Q&A #3

Briney kids (Laurelei, Benjamin, Josiah, Noah, Evelia, Malachi, and Lenny) with Gma B

How do you like living in the Ozarks? Are you on a farm? What [part] are of the state do you live?

We love Missouri, bugs excepted. We live in a rural area away from the limelight where hopefully, we don’t draw much attention to ourselves. So far, that doesn’t include a farm, though we see horses outside our window and we get fresh cow’s milk to drink daily (trolls: spare us the hate/health comments about that – we’ll just delete and ignore them).

Coming to Missouri felt like coming home. Hard to explain. While virtual strangers were housing us, we felt at home before we ever found homes of our own.

We found people with common beliefs and similar backgrounds whose hearts are so big that we couldn’t help but feel welcome. I mean, where else in the world could you move into a community where you knew no one personally where they would shelter you, feed you, and help get you established in the community?

How many children did April take when she left?

Six. Five still live with her.

What do you feel it will take for polygamy to be legalized in the U.S.?

Two decades.

Our family doesn’t seek legalization. We only seek decriminalization. If it becomes legalized, that’s fine, but it’s not our goal. The answer you may be searching for, however, is more political than legal. Polygamists live in an odd little universe.

That is, many liberals are more accepting of our lifestyle than conservatives, but liberals don’t agree with our conservative ideologies. Some few very vocal liberals want to eradicate our lifestyle altogether because they’ve seen media coverage of nasty, abusive, “patriarchal” families. It’s no longer PC to have a traditional, Christian family in the first place so a man living with multiple wives doesn’t fit in with some political agendas. Meanwhile, conservatives are often antagonistic against us for our religious views, despite the fact that we consider ourselves Christians. It’s bizarre and it’s part of the reason why polygamists often isolate themselves in whatever community they are in.

Until America finds a more libertarian balance, polygamy will remain extra-legal or illegal. Some liberals will oppose it because they assume a man must abuse his wives if there are more than one. Many conservatives will oppose it because they think it’s unbiblical. As long as constitutional interpretations are bound to one of these two ideologies, polygamy will not be made “legal.”

How do you cultivate your relationships with one another? Also how do you resolve conflict?

Great question. Communication is the key to both in my opinion. I try, in every facet of life, to find true principle. I ask myself: what principle should guide this decision? this relationship? this task? Then, I try (but often fail) to apply that principle. Communication is always at the heart of the answer with relationships, whether it is with a child or a spouse. Joseph Smith said that when he taught his followers true principles, they governed themselves. That’s how I try to lead my family – teach correct principles, let them govern themselves.

We also go swimming at the lake, eat meals together, share “Happy Things” each evening, attend church meetings together, attend youth leadership classes together, we do family work projects at least once a week (Auralee and her kids often do more), etc.

Resolving conflict? I only know one way to resolve conflict. Repent of what I do wrong, forgive others for what they do wrong, and move on. If everyone does that, everything gets resolved. When someone fails in any one of those steps, conflict remains. As individuals, we cannot force someone else to repent or to forgive someone else or to move on, so we have to focus on what we can do: teach and pray and wait for change.

Do you do one on one activities with your children? Or is it usually all s group?

Both. Most activities are as a group, just like any other large family, but one-on-one moments scatter themselves throughout our lives as well.

Do you regret going public?

Yes, but only for reasons I explained earlier. We may have done more harm than good. If that is the case, I deeply regret going public. If my mortal eyes perceive that incorrectly and we did more good than harm, I have no regrets.

I’m not big on regrets. I see most things in life as a valuable experience where there is always something to learn. Most people do the best they can with the knowledge and tools they are working with at the time. Hindsight is often 20/20. So I feel like to have regrets is being really hard on yourself when your regret comes from new information after the fact, or perspective you couldn’t gain at the time.

That said, the aftermath of going public was not really a fun experience 😉

Are the moms stay at home moms? Or do they bring in financially ?

Since career transitioning took a wild left turn last year, they’ve been trying to work more from home, but the priority is the children so as soon as I get my act back together, they can work less. I partnered with a friend of mine to start a new woodworking business that is looking very promising. I’ll post progress on our family page soon.

I build beautiful websites from home through my company Uplevel Yours and help clients with list building and marketing. I also have my online baby store Lenny & Me where I sell non-toxic, organic clothes, toys, and gear.

Auralee teaches voice lessons both locally and over the internet for people around the country.

Did you all follow the same religion in the beginning?

See our FAQ page. Auralee grew up fundamentalist Mormon. April grew up mainstream Mormon. I grew up without religion, converted Mormon, converted fundamentalist Mormon. Angela grew up Catholic, converted Christian, converted Mormon, and then fundamentalist Mormon.

I see my conversions as a rung above the next on a ladder. A big misperception out there is that Mormons aren’t Christians. I never had to reject Christ or any true Christian belief to embrace Mormonism. Mormonism embraces Christianity and offers deeper insights into gospel doctrines and principles.

What is the most difficult thing about living polygamy as a husband? As a wife?

