Love Times Three
by Joe, Alina, Vicki, and Valerie Darger

Love Times Three coverReading and Discussion Guide

  1. The four authors were raised in polygamous families and always desired a similar lifestyle for themselves and their children. How have you followed in the steps of your parents and ancestors or made a conscious break with their way of life?
  2. What did you find to be the most shocking part of Joe’s simultaneous courtship of Vicki and Alina? Can you imagine being in their shoes? What would have been the most challenging aspect for you?
  3. Valerie’s first polygamous marriage is a real-life example of the common misconception that polygamy involves a man taking on more than he can handle. And yet, despite her failed first marriage, Valerie still wanted to pursue polygamy. Can you relate to her desire to continue to embrace the lifestyle?
  4. “Hugh Hefner’s lifestyle is celebrated in popular culture and featured on television shows, but how is his living with three girlfriends at a time more acceptable than our choice to build a family together?” (p. 280) What do you think of this comparison? Why do you think Hugh Hefner is accepted while polygamists are not?
  5. It’s hard to imagine having two sister wives, let alone having your own sister join the family. How does Vicki and Valerie’s story make their unconventional marriage even more unique?
  6. The Dargers are not immune to the tragic turns of life, and the heartbreaking account, in chapter 6, of the death of their baby daughter Kyra allows a poignant glimpse into their family. This event, more than any other, prompted them to go public. Can you relate to their desire to decriminalize polygamy so as to spare another family from having to face this kind of scrutiny in the midst of a tragedy? How has a difficult situation in your life prompted you to make a change?
  7. One of the most frequent questions the Dargers get about their lifestyle is how Joe handles three separate sexual relationships under one roof. Did Joe answer all your questions in the chapter called “Love Times Three”? Do you agree that “there are much easier and cheaper ways for a man to get sex than promising to love, support, and care for multiple women in a spiritually based, committed marriage” (p. 188)?
  8. The Dargers choose to live the polygamous lifestyle due to their religious conviction. What other lifestyle choices do religious people make that elicit criticism and dissent? Have you ever been persecuted for a belief or practice?
  9. With twenty-four children, the Darger household needs to be a tightly run ship. What would be the benefits of having such a large family? The costs?
  10. Throughout the book, the Dargers argue that the members of the family really aren’t that different from average Americans. After reading this book, do you agree? Did you relate to one Darger better than the others? If you met them walking down the street, what would you say to them?
  11. The Dargers compare their quest to decriminalize polygamy to the push for equal marriage rights, but they stress that they are not trying to legalize polygamy. Do you understand this distinction? In our world of “alternative lifestyles,” is there room for this kind of family? Do you think the comparison to same-sex marriage rights is appropriate?
  12. What drew you to read this book? Did it provide the answers you were looking for? How did your conception of polygamy change after reading the Dargers’ account?