Every third night, Marina Morrison forces herself not to go to bed until after 1am. Otherwise, she risks having to hear her husband, Abel, making love to another woman in the apartment upstairs, in a bedroom directly above her own. “It’s a real struggle for me,” 23-year-old Marina admits. “But I’m trying to overcome my insecurity and move forward.”
While Marina may find the situation challenging, it is also what she has signed up for. She is Abel’s third wife, and shares him with her “sister wives”, Suzie, 36, who lives upstairs, and Beth, 37, who has the apartment next door.
The complete family.
The Morrisons – four adults and 12 children – live together at Rockland Ranch. It’s a community of 15 fundamentalist Mormon families, almost half of whom practise polygamy, in a remote corner of Utah. The Rock, as it is known, was founded in the 1970s by Bob Foster, a teacher who had three wives and fathered 38 children
He and his first wife, Suzie, met as teenagers. Both had grown up in polygamous families close to Salt Lake City. “I didn’t want to marry anyone who did not care to live plural marriage,” says Suzie, a trainee nurse. Just 18 months into their marriage, Suzie suggested that her friend Beth – who had also grown up in a polygamous family – might join them. And then, five years ago, that Marina, then just 18, might be a suitable candidate to expand their family further.
Abel Switches Between His Three Wives
“The first year was hell,” Marina says, with impressive candour. “I hear that the first year of any marriage is hard, but I was dealing with my husband having two other relationships, and loads of kids already. I wasn’t able to have that newly-wed time with him, and I was really young. I had all these emotions and I didn’t know how to process the stuff I was going through.
She found it tough not least because it was deemed sensible that, as she quickly fell pregnant with her first child, Marina should become –— temporarily at least — stay-at-home mum to all the other Morrison children. Allowing Beth to work in a local bank and Suzy to continue training as a nurse.
“I would text Abel while he was on his regular date night with Beth or Suzie, and that would cause problems,” she recalls. “I really regret that now, but I couldn’t grasp how he could love me equally when he was already loving two other women.
Motherhood has helped. “I didn’t think I could love anyone as much as I loved my daughter,” she recalls. Nicole is now two and a half. “Then, when I had my son [Ian, now nine months], I suddenly understood what Abe had been trying to get me to see. that love is not a limited amount, but that it can grow; my heart could expand.”