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Some men entered plural marriage because they were asked to do so by Church leaders, while others initiated the process themselves; all were required to obtain the approval of Church leaders before entering a plural marriage.
The passage of time shaped the experience of life within plural marriage.
Church leaders recognized that plural marriages could be particularly difficult for women.
Plural marriage had never been encouraged outside of concentrated populations of Latter-day Saints.Still, some patterns are discernible, and they correct some myths.Although some leaders had large polygamous families, two-thirds of polygamist men had only two wives at a time.To help their husbands avoid prosecution, plural wives often separated into different households or went into hiding under assumed names, particularly when pregnant or after giving birth.
By 1890, when President Woodruff’s Manifesto lifted the command to practice plural marriage, Mormon society had developed a strong, loyal core of members, mostly made up of emigrants from Europe and the Eastern United States.
Believing these laws to be unjust, Latter-day Saints engaged in civil disobedience by continuing to practice plural marriage and by attempting to avoid arrest.