Gone was the happy and loving family that Kody Brown was proud of, when TLC’s “Sister Wives” was launched in 2010. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if, over the years, he was found wanting by any of his four wives and 18 children, but he ended up estranged from three of his wives, and some of his children. Gabriel, for one, had been chafing under his father’s rules during the pandemic, and was hurt by his obvious favoritism for his fourth wife’s kids. Kody, in turn, made no secret that he was exasperated with his son with his second wife, Janelle.
- 1 About the show
- 2 Kody and Janelle, Gabriel’s parents
- 3 Kody as the father to Janelle’s children
About the show
“Sister Wives” chronicled the polygamous marriage and family life of Kody Brown. Season one of the reality TV series revealed that Kody had three wives, one of whom was pregnant, and was courting a potential fourth. His family lived together in one big house in Lehi, Utah, but kept their unconventional lifestyle a secret, because polygamy was illegal in that state. Once their lives were exposed to the public, the Lehi Police Department began investigating them.
Kody might have been legally married to one woman, and only spiritually married to three others, but under the anti-bigamy law in Utah, it was a crime for a married person to cohabit with another. In 2011, Kody relocated his family to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he could live without fear of being hauled into court, because it appeared that spiritual marriage had no legal meaning in the state, so he had no criminal liability. They never intended to stay in Las Vegas permanently, and in 2018, the family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona.
For 16 seasons, from 2010 to 2022, viewers witnessed how the family had evolved, and went through the ups and downs of a polygamous lifestyle. It was disheartening for their fans to see how Kody’s relationship with his wives and children had fractured, to the point that his third wife, Christine, left him in 2021. Of late, Kody was at odds with his son Gabriel, and many were curious about what went wrong between them.
Kody and Janelle, Gabriel’s parents
Fans of the show were quite confused about the relationship between Kody and Janelle, as it seemed to be different from that with his other wives. Some wondered if it was only because she was not as affectionate towards him as the others. An insight into how they became a couple would help people have a better understanding of what they were to each other.
How they met
Janelle Schriever was from Bountiful, Utah, and was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) faith, but only thought of polygamy as a tradition of Mormonism from the early days, that had long been prohibited by their church. She didn’t realize that people still practiced such a lifestyle, until she fell for Adam who belonged to a polygamist family. Their marriage only lasted for six months, as they discovered that they weren’t compatible in every way. Janelle remained close to his family, including his sister Meri, who was dating Kody when they first met. After Meri and Kody were married in 1990, Janelle often hung out with them. For a time, the couple rented her old house, and she also helped him find a job in sales, as she worked at an employment agency.
Kody’s friendship with Janelle was platonic, but it crossed his mind that there was something between them. He once told her offhandedly that she should consider the possibility of the two of them being in a relationship, which she totally rejected. When she brought a guy she was dating to Montana, where the couple was staying at that time, Kody still believed that he and Janelle shared a destiny, and that they would marry someday. This was not brought on by the same feelings he had for his first wife, Meri; meaning to say, it was not romantic in nature, but more on a spiritual and intellectual level kind of love.
Janelle later admitted that she was drawn to Kody, and felt that he was the right man for her. She wasn’t looking for romance, as her failed marriage had disillusioned her. What she wanted was a guy she could be friends with, and whom she would have an intellectual connection with; she believed that intimacy would come after that. Also, she’d fallen in love with the polygamous lifestyle, and the idea of sisterhood.
Eventually she approached Kody, and boldly told him that she thought she belonged in his family, which flattered and greatly relieved him, as this was something he was hoping for. Her mom married Kody’s father, who took it as his responsibility to look after Janelle, so things went smoothly with everyone. It was a short courtship, as they dated once and shared one kiss. When he asked her to marry him and become his second wife, it was just a formality. After two weeks, they had a spiritual ceremony for their wedding.
At that time, Kody and Meri had been married for three years and enjoyed monogamy. If Meri had any problems with Janelle joining their family, she never said anything, or at least expressed it in a way that he understood. They knew from the get-go that their marriage would be a plural one, and was even looking forward to it. However, it was a struggle living together, because they didn’t know how to integrate Janelle into their lives, and she didn’t know how to fit in. Things were awkward for Janelle as she never felt like a wife, but more of a visitor in the house. After many disagreements they barely talked, but learned to tolerate each other, not a happy situation.
What happened to them didn’t make sense at all, considering that Meri grew up in a polygamous family; all of them studied the principle and wanted to live it; this certainly wasn’t the celestial plural marriage that any of them imagined. Some said they were too young and didn’t have the emotional maturity to handle what this lifestyle entailed.
Sister Wives' Kody Reveals When His Marriage to Meri Started to ‘Dissolve', via Celebrity News – Us Weekly https://ift.tt/31uy1ic
By the time Kody asked Christine to be his third wife in 1994, Janelle was pregnant with his first child, but as inconceivable as it might have seemed, bringing her into their lives eased the tension between his first two wives. That’s not to say that everything was fine, as they still had squabbles and misunderstandings. When Meri and Christine became mothers, they all put aside their differences to provide a stable and happy home for the kids. They were co-parenting, and shared the same goal of raising them as one family. Janelle wasn’t a homemaker, and she was not good at cooking, baking, or doing arts and crafts. Being career-oriented, she admitted that her contribution to the family was financial. She was grateful that her children had other mothers in their lives with skills she didn’t have. Her kids grew up well-rounded, as they benefited from all their mothers’ wisdom and experience.
Kody and Janelle had been married for eight years when in 2001 she gave birth to Gabriel, their fifth child, but then suffered from postpartum depression. As their family had grown, it seemed that there was never enough money to go around. It didn’t help that they were starting to feel cramped, living in a small house where there wasn’t any room to think or breathe. Having no idea how to remedy the situation or make things work was making her miserable.
