Sister Wives: Inside Janelle And Kody Brown's Split

After almost 30 years of marriage, "Sister Wives" stars Janelle and Kody Brown have decided to go their separate ways. The news came just over a year after former sister wife Christine Brown announced her divorce from Kody (via People).

In the "Sister Wives: One On One" televised special, Sukanya Krishnan sat down with Kody, Janelle, Christine, Meri, and Robyn to get an inside perspective on everything that occurred in Season 17. In part three of the series, one topic of discussion involved the current status of Kody and Janelle's relationship. "Kody and I have separated," Janelle confirmed in the January 2023 episode. Janelle also revealed that they have been separated for months but that she had considered separating much sooner (via The Sun).

Despite the dissolution of their marriage, Janelle is far from upset with her decision to leave Kody. "I'm happy – really happy," Janelle shared in the tell-all.

Christine may have influenced Janelle's decision to leave

Former sister wife Christine Brown may have been a big influence on Janelle's decision to separate from Kody, and it seems that the divorce only further solidified their friendship. "Janelle had no real reason to leave until Christine pointed it out to her," an insider alleged to The Sun. Just months after Christine left, Janelle 'strongly considered separating' from her husband.

Christine and Kody's daughter Gwendlyn also credits her mom for having a hand in Janelle's decision to leave in a video posted on her Youtube channel. In the video, titled "My Reaction to S17E5 – Sister Wives," she shared her thoughts on the whole situation, saying, "I think that [Janelle] was encouraged by my mom, who has also, since the first season, become a lot more empowered. And they just seem to have encouraged each other to be more strong and independent and confident in themselves."

Kody felt betrayed by Janelle maintaining a friendship with Christine

During Season 17, Janelle became a huge beacon of moral support for Christine and her kids during and after the divorce, which Kody was not fond of. "I'm begging Janelle for a closer relationship," he shared in a confessional (via Today). "It feels like she's rejecting that and just choosing to have one with Christine."

Kody shared that Christine and Janelle weren't always so tight and that he couldn't fathom how the downfall of his relationship with Christine is what bonded the two together. "I've always wanted my wives to have close relationships," the Brown patriarch explained. "And it's a tragedy to me now, after all these years and Christine trash talking Janelle for four years about (our living arrangements), now Janelle and Christine have a better relationship?"

Janelle expressed how difficult it was to be in the middle. "I am pulled in both directions equally strong," she revealed.

The pandemic created a rift between Janelle and Kody

During the pandemic, Kody Brown quarantined with Robyn and their five kids. He spent the majority of his time exclusively with them during the peak of COVID-19. In an episode of "Sister Wives," Christine revealed that Kody only spent a total of three days out of 800 full days with her during the pandemic. An insider alleged to The Sun, "COVID created a lot of [the separation]. It gave the sister wives comfort to know that they could be on their own. Christine was the ringleader in showing that they don't need Kody."

Kody also explained in an episode that he felt disrespected by Janelle after she and her kids did not fully abide by his pandemic rules. "Men don't feel love from women who don't respect them," he admitted. "I feel like Janelle struggles to respect me or show me respect. It might be an unfair statement, I don't know. Maybe it's just the way that we argue." Kody continued, saying, "If you don't respect me, don't bother with the love. It just doesn't work in my world."

Janelle's RV drove a further wedge between the pair

Fans and even the sister wives themselves have long believed Kody Brown favored Robyn over his other wives, but that suspicion became more prominent when the pandemic started, and the two spent years mostly quarantined with each other (via CheatSheet). 

In Season 17, it was clear some of the wives were upset that Kody was spending so much time with Robyn and barely making time for anyone else in the family. In one instance, when Janelle showed the family the new RV she planned to live in until their houses were built at Coyote Pass, Christine expressed her fears. As she told the cameras, "I just don't think Kody's gonna like it there at all. ... He loves his routines and his comforts and a bigger house, and it's just like another excuse to stay at Robin's house."

In the end, Christine was right. Kody was very vocal about not looking forward to what the RV meant for him and Janelle's relationship. "Robyn makes it convenient for me to be there. She ... reinforces my relationship with my children," he said. He continued, saying, "Now there's an inclination for me to go, 'Well, I've got hot water at Robin's house.' You know, why am I going to sit here and suffer with you, with your choices?"

