Kody and Meri Brown from “Sister Wives” were married the longest, officially 24 years and spiritually about 32 and a half, compared to his two former wives, Janelle and Christine, and his remaining wife, Robyn. However, although the two continued living together, then nearby until mid-2021, people close to them and viewers at home noticed that their relationship was dysfunctional for years before the public split. We studied when the cracks began forming in Kody and Meri’s bond.

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Their emotional split likely started in 2010

Kody and Robyn Brown, his fourth wife, started dating in 2009 and married in May 2010, and their relationship likely motivated TLC to grant the family a show. After all, she entered the family 16 years after the third wife, since Kody spiritually married Janelle in 1993 and Christine in 1994. Upon leaving the marriage, his second and third wives would call Robyn ‘the favorite wife.’ At that time, they also thought Kody should remain married to her, and not take any new wives, i.e., continue living as a monogamist.

Meri was in the plural marriage until December 2022, when she announced its termination, and implied she had much to say. Fans suspected TLC would grant her a special or a spin-off show, or she would get a book deal to tell her side of the story,  but nothing on that front has happened so far. Although Meri sometimes seems eager to work things out with Kody, she mostly accepts that their relationship has ended. According to her social media, she is happily single, however, based on her experience with catfishing in 2015, she could change her mind if anyone piqued her interest.

Hints were present after Kody met Janelle

Kody met Janelle in the fall of 1989, a few months before he began dating Meri in early 1990, and married her following a four-month engagement when he was 21 and she 19. Judging by the fact that Janelle was married to Meri’s brother Adam Barber, and that they married around Kody’s birthday on 17 January, he might have had an eye on her long before he officially courted her.

Additionally, some viewers with a keen eye know Kody has a secret – he courted an underage girl in 1991 and was waiting for her to turn 18 to make things official. However, she changed her mind and turned away from any proposed engagement. Also, Kody claimed Meri somehow tricked him into marrying her, although he had a few months to prepare. Finally, he was friends with Christine for three and a half years before marrying her.

Fertility may have been a crucial problem

Kody and Meri have only one biological child, Mariah, born on 29 July 1995, who came out as lesbian in 2017. She revealed that she’s transgender and would use they/their pronouns and go by Leo or Leon after June 2022. However, despite being his first wife, Meri didn’t give birth to the eldest child in the family, as Kody had a son and a daughter with Janelle, Logan Taylor born on 21 May 1994, andAspyn Kristine Brown on 14 March 1995. Janelle also gave birth to Madison Rose shortly after Leo was born, on 3 November 1995.

Some viewers claim that Meri’s infertility caused their relationship to deteriorate. She came from a polygamist family with 27 siblings, meaning she understood the importance of having children. Kody didn’t come from a polygamist family; he and his father had a premonition late in life, and decided to pursue the family dynamic. Thus, he may have been impatient with Meri’s struggles to conceive, and gave more time and energy to Janelle and Christine.

Fans who dislike Meri also noticed that she used her inability to have more than one child to win arguments, garner sympathy, and sometimes spoil the mood. They recognized that infertility affected her quality of life, and felt compassionate because it distanced her from other family members. However, most people agree that she shouldn’t have used that state to make others feel guilty, or cave in to her demands. Meri considered surrogacy in the 2010s, presumably to help get the spark back, and Robyn even volunteered to be a surrogate, but Kody refused to entertain the idea.

Kody’s divorce request hurt Meri

Most people familiar with their entire story agree that his marriage to Robyn in 2014 was their relationship’s breaking point. Things started off on the right foot five years earlier, however, as Meri encouraged Kody to pursue Robyn after he saw her while visiting the church. Kody claimed Robyn ‘stirred their souls’ and kept him and Meri up at night because they wanted to know her better. Robyn described their meeting as ‘being shot through with a bolt of lightning’ and reported feeling embarrassed and stunned.

Although Meri encouraged her husband to pursue Robyn as a fourth sister wife, Robyn was reluctant. She’d recently divorced David Jessop, Kody’s third and Christine’s first cousin, with whom she had three children. For those reasons, she had the longest courtship period of all Kody’s wives, six months, before they made things official. During that time, he was celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with Meri, but it was apparent he was shutting down her efforts to connect romantically and physically. Disappointed, Meri confessed, ‘The only things that make me want to stay are my commitment level and my daughter.’

Nonetheless, Meri had sought to work on the relationship, and expected to retain exclusivity as his only legal wife. However, instead of getting married spiritually and bringing the wife into the family, as he did with Janelle and Christine, Kody asked Meri for a divorce, to marry Robyn and adopt her three children legally.

A fan catfished Meri a year later

Kody’s new legal marriage and physical and emotional distance from her husband sent Meri into a spiral. She felt isolated and under-appreciated, and the show’s fan and an online scammer, Jackie Overton, took advantage. She pretended to be a business tycoon in his early 40s named Sam, and reached out to Meri on Twitter before transitioning to private chats over the phone. Meri felt comfortable, even sending naughty texts and posing seductively in a picture.