With her ‘nasty fight’ with Meri, she reached her breaking point and left the house. Come morning, Kody came to pick her up, and asked her casually if she was feeling better. Janelle didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, as it seemed to her that he had little understanding of what she was going through. She then packed-up her things, and took her kids to stay with her mom until she found a place of her own.
She took control of her life, making decisions on her own about her future, and running her household. Janelle went back to school and earned a degree in accounting, which gave her a sense of accomplishment and helped her regain her self-confidence. This didn’t mean that she was cutting ties with Kody and their family – Kody stayed at her house during their time together, and she drove her kids to either Meri or Christine for homeschooling or daycare when she had work.
With her newfound happiness, she and Kody evolved as a couple. After 10 years with Kody, they were finally able to get to know each other better, on a more intimate and spiritual level. They explored the more romantic side of their relationship; she let her guard down, and allowed herself to be emotionally vulnerable to Kody.
— Janelle Brown (@JanelleBrown117) January 21, 2021
Living under one roof
After two years of Janelle living on her own, Kody moved the family back to Utah, but she didn’t want to give up her independence and live with her sister wives again. Almost a year later, she began to miss her family, but what made her decide to be with them was when Kody informed her they would all be living in a big house with three separate apartments. It was an ideal home for a polygamous family, as it meant she would live close to them but still have her own space; her children would be living with their father and half-siblings all the time. This new living arrangement changed how the wives interacted with one another, as they became happier and more relaxed, and came to a mutual understanding and respect for their differences. When it came to making decisions, it had to be what was best for the whole family.
Kody as the father to Janelle’s children
One of the things that endeared Kody to her was how he interacted with children, even those not related to him. Janelle’s father died when she was two, and her stepfather was emotionally distant from her. It caused her to become determined to marry a man who would be a father who was involved in all aspects of her children’s lives, and she believed that she saw that in Kody. From the time her eldest was born, Kody had been the best father any child could hope for. He was hands-on with him and all the kids. He assured her that he was fully committed to them no matter the difficulties they faced. Things apparently changed, especially since Gabriel was all grown up, and had opinions of his own that differed from his father’s views.
Strife over pandemic rules
Kody’s ongoing feud with his son appeared to have started during the pandemic. In 2020, the world came to a standstill as the covid-19 virus took lives indiscriminately. As there was no cure for it, all people could do was try to limit its spread. Infectious disease experts released relevant guidelines, and Kody then made a list of rules that he expected his family to follow.
At that time, the family was living in Flagstaff, with each wife having her own house, and Kody was supposed to follow a schedule so that he could stay with each of them. He was rigid with his rules, as he said that it was the only way for him to go from one house to another without upsetting everyone.
Out of all the rules that Kody gave, it was the social distancing part that Gabriel objected to the most, because he had a girlfriend. He claimed that Payton had been isolating herself so it should be safe for them to be together. Kody wasn’t keen on that, because he could not be sure if she was religiously following the safety protocols for covid-19. However, Gabe didn’t want to stop seeing his girlfriend. While Kody understood that, he said that his son had to choose between his girlfriend and his dad. Kody even suggested that his sons moved out of the house, so he could visit Janelle and their other kids, but Janelle refused to kick her sons out of their home.
Gabriel felt that everyone in the family was so focused on being right, that no one wanted to step back so they would realize that this was ruining their family. Kody felt disrespected by his sons when they didn’t abide by his rules, and said ‘I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so angry about what happened that we’re not communicating. And I think they are too.’ He believed they needed therapy, so that they could straighten things out.
Gabriel accused Kody of favoring Robyn over his mother
Everyone in the family seemed to think that Robyn was Kody’s favorite wife. He divorced Meri and legally married Robyn in 2014, after their spiritual ceremony in 2010, so he could adopt her three children from a previous marriage. She gave birth to two more kids with Kody as the father. Kody mentioned that Robyn’s house made him feel like it was his home and his family, as it was where his rules were being followed, unlike in Janelle’s house. Gabriel was frustrated and hurt by the way his father treated his mother, feeling that his father favored his children with Robyn, as he mostly stayed with them during the pandemic.
Kody accused Gabriel of gaslighting him
The issue over the pandemic rules had strained his relationship with his son. Gabriel felt that his father was tired of making an effort with him, as they didn’t talk as they used to. He didn’t really understand what he did that was so wrong to warrant such treatment from his dad.
When the two had to work together to fix the RV where Janelle was staying, Gabriel insisted that he was the only one who could do it, which annoyed his father. Kody said that his son didn’t know what he was doing, as Gabriel had never driven a mobile home before, leveled it, or even read the manual. He said in an interview, ‘The whole issue here with me and Gabriel isn’t that Gabriel doesn’t know what’s going on. Gabriel knew what the rules were, he was gaslighting me I feel like.’ Some thought that instead of working things out with his son, Kody played the victim, and refused to take responsibility for his shortcomings as a parent.
Kody said that he wanted to be a hero for his children, so he worked hard and did everything he could to help, support, and just be there for them. However, because they disagreed over the covid-19 protocols, he believed his son was trying to make it appear as if everything was his fault. He blamed Janelle for not taking his side, or for not insisting that Gabriel obey him. Janelle had always been non-confrontational as a parent – even her children teased her about never enforcing things that she threatened them with for bad behavior. She would rather discuss what they did that was wrong, rather than punish them.
It wasn’t just Gabriel who had a problem with Kody’s parenting style because, with too many children, it would be a stretch to say that he spent much quality time with each of them. He once said that he was good with kids, but was too busy with work to babysit them, and besides, he’d rather pay someone $20 an hour than lose $200 an hour from his business.