"It's not for everyone… Not to be tried at home," Meri Brown once said; Sure enough, 4 wives and 18 children later, Kody Brown's polygamist lifestyle has called for a whole lot more than judging eyes. Here's his story.
One Man's 4 Wives
Back in the day, a 22-year-old smitten man married the love of his life - or so he thought. Flash forward to today, and Kody Brown's reality has him married to not one, not two, but four soulmates.
And with his very own reality-show, 18 children, and no signs of slowing down anytime soon, one's got to wonder: Where did it all begin? Hang on while we take you back to the start of it all.
Meet Kody Brown
Sure, he might be living a reality that's left the entire world in complete awe, but back in the day, a young Kody Brown was actually rather, well, normal. You see, believe it or not, polygamy was never something the young boy was familiar with, yet alone contemplating.
Raised by Mormon parents, it would take Kody 21 long years before he decided to head down a different path, one that left him converting to fundamental Mormonism - a sect that embraced multiple wives. Yes, it was a rare belief, he knew that. What he didn't know, was that his special somebody was right around the corner.
Finding His First Love
"When I first met her, I had a hard time suppressing my hopelessly romantic nature," Brown recalled of the moment he first laid eyes on his future soulmate: 19-year-old Meri. Sure, he was only 22-years-old at the time, but it felt like he'd known this girl forever.
In fact, from the minute the two crossed paths amongst those Church pews that fateful day in 1989, the sparks were immediate. Perhaps that's why it was only a matter of time before their newfound friendship led them down a romantic path, one Kody knew in his heart they were destined to share.
Kodi & Meri's Wedding
So, what happened next for the young lovebirds? As if the signs weren't already all there, Meri's father shared the very same - very rare - beliefs her new boyfriend lived by; And so, after "Discussing the [polygamist] lifestyle all the time," the two went on to take the next plunge.
On an unforgettable day in 1990, for better or for worse, the smitten couple vowed their love in front of one another, as they tied the knot before their loved ones. Little did the newlyweds know, their little honeymoon phase was about to be interrupted by one special visitor.
Falling For Meri's Sister-in-Law
Janelle: Otherwise known as Meri's sister-in-law; Well, that was until her bitter divorce from Meri's brother brought her to their doorstep, leaning on the newlywed couple for support. "We both knew that Janelle had endured a rough period during her short-lived marriage," Kody explained.
Eventually, though, as the three continued to spend more and more time together, Kody simply couldn't shake the sudden feelings he was met with. You see, as he put it, "There was never any thought in my mind or in Meri's of Janelle becoming [my] wife" - only all of that was about to change.
Marrying His Second Wife
"Although they loved each other, it wasn't romantic, so it was easier for me to accept," Meri explained of the events that soon followed. Fast forward to 1993, and after endless months spent leaning on one another, Janelle and Kody's friendship finally blossomed into something more.
Granted, that spark both he and Meri had felt may not have been there, but the love was still very much there; And so, in only a matter of time, Janelle went from heartbroken divorcee to wife #2, as Kody and Meri eventually welcomed her into their marriage with open arms.
Kody's New Love Interest
But while Kody may have just invited yet another woman inside his home, that didn't mean he was done yet. In fact, he wasn't. As the wives continued to adjust to their new reality, a happily married Kody was busy scouting for his next partner; Only he'd already found her, he just didn't know it yet.
"There was one girl who caught my eye," Kody revealed of the moment he stumbled across Christine Allred at Church one fateful day. "She was bubbly and sweet and as cute as anyone I'd ever seen before... When I looked at her, I had a feeling - call it a sixth sense - that our destinies were interlaced."
Kody & Meri Were Hesitant About Christine
There was no denying it: Kody and Christine's story was far from over - Kody knew that - but that didn't mean the smitten church-goer was ready to act on it just yet. As he put it, he simply wasn't ready to expand his family yet again; Only he wasn't the only one who felt that way.
"His [relationship] with Christine I perceived as much more romantic... he cared about her much more," revealed Meri of her husband's latest love interest. "I felt threatened." Sure enough, Kody would have to wait years before this story reached its latest chapter.
Welcoming His First Child
As the story goes, by 1994, a whole lot had changed within the Brown household: Christine was officially Mrs. Brown, Meri struggled desperately to become pregnant, and as for Janelle? She was about to welcome the family's most exciting arrival yet.
Logan Taylor Brown. On May 21, 1994, Kody and his second wife brought the Brown household from a family of four to a family of five, as Janelle introduced the first (of many) children to call Kody Brown 'dad.' But with their latest arrival, too, came an unsettling realization.
Kody & Janelle Were Step-Siblings
Kody and Janelle Brown had just welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world, only their blossoming relationship actually went way beyond parenthood: They were step-siblings, who were now raising their very own son together. How, exactly, did that even happen?
"My mom was worried I was getting sucked into some polygamous cult," Janelle revealed, after her friendship with Kody's family, back in the day, left her mother skeptical; And so, "She ended up meeting Kody's dad, and they ended up falling in love and getting married," long before she and Kody started dating, as Janelle promises.
Where Does Each Wife Live?
