Contemporary reality television shows from cable networks, including “Seeking Sister Wife”, found an interesting topic in attracting viewers, such as the Mormon fundamentalist polygamy practice. Vanessa Cobbs enjoyed some fame when she joined the second season of the reality-TV series. She was chosen by the Snowdens to be part of their family as a potential sister wife, but for some reason, the relationship didn’t work and their plans fizzled out. Both parties claimed that they parted ways amicably, but when domestic abuse controversies about the Snowden couple emerged, fans wondered what really happened with Vanessa during her time with them.
- 1 All about “Seeking Sister Wife”
- 2 Meet the original families featured in “Seeking Sister Wife”
- 3 Vanessa’s journey in “Seeking Sister Wife”
- 3.1 Who is Vanessa Cobbs?
- 3.2 Vanessa and Dimitri were given an early curfew for their first date
- 3.3 Vanessa’s eating habits might jeopardize her chance with the Snowdens
- 3.4 Ashley wasn’t that confident about having Vanessa as a sister wife
- 3.5 Dimitri met Vanessa’s mom, and her views on polygamy
- 3.6 Dimitri proposed to Vanessa
- 3.7 Dimitri and Vanessa were married but not without drama
- 4 Vanessa parted ways with the Snowdens
All about “Seeking Sister Wife”
The idea of having multiple wives sharing a common house generated much interest from the viewing public, and the TLC network continued to include “Seeking Sister Wife” in its main active programming schedule from when it was launched in 2018. The term ‘sister wife’ referred to each of the wives in a polygamous relationship as it supposedly promoted sisterhood within the family.
The premise of the series
The era of polygamy documentary/reality shows on TV started when some advocates of the Mormon fundamentalist groups wanted to share the positive side of their unique lifestyle with the public. This type of favorable presentation about the polygamous lifestyle was quite evident in the drama series aired on HBO cable channel called “Big Love”, from 2006 up to 2011. The TLC network became the leading content provider for this topic – “Seeking Sister Wife” was just one of their popular reality series, providing viewers with a bird’s eye view of how this unconventional family structure operated.
The show made its TV debut on 14 January 2018, and has been entertaining viewers for four seasons already. It documented the lives of three Mormon polygamous families – the Snowdens, the Alldredges, and the Brineys. The show explored the differing scenarios in this controversial lifestyle, including a family who just welcomed a new sister wife, a man with two sister wives who were looking for a third sister wife, and a couple who was looking for a potential sister wife. Later on, more families were added to the show, including the McGees and the Winders.
Understanding the polygamous lifestyle
Britannica Encyclopedia described polygamy as ‘a marriage to more than one spouse at a time.’ There were different forms of polygamy but the most known out there were polygyny and polyandry. The former referred to the idea of wives sharing one husband while the latter meant husbands sharing one wife. The lifestyle is practiced in just a few places in the world; in all 50 states of the US, polygamy has been considered illegal and a felony since it was criminalized back in 1882, due to the Edmunds Act. However, the practice was widely accepted within the states of Utah and Colorado, because people were more tolerant of this lifestyle as long as the families kept to themselves, and refrained from advertising their activities to the public. Eventually, in 2020, the Utah House and Senate downgraded the punishment for those who practiced consensual polygamy, into the equivalent of acquiring a speeding ticket.
Meet the original families featured in “Seeking Sister Wife”
The reality series started with the episode entitled “Let the Seeking Begin.” Here are the original families who enjoyed being on cable TV and sharing their experiences while brazenly violating the law:
Dimitri and Ashley Snowden were introduced as parents of two kids with a third on the way; it was at this stage of their lives that they sought a sister wife. While other polygamists practiced this lifestyle due to their religious beliefs, viewers were surprised to discover that the couple wasn’t associated with any fundamentalist Mormon group, and it was revealed that the two weren’t even legally married. Dimitri explained that the reason he wanted plural marriage was that ever since he was a little boy, he wanted to have a huge family, stemming from his disappointment that his immediate family wasn’t particularly close to one another.
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Jeff along with his wives Sharis and Vanessa practiced polygamy due to their religious beliefs; they had seven children in total. This family, particularly Jeff received favorable feedback from viewers, since he made sure to navigate smoothly in dealing with situations about jealousy and the battle for his attention within his family. He treated both his wives with equal respect and care, so avoiding any misunderstanding that could easily erupt from a polygamous lifestyle. However, it was revealed later on that Jeff had another wife named Cynthia, whom he’d married before he met Vanessa,. and had eight children with her. The producers of “Seeking Sister Wife” chose not to include her in the storyline, since that marriage was quickly dissolving at the time they were filming the show.
