Sister Wives' Meri Shared Her Painful Side Of The Story After Kody Said Their Marriage Was Over
Sister Wives may never be the same again — because Meri and Kody Brown are no longer "spiritually married." Kody confirmed the news in a Meri-focused episode of Sister Wives: One on One, saying, "If [Meri] wanted to move on and marry another, she wouldn't get an argument with me." But he didn't get to have the final word. Meri soon stepped up to tell her agonizing truth about the decades-long relationship.
A shocking decision
Meri's first reaction to the break-up was confusion — and perhaps a little hurt. After all, Meri seemingly heard about the news while recording Sister Wives: One on One. She actually had to watch a clip from season 17 of Sister Wives to hear Kody confirm their split. “He just made the decision,” Meri said immediately afterward. “I’ve never heard him say that to me.”
Confusion and surprise
Meri was particularly puzzled by Kody's tactics considering how upset he had been when Christine — one of his other wives — had divorced him in 2021. She said Kody had complained, "She just made this decision. We didn’t consult, we didn’t talk, she just made the decision." Meri added, "And then he says, ‘No, I don’t consider myself married to Meri.’” But it's not as though the pair had enjoyed the perfect marriage.
A different lifestyle
Meri and Kody actually got married in 1990. “I was a little taken with Kody right off the bat,” Meri revealed in the Browns' 2012 memoir, Becoming Sister Wives. The couple had one child together, Leon Brown, in 1995. But as Meri grew up in a polygamist environment, it should come as no surprise that other women had already been introduced into the relationship by this point.
Just the five us
In 1993 Janelle entered the picture, followed just one year later by Christine. Janelle had the "strangest feeling" of attraction when she first met Kody, and Christine had crushed on the man since she was 18 years old. So even though Kody remained legally married to Meri, he was now spiritually married to Janelle and Christine. But that changed when Robyn entered the picture in 2014.
Trouble in paradise
Robyn became Kody's fourth wife — but in a twist, he legally divorced Meri so that he could be married to Robyn in the eyes of the law. Meri said at the time that she allowed this to happen because Robyn's three kids could then access the Browns' insurance policy. Of course, though, Kody still insisted that he was spiritually wed to all of the women. But then in 2015 Meri was part of a major scandal.
Meri found solace online
It turned out that Meri had started a relationship with someone online. "At the very beginning, this person was fun, funny, just good conversation," Meri later explained on Sister Wives. "At first, it was kind of cool just to have that companionship, I guess." But Meri had been deceived. She thought her online crush was a man — but it was actually a female fan.
A catfishing scandal
"I cared about who I thought she was portraying him to be, because I have a trusting heart and a loving heart," Meri said of the relationship, adding, "The feelings that I had were confusing." When news of the catfishing scandal broke, Meri and Kody sought to rebuild their relationship in therapy. But it seems that this online affair may have been the beginning of the end.
Living together apart
Meri revealed in a 2022 episode of Sister Wives that she and Kody had not had sex in more than ten years. "I miss physical intimacy with him," she said. But Kody, it seemed, did not. "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."
It all came back to the catfishing scandal. Kody claimed that he didn't feel "safe" in his relationship with Meri any more — and that it was the catfishing that had made him realize this. “(It) turned out to be extremely exploitative and abusive. And from that experience, Meri and I sort of saw our marriage just dissolve," Kody said on Sister Wives. Yet the pair remained together for a while.
All was not well
But in an October 2022 episode of their show, Meri and Kody revealed that they weren't in a good place. "My relationship with Kody has not improved as far as, like,a husband-and-wife relationship," Meri said. "That's not something that he's interested in. I mean, it just is what it is. It's where we are." And Kody seemed to wholeheartedly agree with that assessment.
Friends not lovers
"I feel like my relationship with Meri is very good but it's not a married situation," Kody said. "It's an amiable relationship, but I don't think it's a fulfilling relationship for Meri, not in any way." But that's not actually how Meri saw it at the time. "Does that mean we’re just not married anymore? That's not how I consider it. I feel like we’re still married," she said in a follow-up episode. She was seemingly determined to stick it out, too.
