Apparently, “sacred loneliness” isn’t just another term Kody has made up on the fly.
Sacred Loneliness is the title of a 1997 book(affiliate link) by Todd Compton about Mormonism Joseph Smith’s 33 wives and the troubled lives they led.
Jospehy’s Smith’s first wife Emma came to be strongly against polygamy, and as the years wore on Joseph continued to marry increasingly younger women. A third of his wives were teen girls between 14 and 20 years old when he married them. The book was about how these dozens of women endured loneliness in many forms but continued in the lifestyle because of their faith.
Not only did they not see their husband that often, but they were also often socially isolated from their community because they had to hide the fact that they were married. The emotional toil of being in a multiple marriage also contributes to the loneliness, and they often felt sexually frustrated as well. After Joseph’s death, their loneliness only increased, and one of his wives joined a convent.
Kody brings up “sacred loneliness” while discussing plural divorce with his friend and business partner Nathan Dilts, who is also Meri’s brother-in-law. Nathan has been through a polygamist divorce as well.
His second wife, who was a childhood friend of his wife Rebecca, decided that the plural marriage lifestyle wasn’t for her.
“It took me several years, many years, to get to sort of equilibrium,” Nathan says. “But even now that I feel like that I’m somewhat more in balance, it’s a new equilibrium. I’m not the same person.”
Nathan said that he was so focused on his own bitterness and anger that he didn’t realize how much his wife was hurting too because she’d lost a longtime friend.
Kody relates this to Robyn’s suffering over the loss of her sister wives and their children. “Robyn’s feeling the ultimate rejection,” Kody says.
Ruby says that she’s dealing with depression during this “heartbreaking situation.”
While talking to Nathan, Kody points out that men in plural marriage struggle to recognize how much suffering women can go through in plural marriage, which he calls “sacred loneliness.”
Nathan doesn’t seem quite agree that this is a universal truth for men to dismiss women’s perspectives, which may speak to their different experiences. It seems like Kody’s just now acknowledging a lot of difficult truths about their lifestyle that others have already been aware of.
In the talking head interviews, Kody explains that the term “sacred loneliness” refers to the fact that a plural wife’s husband isn’t around as much.
Christine laughs incredulously when she hears about “sacred loneliness,” and Meri says that she’s never heard of the term before and thinks it’s “stupid.”
Christine takes it to mean that you’re supposed to “honor the fact that you’re lonely,” and finds the idea to be hilarious.
Janelle, however, seems to be familiar and knowledgable about it. Janelle says “sacred loneliness” is “the idea that you sacrifice some of your emotional needs because you want to live plural marriage. She’s heard about it before, but she also thinks it’s “dumb.”
Meri points out that Kody’s been talking more recently about how hard polygamy is for women, and she thinks it’s odd that he’s only now coming to this realization.