Drew and April Briney built a polygamous family because of Drew’s exposure to Mormonism when he was in high school. He wasn’t particularly religious, but when he discovered a Mormon family living a polygamous-loving lifestyle, he was impressed. He studied the Mormon religion and became a believer, sharing that it was God’s way of showing him something special that he didn’t see in other religions. During the first season, Drew had two more wives, Auralee and Angela, and shared 15 children with his three wives.
Vanessa’s journey in “Seeking Sister Wife”
The Snowden couple saw Vanessa Cobbs as a potential sister wife during the second season of “Seeking Sister Wife.”
Who is Vanessa Cobbs?
Vanessa Cobbs was born on 21 April 1985, in New Jersey. When she met the Snowdens, she was already based in Seattle and aspiring to become a professional actress. She’d done several commercials and a drama TV series along with a few small independent films. While waiting for her big acting break, she worked at a dental clinic as she’d pursued a degree in dentistry when she was in college. She was active as a tenant counsel at Solid Ground, a non-profit organization that helped troubled families through an holistic approach.
She and the TV show failed to mention that she dabbled in acting, because from her perspective, she wasn’t a professional actress even if she was trained under award-winning mentors at Freehold Theater in Seattle. When fans later discovered she was an actress, it created confusion, and some immediately assumed that her part in the show was scripted. She said that it was the main reason why they didn’t mention her other occupation, believing that some people would automatically come to a malicious conclusion about her participation in the show. Besides, most of the acting gigs she did before she was included in “Seeking Sister Wife” were with small production companies with low budget or none at all.
Vanessa and Dimitri were given an early curfew for their first date
During the second season of the reality series, Dimitri and Ashley courted Vanessa to be their new sister wife. When he and Vanessa went out for their first date to check if they had chemistry, Ashley laid out some strict rules so that Dimitri wouldn’t commit the same mistake he made in the first season. Apparently, during a date with one of their past candidates for a new sister wife, he stayed up too late and eventually cheated on Ashley. Vanessa and Dimitri were given an early curfew to avoid any temptation.
Vanessa’s eating habits might jeopardize her chance with the Snowdens
While both Dimitri and Ashley liked Vanessa in general, they had a problem with her diet. The Snowdens were plant-based eaters, and Vanessa was a meat lover. During their first date, Dimitri was shown to be a bit uncomfortable when she ordered meat for dinner, which could have been a deal breaker, as living with a meat eater could be challenging for the Snowdens. However, both sides were willing to work on their differences, saying that they could compromise and manage the diet properly to avoid any discomfort during meals.
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Ashley wasn’t that confident about having Vanessa as a sister wife
During the courtship, Dimitri was highly impressed with Vanessa, and said that she checked all his boxes. On the other hand, viewers felt that Ashley seemed to be having second thoughts about Vanessa. She said that while Dimitri was confident that they’d chosen well, she wasn’t entirely sure if Vanessa had what it takes to be worthy of being a sister wife. This could be the biggest deal-breaker, but in the end, Vanessa won Ashley over, and gained her full support.
Dimitri met Vanessa’s mom, and her views on polygamy
Since the Snowdens decided to have Vanessa in their relationship, Dimitri wanted to make things formal with her family. He traveled to Seattle to meet her mom, Jojo, and asked for her blessings. However, the meeting didn’t start well, as Vanessa’s mother wasn’t shy about expressing her views on the polygamous lifestyle. Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Dimitri was bold enough to state his intention of marrying Vanessa, and eventually Jojo gave her blessing on their union.
Dimitri proposed to Vanessa
After making sure that he had the blessing of both Ashley and Vanessa’s mother, he then planned a grand romantic proposal for his future wife. They went to a beach for the event, and Dimitri asked a friend, who was a musician, to help him finalize an original song he wrote for her. Ashley was just as excited as Dimitri, but also quite jittery even if she wasn’t the one who was going to ask the proverbial question. She said that it was the official first day of the rest of their lives.
