The salesperson’s family became the subject of intrigue when the first season of the TLC reality series premiered in September 2010. At the time, Kody was courting Robyn Brown, his fourth wife and the first new spouse to enter the family in 16 years.
Kody was legally married to his first wife, Meri Brown, from April 1990 until their September 2014 divorce. While they are no longer considered a wedded couple by law, they continue to be “spiritually married.” However, their relationship hasn’t been smooth over the past several years.
“Meri and I have been in a very dark place for a very long time,” Kody told Us Weekly exclusively in February 2021 ahead of the season 15 premiere of Sister Wives. “It’s been more about trying to get ourselves out of this hole that we dug ourselves into. … I hope that some communication heals things. It’s been a long time and it’s been very difficult.”
Though things between them aren’t always perfect, Kody said that he can’t bring himself to completely abandon any of his wives. (Along with Meri and Robyn, he is also “spiritually married” to second and third wives Janelle Brown and Christine Brown.)
“In plural marriage, I don’t feel like I’ve got the right to say, ‘This is over, this is ending,'” he told Us at the time, acknowledging that there’s a “double standard in some senses” in the polygamous community. “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.”
Trouble hasn’t only been brewing between him and Meri, however. While his family adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020, Kody noticed a “psychic tension” between him and all of his spouses.
“I feel like my wives are living four separate lives, but I don’t feel like I’m living four separate lives,” he told Us in February 2021. “I’m sort of strung out on this relationship conveyor belt. … In fact, it seems like my wives are in four different worlds. They’re all actually at different stages of their life. … It’s been a real challenge.”
As Sister Wives grew more popular, the Brown family sparked plenty of controversy. In 2011, they sued the state of Utah and challenged criminal polygamy laws. The Browns were successful when the case was brought to a district court in 2013, but a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed the lawsuit three years later.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Kody and his unique family.