Twin sisters Vicki and Valerie Darger have many things in common, from their dress sense to their hair color. The 42-year-old identical twins share more than just their looks, they are also both married to the same man. They are married to Joe, 43, who also has a third wife, Alina.
Alina also happens to be Vicki and Valerie’s cousin. The Darger family are part of a fundamentalist group of Mormons in Slat Lake City, Utah. They live together in a large home and take care of 24 children.
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Vicki, who is a housewife, has been married to Joe for 22 years. Valerie joined the family as the third wife back in 2000. According to their religion, they are allowed to be married to the same man.
Each wife has her own bedroom, and Joe divides his time with each of them. Valerie and Alina work in the family cleaning business. When asked about her marriage, Alina says, “The fact that Joe was married to Vicki didn’t bother me at all. I took it as a sign he would be a good husband for me as well. As teenagers, Vicki and I liked some of the same guys. I thought it might even be good if we married the same man.”
Vicki adds, “I know that some people are uncomfortable at the thought of two sisters sharing a husband. But there’s a good chance if a husband is compatible with one sister, he’ll be well matched with another.”
Joe was only 18 when he began to date both Vicki and Alina. The three of them married in a joint Mormon ceremony in 1990. The day after their religious ceremony, Alina became Joe’s legal wife when they married at a different legal ceremony. Vicki acted as a witness.
Even in the polygamous community, joint courtships are rare. The accepted way is for a couple to enjoy a monogamous marriage before taking on other wives.
After being married for 10 years, Vicki and Alina encouraged Joe to start pursuing a relationship with Vicki’s twin, Valerie. At that time, Valerie had just come out of a divorce from an older man who had six wives.
It was during one evening when Valerie and her children were visiting the Darger family that Valerie felt a spark of chemistry with Joe. Joe also admitted feeling a connection to Valerie, but it was awkward since she was Vicki’s twin. Then Vicki herself made him comfortable with the idea.
Alina was also on board with adding Valerie to the family. She loved and cared for her and just wanted her to be happy.
Joe and Valerie were married in a Mormon ceremony in their home. The Dargers have attempted to keep their polygamous marriage a secret. They were even investigated by state authorities.
It was only two years ago that the family decided to talk about their unique relationship to spread awareness of plural marriage. Polygamy is illegal in all 50 US states, but practitioners are rarely prosecuted unless there is evidence of abuse, rape, welfare fraud, or tax evasion.
The Darger family have written a book titled Love Times Three. They hope to minimize the stigma associated with their lifestyle and religion by telling their story.
Joe says, “We hope that by talking about our way of life, polygamy will step closer to being an accepted lifestyle and the laws that criminalize it might change.”