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Sister Wives: 10 of the biggest red flags that Kody Brown’s plural marriages would never work

Kody Brown TLC confessional
Three out of four of Kody Brown’s marriages have failed. Pic credit: TLC

When Sister Wives premiered on TLC in 2010, Kody Brown set out to highlight the pros of polygamy, but following Season 17, his actions have done exactly the opposite.

“Love should be multiplied, not divided,” was Kody’s tagline at the beginning of each episode during the early seasons of Sister Wives.

During the very first episode of the series (seen below), Kody admitted, “I like marriage, and I’m a repeat offender.”

Kody wed his first wife, Meri Brown, in 1990, followed by Janelle in 1992, Christine in 1993, and Robyn in 2010. Kody and Meri legally divorced in 2014, allowing for Kody and Robyn to become the only legal spouses in their polygamous union when they legally wed.

These days, however, Kody seems to have flip-flopped when it comes to his views on plural marriage.

He’s currently down three wives, with his fourth bride, Robyn, the last wife standing after Christine left him, then Janelle. Admittedly, Kody doesn’t want to be married to Meri anymore.

Over the last 12 years, Kody has shown Sister Wives viewers exactly what can (and did) go wrong in plural marriage, and there were plenty of red flags along the way.

Here’s a look at the top 10 red flags that proved Kody’s polygamist lifestyle would never work.

10. Kody didn’t split his time evenly

With four wives to keep happy and 18 children to care for, Kody certainly set himself up for a demanding lifestyle. When the show first debuted and the wives were sharing one home, it made it easy for Kody to divide his time evenly among his wives and children.

However, when Robyn joined the plural marriage, things became more complicated. The Browns uprooted their lives in Lehi, Utah, and planted roots in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their setup in the cul-de-sac seemed ideal, with each wife living in her own home, allowing them autonomy and privacy, and making it easy for Kody to divide his time.

However, when Kody got the idea to uproot the family once again and move to Flagstaff, Arizona, things really started to go downhill. The wives refused to share one home, so they struggled to find housing to accommodate their large family. Some of the wives rented, some purchased their homes, and although they purchased four parcels of land at Coyote Pass for each wife to build her own home, that never came to fruition.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, Kody ended up spending the majority of his time at Robyn’s house, further dividing the family.

9. Kody legally divorced Meri to legally marry Robyn

In 2010, Robyn became Kody’s fourth spiritual wife. At the time, Meri was Kody’s only legal wife. However, since Robyn brought three children from her previous marriage to David Jessop — son Dayton and daughters Breanna and Aurora — in order for Kody to adopt her kids, they had to legally wed.

Meri offered to legally divorce Kody to make that happen, and the family agreed. Although Meri was the one who suggested the idea, she struggled with her decision after the fact.

8. The Browns’ living arrangements

Sister Wives viewers have watched the Brown family move several times since the show’s inception in 2010. Moving from Utah to Nevada to Arizona was stressful for the family, especially the kids.

Although Meri, Janelle, and Christine shared a home in the first season of Sister Wives, that would be the last time Kody’s wives would live together under one roof. Kody continued to push for his family to live in one home again, but he received lots of resistance, especially from Christine, who refused.

Most polygamist families share one home, but Kody’s wives were an exception. Kody’s dream of living happily ever after under one roof with four wives and 18 children was squashed, and the wives learned just how much they valued their independence after living on their own for several years.

a photo of the brown family's home in utah during season 1 of sister wives
The Browns’ home in Utah when Meri, Janelle, and Christine lived under the same roof. Pic credit: TLC

These days, Christine lives in a duplex in Utah with her youngest daughter, Truely, while the other three wives still live in Flagstaff. Kody shares his primary home with Robyn, Janelle lives with her youngest daughter, Savanah, and Meri lives alone in a million-dollar rental home.

Because polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, Kody and other polygamist husbands are only permitted to have one legal wife. This means that his other three wives are technically his baby mamas, making for inequality within the plural marriage.

With only one legal wife, the rest of Kody’s marriages are spiritual and only recognized in his fundamentalist Mormon church. Although the wives agree to share Kody’s time and affection equally, they still have a hard time forgetting that not all of them receive the same recognition from a legal standpoint.

