Almost a dozen families were featured in TLC’s “Seeking Sister Wife”, as the reality television show explored the dynamics in a polygamous marriage, mostly focused on the process of acquiring more wives. Jeff Alldredge was said to be one of the most likable husbands of the lot, and his family’s exit from the series after two seasons had his fans curious as to the reason why.
About “Seeking Sister Wife”
Polygamy – or the practice of having more than one wife (usually) or husband at the same time – is illegal in all 50 states of the U, however, hasn’t stopped people from following such a lifestyle, whether based on their religious beliefs or not. In season one, “Seeking Sister Wife” chronicled three polygamous families, the Alldredges, Brineys, and Snowdens. Changes were made in the succeeding seasons, as some left and more families were added: the Winders and the McGees (season two); the Clarks, Joneses, and Merrifields (season three); and the Eppses, Foleys, and Davises (season four). Not all of them were raised in the Mormon Fundamentalist faith – some just chose that lifestyle for various reasons that had nothing to do with their religion. Viewers were given an inside look at how each family went about finding a sister wife, dating, and transitioning her into their lives.
Jeff Alldredge said that in polygamy, they had a lot of love going around, so he didn’t see any reason why he should limit it to the family that he had.
He was 44 when he met 22-year-old Vanessa at a party in the house of Kody Brown (“Seeking Sister Wives”). She normally wouldn’t go for someone that much older than herself, but found him handsome and youthful, so the considerable age difference between them never became an issue. There was also that warmth in his personality that drew her to him. She might not have been raised in a polygamous home, but she chose this lifestyle when she was in her late teens. They had three children: Dain, Zahra, and Sebastian.
Sharis, Jeff’s second wife, grew up with her father having two wives, and said that it was great, so she was convinced that she wanted to be in a plural marriage as well. She was 18 when she met Jeff who was 25 years older than her; they both worked as cooks at a youth camp one weekend and had a lot of fun, and it went on from there. She fell for him because of his strong spiritual drive, and his desire to lead his family in goodness. They had five kids: Daniel, Dalinar, Misty, Serenity and Chloe.
Living in the same house with a sister wife took a lot of adjustment, as they had to figure out how to get along well in sharing a husband. What worked for them best was to have alternate nights with Jeff. When it was Vanessa’s turn to be with Jeff at night, then it would be Sharis who would fix them dinner and then breakfast the following morning, so that the two could just take their time and sleep in; they switched roles when it was Sharis’ turn. Each wife had her own bedroom, and there was quite a bit of distance between their rooms so that each one could enjoy some privacy. They spent a lot of time together as a family, so all children could experience having a father, regardless of whose wife’s turn it was to be with Jeff.
People who learned about their plural marriage often asked them about jealousy. Sharis said that it didn’t affect them the way it used to, but it would still come up from time to time. For her part, Vanessa said that Jeff was a good father and a husband, and would prefer to have that kind of man in her life even if it meant sharing him with a few people rather than having a mediocre husband all to herself.
The family later moved to a ranch in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and stayed in a four-bedroom house while a new one that could accommodate them all was being built on the property. They relocated to escape the harsh anti-polygamy laws in Utah at that time – only one woman could be legally married and the rest had what they called spiritual marriage to the same man.
Searching for a potential sister wife
As much as Jeff loved his two wives, he believed in allowing his family to grow as God deemed fit. Courtship involved all of them, because they had to look for someone who could be a wife to him and a friend and sister wife to Vanessa and Sharis, as well as a mother to all their children. The women said that when Jeff was out with one or the other, it would be nice for the one left behind to have someone who could be a companion, so it would feel less lonely.
Anyone could see that what the three of them had was special, as there seemed to be no animosity between the wives, but some wondered why they wanted another woman who could potentially ruin what they had. They claimed they weren’t naive to the reality that things could change if they brought another person into their lives, but were confident in the foundation of their relationship, and believed that God would lead them to the right woman. They’d dated a few women in the past but none of them worked out for various reasons. Here are the two women that they were considering to be part of their family during their stint in the show:
Melina, who stood them up (season one)
A friend of Sharis introduced Melina to her via social media, and they discovered that they had a lot of things in common. When Sharis found out that Melina was interested in the plural lifestyle, it made her excited as they were thinking of expanding the family. Initially, it was only Jeff and Sharis who had been talking with Melina, and they both liked her. He found her to be down-to-earth and genuine.
Vanessa joined them for their first video chat; as they were all moving forward with the courtship, Melina revealed that she had been keeping a secret from them – she couldn’t have kids, which made her feel that she had less to offer them. The main draw of being in a polygamous family for her was that she would be around children and a mother to them as well. Jeff assured her that they would not hold her inability to have kids against her, and that this ‘limitation’ of hers wouldn’t affect how they valued her as a person.
Will the Alldredges' online connection with Melina give way to real-life sparks? The day has come to meet their potential sister wife in person! A new #SeekingSisterWife starts now.
Everything went so well that they took the next step to meet her in person, so they invited her to their hometown in Genola, Utah, to meet everyone including the kids. Melina was from Michigan and had been on her own since she was 14. Being a part of a big family was her ultimate goal. However, the thought of meeting them made her feel scared, as she was only one and they were many; in the end, she didn’t show up on the day she was supposed to arrive. Jeff and his two wives were disappointed as they waited a long time for her at the airport in Salt Lake City, and were unable to contact her by phone.
