TLC fans were introduced to the Brown family in 2010 when he was legally married to Meri and spiritually married to Janelle and Christine. The first season followed Robyn’s introduction to the group. Kody later divorced Meri to legally marry Robyn in 2014 and adopt her three kids from a previous marriage.
In February 2021, Kody exclusively told Us Weekly that some of his relationships were struggling, saying, “I feel like [my wives] need to understand that — that they can leave. If it’s not working for them, they can leave. Nobody’s going to be a prisoner here.”
Meri was legally married to Kody from 1990 to 2014, and is still spiritually married to him. However, she admitted in the trailer for season 16 of Sister Wives, which premiered in November 2021, that she has “considered everything” — including leaving Kody — as their rocky relationship continues. The revelation came after she vowed that she wasn’t “going anywhere” in December 2020.
“I love this man. 💙 I don't owe anyone an explanation but I'll do it anyway. I'm well aware that we, as a family, have chosen to put ourselves 'out there', which, in turn, brings about all kinds of speculation, commentary, and opinions. But it comes down to this. My relationship with him is MY relationship with him. Sure we've had ups and downs through the years (I mean, isn't that somewhat normal?) High highs and low lows,” she wrote at the time. “But here's my truth. I love him. I love my family. I'm committed. I have 30 years in this. We struggle. We communicate. We repair relationships as the parties involved are willing and able. I'm an independent person who does her own thing. … I'm here. I'm committed. I'm not going anywhere. Don't get your hopes up on that.”
After news of Kody and Christine’s split broke in November 2021, an insider claimed to Us that he and Meri have had “zero relationship” in recent years. “It’s all fake,” the source alleged. “They’re together for TV, essentially.”
Meri and Kody’s ups and downs continued to be a story line during season 17 of the series, which premiered in September 2022. During an October 2022 episode, Meri revealed that Kody had suggested she move to Utah to run her bed and breakfast following her mom’s death.
The idea of living away from him and their family surprised the mother of one. “I was here are the very beginning. I helped start this family. It was me and him and we had plans. He loved me,” Meri said during a confessional while holding back tears. “For him to just be like, ‘Um, just go up there now.’ It didn’t make sense.”
Kody, meanwhile, told the cameras, “The reason I’m suggesting this to Meri is, honestly, as a family [it] doesn’t feel like we interact that much. I’m not even trying to push her away.”
During the season 17 finale, which aired in December 2022, Kody confessed he still didn’t want to fix his relationship with Meri. “It’s interesting hearing him talking about this and the parallels that [are] happening with him and Christine and me and him,” Meri explained during a confessional. “It’s kind of disturbing because some of the things he’s frustrated about with Christine, he did with me. Oh, he wants to work on it with Christine, but not me.”
Kody, for his part, noted: "Ironically, Meri's trying to support me and I don't want to be in a relationship with her anymore."
During part one of the season 17 Sister Wives: One-on-One special, Meri confirmed that she and Kody were no longer together, saying, “he just made the decision” without asking for her input. She noted that while she felt like her former spouse was “trying” when they first moved to Arizona in 2018, their relationship soon unraveled.
In January 2023, Kody and Meri released a joint statement saying they decided to “permanently terminate” their marriage.
Credit: Courtesy of Janelle Brown/Instagram
Janelle spiritually married Kody in 1993. “Kody does a very good job of keeping things very separate. He doesn’t usually talk about the other wives with me. If he did, I wouldn’t really want to because I wouldn’t want to hear it,” she told Us in March 2021. “I just think that’s dangerous for my relationship because I need to have a separate relationship.”
Speculation about her status with Kody surfaced in June 2021 when she announced she was living in an RV. In the season 16 trailer, she expressed her displeasure with Kody spending more time with Robyn amid the COVID-19 crisis. “I’m at my wit’s end with this whole bulls—t stuff,” she said.
An insider told Us in November 2021 that Janelle’s relationship with Kody is more of a friendship. “They have a respectful relationship,” the source said. “She's really easygoing and goes with the flow."