Kody's relationship with his and Janelle's son Gabe also fell apart

When the pandemic started, the family dynamic really shifted between the Brown family. Kody enforced a strict set of rules as a precautionary measure. Some of the rules included disinfecting groceries and cleaning incoming mail with alcohol wipes (via People). Kody choosing to devote all of his time to Robyn during the pandemic also took a huge toll on the family, according to In Touch Weekly.

In season 17, one of Kody and Janelle's sons, Gabe, was brought to tears in a heartbreaking confessional when he shared the time his father forgot his birthday during the pandemic (via CBS8). When Kody and Robyn both contracted COVID-19, Kody phoned his son with questions regarding the coronavirus, which happened to fall on Gabe's birthday. "To him it was just a phone call just asking me about COVID," Gabe said. "It was a lot worse than just a phone call for me." Kody later called a few hours later to apologize and wish his son a happy birthday, but Gabe hasn't spoken to his father since.

As Janelle revealed on "Sister Wives," Kody didn't seem interested in understanding Gabe's perspective (via CBS8).

Kody became estranged from his and Janelle's son Garrison

Tensions were high between Kody Brown and his sons Gabe and Garrison during the pandemic. The two young adults, whom Kody shares with Janelle, didn't want to abide by his strict COVID-19 rules, which included no longer seeing their friends or girlfriends if they wanted to be around the family (via Us Weekly). Kody made it very clear that if this rule were broken, he would not be around.

To add more fuel to the fire, Kody also suggested Janelle kick them both out of her house for breaking his rules (via In Touch Weekly). "They need to realize that they should go and date that girlfriend, that's fine, but you need to move out of the house so I can be home," Kody said.

In his sit-down with Sukanya Krishnan on the "Sister Wives: One On One" televised special, Kody admitted, "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" (via In Touch Weekly). As of this writing, Kody is estranged from both Gabe and Garrison.

Kody was absent from his and Janelle's family events prior to officially announcing their separation

In addition to no longer being on speaking terms with his sons Gabe and Garrison, Kody Brown has also appeared to be absent from family events, at least with his and Janelle's other children.

Prior to the official announcement of their split, Janelle sparked questions of separation after sharing a photo of her family on Thanksgiving — sans Kody. Fans were quick to notice and also very vocal about Kody's absence. One commenter wrote, "A picture is worth 1,000 words ... no Kody." Another said, "Where is Kody?? Oh yeah, of course ... Sobbin Robyn's house."

Kody also missed his daughter Savannah's 18th birthday. On December 7, 2022, Janelle shared an Instagram video celebrating her daughter's birthday, with Kody nowhere in sight. The TLC star shared that they spent Savannah's birthday weekend on the Vegas strip. Fans once again chimed in about Kody's absence, with one writing, "Her dad couldn't tear himself away to celebrate her milestone bday?" Another commented, "I hope Kody didn't forget her birthday!"

Janelle is 'enjoying her life without' her husband, according to Kody

Kody Brown has said that Janelle has always liked doing her own thing and alluded that she has been doing quite well during the separation. "Janelle has made it pretty clear to me that she's enjoying her life without me," he revealed on "Sister Wives: One On One" (via Today). Christine seemed to concur, saying, "I think Janelle's a wicked awesome strong woman and I think she fills her own damn tank."

Amid the split, Janelle has been living her best life. She has done a lot of traveling — some of which even included Christine — and has also started implementing a healthier lifestyle and working out more, according to her Instagram feed. She's even reportedly considering relocating to Utah, where Christine moved, a source alleged to The Sun. "Janelle is so relieved that everyone knows now that she's done with Kody so she can officially move on with her life," the insider claimed. "She has been spending time in Las Vegas with her daughter. She's figuring things out and next steps."

There is a (very) slim chance of reconciliation

In the "Sister Wives: One on One" special, Janelle Brown shared that the door with Kody may not be sealed shut, but it would take a lot of work for it to reopen. "I think [a future] could be there, but it would require so much change on both our parts, so I don't know" (via Entertainment Tonight). She then explained how her faith makes her feel conflicted about her decision. "I don't want him to come back, but my faith requires that we are married eternally."

When Kody was asked in the tell-all if he still had feelings for Janelle amid the separation, he said he does love Janelle (via OK! magazine). However, as he explained to Sukanya Krishnan, the two are "not in sync." He said, "We don't partner really well but we actually just are able to have a marriage that's, if you will, lower in attachment."