They believed that Melina had got cold feet and was perhaps overwhelmed with the reality of meeting the whole family. Just when they thought they would never know what happened to her and why she backed out, Melina called Sharis up to apologize, and see if they were still open to meeting her; they were conflicted, but wanted to give her another chance. Melina came to Utah, and explained how freaked out she was. In the end, things didn’t work out as Melina said that she didn’t have a strong connection with Jeff, and felt that she wasn’t worth the extra effort for Vanessa to get to know – Sharis believed that Melina only came, bravely, to end things with them.
Jennifer, who faked her own death (season two)
A mutual acquaintance relayed to the Alldredges that ‘a very nice girl’ named Jennifer, who grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), was interested in meeting them, saying that she wanted to return to her religious roots, and live a quiet life. 31-year-old Jennifer wasn’t someone that the family would typically go for, if they would solely base it on what was posted on her Facebook page. However, they wanted to get to know her better, and so they texted and video-chatted with her for a few months.
As she worked as a nail technician by day and a bartender at night, there was no time for her to go to Utah. Jeff and his wives then went to Niagara Falls to meet her. They had a picnic at the state park and enjoyed their time with her, as she had a bubbly personality and was fun to talk to. She was quite a handful, but Jeff was attracted to her from the start. He went on a solo date with her at the skating rink and it went well; she was supposed to spend time with Vanessa and Sharis in the evening, but had a family emergency and had to cancel the rest of their plans. Even if they found her abrupt exit somewhat suspicious, they gave her the benefit of the doubt and their communication continued when they returned to South Dakota.
As their time with her was cut short, they made plans for her to come to visit them and meet the rest of the family. However, they received a text from her supposed brother who said that Jennifer was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery because her appendix had ruptured. What was even more strange was the text they received from her sister later on, that Jennifer had died seven days after her surgery. As Jeff started digging for more information about her, he discovered that she had been lying to them; they later saw her posts on Instagram looking very much alive. The family couldn’t make sense of her purpose in stringing them along, and thought that they were being set up for something that just didn’t come about.
At the Tell All special of the show in which the cast members were present with SuChin Pak as the host and moderator, the Alldredges were shocked to see Jennifer on a video chat. The host tried to get Jennifer to explain the lies she told, even going as far as faking her own death.
It turned out that at the time she was communicating with the Alldredges about the possibility of being a part of their family, she was also seeing another man by whom she became pregnant. The moment she learned about her condition, her sister, whom she said was young and dumb, texted Jeff that she passed away. It was difficult for Jennifer to come clean about her situation, because she didn’t want to be judged unfairly, apparently not considering that lying didn’t help!
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At first, she said that she didn’t care about what the Alldredges thought of her, because what was important was her unborn child, but later said that she was genuinely sorry for what she put them through and that it was not intentional. Jeff and his wives forgave her, and wished her luck with this new chapter in her life. That said, they still found all of what she said to be dubious, as the trust was already broken, and besides, information still coming in indicated that everything that she’d told them about herself since the beginning was all lies.
Sharis posted this on her Facebook page: ‘We sincerely hope that Jennifer can heal from whatever has happened in her life that has caused her to act like this. We don’t know what that was, but we think it’s obvious she’s hurting.’
What happened to Jeff Alldredge?
Many were shocked when season three of “Seeking Sister Wife” premiered in 2021, and realized that the Alldredges were no longer part of the show. Some wondered if it had something to do with Jeff having a first wife that was not Vanessa. It was said that he was legally married to a woman named Cynthia and had eight children with her, but Sharis explained that the two separated years ago, most of the kids lived on their own, with the youngest in high school. The reason why they never mentioned her in the show was that they respected her wish for privacy.
As the network wasn’t forthcoming with an explanation of the family’s exit from the show, fans asked the Alldredges via their Facebook account about it. Based on what Sharis said, it appeared that they weren’t invited to appear further in the series, but they also didn’t know the reason behind it. Not being part of it didn’t seem to upset them, however, as she said, ‘The direction much of the show is taking this season, and the direction our family is heading in aren’t really compatible.’
Seeking a third wife continues
On the family’s Facebook post in July 2020, they introduced their new sister wife named Donna, who was from Maryland. She and Jeff met online via a dating site, and with her being a Mormon and having the same beliefs made it easier to build a relationship; she got to know Jeff first and then his two wives. She didn’t know about the show and that the Alldredges were part of it, so Jeff suggested that she watch it and see what their family was like. All went well with everyone, and so the two ended up being spiritually married, but maintained a long-distance relationship as she stayed in Maryland.
However, it seemed that marrying into a polygamous family had a negative impact on her ongoing custody battle for her daughter, Evelyn. The Alldredges began a GoFundMe fundraising campaign called “Sister Wife’s Child Taken – Please Help!” to raise $10,000 for Donna’s legal fees.
While shocking, many weren’t surprised that on the family’s Facebook page, Sharis shared the unfortunate news that the marriage between Jeff and Donna was over. It was said that they were physically separated by November 2020, and the decision to end things was finalized in April 2021. They didn’t disclose further details, but some believed that Donna didn’t want to jeopardize her chances of losing the custody battle for her child, so this had to happen.
Vanessa said that going through a failed courtship took its toll on one’s heart, and made one wonder what they were doing it for. As she looked at the family that they’d built together, however, she knew that it was all worth it. Sharis believed that if they found the right person, their situation would be even better. For Jeff, he still had hope for the future, as they hadn’t really lost anything when things didn’t work out with a prospective wife, but that they were just ‘waiting to gain.’
They may no longer be part of “Seeking Sister Wife” but their search continues.