But with tensions running high and his family only growing by the day, where, exactly do each of Kody's wives call home? Do they live under the same roof? If you ask Christine, the answer's actually quite simple: "Honestly, I'm a better Mom living separate," the wife revealed of their varying living arrangements.
You see, despite Kody's disapproval, each of the polygamist's wives - along with their little ones - once lived alongside one other on a cozy little culdesac in Las Vegas, Nevada. Today? They've moved out West towards Arizona, where Kody spends his days dividing his time and affection between the four homes.
Forced To Hide Their Faith
Of course, though, while we may be all too familiar with their sleeping arrangements at this point, it wasn't always this way. In fact, long before the famous family landed themselves their very own TLC reality show, the Browns were actually forced to live in complete secrecy.
From attending school functions to milestones for their little ones, Kody and his wives' days were spent carefully planning out their every move; They wanted to avoid as many judging eyes and swirling rumors as possible. Of course, though, everything changed the minute TLC introduced them to our screens, come 2010.
Becoming 'Sister Wives'
"I like marriage, and I'm a repeat offender," Kody explained to the camera, as America first came to lay eyes on him and his growing clan. At the time, the Brown family only boasted three wives, but perhaps that's what made viewers so intrigued: His love life was blossoming before our very eyes, and it was far from ordinary.
"I have adopted a faith that embraces that lifestyle. In fact, it recommends it... I hope they think I'll be good with four," he hinted. Sure enough, as you already know, fast forward to today, and Kody Brown is happier than ever, as he adjusts to new life with his latest wife. But how'd they even come to be?
Falling in Love With His Fourth Wife
It all started back in 2010, as a newly divorced Robyn Sullivan made her way to Lehi, Utah, for a much-needed visit with some family members. As fate would have it, though, there was another person in town that day; One she'd soon come to cross paths with at the local church. Any guesses who that could be?
"All of a sudden, he looked up, and our eyes met," Robyn explained of the moment she first locked eyes with Kody Brown. "I'm not exaggerating when I say I felt as though I'd been shot through with a bolt of lightning." Sure enough, the sparks were instant, and it was only a matter of time before people took note.
Meri Noticed the Sparks Between the Two
In fact, as Meri herself put it, there was no denying it - even she "Sensed there was something special about Robyn." Of course, though, while she may have been impressed by Kody's latest love interest, Kody, himself, was on an entirely different level; He was absolutely speechless.
How did he put it? Sure, she may have come with a lot of baggage, but from "The minute Robyn and I hit the dance floor, I became transfixed by her spirit," he explained. "I couldn't deny the spark I felt... something deep and transcendent. I guess you could call it love at first sight."
How Did the Brown Family React
How would the Brown household react to Kody's latest addition, though? How would his former wives feel about having to share their husband's heart - and attention - yet again? As the days continued to pass, and the episodes continued to air, viewers began to snag a deeper look at life behind closed doors.
"I don't want to be a boat-rocker, and I don't like my boat rocked," Christine came clean about her thoughts on adding a fourth wife into the equation. "I'm a little hesitant to accept another... But if it happens, she just has to be absolutely amazing." But Christine's perspective wasn't the only one that was about to be challenged.
How Did Kody's Kid's Feel About Polygamy?
As the story goes, unlike Kody and his growing number of wives, his children didn't actually share his same feelings on polygamy. As he and Christine's daughter, Aspyn, put it, "I don't want to do plural marriage." But she wasn't the only one growing skeptical.
"I think I've just grown a lot over the past few years," Kody and Meri's daughter, Mariah revealed. "[I've] taken a step back... maybe thought more about what I want and how I want my life to turn out." Unfortunately for Kody, though, his kids and their disapproving thoughts would soon be the least of his problems.
The Unofficial Marriages
You see, you already know about Kody Brown and his multiple marriages - but how, exactly is he married to multiple women, like he says he is? Let's just say, nothing is as it seems: Sure, he considers himself a husband to four wives, but he's actually only married to... one.
That's right, as much as the polygamist wishes he could make his love for his four wives official, the law only permits one union between spouses; In other words, he was only married to his first wife, Meri. As for the rest? They're solely spiritual partners.
Their Marriage Was Investigated
Nonetheless, back in 2011, the Brown family - along with Kody's four wives - soon became the face of online scandal, as rumors about the marriages began to spread like rapid fire. What happened? There was talk that Kody Brown was guilty of bigamy - a crime punishable by prison.
Sure enough, after a lengthy investigation, court case, and endless headlines, it was finally revealed that, indeed, Kody Brown was married to one person and one person only. But just a few years later, come 2014, he'd come to sabotage one of these very relationships.
Why He Decided to Divorce Meri
It wasn't going to be easy, but he knew what he had to do: Part ways with his first wife and officially file for divorce. What happened? For starters, no one was breaking up; In fact, Kody actually had Meri's full support, and with good reason.
He was going to adopt Robyn's kids - finally, raise them as his own. Only, because Kody was already married, he couldn't fully care for them the way both he and his new wife had hoped. And so, thanks to his supportive first wife, the two went on to call it quits on their 24+ year marriage; A sacrifice in the name of love.
