A Complete Timeline Of Kody Brown's Relationships With All Of His Wives

TLC loves a show about an interesting family. Some of the network's biggest hits over the years have included "19 Kids and Counting," a series about a large fundamentalist Christian family; "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which followed a couple who had twins and then sextuplets; and "Alaskan Bush People," a show that digs into the lives of a family who live in the wilds of Alaska completely cut off from modern-day society. So it's no surprise that "Sister Wives," a series about a polygamous family who belongs to the Apostolic United Brethren sect of the Mormon church, was an instant hit when it joined the lineup.

Since 2010, "Sister Wives" has followed Kody Brown and wives Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown, and Robyn Brown as they navigate the ups and downs of marriage, parenthood, and female friendships. Like all good reality TV shows, there's lots of drama and tons of messy storylines — just to give you an idea, at the start of the series the family was cohabitating in a massive house in Utah, and now some members don't speak. But given the family's unique makeup it can be difficult for even the most devoted fans to keep the Browns' history straight. To make it easier for you, we've broken down a complete timeline of Kody Brown's relationships with all of his wives. From pre-show weddings to potential separations, we're here to help you understand this unique family once and for all.

Kody Brown marries Meri Brown

When Kody Brown and his first wife, Meri Brown, first crossed paths, she didn't hear wedding bells right away. As Meri recalled on the show's website (via ABC News), "On Oct. 20, 1989, I met up with my new friend who was visiting from out of town. At that time, she introduced me to Kody, her brother. ... After she went home, I figured that would probably be the last I would see of Kody for a while." Meri and Kody were married just months after their initial introduction.

Unlike her fellow sister wives, Meri's wedding and reception were big, classical affairs (likely because she was the first and, for a long time, only legal wife). On an episode of the TLC series "Sister Wives," Meri reminisced on the couple's wedding day: "I wore a white dress, he was in a white tux, and it was fun. It was good for us." Five years after their big day, the couple welcomed their only daughter, Mariah. They tried for several years to have more children before suffering a devastating miscarriage in the '00s.

Kody Brown weds Janelle Brown

It was Meri Brown who introduced Kody Brown to his second wife, Janelle Brown. The two women had been friends for some time, so it was natural for Meri to bring her new man around to get her girlfriends' approval. What was a little less natural was Janelle's response to her friend's boyfriend. She wrote on the official "Sister Wives" web page (via ABC News), "I looked at him and had that feeling of remembering something I had forgotten. It was a singular experience." To her credit, Janelle didn't act on her feelings right away (in part because she was already married— more on that in a minute), as she wrote, "It didn't occur to me when I met Kody to think of him in any other way than as Meri's fiance. I even attended Meri and Kody's wedding reception."

But eventually, things shifted a little bit. In a behind-the-scenes interview for TLC, Kody recounted how he and Janelle "got closer, and closer, and closer" as friends, and eventually, after having a single, seemingly out of the blue, conversation about Janelle joining the family, they tied the knot. Both Kody and Janelle admit that their relationship wasn't romantic at first, as indicated by the fact that they never actually had an official courtship, but that being in love was something they had to work at.

The tangled web of polygamy

There has been a not insignificant amount of overlap in the Brown family tree. Take, for example, Kody, Janelle, and Meri Brown. When she met Kody, Janelle was already married to another man: Adam Clark Barber. According to Radar, Adam Clark Barber is actually Meri Brown's (nee Barber) brother. That means that Janelle didn't just fall for her pal's boyfriend, but her sister-in-law's husband. And she even legally divorced Meri's brother so that she could spiritually marry Meri's husband. Despite the obvious tensions here, ScreenRant reports that Meri and Adam have managed to maintain a relationship and remain involved in each other's lives.

That's not the only bizarre connection Janelle and Kody have: her mom married his dad. "Before Kody and I were really courting, I was actually friends with his family. My mom was worried I was getting sucked into some polygamous cult," Janelle recalled on "Sister Wives," per In Touch. "But she ended up meeting Kody's dad, and they ended up falling in love and getting married before Kody and I started courting."

Just in case you're having trouble keeping this all straight, the first three Browns are related in a multitude of ways: Meri and Janelle have been both sisters-in-law and sister wives, while Janelle and Kody are both step-siblings and spouses.

