July 14, 2024

CEU student grows up within the misunderstood polygamist culture

This archived article was written by: Heather Myers

CEU is the home of many cultures from all over the world. One of the most interesting, however, comes from right here in Utah. There is a student who attends CEU and grew up in a polygamist group.
For the sake of privacy she will be referred to as Carlie, but please keep in mind that this is not her real name.
She grew up with 12 people in a four-bedroom home, her father only has one wife but other members of her family have more. She has three brothers and six sisters. Carlie enjoyed growing up in the situation she was in, “It’s a really good way to grow up; you don’t have so many of the horrible things that you do in other places.” Growing up Carlie never did most of the things other kids did. She never played video games or watched actual television; she watched old movies with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and listened to old music.
There is no pressure on Carlie to get married right away and she feels that college is a good thing for her. Her religious group is all about free agency and the right to choose, but if you want to date someone it is a bit of a process.
When a man wants to pursue a woman, he talks to first his wife, if he is married, then to a religious leader, then to the woman’s father. The father talks to the woman and if all parties have prayed about it and feel it is right then there can be a date. Carlie likes this way of dating; she feels it is safer than normal dating and points out that the divorce rate in her group is very low.
If the relationship gets to the point of marriage, there are obvious legal issues if the man already has a wife. There are always vows exchanged, but after the first wife there is no documentation of the marriage. Sometimes it is just an exchange of vows, and sometimes there is a whole big wedding.
There are things to take into consideration when a man has more than one wife. In Carlie’s group there are two basic ways that the family lives: either they have one big house with several bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms; or they have several houses and the husband will equally divide his time between all of them. To support these large families the wives usually have part-time jobs and husbands generally work. There is a factory within this particular group that many of the people work in and no matter what your job is; your salary is based on the size of your family.
There can get to be quite a few people living in a house in this group and according to Carlie, people generally get along. The wives do not fight much since the first wife (or wives) has to approve if the husband wants to get married again. The children will call the other wives “Auntie” or “Mama” whatever the woman’s name is. “It’s a great environment; you have a ton of playmates and friends,” said Carlie about kids that grow up with many brothers and sisters (or half brothers and sisters as the case may be).
Carlie would like to point out that there are many misconceptions about polygamy. Her group doesn’t have any form of underage marriage or incest, and no one is forced into anything. “There are always going to be people that do things for the wrong reasons, but for the most part the people in my group live polygamy because they believe they are doing the right thing.”