The past few seasons of "Sister Wives" have been a whirlwind of emotions for viewers, and Season 17 is definitely serving up plenty of drama.
The TLC reality series, which premiered in 2010, follows polygamist Kody Brown and his marriages to four women (Brown is only legally married to one wife, Robyn Brown, but considers himself "spiritually" married to all four). The patriarch of the Brown family has 18 children across his families.
But the Brown family continues to shift. His third wife, Christine Brown, recently decided to leave the plural family.
Kody said his recent marital troubles have inspired a crisis in faith, causing him to question his decision to have a plural marriage.
“It’s a weird thing to be getting left. It’s made me question getting into plural marriage. It’s made me question my faith, and especially question my religion,” he said in Season 17. “The message that we had to the world about functional polygamy seems so dysfunctional now.”
Having trouble keeping track of where Kody's marriages stand, and figuring out whether he's still married to Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn? TODAY is breaking down all the major details for you. Below, find a timeline of all his marriages to his wives in order, including where they met and where they are now.
When did Meri marry Kody?
Meri and Kody wed in 1990.
How did Meri and Kody meet?
Meri was raised in a polygamist family and was introduced to Kody by her sister. “I was a little taken with Kody right off the bat,” Meri wrote in the 2012 book "Becoming Sister Wives."
How many children do Meri and Kody have?
The couple shares one child: 27-year-old Leon Brown. In June 2022, Leon came out as transgender and started using they/them pronouns.
After Leon went public with their transition, Meri posted a photo of their Instagram post in an Instagram story and captioned it, “You are my sunshine.”
Are Meri and Kody still together?
File this one under the category, "It's complicated." Meri was Kody's first wife and they tied the knot in 1990. The couple was legally married until 2014 and Kody was "spiritually married" to his other wives, Janelle and Christine.
When his fourth wife (Robyn) entered the picture, Kody asked Meri to divorce him so he could legally marry Robyn. Per People, Meri obliged the request since Robyn had three children from a prior marriage and being legally married to Kody would allow them to be added to his insurance.
During an April 2021 episode of "Sister Wives," Meri and Kody celebrated their "non-anniversary" and spoke about their marital troubles, as reported by People.
“Meri and I haven’t seen each other a lot during COVID, and Meri and I haven’t lived together since before we even left Las Vegas,” Kody said in a clip from the show.
The family moved from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Ariz. and is in the process of developing land they purchased.
Meri also said that she and Kody were "not a couple" but are "in a family."
On "Sister Wives," Kody said their marriage "dissolved" following Meri's catfishing scandal. In 2015, Meri entered into an online relationship with someone who she believed was a man, but was actually a woman fan posing as an admirer.
“(It) turned out to be extremely exploitative and abusive. And from that experience, Meri and I sort of saw our marriage just dissolve," Brown said.
In September 2022, Meri teased Season Seventeen of "Sister Wives" on Instagram by sharing a photo of herself holding a book. She captioned the post, "There’s so much more to the story...." which led many some fans to wonder if she had left Kody. So far, no confirmation of the theory.
During episode six of Season 17, Meri gave an update on the status of her marriage.
"My relationship with Kody has not improved as far as like a husband and wife relationship. That's not something that he's interested in. I mean, it just is what it it is. It's where we are," she explained.
Kody also weighed in on their complicated situation.
"I feel like my relationship with Meri is very good but it's not a married situation. It's an amiable relationship but I don't think it's a fulfilling relationship for Meri, not in any way," he said.
Later on in the season, Meri admitted that she wants to work on the relationship, but Kody does not.
"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.
Kody doesn't see things the same way, though, and offered the following thoughts in a confessional interview.
"I don't really consider myself married to Meri. If she wanted to move on and marry another, she wouldn't get an argument with me. I don't believe that we can ever be functional and I don't believe that I will ever be emotionally safe with her," he said.
In the same episode, Meri explained why she sticks around, even though Kody doesn't seem interested in a relationship with her.
“I don’t feel jealous of Christine that she’s leaving and I can’t because I can. 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,” she said at the time.
When did Janelle marry Kody?
Janelle and Kody started their marriage in 1993.
How did Janelle and Kody meet?
Janelle and Kody have multiple connections to each other.
Janelle was briefly married to Meri's brother, Adam Barber — in "Becoming Sister Wives," Janelle said they only lived together for six months. Through their separation, Janelle said she remained close to Adam's family, including Meri. She said the first time she met Meri's new suitor Kody, the "strangest feeling washed over (her)," writing, "I was in the middle of a horrible divorce and had no idea how to handle the sensation Kody's entrance conjured in me."
Then, Janelle's late mother Sheryl Usher was married to Kody's late father William Winn Brown, also a polygamist; they are buried next to each other.
Neither Sheryl nor Janelle was raised in polygamist households. "I was from a monogamous faith. I began to look at their faith objectively and I became intrigued by it," Janelle said in "Sister Wives."
How many children do Janelle and Kody have?
Janelle is Kody's second wife and the couple shares six children: Logan (27), Madison (26), Hunter (25), Garrison (23), Gabriel (20) and Savanah (17).
Are Janelle and Kody still together?