However, Sam failed to show up in person, always making excuses and eventually sending a “friend” named Lindsay, who may have been Jackie, to calm Meri down. Lindsay subtly warned Meri that she could ruin her life and family if she messed with Sam, which proved true in August 2015, when Jackie leaked conversations and pictures on her blog. She even published an Amazon book, “Almost Meri’ed,” as Samuel Jacob Cooper, in January 2017.

Kody, ironically, latched on to the fact that she wanted to have a relationship with more than one man. Meri defended herself, stating the catfish filled her head with statements of ‘how horrible her family and specifically Kody were,’ leading Meri to become angry and push Kody away. Kody cited this as the moment their marriage dissolved in 2020, as he stopped coming to her house in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meri claims that he took her request to take a small break as a ‘go away and never come back.’ The two entered therapy to deal with the scandal, and agreed that they never recovered. They kept bringing the past up about a year after moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, in 2018, meaning the change of scenery barely helped.

Meri wanted to return to college

Many viewers overlooked that Meri wanted to complete her degree around 2015, because it never became a big storyline. However, fans who were on Meri’s side after her divorce often remind other viewers how dedicated to the family she was. Meri confessed to Robyn what she considered, but the newly legal wife dissuaded her, telling her that the family business, My Sisterwife’s Closet, was too demanding. Nonetheless, Meri believed she could keep up with the work the online clothing and jewelry boutique needed.

Moreover, although it seemed that Meri wanted to keep things between them and was merely casting a net to get feedback, Robyn betrayed her. She ran to Kody, and not only told him about Meri’s desire, but was ostensibly emotionally manipulative, telling him she couldn’t have any more biological children with him if she attended college. Meri recognized the financial struggle, or decided that her willpower wasn’t strong enough and abandoned her goal.

Meri’s emotions bothered Kody

Fans have criticized Kody for being selfish throughout the series. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he split the family into households and didn’t want them to mix. Conversely, he wanted to go wherever he wanted, or stay with Robyn, which is what he mostly did. He even tried to get his daughter Ysabel to delay the back operation for scoliosis instead of quarantining so he could be there in April 2021. In other words, he didn’t mind prolonging her pain if the operation fitted his schedule.

The same goes for his wives; he does not take their input even if he hears them out. In the 15th season of the show, Kody stated, ‘For all of my marriage with Meri, I feel like she unloads her emotions into a burden that I’m supposed to carry.’ He added that he wouldn’t carry that burden, and believed there was no reason he should, hardly a husband-wife attitude.

Kody also refused to hear Meri out when she told him she wanted to work on her bed & breakfast business, Lizzie’s Heritage Inn, in Parowan, Utah. He repeatedly said the inn won’t make money, and declined to invest, labeling it ‘an irresponsible waste of money.’ Furthermore, when he visited the property, Kody wondered how Meri paid the electricity bill after having a few daily guests, implying he would’ve shut down the inn if he owned it.

They were not on the same page

Many events point to the incompatibility between Meri and Kody, but it’s clear that they were not on the same wavelength. Meri spoke of her upbringing in a polygamous family, noted that her father, William, taught her to abstain from physical intimacy before marriage, including kissing. Her family also pressured her to marry young, and have as many children as possible.

That aligns with what Kody wanted, and she did her best to make things work. However, in 2021, she admitted that physical intimacy had stopped around a decade ago. That meant they stopped being close in the early 2010s, which matches the time he started dating Robyn.

Even when they dissolved their spiritual union, Meri that felt they were still married and wanted to fix their relationship. Kody was cold and said he wouldn’t argue if she found another man, and that he would never trust her with his emotions again. Additionally, Kody rarely considered how his wives and children felt, and wouldn’t give each wife a quarter of his attention and time. He even openly favored Robyn and her children, making others feel less important, so it was unsurprising when three wives left by the end of 2022.

Meri wants to move on

Although many felt that Meri would fall back into her old patterns after her divorce, and start clinging to her loveless relationship, she proved everyone wrong. She declared that 2023 would be a new start, and began posting consistently on Instagram, noting that she was ‘committed to inner peace, growth, self-love, and gratitude, and leveling up after life got harder.’

Meri lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, close to Leo and their fiancé Audrey Kriss. However, she travels to Utah to work on her hospitality business and is also a salesman for a multi-level marketing business, LuLaRoe. Additionally, she spends much time with her best friend, Jenn Sullivan, who earned her trust after the catfishing scandal, and with whom she became inseparable. Meri is still close to Janelle, but not Christine, after the two ended their friendship in December 2022. So far, she hasn’t indicated whether she will date again, or is even interested in polygamy, which would probably seem unlikely at her age.

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