Kody Brown ties the knot with Christine Brown

For some polygamous members of the Apostolic United Brethren sect, the marriage and family feel complete once there are two wives in the household. But not for the Browns. Despite having two wives, Kody Brown was open to adding another into the mix. Enter Christine Brown.

When Kody first crossed paths with Christine, she was 18 years old and he was helping to lead the youth group at their church. In their book "Becoming Sister Wives," Kody shared that he was immediately attracted to Christine upon meeting her, describing how he was "awed with how adorable and upbeat she was." He also noted that he and Meri weren't ready to bring in another wife just yet (at that point, Kody wasn't yet courting or married to Janelle, either).

After a few years of getting to know each other, as friends, Kody was ready to begin a relationship with Christine. As he recounted in the book, he sent her flowers with a note that said, "Let's get the ball rolling." Apparently, that was romance enough for Christine, who invited him to visit that weekend and accepted his proposal a mere 48 hours later. Less than two months later, they were officially husband and wife. Although their big day should have been a joyous occasion, Kody described it as "hard" in an interview on "Sister Wives," and Christine agreed that it was "sad" because they weren't "connected" and because of the "stigma" surrounding polygamous culture in general.

A period of harmony for the Brown family

After Christine Brown joined the family, the gang entered into a period of (relative) stability. In "Becoming Sister Wives," Kody Brown wrote that his first two wives, Meri Brown and Janelle Brown, "were miserable with each other" and he "didn't know how to negotiate a truce between them." The tension at home made him "apprehensive" about bringing Christine into the family, but ultimately her "kindness and positive nature brokered a peace in [the] household."

Once the interpersonal relationships were hammered out, the Browns all moved into one big house together in Lehi, Utah (fans will recognize the home from Season 1 on "Sister Wives") and focused on growing their family. And grow the family they most certainly did: As of 2022, Kody is the father to 18 children. 

For 16 years, Kody, Christine, Meri, and Janelle lived in relative harmony, having, as Janelle put it in an early episode, "learned each other's quirks." Unfortunately, the peace didn't last forever.

Kody Brown meets Robyn Brown

In 2009, Kody Brown met and fell for a woman named Robyn Sullivan. Kody and Robyn were introduced by her cousin, who attended the same church as the Browns. Initially, neither party was seriously interested; Robyn had just finalized a difficult divorce from her first husband, and Kody was apprehensive about courting a divorced, single mom because, as he said in a TLC interview, he "didn't want to have to work really hard in the relationship." However, they both felt an undeniable chemistry, so they decided to take things slow and get to know each other a little better. Although slow in Kody's world is a relative term: As Kody shared in "Becoming Sister Wives," he told Robyn he loved her on their first date.

This is where things stood in the Brown household when the family began taping the first season of "Sister Wives." Kody was courting Robyn, who lived about four hours away from the Browns, and Meri, Janelle, and Christine were trying to come to terms with the fact that a new wife joining the crew seemed inevitable. The first three wives had various reactions to Robyn's arrival: In "Becoming Sister Wives" Kody claimed Meri was totally on board, but on the TLC series Janelle fretted about how it "changes everything" and Christine admitted she was "kinda more hesitant about adding another wife."

Kody Brown and Meri Brown file for divorce

In 2010, 10 months after they met and began courting, Robyn Brown married Kody Brown in a spiritual ceremony. Her marriage, like Janelle Brown and Christine Brown's, wasn't valid in the eyes of the law, as polygamy wasn't decriminalized in Utah until 2020. The arrangement suited everyone involved just fine — at first. Things got a bit more complicated when Kody decided he wanted to adopt Robyn's three children from her first marriage.

In order to adopt Robyn's kids, Kody needed to be legally married to her. Which meant he and Meri had to get a divorce. So they did, much to Meri's dismay. On an episode of "Sister Wives," Meri admitted to having many "emotional moments about what [she] lost," but was committed to going through with it for the sake of the kids. She continued, "I'm realizing now that while the divorce process was really hard, leading up to it and going through it, I feel like I've dealt with it enough that I can see a bigger picture."

Some fans, on the other hand, have taken issue with this whole situation. Many believe that Meri was much more heartbroken over losing her legal wife status than she ever let on. Others think the divorce was Kody's way of pushing Meri out of the family because he'd lost interest in her. And given the way things have gone since the divorce, they may not be too far off.

