SISTER WIVES Are Kody and Christine officially spiritually divorced?

The divorce between Kody Brown and his third wife Christine Brown seems to have been going on for a long time before it was officially announced. Because they were never married legally, the idea of divorce is really up to how they define it spiritually for them. What does this mean for their religious beliefs? Where they formally divorced in a religious ceremony? Christine has revealed what divorce means to her.

How they broke up

From what we’ve seen on the show so far, instead of a clean break, Kody and Christine have been indirectly and cryptically communicating with each other without having a real conversation about what’s going on. They formally announced their divorce in November 2021, but it’s unclear when the events we saw in the Season 16 finale happened.

What is clear is that at some point Christine found her lack of intimacy and emotional connection in her marriage to be too much. She felt unwanted in every way by Kody and wished to live independently and move her and her remaining minor children to Utah to be near people who wanted them around. Kody had directly told her that he no longer wanted to have an intimate relationship with her, but he did not ask to sever the marriage because of his personal beliefs about divorce.

Christine responded by asking Kody to no longer sleep in her room, but she did not explicitly break up with him. Instead, she packed up Kody’s stuff into boxes while he was away (which is most of the time) and set them into the garage. She found his stuff heartbreaking to look at, and she didn’t want Kody to spend time packing up when he was over so he could use the time to spend with his daughters.

She also didn’t tell Kody what she was doing, so he was sent a message when he found his stuff in the garage. The first time he found it, Christine seemed to have been gone. The second time he came over he found more stuff and realized that it was finally time to have a conversation with Christine about what her intentions are.

How Kody told Christine he didn’t want to be intimate with her anymore

In the first scene where Christine reveals the extent of the rift between herself and Kody, she starts by saying “There’s a fine balance between saying too much and saying enough and feeling like you have a voice.”

She went on to share a story that happened the week before when Kody helped her put in a door to a loft bedroom and office for Christine. While they were putting up the door, Kody kept mentioning that they were doing it to keep the cat out of the upstairs so it wouldn’t get into Christine’s MLM inventory.

This constant talk of the cat sparked Christine to confront Kody about if the door was just for the cat, or if maybe the door was also to give them privacy from their kids so they could have an “intimate” side of their marriage again. This is when Christine says Kody tells her directly that he’s not interested in that anymore. He goes on to argue that he knows a lot of couples who stay married but aren’t intimate. He also told Christine that he didn’t like her behavior, and implied that she needed to be a “good sister wife.”

After that, Christine said she went to bed alone. She recalled that the ending of their last anniversary together, in 2020, had ended without intimacy and she didn’t want that kind of life going forward.

“What so he gets to have an intimate marriage with other wives, but not with me?” Christine asks. “And I’m what? Going to have nothing for the rest of my life?” She goes on to say that she is heartbroken, and her heart is shattered.

Kody later says Christine kicked him out of her bedroom but doesn’t mention that he told her he didn’t want to be intimate with her anymore. In the talking head interview, Kody accuses Christine of “murdering our intimacy with betrayal. And the betrayal is the fact that I keep hearing from other people that she’s threatening to leave.” He argues that he doesn’t feel intimate because of her betrayal, but it seems like this issue is deeper than that. If she was talking about leaving before he stopped “feeling intimate,” then what problems were there that made her want to leave?

The intimacy Christine is being denied isn’t just sexual and physical, it’s clear she has denied emotional support and friendship from Kody for years now, perhaps from the very start.

Are Christine and Kody spiritually divorced now?

Christine seems to say “yes” in this episode. She says they have not had a formal ceremony at a church, but she feels like the state of the marriage is between her and God.

“You can leave marriage in our church,” Christine explains. “If it’s a marriage like mine and Kody had, where it’s just a spiritual marriage, then they release you spiritually and you go through them.”

Christine, however, has chosen to make the decision to leave the spiritual marriage by herself. “As far as I’m concerned,” she says. “That’s just between me and God.”

The former couple may not even be able to be divorced, or unsealed by the church that married them. The Browns are rumored to have been excommunicated from the AUB church.

Kody doesn’t like the idea of divorce. Instead of divorcing three wives, he doesn’t love anymore, he has kept them in cold and loveless spiritual marriages instead. When Kody finds his stuff boxed up in Christine’s garage, he says he’s most afraid about the “karmic” value divorce will take. He said that divorce is tragic and terrible in his faith.

UPDATE: In Part 2 of the Season 16 One-on-One Christine reveals that she hasn’t been a part of their church, the Apostolic United Brethren, for a long time, so their rules don’t apply to her life decisions. She believes that God is fine with her decisions. Robyn, however, doesn’t believe that Christine and Kody are technically divorced.

The breakdown of Christine and Kody’s marriage started at the beginning

Kody made it known publicly that he didn’t find Christine attractive before he married her. He immortalized his disgust for her in the book they published where he recalled hating watching her eat some nachos during a road trip, and the doubled down about his disgust during a tell-all special.

