — which happened to be, of course, the day and hour of Joshua’s presentation in his own section of Ethics and Values. That’s how I came to be there that Friday afternoon.
After Joshua and I had parted company. I went to work for a few hours and then got ready for a date — a formal dance I was going to with a man named Ryan.
Now, Ryan and I were very close friends, and sometimes we acted as tho we liked each other, but the truth was that the woman he wanted to marry was away from home serving a mission for the mainstream LDS Church, and I was just a placeholder until she came home a few months later. I wasn’t particularly into him either, but we got along splendidly, and our relationship was convenient. We carpooled to school together, worked on our Calculus 3 homework together, hung out as friends on the weekend, and when one of us needed an official date for an event, the other person was usually available.
(As a side note, two fun stories: After his girlfriend got home from her mission, Ryan and she came together to my wedding reception, which was so romantic that they ended up getting engaged at it. They’re still happily married and have half a dozen kids. He’s a successful engineer, so I guess it worked out for him to study calculus with me, ha ha. Another guy I dated met someone at my wedding reception, soon afterwards they started dating, later they were also engaged. Have you ever heard of a wedding reception so romantic?)
I had asked my friend to do my hair in a fancy up-do for the dance with Ryan, and while she worked, I chatted endlessly about this man named Joshua I had met at school that day. I don’t know how I came up with so much to say about someone I’d only talked to for a quarter of an hour, but you and I both know how silly girls can be.
At some point in the course of our conversation I told her, “I think I’m going to marry him!” She responded by telling me I was crazy. (I still have the professional photo taken of Ryan and me at the formal dance, and it’s one of my favorites because of the fond memories I have of that day and even of my hairdo.)
I couldn’t stop thinking about Joshua for days, and he must have had a similar weekend. On Monday he got my phone number from our professor (with my permission), called me up, and the rest of our story is for future chapters.
“No! Stop. No! No! I can’t believe it!” Joshua put both hands to his face, not believing what he was seeing.
Colton Winder, standing between his wives, was approaching the local farmers market. Joshua, sitting between his wives, was watching it on TV. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seem him laugh so much and for so long.
“Must be touching at all times!” he roared with laughter, slapping his leg at the hilarity of Colton, Tami, and Sophie awkwardly clasping each other’s hands, white-knucklingly squeezing out the blood, and slowly making their way down the sidewalk. The Winders were about to come out of hiding, but for real this time. I didn’t see a single duck, but I did see lots of intimidating humans.
“I just can’t believe this!” Joshua laughed again, shaking his head.
But what started with Joshua’s hysterical laughter ended with both of his wives in tears. Did that just happen? Did the Winders, in the most awkward way imaginable, just tell the cheese vendor they are a plural family?
Part of this scene was shown again and again in the episode previews. We keep seeing Sophie confess to a perfect stranger, “I’m actually my husband’s second wife,” while Colton and Tami stand there nodding like bobble head dolls, and the vendor stares at them, looking quite surprised at what was just revealed to him.
But then… There’s a plot twist that makes this my favorite SSW scene thus far, when the cheese vendor confesses that he, too, is a polygamist with two wives!!!
The shock of that moment dropped my jaw. I did not see that one coming. That was unexpected. That was… Wait. Did that just happen? All I can say is, that was a wonderful tender mercy.
The episode shows all-too-brief excerpts from the conversation, which I would pay money to see in entirety, between the polygamous Winders and the polygamist cheese vendor. I was so touched by it that I starting tearing up. I looked over at my sisterwife Melissa and her face was red with emotion as well. God is so good!
After the episode finished, my sisterwife, our husband, and I discussed it until midnight. Joshua used the word “charming” to describe the Winders and what happened at the farmers market. Melissa called it “endearing.” Words failed me.
The Winders imagined a market full of enemies throwing tomatoes at them, then handcuffing them and putting them in jail. Instead, they ended up making a new friend. It was truly amazing. I loved it.
What did you think? Did you laugh at the awkwardness of going into public and telling perfect strangers they’re polygamists? Were you disappointed there weren’t any ducks at the farmers market? Were you touched by their luck at meeting another polygamist? What’s been your favorite SSW moment so far? Leave your comments below.