6. Kody demanded he’d be the family patriarch

Kody’s dream of plural marriage meant that he would be the head of his supersized family. However, although he claimed that his wives agreed to such a family dynamic, they didn’t act as such.

Over the years, Kody’s wives’ independence couldn’t be contained, and their unconstrained decision-making saw Kody lose reign over them. After Christine announced her split, Kody proclaimed to his remaining wives that he would be taking the reigns once again.

side-by-side photos of kody brown in 2010 and 2022
Kody Brown in 2010 and in 2022. Pic credit: TLC

“I’m gonna be the head of my household again. And so I’m not gonna be circumvented in that,” Kody confessed, adding, “And so, if everybody’s willing to conform to patriarchy again, I guess, ’cause I’ve been fighting to make everybody happy. My bitterness is out of trying to do that and not having the family that I had thought about and designed.”

5. Kody couldn’t handle his wives’ independence

Most of Kody’s wives exhibited their independence at some point throughout the show. Janelle has always displayed her self-ruling nature, and in recent seasons of Sister Wives, Christine followed suit.

Although Kody encouraged his wives to express their autonomy, it ultimately backfired on his plans. Janelle grew tired of being “beaten into submission” by Kody and became more outspoken in recent seasons. Christine finally found her voice and laid it all out on the line when she made the bold decision to move Kody’s belongings into her garage before ultimately kicking him out of her house and leaving him for good.

4. Kody denied his wives intimacy

Kody admitted that he withheld sex and romance from his first wife, Meri. During their 30th anniversary celebration — which turned into more of a platonic argument than a romantic date — Meri tried to flirt with Kody, only to be rejected.

In Kody’s eyes, there needed to be a spark before he would engage in anything romantic with his wives. Declaring that he wouldn’t be part of a “hookup culture,” Kody admitted, “Romance and sex are saved, in my world, for people who are in love.”

Season 17 of Sister Wives saw Kody admit that he was no longer attracted to Christine, a statement that humiliated her and angered viewers. Kody denied telling Christine he would no longer be intimate with her, however, claiming he only shrugged his shoulders when she confronted him about it.

Deflecting the blame, Kody confessed that the reason he shrugged his shoulders was that he wouldn’t “be fooling around with a woman who’s talking about leaving me.”

3. Kody neglected his wives

Both on and off screen, Kody has proven himself to be a neglectful husband and father. As Monsters and Critics has reported on several occasions, Kody has skipped out on his wives’ and kids’ special moments.

In October 2022, Christine threw shade at Kody for not being involved with their kids during Halloween. In recent months, Christine and Janelle have shared Instagram posts commemorating their children’s birthdays, taking family vacations, and celebrating other milestones, but lo and behold, Kody was absent.

Meri’s infamous catfishing incident proved that Kody wasn’t meeting her needs as her husband. Meri was involved with a woman, who was posing as a man, in an online relationship when she felt neglected.

kody brown with christine, meri, and janelle during the first episode of sister wives on tlc
Kody Brown and his wives Christine, Meri, and Janelle before Robyn joined their plural marriage. Pic credit: TLC

2. The wives were jealous

All of Kody’s wives have admitted to being jealous at some point throughout their polygamous relationship.

Jealousy is a natural aspect of plural marriage. What woman wouldn’t be resentful of her husband sharing his time and intimacy with other women and them bearing his children? Although it’s expected that polygamist women will be jealous, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to share a husband.

1. Kody played favorites

Ah, Kody’s favorite wife, Robyn. Some have long believed that it was Robyn’s plan from the start to swoop in and become Kody’s only wife. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but one thing’s for certain: Robyn is definitely Kody’s soulmate.

Just ask Kody and Christine’s son, Paedon, who admitted that his dad found “the woman he loves” in his fourth wife, Robyn.

A polygamous man is not supposed to have a favorite wife… or at least not make it obvious to the other wives. But Kody just couldn’t help himself when Robyn joined the family.

Perhaps her appeal was her youth, her slimmer figure, or her willingness to go along with whatever Kody says and not rock the boat. According to Kody, Robyn isn’t his favorite wife per se, but she is willing to “put up her dukes” if anyone “s**t-talks” her husband.

So there you have it — 10 of the biggest red flags that indicated Kody’s dream of being able to please four wives wouldn’t be successful. As he’s proven to Sister Wives viewers, chasing lofty dreams is one thing, but being able to execute them is a different story.