SISTER WIVES Meri and Janelle discuss old wounds: the hallway and the pond

On Episode 4 of Season 16 of Sister Wives Meri and Janelle Brown finally confront issues that have been plaguing them for decades as sister wives. The two women met at Coyote Pass to get honest and open in a socially distanced setting.

Meri’s choice of T-shirt sends to be sending a message: “Only kinda care,” but her conversation proved that she did care about listening to Janelle and improving their relationship.

“My personality is black and white, hot or cold, there’s no in the middle. I’m like ‘you don’t want to have a relationship with me? Fine.’ But I remember thinking, you know what, that’s obviously not the way to handle a relationship,” Meri says.

“Something that I’ve really been trying to work on is how I interact and respond to other people. You know, making sure the other person feels heard and validated. I’ve got a lot of relationships that I would like to improve and I know that it really takes honesty and openness to do that. You know, I’ve got a little conversation that I’d like to have with Janelle because I keep here comments and ideas and thoughts about an issue that I feel like I need to bring up with her. Hopefully, this technique of just listening can help with other relationships as well.

Janelle says she and Meri have struggled for decades to understand each other but made it work because they had to for the kids.

Meri hopes that they both going into the conversation “open, kind, and honest.”

The year before, right before COVID-19 hit, Janelle brought up to the family that she wanted them to have conversations about who they were to each other and as a family. Unfortunately, the family didn’t get to connect more like this as they had to deal with COVID-19 and social distancing. In the meantime, their problems only grew larger, which led to Christine leaving the marriage altogether.

At the start of their conversation, Meri brought up that she had heard that Janelle was talking about how she didn’t want Meri to have property near the pond on the Coyote Pass property because in the past Meri didn’t allow the kids to use her apartment as a hallway to get from Janelle’s apartment to Christine’s.

Because of this Janelle and her kids would have to go outside in the back to visit Christine, which happened often because Christine would homeschool and watch Janelle’s kids while Janelle was at work.

“I slipped on those damn stairs so many times outside Christine’s door. It was cold, it was wet,” Janelle says about why this was such a big issue for her at the time.

During this time Meri was also working, sometimes two jobs, and she said she didn’t want people going through her living space while she wasn’t there. She felt like it wasn’t “inappropriate” to ask for boundaries with her personal space while she wasn’t there. “I struggled with my living room, my living space, being a hallway,” Meri says.

Janelle eventually revealed what she thought was the real underlying issue: she felt like this had all been about control for Meri. She also recalled that Meri would sometimes slam doors when she was angry. She feels like these past issues might come out in the present day, and Meri wouldn’t let people visit her part of the pond. Whether or not anyone in the family would actually want to visit the pond is another issue altogether.

Meri further explained that the stairs to Christine’s apartment were near her bedroom, and she didn’t want the other wives to come by her bedroom when Kody was there with her.

Janelle says she thinks they should write legal contracts about the pond so they could all agree about the access.

She also says that she feels bad because she was talking about this behind Meri’s back. Meri expressed that she didn’t want to push back too much and wanted to just hear what Janelle’s saying.

At this point, Meri says that she felt a wall in their conversation. She told Janelle that she felt like she was coming at her about what she did wrong. Meri admits that she puts up a guard and gets defensive because she doesn’t want to get hurt. The conversation about the pond is triggering her, and she doesn’t want to feel the feelings.

“So my problem was that I never wanted to rock the boat, and I think you always wanted to take things, maybe, to heart,” Janelle concludes.

Meri explains that she thought her relationship with Janelle would be much different when she came into the family. They both say they felt rejection from each other.

Meri and Janelle had known each other from before because Janelle used to be married to Meri’s brother. She met Kody in 1989 when she was still married to Adam Clark Barber. They divorced in 1990, and Janelle married Kody in 1993.

Their former friendship had completely broken down. Janelle said she didn’t know how to react to Meri because she was forceful and brutally honest, so she just shut down.

Janelle now says that she doesn’t even remember much about those early years of the marriage because she had so many young kids.

She now says that she wants to move forward with their adult relationships in a meaningful way for the rest of their life. She ends by saying again that she wants everyone to have free access to the pond. Meri says having control of the pond was never anything she wanted to do. It seems Janelle was projecting a lot of symbolism and meaning onto the pond that wasn’t even on Meri’s radar.

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