I think this was the first episode my sisterwife, our husband, and I watched all together. Sitting in Melissa’s living room in a row of recliners, laughing heartily, arguing, each of us noticing and pointing out different things, made the viewing of it a party. Episode 2 of Seeking Sister Wife‘s second season (the one titled “Failure to Launch”) was extremely entertaining and definitely the funniest of either season.
The Alldredges left their 7 children at home for the first time and traveled to Niagara Falls. They left them with some unnamed friends. Here is a screenshot of the babysitters waving goodbye with all 7 children.
Oh, wait. I only count 6 children. Where is their oldest child, 9-year-old Dain? Maybe he had to go the bathroom or something. *shrug*
TLC didn’t name the babysitters for you, but I will. They are Taylor and Sara, some of our good friends. They had their 4 children at the Alldredges’ house as well (who weren’t shown in the goodbye scene). They actually have 5 children of their own now, since Sara just gave birth to a baby boy a few days ago!
Taylor and Sara were going to be one of the families in the first season of Seeking Sister Wife — they were under contract and everything — but as filming was getting closer they became uncomfortable with some of the things the network was planning and, although they’re still open to plural marriage, they felt inspired that it was not the right time/circumstances. They believe that (at least for them) such things are best left in God’s hands – not in the hands of TV producers. After everything was explained to the network, TLC terminated the contract, eventually replacing them with the Snowden family.
Taylor is one of the contributors to this blog. His post called “Dateonomics” is one of my personal favorites. In it, Taylor shows the mathematics of why polygamy being available is actually good for women. I used his ideas just the other day to explain these concepts to a friend who wasn’t sure what she thought about polygamy.
One of the main ideas in the post is that if polygamy is allowed, then the women don’t have to compete with each other in order to get married, and they have a lot more men to choose from, so their chances of marrying a good man are much higher. Instead of 10 men and 10 women in the dating pool resulting in every man getting a wife, polygamy allows the better men to score more women, potentially leaving some men unmarried. This puts the pressure on men to step it up because they are the ones who have to compete for the women. And in reality, there aren’t equal numbers of men and women in the dating pools: there are more women than men, due to various factors laid out in Taylor’s post. And in a monogamous culture, even if the pool of men is decreased by a tiny number, that still means there will be females left single. That makes dating analogous to a game of musical chairs: not everyone will get a spot, so you better play the game hard in order to not be left an old maid. If I am not explaining this well, you should really check out Taylor’s article and see what you think.
Anyway, it was fun to see our friends on the show even tho they were just babysitters and not one of the featured families.
The Alldredges’ flight to New York was Sharis’s first time on an airplane. Once they arrived at their hotel, we find out that Vanessa and Sharis got separate hotel rooms, which gives the sisterwives privacy and allows them to keep up the same sleeping schedule they were already on.
Normally my sisterwife Melissa and I drive separate cars, eat separate meals, and sleep in different rooms. But when we’re camping or otherwise staying away from home, we do things differently: we typically get just one room or set up one tent for the whole family, including the children, we drive just one car all together, and we combine our meals, etc. We like the closeness on occasion, and it simplifies things. Yes, there’s not as much privacy, and yes, Joshua has to rearrange his sleeping schedule, but it’s not a big deal if it’s only every once in a while.
I know polygamous families who stay in one room or tent the way we do, and I know other polygamous families who require a room for each wife the way the Alldredges do. I recognize different families have different preferences, and when the Alldredges stay with us, we give the wives separate bedrooms. But next time we stay at your house, feel free to put us all in the same room. 😉
Being in the present
Vanessa Alldredge seems pretty excited to be in Niagara Falls and she’s looking forward to meeting her potential sisterwife in person. She says when they were courting Melina (as shown in Season 1 of SSW) her pregnancy made things difficult.
Vanessa is referring to the molar pregnancy she was going thru, which Jeff also mentioned in Episode 1. The hormones of a molar pregnancy are many times higher than those in a normal pregnancy, so it makes sense that poor Vanessa was really sick. She told me in detail about her experience and even shared ultrasound photos, which you can see in this blog post.
