In the past two seasons of Sister Wives Kody Brown has been very open about his lack of affection, or even friendship, with his first wife Meri Brown. He was pretty direct with her on their 30th wedding anniversar. In the latest episode, Meri revealed that Kody had finally told her that they are “just friends” and let her know that there was no hope to repair their broken relationship. Still, Meri is persistent in staying in the spiritual marriage and the family. “I’m not going anywhere, y’all,” she says. “You’re stuck with me.”
Meri and Kody got legally married on April 21, 1990. Kody was 21-years-old and Meri was 19. Kody wasn’t raised in a polygamist household, but his parents had recently converted. Meri came from a polygamist background, and her father was a mentor for Kody at the time.
They divorced in September 2014 so that Kody could legally marry Robyn Brown and adopt her kids from a previous marriage.
The family claimed that the legal marriage would have no effect on the marriage because all that mattered were their spiritual marriages. Meri was obviously struggling during this time, however, and this led her to seek affection online, where she got catfished. The catfished later exposed everything, but Kody seemed somewhat willing to work things out with Meri for years. It looks like he is now done with the idea of having any sort of relationship with Meri.
Meri’s isolation isn’t just from Kody, but from the rest of the family and her distance has been compounded by COVID-19 and the family’s reaction to COVID-19. The latest episode, titled “Sad Sorry Lonely Little People,” showed that no one in the family was communicating much with Meri at all. Janelle says that she would sometimes make it a point to text Meri, but it wasn’t even on a weekly basis. Kody said that none of the wives care about maintaining relationships, but that’s not necessarily true. Janelle and Christine meet up together rather frequently, and Meri has the desire to get closer to everyone. She even put in the work to have an honest conversation with Janelle about their past, and she even approached it in a different way than ever before.
In this episode Kody echoes a line he had written in their 2013 book Becoming Sister Wives (affiliate link) that he once believed that this marriage structure would mean no one in the family would ever experience true loneliness. He now sees that this isn’t the case, and plural marriage isn’t a guarantee against loneliness.
“It’s lonely,” Meri says, tearing up. “I live alone. I just miss my family.” She says that she wishes she had more communication with everyone, and she still has hopes that her relationship with Kody will turn into something more than what she has now.
Meri also said that the only two people in the family that she feels love her unconditionally are the two youngest children: Solomon and Ariella. Even though Meri often spends weeks and months quarantining, she is apparently not allowed to go over to Robyn and Kody’s house to visit with Solomon and Ariella.
Meri thinks that if she quits and walks away “it’s not gonna get any better.” She also shares that she has considered leaving the family around the time of the catfish situation, but decided to stick with them. “This is where I am,” she says. “I have made my decision.”
Right now, being in the family doesn’t seem to mean much as they all live apart on different properties in Flagstaff, Arizona. Meri has a bed and breakfast business in Utah, and her only child Mariah lives in Utah, but Meri seems committed to staying where Kody and the rest of the wives are. If they ever build on Coyote Pass, Meri can build a house there and be more physically close to the other adults. The bigger issue is how she can grow more emotionally close to them.
It’s unknown if Kody is still spiritually sealed, or married, to Meri. According to their theology, it would be his role to “call up” Meri in heaven to be with the rest of the family on their layer of paradise if he sees fit.
The family doesn’t speak much about their spiritual beliefs or where they stand with their religion anymore. In the past, they would often explain some things about what they believed in order to frame why they practice plural marriage, but they never got too deep into it on TV. They were even reportedly kicked out of their own church, the Apostolic United Brethren Church for being too public. Some reports say their shunning had to do with Meri’s catfish scandal.
Kody did make a rare reference to his beliefs in this episode by saying, “I’m a polygamist. I did crazy sh** to get into heaven. I’m gonna do crazy stuff to prevent somebody going there early.”