Movie Reviews

Sister Wives: Why Kody Brown Never Really Loved His Four Wives

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Sister Wives star Kody Brown has attempted to control the narrative of his marriages following his splits from former wives Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, and Christine Brown. Kody now claims that he never loved his first three wives the way he loves his fourth and current wife, Robyn Brown. While this claim was an attempt to hurt his former wives and discredit their relationships, Kody may be telling the truth.

Kody receives his fair share of criticism for narcissistic and controlling tendencies, but he didn’t intend to enter into loveless marriages. Rather, his views on religion and fatherhood led him into relationships that were not built on romantic love. Kody interpreted shared religious beliefs and family goals as the requirements for marriage, and this attitude resulted in relationships that were unsustainable and unfair to his wives.

The Brown family’s religion, a Mormon sect called the Apostolic United Brethren, encourages plural marriage. Kody’s marriage choices were dictated by the need for partners who shared the same beliefs. Furthermore, as Kody added wives to his family, he made sure they were a good fit for both him and his existing wives. This resulted in Kody choosing wives who would complement his complex family dynamic rather than choosing women he was in love with.

Early seasons of Sister Wives reflect Kody’s willingness to support his wives and their children, as well as his efforts to bring the family together. Because of the religious undertone of his relationships, Kody interpreted his spiritual practice of polygamy and patriarchy as an expression of love. However, he held his wives to unrealistic standards, and because his love came from a place that emphasized morality, his affection toward his wives was conditional.

Meri’s struggles with infertility were a major storyline in the first seasons of Sister Wives. Meri only gave birth to one child, Leon Brown. Although Meri and Kody ultimately decided not to pursue fertility treatments, her inability to have more children was often a source of pain for Meri. It’s no coincidence that Meri and Kody’s relationship was the first to deteriorate, considering Meri only had one child with Kody, while Christine and Janelle each had six.

In later seasons of Sister Wives, Kody’s conflict with Janelle’s sons caused a divide in their marriage. Janelle felt forced to choose between Kody and her children, and she chose her children. Kody appeared to hold the actions of their adult children against Janelle. She subsequently lost interest in having a relationship with Kody after he became estranged from the rest of her family. Kody’s wives noted several times that he did not know how to be a parent once his kids grew up, and as that happened, he no longer valued his relationships with their mothers either.

Kody’s relationship with Robyn was a point of contention for the other wives throughout the series. In Sister Wives season 1, Kody was traveling several hours to visit Robyn throughout their courtship. This took time away from his other wives, who already had limited time with their husbands, plus Christine was heavily pregnant at the time. Although Meri, Janelle, and Christine lived in one home with their children, Robyn never lived with the rest of the family.

Christine later recalled seeing Kody prepare for a date with Robyn, and at that moment, she recognized Kody was in love with Robyn. Once Kody discovered what real love felt like, it was hard for him to pretend with his other wives. As his relationships with his other wives deteriorated, Kody spent more time with Robyn and showed her preferential treatment, beginning when he controversially helped her choose her wedding dress. By the time COVID hit, and the families isolated from one another, Kody was spending nearly all his time with Robyn.

Kody’s lack of romantic love for Meri, Janelle, and Christine was the result of his religious perspective on marriage. He appeared unaware of his capacity for real love until he married Robyn. Over the course of 18 seasons of Sister Wives, Kody’s preference for Robyn became abundantly clear until it drove his other wives away. While Kody had good intentions in building the Brown family through plural marriage, the family’s dynamic would never be sustainable without love holding them together.