Once again, I only had time to write up a fraction of what I wanted to share. I made notes to write about the McGees’ synagogue kicking them out because of their belief in polygamy; their talking to their sons about Bernie’s “talking to another woman” and not only the sons’ reactions but also the reactions of the son’s friends; the McGee son mentioning again that a plural wife of his dad’s “wouldn’t be a mom per se“; Bernie being confident that when he has plural wives, the whole family will live altogether in one house; the Winders attempt to come out as polygamists in their community (Joshua wrote about it here); Sophie Winder calling herself Sadie’s second mom; whether a new wife needs to adapt to the family’s diet, the way the Snowdens expect; the Snowdens’ potential sisterwife being a Pisces; Ashley Snowden’s “Highly Meditated” tank top; and her inspirational quote “Anything in life worth having takes effort”, referring to her efforts to practice polygamy.
But alas, the 3rd episode has aired and I won’t let myself watch it until I publish this post, so I will go ahead and do that right now. A recliner in my sisterwife’s living room is calling my name.
Oh, before I go, here are the numbers of the total amount of screentime each family had in episode 2. The Snowdens’ screentime was double that of the Alldredges. Playing favorites, I see:
What do you think? Did you notice a kid was missing in the Alldredge farewell scene? Did you get a chance to read Taylor’s Dateonomics post yet? If you were a polygamist, would you want to share a hotel room or get separate rooms when traveling? What was your favorite part of this episode? Is it obvious to you the Snowdens are TLC’s favorite family?
Everyone at the party stopped talking and watched to see what would happen next. They all knew Joshua and I are not siblings, and they were curious to see how our new acquaintance would take the shocking news of real-life, in-your-face polygamy.
Just minutes earlier Joshua and I had met Sophie* for the first time and were getting to know her and her family. Melissa was supposed to have been there to make introductions, but a phone call had unexpectedly pulled her away from our Chanukah party before Sophie arrived. Melissa had texted Sophie telling her she would be gone and to “look for Joshua and Charlotte”.
So there we were, just chatting away. Joshua and Sophie made the connection that they both used to live in the south. She and I talked about Jewish feasts, home childbirth, and extended breastfeeding. Sophie said to Joshua, “This is a nice area! How long have you lived here?” He wasn’t sure how to answer because Melissa and I currently live in the same house, but we moved in 2 years apart. So which date should be given as his answer? I think he said, “Well, Melissa moved here in June, but we’ve owned the house for 2 years.” Sophie followed up, “So, were you renting it out in the meantime or something?” Awkward.
I started to realize that Sophie didn’t know that her friend Melissa was a plural wife, and that it wasn’t going to be Melissa that broke the news to her. At the same time, Sophie was trying to sort out what exactly my connection to Melissa was.
She gestured to Joshua and me, “So, are you two brother and sister?” That was the moment when our conversation got interesting to the rest of our party guests. All faces in the room turned to us as I tried to decide how to answer.
Our polygamy is not a secret (anymore), and we don’t lie about it, but we also don’t announce it everywhere we go. We like to tell people when it comes up naturally (altho, for various reasons, we occasionally make a point of going out of our way to tell someone). The awkwardness was simply the fact that it was Melissa’s friend, not my own, who asked the question.
I looked at Joshua and said, “She doesn’t know!” He gave me a knowing nod and I said, “And it’s up to me to tell her?” He laughed and said, “I guess so!”
I turned back to Sophie and said with a smile, “No.”
She said, “Oh, I noticed from the Facebook event invitation that you all have the same last name. Are you Melissa’s sister?”
The confusion was setting in. It was time for the truth to be told. I simply said, “No. Melissa and I are both married to Joshua.”
Then we all waited. We have had so many different reactions when people learn we are polygamists; we never know what we’re going to get.
I was pretty surprised when Sophie got excited and spoke with a voice punctuated by exclamation points. “Oh! I had no idea Melissa was a polygamist! I love polygamy! That’s great! Are you guys Mormon? I wish the LDS Church still practiced polygamy!”
Our long-time friend Hugh* butted in on the conversation and teasingly said to Sophie, “Stop encouraging them!” I bantered back by telling Joshua to spit in his food.
“I have so many questions for you!” Sophie went on. And she really did. She was interested and positive and was a good listener. Her response was amazingly supportive.
