Janelle and Kody Brown
Fans of the reality series “Sister Wives” will be more than familiar with Janelle and Kody Brown. Janelle was born in May 1969 and became Kody’s second wife in 1993; together, they share six children and two grandchildren as of January 2023.
Janelle was born to Robert Schriever and Sheryl Usher ,and is known to have at least one sister. In 1972, tragedy struck the family when Robert passed away; Janelle’s mother married a man named Merlin Fryer, but would later marry Kody’s late father, Winn Brown, making him her father-in-law and stepfather at the same time. Sheryl passed away in 2020.
Despite being born and raised in the Mormon faith, Janelle claims that she had never heard of polygamy until she met Kody and his first wife, Meri. The blonde reality star attended Bountiful High School, but decided not to further her studies with a college degree.
In December 1988, Janelle became married to Adam Barber, Meri’s husband in Salt Lake City, Utah, but tTwo years later they divorced for unknown reasons. It was through her former sister-in-law Meri that Janelle would meet Kody, and form a close bond with the polygamist; in January 1993, Janelle and Kody became spiritually married, eventually confirming their separation almost 30 years later with a bombshell statement.
Kody and Janelle’s children are named Logan Taylor, Hunter Elias, Robert Garrison, Gabriel, Madison Rose, and Savanah. Madison married in June 2016 and has two children: Axel James Brush and Evangelynn Kodi Brush. Meanwhile, Logan became engaged to his longtime girlfriend Michelle in September 2017.
The patriarch of the family, Kody Brown was born in January 1969 and has had up to four wives at once: Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn. The family man, who has 18 children and a handful of grandchildren to date, was also raised in a polygamist Mormon household, as his father had three wives and ten children. Kody previously confirmed that his parents struggled with plural marriage, and the dichotomy of the Mormon faith.
Although the cracks in Janelle and Kody’s relationship had already begun showing, the COVID-19 pandemic was a particularly difficult time for the two, as Kody spent a lot of time away from most of his family, preferring to focus on the children he shared with Robyn. Nevertheless, Janelle seemed somewhat reluctant to leave the familiarity of her husband and sister wives.
When Christine, Kody’s third wife, walked away from the marriage in November 2021, it didn’t take long for insider sources to say that Janelle would be the next one to jump ship. In a January 2022 episode of “Sister Wives”, Janelle herself said that the relationship between herself and Kody was “pretty strained”, and that it would be easy for her to leave him.
As Janelle and Christine are particularly close, it’s likely that Janelle found the strength in her fellow sister wife to make the courageous decision. During a season 16 episode of the show, Kody was enraged at both of them when they decided to visit their children in Utah for Thanksgiving, instead of spending the holiday with him, Meri, Robyn, and their brood.
Kody questioned Janelle and Christine’s loyalty, adding: “How you love a man is to respect him. And so I’m sitting here just appreciating where I’m at and who’s with me.” Janelle was offended by Kody’s insinuations, saying: “I thought you were supposed to give it both ways, not just that all the respect and loyalty flows to one person.”
The relationship worsened when Kody fought with his and Janelle’s sons Gabriel and Garrison, giving them the ultimatum to choose between their social lives or seeing him amid the pandemic. Over the next few months, while Christine navigated her life without Kody, Janelle began questioning where she stood with her husband. Kody was clearly blindsided by Christine walking away, and chose to tighten the reins on his remaining marriages, making his role as head of the house clearer than ever, saying that Janelle and the rest would have to conform to a patriarchy.
As Kody began to realize that Janelle was also slipping away from him, he begged her for a closer relationship, complaining that Janelle failed to show him respect. Tensions reached a boiling point during the season 17 finale, as Kody accused Gabriel and Garrison of being mean to Robyn, and not respecting his strict COVID-19 rules. The father-son feud was clearly the last straw for Janelle, as just a month later she confirmed during a special episode that she and Kody had been separated for several months.
Kody was introduced to his future first wife, Meri, in 1989 by one of his sisters. When he proposed mere months later, Meri didn’t hesitate to say yes, and the couple became legally married in April 1990. The former couple share just one child named Mariah; although they were expecting a second, Meri suffered a tragic miscarriage which left her unable to conceive.
In September 2014, Kody and Meri divorced so he could legally marry his fourth wife, Robyn, and adopt her children from her first marriage. This, understandably, caused a huge shift in the dynamic of the relationship between all parties involved, with many feeling that Meri and the other wives were being slowly cast out in favor of Robyn.
After 30 years together, Meri and Kody spend their milestone anniversary working to define their relationship. A new #SisterWives starts now.
Although Kody and Meri remained spiritually married for many years, the divorce took a heavy toll on both, as he confirmed in an early 2021 interview that he and Meri hadn’t seen eye to eye for some time. “In plural marriage, I don’t feel like I’ve got the right to say, ‘This is over, this is ending,’” the Wyoming native explained. “There’s other double standards that we have in the family that we sort of tolerate. And that other double standard is I don’t get to leave, but they can.”
Something clearly changed over the next year, as during the season 17 finale aired in 2022, Kody claimed that he didn’t want to be in a relationship with Meri anymore. In December 2022, Meri confirmed during a special episode that Kody had ended the marriage without her input. Although she was open to reconciling, she made it clear that Kody had already made the decision and things were over between them.
