A Complete Timeline Of How Kody Brown's Marriages Fell Apart

Audiences were first introduced to the Brown family and their polygamist lifestyle when the reality show "Sister Wives" premiered on TLC in 2010. When the series began, patriarch Kody Brown was already married to Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, and Christine Brown, and was preparing to marry his fourth wife, Robyn Brown.

"Sister Wives" aimed to paint the Brown clan as a truly loving unit, despite their unconventional dynamic. The family hoped to show that polygamy isn't always a negative or abusive situation. However, while plenty of good moments were captured on camera and shared with audiences, the reality series also wound up capturing cracks in the family's facade.

Now, with Kody's first three marriages officially over, fans have been trying to figure out where exactly things went wrong. Here's a timeline showing just how things began to fall apart for the Brown family, leaving them now as a fractured and splintered group.

Robyn Brown joined the family and shook things up

Kody Brown's polygamist family started with his legal marriage to Meri Brown in 1990, followed by spiritual marriages to Janelle Brown and Christine Brown in 1993 and 1994 respectively. The family stayed together with their respective 12 (almost 13 at the time) kids until Robyn Brown entered the picture and was quickly courted by Kody. The two had their own spiritual marriage in 2010, bringing her three children from her previous marriage into the family as well.

Early on, "Sister Wives" fans suspected Robyn did not get along with the other wives. On top of that, there were a number of occasions where she seemed to receive preferential treatment from Kody, and Kody was never one to hide it. For example, Kody apparently wanted nothing to do with his first three wives' wedding dress selection processes, but when it was Robyn's turn he was happy to be involved. Kody picked out Robyn's dress, and he apparently couldn't wait to tell the other wives.  

The admission quickly proved to cause some strife, and likely set the tone for the years that followed. In particular, Christine seemed to take issue with the news the most, notably walking away during the episode to take a minute to compose herself.

In 2014, Kody Brown and Meri Brown ended their legal marriage

Despite some issues, things appeared to be relatively harmonious for the Brown family throughout the first few seasons of "Sister Wives." However, the first seismic shift occurred when Kody Brown divorced Meri Brown — his only legal wife — in 2014, so that he could instead legally marry Robyn Brown. This way, Kody could adopt Robyn's children from her previous marriage. Before the ink could dry, Kody and Robyn became legally married, and Meri became a spiritual wife. 

In 2015, Kody and Robyn announced they were having another baby. While the arrival of another child was happy news for the family, some fans wondered if Meri felt somewhat slighted, as her own attempts to have a baby of her own had failed over the years. Robyn offered to act as a surrogate for her on the show's second season, but it was shut down by Kody in 2013.

"I would do it if nature just did it," he said on the show. "If God just...it just happened. No problem. In fact...it would just be absolutely wonderful. But because of the stakes, I'm not burning in my gut to do it. You know what I'm saying? I say no."

Christine Brown and Kody Brown's issues festered for years

Kody Brown's first two marriages crumbled before "Sister Wives" viewers' eyes, and his marriage to Christine Brown was no different. As previously noted, Christine's relationship with Kody took a hit after Robyn Brown joined the family. On top of that, Christine believed Kody did not prioritize their children.

In 2014, Christine and Kody's daughter Truely Brown was hospitalized for kidney failure. However, Kody was not present when Christine took her to the hospital. Years later, Kody admitted on the show that he believed Christine held this over him. "I think Christine hates me, partly because Truely almost died and she thought that I had been negligent," he said in an episode from 2022. Six years later, their daughter Ysabel Brown required surgery to correct her scoliosis. Kody refused to travel with his daughter and wife for the procedure, citing the pandemic. 

And, of course, there was the Robyn factor. As things between Christine and Kody continued to unravel, Kody's flourishing relationship with Robyn was salt on the wound. "Kody and I have been struggling for a while. We're not close. It was actually painful emotionally to be there, to be honest," she said in an episode that aired in 2021. "It's hard to see him with everybody. It's really hard to see him in functional marriages when we don't have one. It sucks."