That moment of truth, that moment when an acquaintance learns about the polygamy, is bound to make or break a budding relationship. Some of my friendships have ended over the issue of polygamy; other potential friendships have never really gotten off the ground. Quite frankly, it could just as easily be a non-issue: I’m happy to be friends with people who are single, monogamous, or polygamous — why do so many people care which I am? There’s a lot more to me than the fact that my husband has another wife. I am grateful for those people in my life who haven’t let my polygamy get in the way of knowing me personally.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
About ten years ago, my husband and I bought our first house together. While I lived in that house, I planted trees and gardens. I bought furniture. I hosted events. I had a variety of houseguests. I put up pictures and had pets and houseplants. While I lived there I went from 1 child to 3 children and began homeschooling. I had a variety of Church callings and a good selection of friends and friendly neighbors. I was in living that house when my belief system about the LDS Church crumbled (although I stayed an active member for a number of years). I also gave birth in one of the bedrooms upstairs.
In that same bedroom, my husband and I first discussed the possibility of his marrying my best friend Melissa. (Short version: I could no longer ignore the spiritual experiences I was having regarding God’s will in the matter. Joshua and I had never talked about it before, but I opened the conversation with: “So, Joshua, are you going to marry Melissa?” His answer: “Well, I don’t know.” My shocked reply: “What do you mean you don’t know? I know!” Two days later he had his first conversation with Melissa about it; I think it’s fair to say the latter conversation was far more awkward than the former.)
A few weeks later, in that same upstairs bedroom, I announced to my husband my plan to essentially give the house to Melissa and her children and move with my children more than an hour away, in order for her teenagers to have the space they needed to finish growing up.
That very day, about 5 years ago, we packed up a single carload and I moved away from my trees and animals and gardens, most of my possessions, my friends and neighbors, and the only home most of my children had ever known.
Gradually, tediously, over months and many many many trips between the two houses, Melissa patiently helped me finish moving out of the house which was now, bewilderingly, hers. And she made that house her own, changing out the kitchen appliances and paint and window coverings and furniture and animals and gardens to better suit her preferences. She continued the arduous task of parenting children without their father. And she got used to being a plural wife.
Melissa has now lived in that house longer than I ever lived in it.
For 5 years, my children have had just one parent half the time. I tell you, it sure is a special treat for the kids when Baba walks in that front door after they’ve been stuck with only me for a couple of days. Two of our children don’t even remember life before their father was a polygamist. They don’t remember what it was like to eat dinner and have devotional with him every single night. They’ve developed habits such as asking me every couple of hours whether Baba will be here today, and writing things down they don’t want to forget to tell him.
For 5 years, my husband has had more than one carpool to get to his job. (It’s very confusing for his fellow carpoolers.) He’s had multiple houses and yards to maintain. He’s been forced to have duplicates of numerous things (including cars, lawn mowers, and property tax bills) so he can frequently seesaw between his two domiciles. And I can’t even count the number of times he’s needed something but has turned up empty-handed because the tool or other item was in a different county. He’s been like an unlucky stepchild, constantly going back-and-forth between two houses.
Over the last 5 years, all of us have had more difficulties than I care to list right now. We’ve also had a lot of personal growth and character-building, but I’ll save that for another time. I’d rather get to the good news.
For 5 years, Melissa has been finishing the job of turning children into adults. Her youngest is now 18 years old. He recently graduated from high school and is launching out on his own.
We are all ready for a big life change.
Melissa’s time in my old house is coming to a close.
Our husband will no longer need duplicates of so many things. He will get to come home to his entire family every evening. The children will get to see their Baba and their other mother daily. Melissa will have to do a lot less driving. And she and I get to begin a new phase of our relationship.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
What do you think? What big housing changes have you gone thru? If you were a polygamist, would you want to live all together in one house or live separately? Leave your comments below.
Throughout the Seeking Sister Wife episodes so far, Ashley Snowden frequently talks about how she and Dimitri are looking for a sisterwife “together.”
I remember when I thought plural marriage was going to be a team effort. I thought the 3 of us would spend all this time together. I definitely thought we would all live together. I saw the theoretical benefits of having another mom around to help with kids. I imagined that my husband having another wife might mean I would get more time alone with my husband (because my sisterwife could watch the kids, instead of me always taking care of the children and my husband and me never getting time alone as a couple). At one point I even fantasized that I would share Melissa’s (teenaged) children with her the same way she would share my little kids with me, that we’d all just be one big happy blended polygamous family.
Boy, was I wrong about all of that. I remember realizing that, no, I was going to be left out of plenty of things. It wasn’t going to work out for us to live together. I wasn’t going to get the benefits of another woman around to share the workload. I wasn’t going to be included in every event and every date and every decision. I wasn’t going to get more alone time with my husband while my sisterwife babysat my kids. And her teenagers certainly weren’t going to consider me their second mom (wow, was I naïve about stepchildren).
