'Sister Wives' star Kody Brown became famous for his 4 marriages, but now he's down to one. Here's how the polygamous family fell apart.

Kody Brown with his wives
Robyn Brown is officially Kody's only wife as of January 2023.Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
  • Janelle and Meri Brown confirmed they weren't romantically involved with Kody in the season 17 tell-all.

  • Kody and his third wife Christine announced their split in November 2021.

  • Here's a breakdown of how and when the marriages on "Sister Wives" began to crumble.

The world was introduced to the Brown family on September 26, 2010, when the first episode of their show "Sister Wives," premiered on TLC.

The show centered around Kody Brown, his three wives at the time, and their 12 children (with one on the way).

Kody explained on the show that when he was about 20 years old, he followed his father's footsteps into a sect of the Mormon church that believed in polygamy, which is defined as "marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time." Men in the Brown family's Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) sect of the faith have a calling to marry multiple wives.

Kody legally and spiritually married his first wife Meri Brown on April 21, 1990. His "spiritual" marriage to Janelle Brown followed in January 1993. Then came another "spiritual" marriage Christine Brown on March 25, 1994.

Viewers were able to watch Kody marry his fourth wife Robyn Brown on a season one episode of "Sister Wives." The couple "spiritually" married in May 2010. Robyn had three children from a previous relationship and she and Kody would go on to have two biological children of their own.

No one knew it at the time, but instead of documenting a functional polygamous family as Kody has said he hoped to do on "Sister Wives," the cameras were capturing the first cracks in the family that would eventually lead to its demise.

Kody is currently only legally married to and romantically involved with Robyn. He's either estranged, separated, or divorced from his first three wives.  His marriages collapsed slowly, and Insider has compiled a timeline to explain how and why Kody is (unintentionally) practicing monogamy today.

Robyn has received special treatment from Kody since the start of their relationship

Kody and Robyn kissing on "Sister Wives."
Kody and Robyn shared a kiss before they were married on "Sister Wives."TLC

Viewers were able to see parts of Kody and Robyn's May 2010 "spiritual"  wedding on the season one finale of "Sister Wives," which aired on October 17, 2010. But even before their official wedding day, the show chronicled the different ways in which Kody gave Robyn special treatment that some or all of his wives didn't receive.

He kissed Robyn on an earlier season one episode while Christine was in labor with her youngest daughter Truely. This might seem like innocent behavior coming from a polygamist. Still, the timing is far from ideal and it's unclear if the couple broke any religious or family guidelines by kissing before they were married.

Kody also revealed to his three other wives during an interview for "Sister Wives" that he had secretly helped Robyn pick out her wedding dress, something he didn't do with any other wife. While they were courting Robyn received equal time with Kody as every other wife, though she lived five hours away from the family at the time. Her honeymoon was about 11 days long, significantly longer than the trips that the other women took with Kody after they were married.

Meri and Janelle were upfront about the situation whenever Kody treated Robyn differently than they were treated, but Christine visibly took it the hardest over the years. One of the most well-known examples among fans of the show is when she walked out of an interview as Kody was talking about picking out Robyn's wedding dress.

Years after his daughter Truely Brown's health scare, Kody said that he thinks it caused a strain in his marriage to Christine

Kody, Christine, and Truely Brown
Kody, Christine, and Truely Brown in 2020.Christine Brown on Instagram

A season six episode of "Sister Wives" documented the family's struggle when Christine and Kody's youngest daughter Truely got sick and eventually went into kidney failure.

She recovered, but Kody revealed on a season 16 episode why he believes his marriage to Christine took a turn for the worst after Truely's hospitalization, which happened in 2014.

"I think Christine hates me, partly because Truely almost died and she thought that I had been negligent," Kody said on the episode, which aired in January 2022.

Christine had been on a trip to San Francisco with all of the other wives when Truely first got ill. Per the season six "Sister Wives," episode, it was Christine who chose to take Truely to the hospital when she returned home. Kody wasn't with her when she made the decision, and he said on the season 16 episode that their relationship changed after that event.

Kody's legal wife changed in 2014 from Meri to Robyn

Meri Brown, Robyn Brown, and Kody Brown on "Sister Wives."
Meri and Robyn hugged on "Sister Wives" after Meri shared that she had decided to legally divorce Kody.TLC

As documented on a season eight episode of "Sister Wives," Meri filed for a legal divorce from Kody in 2014. Kody legally married Robyn later that same year. This was a decision that Meri made so that Kody could legally adopt Robyn's three kids from another marriage: Dayton, Aurora, and Brianna.

