By SEAN DOOLEY
In many ways the Dargers are like any other large family in America, with one big exception — in this house there are three moms and one Dad.
Joe, Alina, Vicki and Val Darger are fundamentalist Mormons who adhere to their faith’s tenet of polygamy. Their beliefs stipulate that having multiple wives and many children are the keys to a higher place in heaven.
In Utah, where the Dargers live, polygamy is illegal and the family risks prosecution by going public. The Dargers say they’re stepping out of the shadows because they want to correct misconceptions about polygamy, including misconceptions about how their plural marriage works.
Just like any other marriage, one key to keeping the relationships vibrant are regular date nights. For Joe Darger, though, that means three regular date nights and managing the bouts of jealousy that this arrangement can create among his wives.
“You try to even it out,” Joe Darger said. “If I’ve been out twice with Vicki and haven’t gotten any dates in with Alina or Val, then certainly they will let me know about it.”
During a visit by “20/20,” it was Vicki’s turn for a romantic night out with Joe, leaving Alina and Val home to tend to the Dargers’ 24 children. After getting the little ones off to bed, Alina and Val settled in for their own treat of ice cream, chocolate ganache and girl talk — a consolation prize of sorts.
“Vicki and Joe are out so we’re just going to have our own fun here,” Val Darger said. “Take some time to have a treat the kids don’t partake in and have adult talk and mommy time.”
We took the opportunity to ask Alina and Vicki how their unique marriage works.
The women refer to each other as sister wives, comparing the relationship to a sister that they have chosen to share every aspect of their lives with — from their home, to the raising of their children, to their husband.
“In order to live with each other the way we do, sharing the same husband, we have to communicate with each other and put a heck of a lot of work into the relationship,” Alina Darger said. “This is a conscious choice that we’ve made to be in this relationship and so we choose to work together.”
But all the communication in the world cannot stop the inevitable feelings of jealousy that arise when one of the wives seems to get a better date than the other two.
“I’ve definitely felt slighted, or like it wasn’t important enough to take me somewhere nicer and I’ve been offended,” Val Darger said.
In the end, the Darger wives say it is their commitment to living as one family and trust that ultimately smoothes over those hurt feelings.
“Always it comes back to trusting that we all want for each other what we want for ourselves,” Val Darger said.
Watch the full story on “20/20″ Friday at 10 p.m. ET.