I’m not saying that to highlight the negative. I just see similarities between what happened in my family with Melissa, and what’s happening in Ashley’s family with Joselyn in episode 3.
Ashley is very much in control as the steps are taken to begin dating Joselyn — the setting up of the online profile, the checking of their dating website messages, the responses to Joselyn, etc….
Then, when Joselyn is coming to visit the Snowdens in person, Ashley insists that the first “date” be with both herself and Dimitri.
I’m not criticizing Ashley. I love how gung-ho she is about living in polygamy, and she’s one of my favorite people to watch on the show because she’s confident and well-spoken, and I think she and Dimitri are cute together. I just see so much of myself in her! I too was pushing and involved and confident and gung-ho, and I had this vision of how things were going to go, that we were going to do everything together.
And then my reality set in.
I don’t know. How Ashley’s family turns out will probably be different than how mine turned out. Perhaps her life will actually end up looking the way she currently envisions. I only know mine hasn’t, not at all, and there are a couple of moments in this episode that I watch and think, Oh, I know how she must be feeling!
One of the moments is when Dimitri suggests that he and Joselyn go on a date that evening, just the two of them, and Ashley stay home with the babies.
Of course this was going to happen at some point. But it seemed to catch Ashley off guard. Maybe she thought when it happened that it would be her idea? After hesitating, she responded with a not-so-confident, “[Of] course.”
Obviously my husband was going to spend time one-on-one with my future sisterwife as well. He had a relationship to develop with this new woman. But it was still a time of intense emotion for me, when the theoretical became real, very real, and I wasn’t always thrilled with how things were playing out.
Dimitri knows Ashley well, and in a scene outside the restaurant, he asks her several questions directly: “You’re not just, like, passively okay? You want me to go? You’re, like, cheerleading me to go on a date? Pom-poms, Team Snowden?”
And to each one, Ashley says, “You should know me by now.”
Dimitri concludes, “She makes the I’m-not-feeling-it face.”
I remember Joshua asking me if I was sure I was okay with what was happening. And I was absolutely convinced that I was doing what God told me to do, so I wasn’t about to change my mind, and I always answered, “Yes, yes, yes, I’m sure,” even when I was crying and didn’t know how to handle the strong feelings I was having. (My poor husband.)
Ashley does go on to say, “You go on your date. Have a great time.” This is her being brave. This is her trying to be supportive, staying the course, and holding in the emotions. The emotions are hers to sort out, not Dimitri’s.
I live in the house from Seasons 1 and 2 of Sister Wives. The house was built with a plural family in mind and has 6000 square feet with 3 separate “apartments,” all connected on the inside.
The 3 apartments have their own separate entrances, kitchens, laundry rooms, and master bedrooms, so each wife has her own space. But since they’re connected on the inside, to a plural family, it has many benefits of a single-family dwelling. (Technically — according to the city and the post office, for instance– it is a single-family dwelling, despite my talk of different “apartments”.)
They live in a ranch-style home that, although interconnected, is subdivided into three separate apartments that give each wife her own bedroom, kitchen and living space.
(By the way, the Sister Wives episodes stopped getting updated on that Wikipedia page a couple of years ago, so if you’re an avid watcher, maybe you should tackle the job of editing that page.)
One of the funny things about living here is that I get mail for Kody, Meri, Janelle, and Christine Brown on a regular basis. I’m sometimes tempted to see if anyone on eBay would like to buy it as an amusing souvenir, just like I’m tempted to save it up for a few days and upload to this post a photo of all of it, but both those things seem like an invasion of privacy that I wouldn’t like done to me (golden rule and all that), not to mention it might be illegal (USPS and all that), so I will refrain.
Another funny thing about living in this house is that every once in a while we’ll notice someone driving past really slowly with their phone/camera out. You can read one fan’s accounts of doing just that in this blog post. You could do the same, but you could also save yourself the trouble by just looking at this photo of the house on the Sister Wives Wikipedia page:
Or another option if you haven’t seen it yet: here is a 3-minute video from Sister Wives that will take you on a brief virtual tour.
The house was formerly only the 2 apartments on the right, but from what I understand, the man who owned it before Kody Brown added on the 3rd apartment.