Meri Brown was catfished in 2015

Following her legal divorce from Kody Brown, Meri Brown began to feel lonely, and inadvertently set the stage for one of the biggest "Sister Wives" scandals. In 2015, Meri, who was still spiritually married to Kody at the time, sought out a relationship online with someone she believed was a man named Samuel Cooper. However, after months of online messages, explicit texts, and other communication, Meri learned that the man she had been speaking to was actually a woman named Jackie Overton. Meri had been catfished, and the catfish had no interest in keeping their interactions private. When Meri broke things off, Overton leaked their messages, blowing the scandal wide open.

This debacle did not sit well with the rest of the family, and Meri and Kody's dynamic took a nosedive. Though the pair remained together, both acknowledged that their marriage wasn't the same.

"Listen, there was a hardness in our marriage that was so difficult and so antagonistic. I didn't know why we're in it. It took a long time, a lot of counseling, as we go through all of this for me to finally go, 'Meri, I just don't see us getting back together,'" he told Sukyana Krishnan during the Season 16 tell-all. "And why aren't we getting back together? Because we will go back to the way we were before. There's just no chance that I ever want that again."

In 2018, the family moved to Flagstaff for Robyn Brown's kid

In 2018, the stars of "Sister Wives" announced they were leaving Nevada for Arizona. "We are looking forwards to cooler temperatures, the mountain air, scenic views and the slower lifestyle of Flagstaff," the Brown family said in a statement provided to People. It was an abrupt change, and as far as some of the members of the Brown family are concerned, it was not exactly a decision that everyone arrived at together. 

In 2022, Gwendlyn Brown, one of Christine Brown's six kids with Kody Brown, stated that the move almost certainly had to do with Robyn Brown's desire to send one of her kids to Northern Arizona University. "So the main reason I was told was that the market was kind of increasing, and it would be a good time to sell the houses and still make a profit from them," Gwendolyn Brown said on her Patreon (via All About the Tea). "But I feel like the choice for Flagstaff was very much college related. Yes."

In a January 2023 interview with John Yates, Paedon Brown echoed what Gwendlyn said. "Dad decides we're gonna move the entire family 'cause Dayton got accepted to NAU. ... Robyn said, 'Well I can't let my little boy go,'" Paedon recounted. He suspected that Dayton was ready to go out into the world on his own, but Robyn wasn't ready for that. "I want to make this clear, it's not Dayton's fault and Robyn was trying to be a good mother," he said. 

Kody Brown and Janelle Brown clashed during the pandemic

As "Sister Wives" fans know all too well, the cracks in the Brown family's foundation were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic first hit, two of Janelle Brown's sons did not lock down right away. "I have Garrison, who works with construction crews and stuff here in town. I've got Gabriel, who is being careful associating with his friends, but I can't guarantee what that looks like yet," she said in the 6th episode of Season 15. Janelle figured it would be best that Kody Brown not visit their house, noting that they didn't want to expose the rest of the family to any possible health risks.

Kody was unhappy with Garrison Brown and Gabriel Brown's behavior during the pandemic, even going so far as to ask Janelle to kick them out of her home. This tension took a toll on Janelle and Kody's relationship; Janelle shared on the show that she told her husband to "f*** off" when he suggested neither she nor her sons were taking his concerns seriously. In addition, she went on to reveal that her sons were also feuding with their father because they believed Kody had a history of putting Robyn Brown and her children above the rest of the family. "They have for a long time perceived that Kody's focus, you know, his time, everything, was spent, the majority at Robyn's house, even when we lived in Vegas," she said at the time.

Christine Brown wanted to go back to Utah in 2020

After the Brown family got settled in Flagstaff, Christine Brown wanted to pack up and head back to Utah. In 2011, the family originally left Lehi, Utah, for Las Vegas. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the family headed to Nevada after Utah law enforcement officials began investigating them for bigamy. The Browns wanted to practice their lifestyle without issue, and evidently, Nevada's bigamy laws made that possible. However, when Senate Bill 102 passed in 2020, polygamy was decriminalized in Utah — and Christine was ready to relocate yet again. 