For viewers who have avidly followed “Sister Wives” since it premiered in 2010, Christine’s separation announcement in November 2021 was a huge shock. The TLC personality took to Instagram to announce the news, writing: “After more than 25 years together, Kody and I have grown apart and I have made the difficult decision to leave. Well continue to be a strong presence in each other’s lives as we parent our beautiful children and support our wonderful family.”
The couple became married in March 1994 and welcomed six children born between March 1995 and April 2010: Aspyn, Mykelti, Gwendlyn, Ysabel, Truely and Paedon. Christine previously said that she was just 19 years old when she decided she wanted to be part of a plural marriage – and not only that, but wanted to be a third wife, not a first or second one.
The reasoning behind Christine’s strange statement was that a third wife would “even out” any problems in a plural marriage. Ironically, despite being happy enough to be the third wife, Christine found it hard to get used to Robyn when she became spiritually married to Kody in May 2010.
Season one of “Sister Wives” saw Kody court Robyn, who quickly shook up the family dynamic between the Browns after over 15 years of relative peace. During the courtship process, Christine complained that Kody was “replacing” his family with Robyn and her children, as Robyn lived five hours away from the Browns and Kody would often travel to see her.
“I’m a little hesitant to accept another wife,” Christine said shortly before Kody and Robyn became married. “But if it happens, then she just has to be absolutely amazing. Otherwise, it might be a little difficult.” Out of the three sister wives, Christine clearly had the hardest time adapting to the situation, as she was used to being the last wife in the family, unlike Meri and Janelle.
In February 2021, Christine admitted in an interview to not feeling that her opinion mattered when it came to making important decisions. Just two months later, she told her fellow sister wives during the season 15 finale that she wished to move back to Utah. The Browns had relocated to Arizona in 2018, but Christine described the move as a “struggle”, adding: “I’m tired of feeling like I don’t matter, I’m tired of not having his [Kody’s] support when I really need it… I need a partnership. I need something different than this.”
Christine’s words were especially shocking, as she had always romanticized the benefits of a plural marriage and said that she didn’t want to have a whole husband to herself. Fans were less surprised when she walked away from the Browns in November 2021, and despite Kody penning a brief message on Instagram to acknowledge the separation, he seemed somewhat relieved.
— Erin Savage (@ErinSavage3722) December 31, 2022
The writing was on the wall for the couple long before then, as in one episode of “Sister Wives”, Kody decided to stay at home while Christine and their daughter Ysabel travelled to New Jersey for the adolescent to undergo scoliosis surgery. In another episode, Kody confessed to Christine that he wasn’t interested in being intimate with her anymore, to which she reacted by packing up his belongings and throwing them away.
In a February 2022 special episode, Christine doubled down on the difficult choice she’d made, saying: “I had to make a decision for my heart, and my heart was done being broken.” Meanwhile, Kody claimed to feel anger and grief after the separation. Six months later, TLC released the first trailer for season 17 of “Sister Wives”, in which Christine admitted that she was leaving Kody because she felt that he cared more about Robyn than her.
Things between Christine and Kody became complicated as she expressed her desire to move away. Kody claimed that Christine only wanted to relocate to Utah to date other men, and expressed his desire to spend more time with their youngest daughter, Truely. Christine was understandably enraged by this, saying: “Now he wants 50/50 time with them… If he wanted 50/50, he should’ve been around more. He doesn’t get 50/50. He hasn’t been around enough for that.”
Kody has shown his true colors ever since, going so far as to say that he wasn’t attracted to Christine on their wedding day. Meanwhile, Christine has happily moved on in life and come into her own since leaving the somewhat toxic family dynamic.
Robyn has been somewhat villainized on “Sister Wives”, due to what many viewers consider preferential treatment from Kody. The brunette beauty was previously married to David Jessop until their divorce in 2007; they share three children named David, Aurora and Breanna. Robyn would later meet Kody and Meri at a get-together hosted by one of her cousins; although Kody’s first impression of Robyn was negative, he soon began courting her.
As mentioned, Robyn and Kody legally married in December 2014 following his divorce from Meri. She and her children then moved into the Brown family compound, and Kody legally adopted the three youngsters a year later, after which Kody became completely devoted to Robyn, which made the other wives feel left out and unsure of themselves.
Sources close to the Brown patriarch have previously explained that Kody believes that he will enter heaven by practicing polygamy, so “it’s not necessarily about having to be in love with all your wives.” However, this isn’t the case when it comes to Kody and Robyn’s union at all, as he has often placed her on a pedestal, and given her special privileges not afforded to the other wives.
Robyn and Kody welcomed their two children, Solomon and Ariella, in October 2011 and September 2016. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kody controversially decided to quarantine with Robyn and their children, allegedly because they were the youngest. Obviously, his other children weren’t at all pleased, and Robyn herself admitted to feeling bad about her husband spending so much time away from his other offspring.
Christine and Kody’s separation also took a toll on Robyn, as she felt somewhat responsible for the split. Although she has yet to comment on Janelle or Meri’s situation with their former husband, Kody could possibly be looking to have a monogamous relationship with Robyn from now on, as she is the only sister wife left in the fold. If this were to happen, the premise of the show would change completely. Only time will tell if Kody will reconcile with his former wives, or remain solely faithful to Robyn.