Scenes from a marriage
“I don’t feel jealous of Christine that she’s leaving and I can’t, because I can," Meri said. "I can do whatever I want. My strength is sticking around and seeing if Kody would be willing to work on a relationship. So I leave that door open, but I’m not pining away for it.” For Kody, though, that door would forever remain shut.
Kody got real
"I don't really consider myself married to Meri," Kody told the Sister Wives cameras. He added, "I don't believe that we can ever be functional, and I don't believe that I will ever be emotionally safe with her." The polygamist also reflected that he found it "ironic" that Meri wanted to work on their relationship while he had no interest in it any more. It was this interview that led to Meri telling her side of the story.
A painful split
For Meri, then, the news was seemingly at odds with what she believed had happened in the previous years. "Even since being in Flagstaff, he has led me to believe that he was trying," she said in a December 2022 episode of Sister Wives: One on One. The polygamists had moved to Flagstaff in 2018. Meri added, "Our first anniversary that we had here in Flagstaff [was], 'Cheers to a new beginning!'" But not any more.
Decision to leave
On their latest anniversary, Meri said, Kody told her, "I don’t even know why you called me, Meri." She revealed that he said, "We’re not married. We’re not acting as married." And that brought them to a fork in the road. She exaplined, "I said to him then, "If that’s where we are, don’t you think that we should address that publicly?'"
Scared of judgment
"And he said, 'No, I don’t want to address it. I don't want to address it, I don’t want that to be out there publicly because I don’t want that judgment,'" Meri explained. The host of One on One then asked, "Where does that leave you? Are you still married to Kody? Or, do you get to decide?" And Meri was forthright with her answer.
"Well, he’s already made the decision," Meri said. "You just saw him say that." Yet even after all of this, Meri was seemingly unwilling to close the door forever. "Would you ever think about reconciliation?" the host asked. "I would," Meri answered. "I definitely would. But I don't think that he's interested." And from what Kody said afterwards, she was probably right.
In a subsequent episode of One on One, Kody and Meri offered further details about their crumbling relationship. "We have a lot of history, and I love him," Meri said. "He has chosen not to love me and not to want a relationship with me and so far, as to consider himself not married to me. So I think that's what we're sitting with." But Kody claimed that the split had been a long time coming.
Trouble from the start
"I married Meri, and it was a hard relationship from the very beginning," Kody said. He stated that part of the problem was that they had started their marriage while still young and that they had perhaps tried to "establish a family" too soon. And he believed, looking back, that bringing another woman into their relationship had been a bad idea.
The other woman
Janelle was the first woman to be brought into Kody and Meri's plural marriage. And at first, Kody said, this relationship was "a blessing of dilution" because "it diluted this relationship [he] had with Meri." In the end, though, Kody realized that they were just "bringing more people into a problem." He even called it "weird as Hell" when Janelle moved in with him and Meri.
More relationships, more problems
"I'm in an established relationship with somebody that I don't even get along with and then I bring somebody else in and then now it's triangulating," he continued. "And then we bring Christine in and that seemed to calm it, because we started having children and we seemed to have this more unified focus, even though the strain was perpetual." But it wasn't to last.
A long-gone fairytale
"This was happening from the day or the week or the month or whenever, after me and Meri had our honeymoon period," Kody said. "We were in the storm." But while these episodes were being aired — and creating headlines — Meri railed against the allegations in an Instagram post. "There's so much more to the story," she teased.
"Not all is always as it seems," Meri wrote in the caption. "Often, we accept a version of a story as truth because it fits the narrative we've created, or what we want to believe. It's not always about what you're looking at but also where you're looking from. Everyone has their own experiences and their own truths. Remember, no matter how flat the pancake is, it always has two sides."
The other side of the story
Meri delved deep into her feelings on the matter in a third installment of Sister Wives: One on One. "I don’t think Kody realizes the [queen] that I am," Meri said in the January 2023 episode. "And if he hasn’t realized it so far, you know, maybe he never will. Maybe he doesn’t want it." She was perhaps more philosophical than you'd expect, too.