While the three of them were sitting on the sand enjoying the sun and the beach, Dimitri’s friends came and sang the song he composed for her. They danced, and when the music stopped playing, he went down on one knee and told her, ‘You’re a wonderful sister wife to Ashley. You’re a wonderful mommy to the children. And obviously, perfect for me. Will you marry me?’ Vanessa immediately said yes, and Dimitri placed an anklet on her right ankle, while Ashley sealed the occasion by placing a red bindi or a decorative mark worn on the middle of the forehead. Ashley had it as well, because she believed that it gave her a deeper perception of universal awareness.
Dimitri and Vanessa were married but not without drama
Before the end of the second season finale, Dimitri and Vanessa were married in an intimate spiritual ceremony attended by family and close friends. However, before the wedding ceremony happened, they had a party to celebrate the engagement, especially the unusual love shared by Ashley and Vanessa. They called it the Goddess Party, but a lot of issues came out that night, as they were grilled by their loved ones about their chosen lifestyle. It didn’t help that Ashley shared that they were looking for sister wife number three, which shocked everyone.
Ashley was accused by Jennifer, Vanessa’s sister, of making the marriage as if it was a pyramid scheme, especially after Ashley said that it would be better for their family if there was another sister wife. Apparently, one of the reasons she gave was that it would help them manage the family better, including taking care of the home and the children. Jennifer said that it was a scheme to ensure someone would take on the household chores, and the one on the bottom of the pyramid would be left with the most arduous duties. This meant that Vanessa would be taking care of the hard tasks, as she was the only recent addition to the family.
Vanessa parted ways with the Snowdens
When the third season of “Seeking Sister Wife” started, it was evident that Vanessa had left the Snowdens. The union was short-lived, as she’d left just after the Tell-All episode was filmed; apparently, it didn’t work out for the three of them. In April 2019, Vanessa posted a lengthy message to the fans of the show, ‘After some deep soul searching, I have decided to part ways with the Snowdens.’ She elaborated that while she loved Dimitri, Ashley, and the kids, her commitment and love for them overshadowed what she should have given to herself first. Upon reflection, she realized that she didn’t belong with them in the way that the Snowdens needed her.
During the time she spent with them, she was not honest with herself, and whatever family dynamics the Snowdens had didn’t align with what she wanted in her life. She claimed that they parted amicably, and the Snowdens confirmed this by posting on social media – ‘We also know we must respect when someone feels they must move on and try to do that with a spirit of acceptance.’ They also shared that they had an incredible year spent with Vanessa, and they needed to take time to heal from this separation.
Speculations on why she left
While most of the messages they uploaded on their official Instagram accounts about their divorce were quite lengthy, the reasons that they gave about it were mostly general in nature and quite vague. “Seeking Sister Wife” fans had their own theories about why the marriage didn’t last long – one was that Vanessa already knew that she was in a disadvantageous situation, but was in denial until her family particularly her sisters threw cold water in her face by telling her about their distrust of the Snowdens. Apparently, there was a time when Dimitri and Ashley’s children were left in her care at home when Ashley went on a business trip, which made her the glorified unpaid babysitter in the family. Another theory was that Vanessa’s twin sister, Adrienne, was finally able to get through to her that she would always be the second choice, and never the priority in the relationship.
Controversies surrounding the Snowdens
After Vanessa left the show, Dimitri married another woman named Christeline Petersen. Everyone thought that this one would last longer than with Vanessa, however, it didn’t take long for her to leave them as well, and what made it worse was that she accused Dimitri of domestic violence, and filed for a restraining order not only from Dimitri, but from Ashley too. Christeline said that the physical abuse happened many times, even during sex. Eventually, Dimitri deleted all his social media accounts as a result, and it was reported that Ashley had left him as well.
The “Seeking Sister Wife” fans surmised that Vanessa broke her silence about the controversy when she posted cryptic messages on her Instagram account. During the height of the domestic abuse issue against the Snowdens, she posted, ‘Enough. Stop lying to the world and yourselves. Get help. There’s no shame in therapy,’ accompanied by a series of photos with statements about being an enabler, narcissistic, and a predator. She never accused Dimitri of abuse, so fans said that she was lucky and probably left at the right time. Based on the photos that she shared on her social media, it seemed that after her experience with the reality series, she moved to Australia and was doing well there. She became an aunt when her twin sister gave birth in the first quarter of 2022, and continued to pursue her dream of being part of film production projects. She was recently included in the Australian indie movie called “Ambrosia” produced by Dolly Llama Productions.