'Sister Wives': Where Kody Brown's Marriages Stand With Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn
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With multiple wives, 18 kids, a catfish scandal, a separation, and two divorces, Sister Wives definitely has its fair share of drama. The TLC reality series following polygamist Kody Brown and his wives, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Brown, wrapped season 17 with a shocking bombshell announcement that Kody and Janelle are officially separated after almost 30 years of marriage.
But the news didn't stop there. After all but confirming the end of their marriage during the show's subsequent One-on-One special, Meri and Kody released a joint statement on Jan. 10 confirming that they were "permanently terminating" their marriage after more than 32 years together.
Though the 53-year-old TV personality and salesman assured ET in February 2021 that "there will never be a fifth wife," understanding the status of his current marriages can still be a challenge given recent events.
Here ET breaks down where Kody stands with his four wives:
As Kody's first wife, Meri and Kody married in April 1990. They share 27-year-old child, Leon Brown. The pair had a strong relationship until Meri's 2015 catfishing scandal in which she entered into an online relationship with someone she thought to be a man but who turned out to be a woman. The couple went to therapy in the aftermath and later revealed that they have not been intimate or lived together in more than a decade.
"I miss physical intimacy with him," Meri admitted in a January 2022 reunion episode of Sister Wives.
"I'm not going to ever be in a conjugal relationship with her because I'm not going to go through that emotional torture ever again," Kody said. "There's a point where intimacy is just damage."
Kody added that he would never feel "safe" being intimate with Meri again, noting that it wasn't the catfishing that led him to this decision, but rather that the catfishing "woke me up" to this truth.
On season 17 of Sister Wives, Meri opened up about her decision to stay married to Kody despite the fact that he's no longer interested in a relationship with her.
"My strength is sticking around and seeing if Kody would be willing to work on a relationship," Meri said in a November 2022 episode. "So I leave that door open, but I'm not pining away for it."
During that same season, Kody revealed, "I don't really consider myself married to Meri. If she wanted to move on and marry another, she wouldn't get an argument with me. I don't believe that we can ever be functional and I don't believe that I will ever be emotionally safe with her."
Meri reacted to Kody's statement during the show's One-on-One tell-all special, stating, "It just doesn't make sense to me."
"He just made the decision. I never heard him say that to me," Meri said, and when asked if she was still married to Kody, she said that he had made the decision for her. "I would [reconcile]. I definitely would. But I don't think he's interested."
On Jan. 10, 2023, Kody and Meri released a joint statement confirming the end of their marriage.
"In light of a recent unapproved press release, we feel compelled to share our own truth, in our own way, and in our own timing," the former couple wrote at the time. "After more than a decade of working on our relationship in our own unique ways, we have made the decision to permanently terminate our marriage relationship."
The exes noted in their statement that they are "committed to kindness and respect toward each other and to all members of our family."
Meri captioned the post on her Instagram, "Today I reclaim my power."
Despite her comments in the One-on-One special, Meri claimed that she was not confirming the end of their marriage at the time.
"The information, content, and timing was inaccurate and was based on a highly edited version of events that had been filmed months prior," Meri wrote. "In the months since the taping of those interviews, Kody and I have had many open and honest discussions that have led to our announcement today."
Meri added that there is "so much more to be told" and assured her fans she would do so.
"For now, know that there is peace in my heart, and I hold no animosity toward Kody. I am not, and pray that I never will be, in a place where I will enjoy making, or seeing you make, rude and demeaning comments about him," she said.
Janelle and Kody tied the knot in January 1993, marking Kody's second marriage. Janelle had previously been married to Adam Barber -- Meri's brother -- from 1988 to 1990. She and Kody share six kids together.
In the trailer for the upcoming One-on-One special, Janelle and Kody both confirmed that they are officially separated after almost 30 years of marriage. The strain on their relationship was documented on this past season of Sister Wives as Janelle lent her support to Christine amid her divorce from Kody and struggled with being put in the middle of Kody's fractured relationship with their older children, particularly, sons Gabriel and Garrison.
"It basically feels like I'm being forced to choose between my children and this group. I don't feel like my children are welcome," Janelle explained in the season 17 finale of the TLC reality series.
In the One-on-One special, Kody shared, "Janelle has made it pretty clear to me that she's enjoying her life without me."
Janelle admitted to being torn between her faith and doing what she wants when it comes to her marriage.