Meri and Kody remained "spiritually" married at the time, so there was no change in the romantic status of their marriage. But because she was legally married to Kody, it also became easier for Robyn to do things like buying property with Kody and having her name on legal documents.

Meri's 2015 catfishing scandal changed the Brown family's dynamic forever

Kody Brown, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown
Kody Brown, joined by three of his four wives Meri, Janelle, and Christine on "Good Morning America."Ida Mae Astute/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

On later episodes of "Sister Wives" Meri revealed that after her legal divorce, she began to feel more emotionally distant from Kody and the family. She eventually sought comfort online and fell victim to a catfish.

As explained on the show and reported by People in 2015, Meri connected with someone she believed was a businessman from Chicago and formed an emotional relationship with him. She later learned that she was actually talking to a woman who was posing as a man.

"I didn't know how to get out of the situation without putting myself, family, and friends at greater risk. It was a very difficult time. I had a lot of anxiety," Meri told People at the time, noting that she became "fearful" once she realized she was conned.

"My family was very concerned for our safety and angry that we had been targeted," she added. "They were relieved once I told them what was really going on and saddened that I had been so afraid of involving them that I didn't go to them sooner."

Meri Brown and Kody Brown on "Sister Wives"

"Sister Wives" chronicled the aftermath of the catfishing scandal. Though she had to repair relationships with her sister wives, too, Meri's relationship with Kody was severely damaged and they have never recovered.

Early on in the public fallout from the scandal, Kody and Meri maintained a united front on camera. Though they admitted their marriage was struggling, no one entertained the idea of Meri actually leaving the family.

On the season 10 tell-all, presumably filmed in early 2016, Kody told host Erica Hill that he didn't perceive that Meri had an emotional affair when she was talking to the catfisher.

By season 12, Kody and Meri were admitting in interviews on "Sister Wives" that although Meri was still in the family there was no romance in their relationship. Kody even said that it was as if they were "divorced" but living on the same block. The episodes were presumably filmed in late 2016.

The Brown family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, in 2018

Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Kody Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Brown
Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Kody Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn BrownFrederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In 2018, the Brown family made the seemingly sudden decision to move from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Flagstaff, Arizona. They gave a statement to People at the time about the move.

"We are looking forwards to cooler temperatures, the mountain air, scenic views and the slower lifestyle of Flagstaff," the statement read, in part.

This was also around the time when Robyn's oldest son Dayton, who turns 23 on January 16, began attending Northern Arizona University, per LinkedIn. The family bought a plot of land in Flagstaff called Coyote Pass, where they planned to build houses — at least one for each of Kody's wives and possibly a fifth house to rent.

Meri and Kody's therapy session in Nevada reveals they're still on bad terms

Meri Brown and Kody Brown.
Meri Brown and Kody Brown.TLC; TLC

Meri and Kody went back to Nevada to see their therapist for a session that was presumably filmed around the summer of 2019. Though they previously said on the show that they were viewing the move to Flagstaff as a fresh start, their marriage was in as bad a spot as ever.

"Meri mourns the loss of what we had. Scary to me, but I regret what we had," Kody told the cameras reflecting on the session. He said he felt "deceived" by Meri in their relationship from the beginning.

He said that he "didn't know" who he was marrying at the time but didn't give examples of what he meant.

Kody thought about reuniting with Meri after she gifted him Rice Krispies treats, but didn't act on it

Meri Brown and Kody Brown.
Meri and Kody BrownTLC;TLC

Meri and Kody celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, though they were clear that they weren't in a romantic relationship and Kody hadn't lived with Meri since sometime after the catfishing scandal when the family still lived in Las Vegas.

Kody didn't want to rekindle their relationship and told Meri she'd have to "court" him if she wanted him back. Meri asked him what he'd do if she leaned over and kissed him and he was visibly uncomfortable with the idea.

But years later on the season 17 "Sister Wives: One on One" special, Kody said that Meri gifted him a Rice Krispy treat for every year of their marriage together. He recalled that the sentiment behind making him his favorite dessert and putting so much meaning behind it made him consider reconciling with Meri.

He said on the season 17 tell-all that he told his three other wives what he was thinking. He cited Christine's negative reaction to the idea as the reason why he didn't follow through on those feelings when he had the chance.