Kody's 18 Children
So, who exactly were these mysterious children? Or better yet, who, exactly, were Kody's 18 mini-mes, that comprised the Brown household? For starters, they may not have all shared the same mother, but the reality was that it made no difference; They were all part of one big family.
As a matter of fact, as Christine put it, "When we tell you that really the kids are all ours, it's because we've raised all the kids." From her very own little ones - Aspyn, Mykelti, Paedon, Ysabel, Gwendolyn, and Truley - to Meri's daughter, Mariah, and Robyn's five kids, there was enough love to go around, and then some.
The Wives Felt "Voiceless"
Of course, though, when your newfound reality props you directly into a family of 23, it's not exactly a surprise that you might just get lost in the crowd, literally. In fact, if you ask the wives themselves, there's no doubt about it: "It won't always be you first," as Robyn explained.
But exactly how deep did these feelings go? "There definitely are times when you are a plural wife, that your needs are not met, and it's hard," she continued. With four very different wives and 18 children in the mix, the Brown household was a constant battleground to make your voice heard, often leaving the wives feeling "voiceless."
Kody Says He Treats Them Equally
But if you ask the man of the house? Let's just say he's got a very different opinion on the matter. In fact, according to Kody, it's literally impossible to prevent his wives from feeling this way, and the reason is simple: How they choose to feel is fully on them.
"There's no way to make all my wives feel like the favorite," Kody explained. "To me? It's delusion." Well, "delusion" or not, Kody's wives and their growing tensions are certainly all-too-real. "What I get jealous about most is time and where he spends [it]," Christine revealed of Kody's constant spending time with Robyn.
Fans Think Kody Has Favorites
Sure, we now know how "voiceless" the wives often feel; How "powerless" Kody is when it comes to their emotions; But if you ask those watching from the other side of the screen? You can bet they've got a lot to say. In fact, according to fans, there's no doubt about it: Kody is most certainly playing favorites.
"Maybe have Kody stop talking because he's giving the impression he's fonder of some over others," one fan chimed in on Twitter. "And Meri is treated like she is invisible," wrote another. Who do you think holds the most favor in Kody's eyes? Or perhaps does the polygamist see everybody the same?
Kody's Wives Are Free to Leave
Regardless of what's going on behind closed doors, though, there's one thing still up in the air that Kody wants you to know for sure: "I don't like divorce - nobody likes that - but my wives are free to leave if they make that choice," he explained of their freedom.
Granted, they may not be together on paper, but in Kody's eyes? They're very much married, bound for life; And at the end of the day, if they do decide their little love story has finally reached its last chapter? Just like they chose to wed, they can choose to end things.
Meri Was Once Catfished
Just like Meri, who, as we already know, granted her husband the divorce he clearly desperately wanted. What would you do if you were in her shoes? For the struggling divorcee, coming to terms with her 'breakup' actually led her to search for love elsewhere. Little did she know, her little endeavors would be met with a devastating blow.
What happened? Shortly after their 2015 divorce, "a vulnerable time" for Meri, as she put it, Brown struck up a relationship with someone online. Only her little fling turned out to be a brutal catfish. "It's like, what is the motivation?" the betrayed star reflected to People.
Meri & Kody's Relationship Troubles
Unfortunately for Meri, though, her online relationship wasn't the only one that was headed South. In fact, if there was one thing that came from her brutal catfishing, it was clarity: She "Loved the kids, but the marriage was done - and she was not wanting to fix it," as she revealed to the other wives.
How did Kody handle the news? "I feel like I was deceived into a relationship that was very different than what I expected," Meri's husband revealed. In only a matter of time, the two went from head-over-heels, to divorced, to done - but where did that leave Kody's other wives?
Will Meri & Christine Leave Kody?
Well, if you ask loyal fans, they'll be happy to tell you: "Kody sounds like he's getting ready to swap some wives out," one Twitter user predicted. "Meri and Christine would go 1st, cause he actually likes Robyn, and Janelle is just along for the ride."
You see, with three other wives competing for her husband's attention, Christine will be the first to tell you that she gets jealous, regarding where he spends his time and attention; And lately? All signs were pointing him towards Robyn, as fans put it.
Each Wife & Their Career
Since we now know what's been going on behind closed doors, what exactly is going on when they leave their culdesac's compounds? How do the wives spend their days when they're not busy tending to their 18 children? For starters, each wife is employed and as driven as ever.
Robyn, the owner of an online boutique, hopes her business will help connect her to the other ladies. Meri? Owns a bed-and-breakfast in Parowan, Utah, thanks to the help of her mother. Janelle launched a food storage business, and Christine, too, works in retail.
They're Proud of Their Roots
Well, there you have it, folks. We've just walked you through Kody Brown's unique journey from a smitten 22-year-old to a doting husband of four wives. But if you ask him? He and his unconventional clan of 23 aren't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, they're just getting started.
"It will be an honor to continue this fight with the Brown family in seeking the recognition of equal religious and speech rights for all families in Utah," as their family attorney, Jonathan Turley, put it. Not everyone seems to understand the Brown family, but they're proud of their roots, and they're here to stay.