Kody Brown was actually on board with the idea, sharing that he too had always hoped to move back there. However, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, and Robyn Brown did not want to return to Utah. So, the move didn't happen. Christine took this especially hard, even questioning her relationship with her husband. "I can't do marriage with Kody anymore," she told Meri. "I don't want to. ... It's not enough

In 2021, Christine Brown and Kody Brown announced their split

Things eventually reached a boiling point for Christine Brown, and she officially became the first wife to step away from her marriage with Kody Brown. The couple announced in a joint Instagram statement that they were ending their spiritual marriage in 2021. Christine did move back to Utah as she hoped to do, taking her daughter Truely Brown with her. In "Sister Wives" Season 17, Kody made it clear he was not thrilled about Truely leaving, but he didn't fight it. "I don't want to push her into something crazy. Men don't win in the divorce world, I've done my research," he said. 

Following their split, Kody left town to go officiate a wedding, and this move upset Christine. As previously noted, Christine resented Kody for being unwilling to travel out of state for their daughter's scoliosis procedure. "What the hell. You think you get to go officiate your friend's wedding and not take care of your own family? I don't have to deal with him anymore because I'm not married to him. So glad I'm not because I cannot respect this person anymore. Who he is and the choices he's making, I cannot respect this man," she said at the time.

Kody Brown 'blew off' his anniversary with Janelle Brown in 2022

Like Meri Brown, Janelle Brown stuck by Kody Brown through some seriously choppy waters. However, when the "Sister Wives" patriarch failed to acknowledge their anniversary in January 2022, Janelle was ready to cut bait. "He blew off our last anniversary. He just didn't call me or anything," she said on an episode that aired later that year. She also confirmed that they'd been separated for months. 

Janelle also noted that the continued tension with their sons, as well as Kody's perceived favoritism for Robyn Brown, played a key part in the dissolution of the marriage. "I think that if he had truly been watching out for me and my children, he would have figured out a way to make it work for the whole family instead of having his rules and hanging out with the wife staying where he was respected and obeyed," she said.

In another episode, Janelle revealed that she was serious when it came to the marriage being over. "I'm not waiting for him," she said. "I've kind of mourned that, that part of our life is gone. I wasn't heartbroken."

In 2023, Kody Brown and Meri Brown confirmed they ended things

While Meri Brown and Kody Brown certainly had problems before, the catfish scandal seemed to be the final straw for their relationship. In a "Sister Wives" episode that aired in 2021, Kody acknowledged things with Meri had taken a turn after their catfishing incident, noting that his wife's online relationship "turned out to be extremely exploitative and abusive." He continued, "And from that experience, Meri and I sort of saw our marriage just dissolve."

In a later episode, Meri made it clear that the wedge was still there. In a one-on-one special that aired in 2022, Meri said that while Kody acted like the rug had been pulled out from under him when Christine Brown left their marriage, her own relationship was another story. "It just doesn't make sense to me that he would be so frustrated with Christine and be like, 'She just made this decision. We didn't consult, we didn't talk, she just made the decision,' and then he says, 'No, I don't consider myself married to Meri,'" Meri recounted. "Like, he just made the decision. I've never heard him say that to me."

In January 2023, Meri and Kody confirmed on Instagram that their marriage was done. "After more than a decade of working on our relationship in our own unique ways, we have made the decision to permanently terminate our marriage relationship," they wrote.

Kody Brown and Robyn Brown could be done with polygamy

Following news that three out of four marriages had all ended, it appears Kody Brown is now done with polygamy, and has the intention of settling down with just Robyn Brown, her children from her previous, and the two children they share.

In the Season 17 tell-all, Kody admitted he wasn't sure if he wanted to practice polygamy anymore. Robyn, on the other hand, acknowledged that she wasn't totally ready to leave the lifestyle behind. "It's not the future I wanted ... I don't know how to let it go," she admitted. That said, Robyn also noted that she wasn't entirely eager to add more wives to the family given everything they've gone through. 

In the same episode, Christine Brown said she felt monogamy was the best move for the couple. "I think a part of them would always be a little bit sad that this didn't work and that the big family didn't work," she said. "And I think that there'd be a little bit of mourning and a little bit of a loss there still, because it's a dream right? It's giving up on a dream, and it's not a dream that they wanted to give up on, necessarily. I don't see them looking for another wife after this."