Kody eventually stopped visiting every wife's house except Robyn's

Kody Brown.
Kody Brown.TLC

At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, Janelle advised Kody not to visit her house because two of her adult sons who lived at home were socializing with friends. Next, he stopped visiting Christine's house because she chose to travel to visit her children. He said he had strict rules in place — like asking people to change clothes every time they went out and disinfect their mail — to try and prevent his family from getting COVID, especially the young kids.

Kody's strict rules caused some of the first tension viewers ever saw between Kody and Janelle in 16 seasons of TV. When the Brown adults got together to discuss their holiday plans, Janelle told Kody to "fuck off" for making her feel guilty for wanting to visit her kids on Thanksgiving.

All of the family that lived in Flagstaff did follow his rules so they could spend Christmas together.

His choices during the pandemic also caused tension between Kody and many of his kids

Ysabel and Kody Brown.
Ysabel and Kody Brown.TLC; TLC

After he stopped visiting Christine's house, Kody also decided not to travel with her and their daughter Ysabel to the east coast around September 2020. Ysabel was getting surgery to correct her scoliosis. Christine later revealed in an interview with People that Kody's choice not to be there for Ysabel's surgery was one of the final straws that made her realize she had to leave Kody and that she'd be able to live on her own.

Kody's refusal to visit any household other than Robyn's also caused tension between him and Janelle's sons who lived with her at the time. They confronted him on an episode of "Sister Wives," and also called Robyn and blamed her for making the rules and tearing their family apart, according to Kody and Robyn. Kody maintained that he made the rules in order to protect his children.

On an episode of "Sister Wives" presumably filmed in late 2020, Christine said her daughters didn't "respect" their dad because he had "favorites" in the family. She was presumably referring to Robyn and her children.

Janelle supported Christine's decision to split from Kody and leave the family

Kody Brown and Christine Brown from "Sister Wives"
Kody Brown and Christine Brown from "Sister Wives."Gabe Ginsberg / Contributor / Getty Images

Christine and Kody announced their decision to split up after more than 25 years of "spiritual" marriage in November 2021. Viewers had watched them attend therapy to try and fix problems for many years on the show. Christine's statement about her choice read in part: "We will continue to be a strong presence in each other's lives as we parent our beautiful children and support our wonderful family."

Viewers would see on later episodes of "Sister Wives" that Janelle was emotionally supportive of Christine throughout the stages of her split with Kody. This caused largely unspoken tension between Janelle and Kody.

Janelle defended her children, which caused even more tension with Kody

Kody Brown and Janelle Brown.
Kody Brown and Janelle Brown.TLC; TLC

On season 17 of "Sister Wives," viewers saw Janelle and Kody's relationship deteriorate even further when she defended her children who were angry with Kody because of how he treated them during COVID. Kody appeared to imply that he wanted an apology from some of his sons before they could visit his home with Robyn for the holidays. Janelle told cameras in an interview that she wouldn't "kowtow" to Kody's wishes.

It's unclear if Kody apologized to his son Gabriel for forgetting his birthday during a phone call while Kody had COVID in October 2021.

Meri and Janelle announced the status of their relationships during the season 17 tell-all

Meri, Robyn, Janelle, and Christine Brown.
Meri, Robyn, Janelle, and Christine Brown.TLC

In the season 17 tell-all, which was presumably filmed in September 2022, Janelle announced that she and Kody were "separated" in a solo interview with "Sister Wives: One on One" host Sukanya Krishnan. Viewers have yet to see the events that led to the pair making this decision.

In a separate individual interview with Krishnan on the special, Meri said that Kody "made the decision" that their spiritual marriage was over. It's unclear if she's actually left the family.

Meri and Kody officially announced their split in January 2023

Meri Brown and Kody Brown.
Meri Brown and Kody Brown.TLC; TLC

Though the official status of their relationship remained unclear after the season 17 tell-all in January 2023, Kody and Meri confirmed their split soon after via a joint statement posted to their respective Instagram accounts.

"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," their statement read.

The former couple went on to note that they were "committed" to showing each other and all of their family members "kindness" and "respect" throughout the process. They also said they'd continue "healing" all relationships in their family and move forward with "forgiveness, grace, and love."


Thus, per the current knowledge that viewers have, it appears that Kody's only functional marriage is his legal marriage to Robyn.

Part three of "Sister Wives: One on One" airs January 8 at 10 p.m. ET.

Read the original article on Insider