Ever since the TLC show Sister Wives began I wanted to live like that! I wasn’t interested in the belief system, though I respect their religion, or to be married to one man and share him, but I wanted the sense of community they have. When the show started in 2010, they lived under one roof and spoke about the siblings growing up together and having three moms. They also mentioned there were boundaries. One mother saw a chair out of a window and instead of directly speaking to the teen who snuck out, told their mother to have them deal with it.
About that same time, I heard about cohousing so I could join a community without having to marry into one. In the latest season a lot has changed. First, the husband, Cody, added a fourth wife and more children that come with a new marriage. The family had to rush to move to Las Vegas to escape prosecution in Utah for polygamy since they went public with the show. Then, in the most recent seasons, they have moved to Flagstaff, AZ since Sin City was living up to it’s name and they didn’t want that influence on their children.
Now, when I watch the show I understand their language. The husband wants to move under one roof but the wives remember how “interesting” it was to share a kitchen. They talk about dealing with your own crap and conflict with others to become a better person. That’s how people talk in cohousing!
The family reminisces living in Las Vegas in a cul de sac. For some it was the perfect mix of family time and private time. However, others feel it started the separation feel – they could easily hide in their own homes instead of dealing with each other. Obviously, the cul de sac was exactly like cohousing – each has privacy in their own home. Other intentional communities do share everything – one house, one kitchen, etc.
The sister wives talk a lot about what makes them feel together as one family. The shared kitchen versus individual houses. It reminds me of how intentional cohousing communities (minus retrofits) are formed – common houses and kitchens and pedways and porches that look onto the pedway so you have to interact with your neighbors. The sister wives noticed that the more spontaneous interactions, the better the glue was for their family.
In the latest season, they are building a new house or houses on a piece of land. Again, it is exactly like cohousing. Cody is amazed how long it takes to move the dirt, build the infrastructure, and then begin the actual house building. They also have to sell their houses in Vegas so they can have the money for the houses. Exactly like cohousing. Members have to put the money down and some sell their previous houses first so they can build. It takes a long time to get all the permits and perfect weather to build the neighborhood.
Lastly, the Browns (their last name) are struggling living in separate houses all over Flagstaff. They are feeling less like one family every day. It is the opposite of cohousing. We all live separate and meet monthly, or more, excited to build and live together. We get to know each other but then really get to know each other once we move in.
I love the show and have friended one of them on Facebook so I can buy her LuLaRoe dresses since I love them after buying them from a former cohousing neighbor who no longer speaks to me. I wish their family the best and will continue to watch the reality show but now feel like an insider. And I didn’t need to marry to get in, though leaving does feel like a divorce.