When season 17 premiered in September 2022, Janelle and Kody seemed to be on decent terms. They did, however, argue over his strict COVID-19 policies and whether he was being supportive of her RV move. (Janelle stopped living in the RV in summer 2022.)
The twosome butted heads during an October 2022 episode of the series, which filmed in summer 2021, after Kody revealed that he wanted his remaining sister wives to fall back in line after Christine’s departure. “I’m going to be the head of my household again,” Kody told all of his wives during the episode. “So, I’m not going to be circumvented in that. If everybody is willing to conform to patriarchy again, I guess.”
Janelle, meanwhile, didn’t support her husband’s new ideologies, telling the cameras, “Yeah, I didn’t know I signed up for patriarchy. That’s not what we all agreed on in the beginning.”
The twosome continued to butt heads throughout season 17. One of their biggest arguments was over their sons Garrison and Gabriel, who Kody claimed were not respectful of his COVID-19 rules. “It’s been a bit of a civil war. The whole family in a way,” Kody said during the season 17 finale, which aired in December 2022. “I’m looking at Janelle wondering whose side she’s on.”
Janelle, for her part, confessed that she didn’t know if she wanted to “do the work” and repair the plural family and her marriage. “It feels like I’m being forced to choose between my children and this group,” she told Kody and her fellow sister wives Robyn and Meri. “I don’t feel like my children are welcome.”
Kody and Janelle’s relationship woes couldn’t be repaired and the couple decided to take some time apart. “We’ve been separated for several months,” Janelle confirmed during December 2022’s Sister Wives: One-on-One special.
Credit: Puddle Monkey Prods/Kobal/Shutterstock
Christine spiritually married Kody in 1995. Her decision to end the relationship — and relocate to Utah — in November 2021 came after she admitted during an April 2021 episode of Sister Wives that she “can’t do marriage with Kody anymore.” One month earlier, she told Us that she felt like she lost her voice in the family.
“Anytime we’ve had major decisions, I go through a time where I’m like, ‘Does my opinion really even matter here?’ That’s when we struggle the most … is when I feel like I don’t really have a say or I don’t really have an opinion,” she said in March 2021.
During season 17 of the series, fans witnessed the final days of Christine and Kody’s marriage as it was filmed during their split in 2021. Christine revealed during a September 2022 episode that she didn’t want to “pretend” on what would have been the pair’s 27th wedding anniversary.
“I don’t consider myself married to him anymore,” she explained at the time. “I don’t wear our wedding rings anymore most of the time. I just feel like they’re a noose. … It felt so good just to take them off.”
Kody, for his part, expressed sadness over the end of their marriage during an October 2022 episode. “We will never be there again. I’m living in a delusional world where I’m wishing Christine didn’t leave. I’m struggling with sort of a state of regret and frustration,” he said in a confessional. “It’s a weird thing to be getting left. It’s made me question getting into plural marriage. Question my faith. The message we had to the world about functional polygamy seems so dysfunctional now.”
Christine announced in early 2023 that she was dating David Woolley. They got married in October 2023.
“That’s really up to her, but it’s always fun to sit here and fill my youth going, ‘I can have kids if I want to,'” he noted at the time. “I do that to my adult children sometimes. It’s not cool to Robyn. She’s like, ‘Oh, this jerk is doing it again.’ And I’m like, ‘I can have more kids if I want to. I might have kids younger than your kids,’ stuff like that. It’s more, like, a dumb thing where I’m just challenging the kids and I’m teasing them.”
As of November 2021, the twosome seem to be the strongest couple in the Brown household. “The other wives can’t compete against Robyn,” a source said at the time. “She has him wrapped around her finger. … They’re still very much in love.”
While Kody continued to spend the most time with Robyn during season 17 of the show, his issues with Christine bubbled over to his relationship with his fourth wife. “I miss my husband. Anytime I try and talk to him I get the anger thrown at me,” Robyn claimed during a September 2022 episode. “I have tried to speak with the sister wives, I’ve tried to talk to Kody but, you know, nobody’s willing. I’m starting to feel really helpless.”