One day, before we bought it from the Browns but after they had moved away from Utah, they were back at their Lehi house for a visit with some mutual friends and us, and some of their fans drove by. They knew the house and recognized their car as the Browns, so they decided to try their luck, and they stopped and got out. Joshua (my husband) was outside at the time, and he came inside to tell Kody and Meri some of their adoring fans wanted to meet them. Kody refused to go out and meet them — he said he didn’t want to encourage strangers to show up at his house, but he was happy to talk to fans when they saw him in public — but Meri was nice and went out to pose for a photo or give her autograph or whatever.
Shortly before we bought the Lehi house in the summer of 2016, the Browns filmed an episode here. I assume that episode was airing when he tweeted about the sale:
We don’t generally tell friends and acquaintances the history of the house before they come for a visit, but people occasionally recognize it when they arrive here for the first time.
Once, we were driving home from swimming lessons. My children and I were all dressed in our swimsuits and I didn’t have my cell phone or wallet. We saw a vegetable stand being run by a couple of boys, and I pulled over for just a minute to buy some cucumbers and jalapeños. (Since I didn’t have my wallet or purse, I could only spend as much as I had coins in my car’s ashtray. 🙂 ) When we buckled back in to drive away, my car wouldn’t start. The mom of one of the boys felt bad for me and gave all of us a ride home. (The vegetable-selling-boys felt sorry for as us well and gave us free jalapeños. 🙂 ) As I gave the woman the final step of driving directions to get to the Lehi house, she said, “Oh! That’s the Browns’ house! Do you know them? Are you renting it from them?”
That experience was kind of funny, and not an isolated incident. Another time, we gave some friends permission to host a charity yard sale here (the yard is big, there’s plenty of parking, and the city is more centrally-located than where they live) and one of the families that came from two counties away to support the yard sale recognized the house from the TV show.
I was texting with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years. I never told her I had become a polygamist in the meantime, and out of nowhere she asks if I was practicing polygamy. To this day she swears she knew it out of pure instinct (I think she credited her “womanly intuition”). Anyway, I confirmed she was right, and she told me she’d been watching Sister Wives for years and was slightly obsessed with polygamy (although she doesn’t want to live it), and I said, ha ha I actually live in Kody Brown’s old house. She and I had been trying to get together for ages and had never been able to make it work out, but the pull of seeing the Lehi house up-close-and-in-person was strong enough that she made the hour-plus drive to see me only 3 days after that texting conversation. 🙂
(If you wanted to see the inside of the Lehi house, one way you could invite yourself in would be to pretend you’re interested in Mormon fellowships and attend one of the church-y meetings we hold here most Sundays, which reminds me: a person or two who has shown up to the fellowship has recognized the Lehi house as well.)
So far I’ve been living here for about 18 months, and we haven’t lived here as a plural family yet, but I’ve still loved living in a house like this one, and I’m constantly baffled that more people (monogamous or polygamous) don’t build houses with similar layouts. The other people that live here and I are able to be supportive of each other without having to go through the difficulties of sharing living space. Over the holidays, we had a couple of out-of-town families stay here, and they were able to come and go between the 3 apartments as they wished, depending on whom they wanted to visit and what they wanted to do.
Other things I like about living here:
Janelle’s old apartment has an 800-square-foot kitchen that we’ve stashed lots of tables and chairs in, which we often use for events (such as our weekly fellowship, family parties, and our celebrations of the Biblical feasts whenever we extend the invitation beyond our immediate family).
The lot size is slightly more than an acre, so there’s plenty of room for what we want to do with the land. (1 acre might not sound like a ton of land if you’re a farmer, but it’s the biggest piece of land I’ve ever owned.) So far there are some fruit trees, a shed, a garden, a “forest” for the kids to play in, a big yard with a sprinkling system, 2 back decks, and a parked family member’s school bus, which is slowly being converted into an RV.
The driveway fits 7 or 8 cars, depending on how poorly everyone parks. 🙂
Right across the street is a field with horses, which in my opinion make excellent neighbors.
Even though it feels rural here, we’re within 5 minutes of the freeway, our bank, and our main shopping locations.
The apartments my family doesn’t currently need have been pretty easy to rent out to extended family/friends.
The neighbors are sympathetic to plural families, which is extremely nice.
Note: I’ve never actually watched Sister Wives, so please forgive any errors about the TV show. Feel free to leave a comment correcting anything I got wrong.