"I'm not waiting for him," she said of her estranged husband. "I think it could be there, but it would require so much change on both our parts so I don't know. Part of me thinks, 'OK, my religion requires that you continue to make a marriage work.' And I deeply believe in my faith. I have been so much at peace that I don't know how to reconcile that. So that's where my debate with myself is all the time because I know I'm happy. I don't want him to come back, but my faith requires that we are married eternally."
Host Sukanya Krishnan asked Janelle of her marriage, "So the door's still open?"
She replied, "It has to be, but I'm not interested in having anyone walk through that door."
As for Kody, he said in the special that he still "loves" Janelle and "absolutely" wants to make things work with her.
"I want to fix it, yes, but that's a whole new negotiation," he said. "We're in a new place. Christine's left. Janelle likes her. That's like, why couldn't you have been good sister wives when you were sister wives? That's such a mess."
Christine became Kody's third wife in 1994 and she shares six kids with him. But in November 2021, Christine announced her decision to divorce her ex after a difficult few years.
At the time, Christine said in a statement, "Kody and I have grown apart and I have made the difficult decision to leave," noting that they will "continue to be a strong presence in each other's lives as we parent our beautiful children and support our wonderful family."
Kody also released a statement saying, "Christine's decision to leave comes with a great deal of sadness. We enjoyed many years together and I have a large amount of respect and admiration for her. Although we are moving forward on different paths, we will always remain committed parents."
Fans got to see the split play out on season 17 of the TLC show as Christine became increasingly independent in recent seasons, distancing herself from Kody and his other wives. Due to the fact that she and Kody were "spiritually married" and Christine no longer considers herself to be a polygamist, she has since declared that they are divorced.
Christine has since noted that she plans to only enter into monogamous relationships from here on out.
Christine and her daughter, Truely, have relocated to Utah to be closer to her other kids and her parents. In October 2022, she opened up to ET about her new life in Utah.
"I'm single now, right? So I kind of just decide what I want to do and then do it. It's been just very, very simple," she shared at the time. "Everything's just a lot easier as far as just planning and day-to-day life."
She also added that since leaving Kody she feels "more confident" like an "enormous weight has been lifted."
As for whether or not she will remain on the show, Christine said she has no plans to leave despite no longer being married to Kody.
"I made a promise to Kody and everybody else that I would stay in Sister Wives as long as we have the show just to be fair," she said. "It's what our family's been doing for so long. I feel like it would be disloyal if I decided to not be part of the show."
She added that much of what she's filming will be of her time with Janelle.
"So as far as Sister Wives goes, I'll still be doing things with Janelle quite regularly," Christine said, adding of a potential spin-off, "As far as a spin-off, dude, I'm totally open, no idea what it looks like, but absolutely, that'd be just fun as heck."
Though Kody considered himself to be "spiritually married" to his four wives through the years, he has only been legally married to Robyn since 2014. The couple tied the knot in May 2010. They share three children and Robyn has three more children from a previous marriage to David Jessop. Kody's desire to adopt Robyn's three children from her previous marriage was ultimately the reason that Kody and Meri got legally divorced in 2014 and Kody and Robyn legally married that same year.
One big point of contention within the plural family tends to be the other three wives' (past and present) relationship with Robyn, feeling that Kody often gives his fourth wife preferential treatment.
"I see Robyn regularly because there's been no quarantining for Robyn because she's done no traveling," Kody told ET in February 2021.
Many of the other wives objected to the amount of time Kody spent with Robyn in the first year of the pandemic and to the allowances she received, such as the couple having a live-in nanny.
"There's this, sort of, pecking order," Kody said in the February 2022 reunion special. "Meri was really hard on Janelle and then Janelle and Meri were hard on Christine, and Janelle and Meri and Christine were hard on Robyn. And Robyn's going, 'I didn't do this to you. I didn't do this. Why are you this way?' Frankly, other than Meri, I'm not sure the others would want to be her friend."
Christine called out Robyn for being Kody's "favorite" wife, citing the dynamic as one of the reasons her own marriage ended. And Janelle took issue with how Kody spoke about Robyn shortly before the news of their separation was announced.
"I have somebody in my life who's fundamentally loyal to me, who sees me as the head of the family," Kody told Janelle of Robyn in a recent episode. "I'm saying to you that you and I get that if you're loyal to me."
"I just can't believe what he's saying," Janelle said on the show at the time. "Here he is blatantly saying what I've suspected. This person is loyal and treats me like the head of the household and if you really want to be a wife to me, this is how you have to be. I'm not going to be this person. I'm not going to become Robyn."
In the wake of Kody and Janelle's separation and Kody's splits from Christine and Meri, he is now only in one working relationship -- his marriage to Robyn.
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