Yes. But that doesn't mean Janelle is afraid to voice her concerns when she doesn't agree with Kody. In a recent episode of "Sister Wives," the 53-year-old spoke up during a family Zoom meeting when Kody suggested that he didn't want to visit his children at Christine's house if they returned to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t know, Kody, I don’t know, I guess that’s up to you," she said.
Meanwhile, Kody expressed his frustration in a private confessional interview.
“I feel like Christine’s trying to pin me down, even Janelle is trying to pin me down on what I’m gonna do,” he said. “I sometimes feel like they want to catch me in some kind of COVID protocol hypocrisy, so I’m being super careful about answering them.”
In one Season 17 episode, Kody told his wives to "conform to patriarchy again" and Janelle didn't take the message kindly, sharing the following message in a private confessional.
“Yeah, I didn’t know I’d signed up for patriarchy but that’s not what we all agreed on in the very beginning,” she said at the time.
When did Christine marry Kody?
Christine joined Kody's plural marriage in 1994. She grew up in a polygamist family. “I really believed in plural marriage and wanted to live it,” Christine told People in 2022 of her point of view at the time of their marriage.
How did Christine meet Kody?
They met in 1990 through a church youth group. Christine was 18 at the time. Christine and Kody describe having a mutual crush on each other in "Becoming Sister Wives."
"I couldn't deny that Christine would be part of my family someday, but we all needed to grow up first," Kody wrote in "Becoming Sister Wives."
How many children do Christine and Kody have?
The former couple has six children together: Aspyn (27), Mykelti (26), Paedon (24), Gwendlyn (20), Ysabel (19), Truely (12).
Are they still together?
No. The latest season of "Sister Wives" chronicles the former couple's breakup after about 26 years of marriage. Both Kody and Christine announced their separation on Instagram in November 2021.
As for what caused the breakup? Christine has spoken extensively on the show about their intimacy issues. Kody, on his end, appears to take issue with Christine's commitment (or lack thereof) to the idea of plural marriage.
“Even if you said at this point we could have intimacy again, I wouldn’t believe it for a second,” Christine said in one recent episode. Kody's response? “Even if you said you liked plural marriage and would be devoted to it, I wouldn’t believe that for a second.”
Reflecting on his breakup in "Sister Wives," Kody said he could have handled the situation in a different manner. “I wish I would’ve actually said, ‘Well, we gotta work on some things,’” he said.
Christine has also been open about her belief that Kody has a favorite wife, Robyn.
“I couldn’t with a clear conscience stay married to someone who had favorites and made it very known and someone who was breaking my kids’ hearts,” she said in a recent episode.
After their breakup, Christine relocated to Utah with her youngest child Truely and clashed with Kody over custody. The reality star talked candidly during Season 17 about her desire to relocate her daughter following her divorce.
“What I’m looking for is a place to envelop Truely in family. I can take her to a better support system where she’s surrounded by love. Whereas here, to be honest, most of the time it’s me right now,” she said.
When did she marry Kody?
Robyn joined the Brown family in 2010 and she and Kody were legally married in 2014. Previously, she was married to David Jessop; the former couple had three children together.
How did Robyn and Kody meet?
Robyn and Kody met at a social event. Meri recalled their meet cute on an episode of "Sister Wives," saying, "Kody and I were out one night, and we went over to a friend’s house, and Robyn happens to be this friend’s cousin. That’s where we first met Robyn.”
Incorporating Robyn into the family was a major storyline in early storylines of "Sister Wives," like when Christine was upset that Kody kissed Robyn ahead of their marriage.
How many children do Robyn and Kody have?
Kody adopted Robyn's three children when they got married, and the couple also has two children together. Their family includes Dayton (22), Aurora (19), Breanna (17), Solomon (10) and Ariella (6).
Are Robyn and Kody still together?
Yes, Robyn remains Kody's fourth wife. Early on in "Sister Wives," she called him her "soulmate."
In Season 17 of "Sister Wives," Robyn let audiences in on her routine with Kody, and why she hires a nanny to watch their children.
“Kody and I have a lot going on during the day,” Robyn said. “That’s why I have a nanny — so that I can have her help me instead of trying to ask Kody to help with the kids.” To ask more of Kody, Robyn said, would be unfair. “It’s not fair of me to ask him to help when he has so many responsibilities."
Her fellow sister wife Christine recently suggested that she is Kody's favorite.
“That’s just what it comes down to. I think he has a favorite wife and that’s why all of this is like it is," Christine said during a recent episode while talking about her breakup with Kody.
When Christine announced that she was leaving Kody and moving to Utah in a recent episode, Robyn seemed visibly distraught by the announcement. In a behind the scenes interview, the 43-year-old explained why she was so upset.
"I’ve been through a divorce. I know what this means. We’re not just talking about three kids and a husband and wife. We’re talking about 18 kids, spouses, grandbabies and five of us that are all connected and committed to each other and technically married. Do you even understand what you’re saying?" she questioned.
Later on in Season 17, Robyn asked Christine if she needed space as she prepared to move to Utah. When Christine said she did, Robyn looked visibly distraught and Kody chimed in, accusing Christine of mistreating Robyn throughout their relationship.
“(Christine) treated you like dirt from the very beginning,” he said to Robyn. “That’s the relationship you have with her. That’s the reason I’m angry.”
Christine then denied the claims, saying, “Hey look, I never tried to treat anybody like crap.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com