Christine comes from a prominent polygamous family, so there has been a lot of speculation that Kody partially married Christine for the political clout she carried in their religious community. Furthermore, according to their belief system, Kody needed the third wife to ensure he could enter the highest level of their idea of heaven. Once he married Christine, she had six children with him, and also provided childcare for the family’s other seven kids.

Christine has always desired love and attention from her romantic partner, which is natural and normal. Kody has been unable to provide this for her because he seems to have never cared for her in a deep, loving way. He similarly is not romantically interested in his second wife Janelle, but before the move to Flagstaff, he regarded her as a friend and connected with her in a way he never connected with Christine.

When Christine tries to express her feelings, instead of validating her and working to heal any hurt, Kody has dismissed her like the time he tried to turn Christine into the villain and then blamed her PMS when she was upset over things one of Kody’s friends said about the family.

Is Robyn the only wife Kody is being intimate with?

In episodes filmed in 2020, during Seasons 15 & 16, Kody made it clear to the audience that he had taken “romance” off the table for three of his four wives. “Romance” and “intimacy” appear to be Kody’s code-words for sex and physical affection like kissing and cuddling.

During a 30th anniversary “date” with his first wife Meri, filmed for Season 15, Kody let her know that he no longer had feelings for her. He gave her mixed signals that he wanted her to be lovable, but didn’t want her to chase him. He also opened up to Meri that he wanted other wives to leave if they weren’t happy.

Kody also told Meri that he felt like he should only kiss and be intimate with people he was in love with. Despite all of this rejection and lack of human connection and contact, Meri has refused to leave her spiritual marriage with Kody. He has told her they are “just friends,” but doesn’t have much contact with her at all. Still, she seems determined to stick with this spiritual arrangement until the end.

In a preview for a post-Season 16 interview special, Kody outwardly says that he thinks Meri had an affair for the first time. When they initially dealt with Meri’s Catfish situation, Kody seemed to believe that Meri had been tricked and taken advantage of. At some point, he may have looked at the mountain of evidence dumped online about Meri’s emotional affair, and changed his mind about it.

In Season 16, when he was wanted to kick out his sons Garrison and Gabriel from their mom Janelle’s house, he expressed regret for taking “romance” off the table with her. He thought that if he was still “romantic” with her she would choose him over her children. This seems to imply that he is no longer being intimate with Janelle.

He also, according to Christine, took intimacy and romance off the table for Christine in Season 16. This leaves only one wife that Kody is still intimate with: Robyn. Not only that, but she is the only one he lives with, she is the one he is legally married to, and she is the only one he seems happy to see when they reunite after time away.

Christine and Kody’s marriage hit the breaking point in Season 16

major spine surgery. He said multiple times that he considered the trip to New Jersey for the major surgery to be a “vacation,” and told Ysabel that he didn’t want her to become a “bitter housewife” over him not going. Although she joked around and let him know she understood why he couldn’t be there, when she woke up from anesthesia, she kept asking for him while under the fog of pain meds. Her recovery was long and painful and Kody expressed the desire for her to recover more quickly so he could stop feeling guilty about it, which showed he only cared about his own suffering, not the extreme physical and emotional suffering Ysabel went through during this ordeal.

In Season 16 Kody also revealed that he thought that Christine hated him because she blamed him for their daughter Truely almost dying from kidney failure brought on by dehydration. He cited this reason for why he was being so strict with his COVID protocols. Although this harrowing incident was perhaps a turning point in their relationship, the cracks in Kody’s marriage to Christine have been there since the foundation.

Because Kody had fractured relationships with all three of his first wives, and the entire family was busy raising kids and trying to stay afloat financially in the early years, Christine didn’t feel like she was missing much, or that she should speak out about what she was missing.

When Robyn came into the family, all three wives got to witness what Kody is like when he is truly in love with someone. Christine saw her own husband have the type of relationship with someone else that she had always wanted him to have with her. She also saw Robyn speak up about her own needs, and model that type of behavior.

However, when Christine started being more outspoken about her wants and needs, Kody reacted to her much differently than how he reacted to Robyn because he views them very differently. He does not have that intense emotional attachment to Christine the way he does with Robyn and the more Christine tries to communicate with him, the more he dislikes her.

When Kody finds his stuff boxed up in Christine’s garage, Kody struggles to have emotion over it. Multiple times he asks if she is being serious, and questions if she is playing a game with him despite the fact that she has been vocal to other wives and children that she wants to leave him.

After some rambling, Kody settles on some truth: he feels nothing but relief from “the burden and the woe of a loveless marriage.” He says he’s “ambivalent” and almost doesn’t care. He feels “unbothered.” He says he fears the “culpability” of his own actions that led to this and ends by saying that he’s not saying what he really feels because he doesn’t yet know how he feels about it.

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