Kody Brown and Robyn Brown make it legal

Very shortly after Kody Brown's divorce from his first wife, Meri Brown, was finalized, he legally tied the knot with Robyn Brown. The couple's 2014 wedding wasn't aired on their TLC series due to religious reasons, but clips of the reception — an outdoor affair with dozens of Kody and Robyn's closest friends and family members in attendance — made the cut in the Season 1 finale. In the episode, Kody described the couple's wedding day as a "coming out party" saying, "this one event was where most people were going to meet us as we were — polygamous — in a setting where we were abiding as an entire family."

In another episode of "Sister Wives," Kody explained that wedding days for polygamous grooms "aren't necessarily easy." He continued on to say that balancing the feelings and emotions of multiple wives on a big day like that is "such a challenging... act," and that having all of one's other wives in attendance makes it "almost impossible to feel an intimate relationship with your new bride." Robyn seemingly agreed with Kody's remarks, admitting that while she found their wedding day celebratory she did miss her groom. Maybe it's just us, but that's not the energy we want surrounding us on our big day.

Tensions arise between Kody Brown and Meri Brown

Following her legal divorce from Kody Brown, Meri Brown entered into an online flirtation with a Chicago businessman named Sam. Or, at least a person she thought was a Chicago businessman named Sam. In reality, Meri had been catfished and was actually chatting with an unnamed woman. Understandably, the situation took a toll on the Brown family, and on Meri in particular, who told People, "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." Eventually, she came clean to both her family members and the public.

The scandal put so much strain on Kody and Meri's relationship that it's never fully been able to recover. However, just after it all happened, Meri maintained that everything was fine between the pair, writing on Instagram, "I love him. I love my family. I'm committed. I have 30 years in this." But three years later, in a TLC interview, Kody said that he and Meri "purport" to be married but "don't cohabitate," and that he has no desire to be intimate with her. And in a clip released exclusively to Us Weekly in 2022, Meri admitted that things had gotten so bad she "felt like an outsider," before revealing to Robyn that Kody had told her "we can be friends, and that's all." 

Christine Brown ends her relationship

Given the status of Meri Brown and Kody Brown's relationship, fans have long believed that she would be the first wife to end the marriage. But it turns out Christine Brown would actually be the first sister wife to (publicly) call time on the relationship. In November 2021, she posted a message to her Instagram feed that read, in part, "After more than 25 years together, Kody and I have grown apart and I have made the difficult decision to leave."

In a Cameo video sent to a fan (via People), Christine admitted that the divorce had been "a long time coming" and that she "felt like a much better person" post-separation than she ever had before. Regular viewers of the series aren't likely to be surprised by Christine's admission; in a 2021 episode of "Sister Wives" she confessed, "I never wanted the kind of marriage I have now. ... My marriage to Kody is sad." That wasn't the only time she'd dropped a hint that there was trouble in paradise, either. Speaking to Us Weekly in early 2021, she said she didn't often feel "important" or that she "had a say" in the familial relationship, commenting that she doesn't "feel like an equal partner" in her relationship.

While things may be officially over between Kody and Christine, it remains to be seen what will happen to the relationships between Christine and the other wives, and whether or not Christine will return for Season 17 of the family's series.

Is Janelle Brown following Christine Brown's lead?

So Christine Brown and Kody Brown are over, but what about the rest of the wives? Well, fourth wife Robyn Brown seems to be on good terms with her husband. As an unnamed source claimed to Us Weekly, "The other wives can't compete against Robyn. ... They're still very much in love." As previously noted, Meri Brown and Kody have hit a significant rough patch, though publicly they remain in a spiritual marriage. However, some fans speculate that Meri and Kody separated a long time ago, and only pretend to be in a relationship for the sake of the show.

As for Janelle Brown? Per Us Weekly, in a 2022 episode of "Sister Wives," she reflected on her decision to choose plural marriage and her willingness to remain in one, saying, "I've had to really think. My children are almost grown and there's not a huge necessity anymore to stay. ... With Kody and I right now, our relationship is pretty strained. And you know, it's easy to walk away." Following Janelle's revelation, an unnamed source told the magazine, "Janelle meant it when she said she would leave Kody. It's going to happen." According to the tipster, Janelle has seen how happy Christine has been following her own split from their mutual husband, a change that has inspired her to "strongly consider" a split. Whatever the case, it sounds like there's a lot more drama to come on "Sister Wives."