Time are a-changin'
"People change," she said. "Maybe he is just at this place that like, ‘She’s just not for me anymore.’ And he’s now finally just saying that." And when asked about whether she'd consider waiting to see if Kody changed his mind, she said, "Time will tell. It’s for me to decide [if I’ll wait]. He’s decided, so now what?" Kody also seemed to be in a period of reflection.
"I'm right on the verge of not even being a polygamist," Kody said on the show. "And that’s been part of my identity for 30 years. These days I’m thinking about, well, it’s good today but I really miss the past too. I’m really looking back a lot. Missing some of the past and regretting a bunch of it." But then this has arguably been a lifestyle change he's been forced to make.
From four to one
Meri isn't the only one of the "sister wives" to split from Kody, after all. Christine picked up sticks in November 2021 and Janelle confirmed her break from Kody around the same time as Meri. In December 2022 Janelle said that the pair had been "separated for several months." That only leaves Robyn — and Meri seemed to think that is exactly what Kody wanted.
Robyn is the focus
"Robyn is the one that he is most comfortable with," Meri said on Sister Wives: One on One. "I have seen Kody be more comfortable with different ones of us throughout the years. It’s not always exactly, exactly equal. It really just is based on who you have a good relationship with." Kody and Meri followed the episode with an announcement, too.
A statement of intent
Meri posted a joint statement on her Instagram feed with the caption, "Today I reclaim my power." The statement read, "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. 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."
"During this process, we are committed to kindness and respect toward each other and to all members of our family," the statement continued, "and we are also committed to the continued healing of any and all relationships within the family so that we can move forward with forgiveness, grace, and love." But in the Instagram caption, Meri teased that there was still more to the story.
Telling her story
Meri said they had decided to make their own statement after a false report in the press. "The information, content, and timing was inaccurate and was based on a highly edited version of events that had been filmed months prior," Meri said. "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." But she revealed there was "so much more to be told."
More to the story
"I assure you, my truth will be told," Meri wrote. "But 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." Meri had also previously spoken about her dreams for the future.
Looking to the future
"As we begin 2023, my thoughts have been a lot on dreams," Meri wrote. Her inspirational message was meant to inspire her fans to follow their hearts to achieve their personal goals in 2023. "Every one of us is WORTHY of what we want. It's not selfish to have a dream, desire, or goal," she said. But an unexpected twist in this tale arrived in mid-January that could have thrown all of Meri's plans out of whack.
A stunning allegation
Paedon Brown is the biological son of Christine and Kody and sometimes star of Sister Wives. And in January 2023 Paedon made some shocking allegations when he appeared on a live stream with a reality TV commentator called John Yates. Paedon said that he and his siblings "were never safe around" Meri. He didn't hold back with his opinions, either.
An abusive relationship
The 24-year-old seemed to claim that Meri took a stern hand with him and others in the family. "Abrasive is not enough of a word to describe what Meri was to a few of us children specifically," he said. He also claimed that Meri's discipline "moved so far past verbal" — though he stopped short of going into full detail. But he did claim that he was grateful to Robyn.
Robyn saved lives
"Robyn probably saved several of our lives," Paedon said. "Not definitely, but very maybe." He said this because, he claimed, Robyn had "opened several eyes" to Meri's alleged behavior. Paedon said Robyn could do this because she "was in an abusive relationship with her ex" and "knew how to find other abusive relationships." He further claimed that to say more would be to "really, really, hurt the show."
Meri speaks out
Meri didn't respond directly to these allegations — but she did share a carefully worded Instagram post after they surfaced. "Spent birthday #52 with a couple of my favorite people in the world," she shared, adding, "On days like these, I'm reminded again of the humanity of people with good and honest hearts, the friends who have your back and stand up for you, and general goodness in the world."
A "bright future"
"So grateful for friends who I can be myself with, who know my heart and my true self, and cheer for me for my bright future," she shared. "I have so many things to be grateful for. So many good things in the works for the coming year. So much promise, hope, and light. And today. I'm so grateful for today."
More to follow
The drama has not come to an end yet, and there is no word about whether Sister Wives will be picked up for another season. But fans of the show — and the unfolding scandals — took hope from a TikTok message posted made by Christine in December 2022. She said she was "definitely not leaving Sister Wives" and that she was filming the video from "the set from my home."