For a while in the Brown family’s plural marriage sister wives Meri and Christine were best friends, at least on a surface level. Over a decade into the marriage, however, the women had a world-shattering conflict over how Meri treated Christine’s children. After that, their relationship was never the same.
When Christine first joined the Brown family in 1994, she was entering a pretty toxic situation. Meri and Janelle had a terrible sister wife relationship from the start. Meri was constantly throwing barbs and snide remarks at Janelle, who had emotionally shut off from her.
Christine brought some fun into the family that eased tensions with the wive, but her relationship with Kody was rough from the start. On her wedding day Kody was morose, and things only got worse on their road trip honeymoon.
Back home, though Christine forged a relationship with Meri. Janelle was relieved to have Meri’s attention taken away from her, but she still felt left out of Christine and Meri’s friendship.
Instead of have a tight-knit group of women who felt safe around each other, the Brown family wives were adversaries.
Although Christine never had a full-time or high-earning career like Janelle, she fell into a similar people-pleasing roll by taking on all of the domestic and academic burdens of the family. She gave herself the responsibility of creating a “picture perfect” family and the rest of the family gladly let her step into that roll.
While sometimes working part-time jobs, Christine took on the full-time roll of cooking, childcare, shopping, and homeschooling. She made sure all birthdays were special and tried to make her home, or area of the home (depending on their living situation at the moment) clean and festive for family gatherings.
“I prided myself in being there for everyone all the time,” Christine wrote in their 2012 memoir Becoming Sister Wives. “I tried to make sure that all the holidays and birthdays were special. Whenever we had family functions, my house had to be perfect, the food had to be perfect. I needed to create the ideal environment for what I believe is our perfect family.”
She added to her plate by teaching regular school at their church, Sunday school, and she eventually became an academic advisor. Over time, all of Christine’s responsibilities started to crush her and she found she couldn’t do all of these things really well.
At this point over severe burnout Christine had five kids of her own, along with Janelle’s six kids, and Meri’s one child. A year before her sixth and final child, Truely, was born, Christine also had a severe, relationship-ruining fight with Meri.
Christine has said that she experienced severe jealousy when Robyn came into the family, but never reported feeling this way about Meri and Janelle. Instead, Christine’s problem with Meri stemmed from how Meri treated her children.
“For a while, I’d been feeling that she was too tough on my kids,” Christine wrote about the situation. “While I understand that all children need disciplined I often felt that she went too far when it came to my children. It seemed to me that she was taking her frustrations out on my kids in particular. As a result of this, many of them were wary of her and were afraid to cross her accidentally.”
Christine let her frustration with Meri over her kids well up until she exploded.
“I let this situation go on too long, and I let my emotions well up. Instead of talking to Meri calmly and explaining what I’d observed her doing and how she might fix her behavior, I exploded,” she says. “I yelled and screamed and told her to stop talking to my kids and to stop interfering in their lives. Since I’m afraid of confrontation, I always allow stuff to build up till it’s too late. So instead of trying to work it out with Meri, I just shut her out. ”
It was around this time that Christine dropped a lot of the responsibilities she had taken on for the family because it was all too much for her. She became laser-focused on becoming the best mother she could be because that’s what meant the most of her.
At this time, which was right before Robyn entered the picture, Janelle thought things were better than ever, but Christine had withdrawn emotionally after “having her world shattered” during her confrontation with Meri.