Time management and learning that you’re unable to fulfill everyone’s needs. In reality, that is every husband’s challenge and sooner or later, we all learn that or die in ignorance. It’s just more prominent in plural marriage and so we discover that lesson quicker than monogamist men. In order to be a “successful” husband, you have to try harder and try with more persistence to meet everyone’s needs the best you can.

If you’re worn out or weary, you have to trudge forward with everything you have regardless of how difficult it is. Some men break from the pressure and abandon their families (not many). Others slowly grow complacent with life and move into survival mode, only doing whatever is necessary to get food and bare minimums on the table. Everyone else grows. It’s harder than people imagine – especially when we try to allow all of our wives to stay at home with the children instead of working (not all families do this, but some of us do – until Angela came along, that’s how we always did things).

Stereotypes suggest the husband is just a sexually overcharged man looking for a way to justify his actions. That never made sense to me and no one living my religion believes that. Frankly, no thoughtful person could ever believe that. Having an affair is easy – go look at the statistics. Hypersexuality has many easier and better ways of fulfilling itself. Ockham’s Razor tells us that polygamy is not the go-to answer here. We believe in having large families and with that comes tremendous responsibility and relentless resolve. If I’m not constantly growing and pushing myself to be better and to manage my time better, and to love more purely, my family and I start struggling either spiritually or financially or emotionally.

As the family grows, so must I. That’s the toughest thing.

One of the hardest things for me has been how to handle everyone’s perceptions and approach to life. We all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles. We all have different ideas of what is ideal. We all have different hopes and expectations and how we want things to look. And we all think our way is the best way!!! It’s hard enough finding one partner in life to align with in these ways… The struggle is multiplied greatly with multiple adults.

Another very hard thing for me has been to face myself. You may get along just great in life monogamously. Your partner may easily overlook your weaknesses to the point of you not even knowing you have them. But when you get into a plural situation, that is not likely going to happen! You see where you are a common denominator. You also see where others are a common denominator and watch yourself as you figure out how to deal with that! Plural marriage ain’t for the birds. It’s a massive refiner’s fire.

Going to Yellowstone and SLC next week, any dining recommendations?

I’m sure we’re late in answering this but … Café Rio. That’s the restaurant we miss the most from Utah. Great Mexican food.

What are your hobbies??? Where’s your favorite vacation spot ??? Do y’all still camp now that y’all are in the mountain

Well, I’ve mostly abandoned my hobbies. Life is too busy, though I occasionally dabble in hobbies. I was a music major. I played all saxophones, clarinets, flutes, penny whistles, piano, etc. I haven’t really played much of anything in years until recently (my mom – featured in the picture above – bought me an electric bass – so I’ve been learning bass). I love to draw, but rarely draw. I juggle once in a while. I write religious books. I lift weights 5-6x a week (but mostly for medical reasons – I was convincingly told by a doctor that if I didn’t keep lifting weights, I’d become crippled from my back injuries). When I miss a day or two, I feel it, so I try not to miss any days.

Like Drew, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies anymore. But in the past they have been riding horses in the Utah mountains, painting portraits (expressive), writing, and lots of reading. I’m making more time in my life to read again – that is nice!

My favorite place I’ve ever vacationed was in Tortola, a British Virgin Island. It was untouched by tourism. It was pristinely clean and pure and no one else was around. Ahhh…

I don’t think I’ve been camping since we filmed that Seeking Sister Wife episode!

Is there going to be another season on TLC

They’re casting season 3 … we won’t be on it.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years from now? How is the writing coming?

We’ll be in Missouri ten years from now!

I used to have many goals, dream boards, etc. Since April so dramatically changed all of that, my head has been mostly in the present. Visualizing ten years from now is a bit challenging when everything I envisioned a year ago has been dramatically altered.

That said, as a family, I see us both growing bigger and smaller. Some kids will be grown, others will be new, maybe from a new wife.

I expect to have transitioned full-time to writing novels ten years from now – or, more likely, five years from now. I just need to continue growing my audience. I’ve grown my fan base one-hundred times bigger than it was when April left, despite all of life’s challenges, so when I do that again, I’ll be comfortably writing full time.

My last novel, Unproven, was compared to Ursula Le Guin (Harry Potter’s biggest influence), Elaine Cunningham (queen of dark fantasy and Forgotten Realms and one of my favorite authors), and Fydor Dostoevsky (psychological godfather of Crime and Punishment, the Brothers Karamazov). It also hit #1 bestseller during a promotion, despite some personal setbacks that kept me from marketing it like it needed. It’s audiobook debut has been very successful so far, though my narrator hasn’t been as well-loved as the narrator for my other books.

I wrote a novella after Unproven, but because of the divorce drama and filming, I never properly marketed it. That said, it’s had many thousand downloads and has helped to grow my fanbase significantly. Sadly, I’m only 60k words into my next novel, but I think life is calming down enough that I’ll finish it early 2020 if I don’t write a sequel to my novella first.

That’s it! We answered all of your questions from Facebook and (I, Drew believe) Instagram as well. God bless you all.

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