On Tuesday, November 2, 2021 Sister Wives’ Christine Brown and Kody Brown announced the end of their spiritual marriage after 27 years. There was no legal marriage, so no legal divorce is necessary.
However, there are legal issues, like the fact that Christine has one underage child, Truely Grace, at home, and owns Coyote Pass property in Arizona with the rest of the family. Christine has bought a new house in Utah, so she no longer lives near Kody and his three other wives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Christine’s marital struggles with Kody have always been showcased on the show, but Season 15 shows how deep the problems between went. In the final episode of Season 15, Christine broke down and told Meri that she no longer wanted to be in a relationship with Kody. Meri, who has basically been estranged in her marriage to Kody since at least 2015 when she got catfished, tried to convince Christine to stay in the marriage and asked her to “look at the mountains” as a motivation. Thankfully, Christine chose to not hold on to the mountains and the crumbling relationships in Flagstaff, and instead chose her own path.
At the beginning of Season 15, Christine opened up to Robyn about issues with the marriage that dated back to when she lived with Kody, Meri, and Janelle Brown in one house in Lehi, Utah. At that time, she lived in the basement portion of the house and was responsible for childcare. Being the “Basement Wife” wasn’t just a physical reality for her, but it was also a metaphor for how she felt she was treated during this time.
Season 1, Episode 1 of Sister Wives was filmed in 2010 when Christine was pregnant with her last child, Truely. In the episode, cameras followed the polygamist family through a “typical” day in their lives while introducing us to everyone. At the end of the episode, Kody assembles a family meeting where he tells the children that Robyn and her three children will be joining the family. A lot of what is shown and said in the very first episode shows cracks in Christine’s relationship with Kody that led to a future parting of ways.
For instance, we learn immediately that Kody was never that into Christine, but that she had always adored him. “I really loved him tons and he kind of loved me. And we went back and forth,” she said at the time. It took them years to realize that they wanted to get married.
This lack of passion on his part seems to have led to Christine always starving for attention. She tells the cameras that she often makes demands for dates and one-on-one time with Kody.
Christine was raised in polygamy, and says that she wasn’t interested in single guys. She would often reject single men who asked her father about her. She says that she has wanted sister wives and a whole family more than a husband “for a good time of my life.” She saw “freedom” in this arrangement and says that she wanted time to do what she wanted to do with her life. However, it’s unclear if she had actually gotten the type of freedome from the arrangement that she had longed for.
At age 19, Christine had analyzed the dynamics of the order of marriage and decided that being “third” wife was ideal.
She had also heard advice from her elders that when there are problems with a two-wife marriage, to marry a third to “even it out.” She also thought that being a third wife would be the “easiest.” She didn’t want to be married to a man by herself, so being a first wife was out. She saw a second wife as “wedge” in the initial relationship, which was the case with Meri, Kody, and Janelle.
Christine also shared about how she had witnessed women come into a family only for the man, which would “rip the family apart.” She’s sharing this to say that she never wanted to be a threat to the other wives, but she is also maybe displaying her fears of what could happen if/when Kody marries someone new.
At that time of the show’s very first episode, Kody was rotating his nights with the wives on a schedule, a practice that would devolve further and further after he married Robyn and they moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Sometimes, they would make adjustments to the schedule based on the life events of the individual wives and children, but while they were still living in Utah, but they made an effort to share equal time with Kody.
In one scene, Christine is shown ironing and quips to the camera “because I’m the domestic one,” which is a small comment but may hint at her dissatisfaction with her identity in the family. Christine took care of the 12 children, made the house run smoothly, and homeschooled the kids when they weren’t enrolled in a private polygamist school.
Meri’s daughter Mariah was 14 at the time, so Meri no longer needed shared childcare. However, many of Janelle’s kids were still young and Janelle worked long hours outside the home so Christine spent a lot of time caring for them. In Season 15, Christine reveals that she now understands that she too often put the needs of Janelle’s kids above her own children’s needs.
Christine is the wife who is most reluctant to accept Robyn into the family as a fourth wife. Meri actually set Kody and Robyn up, and Janelle says she has had a “spiritual witness” about Robyn. Christine isn’t so sure. She likes just having three wives.
Since Kody had started dating Robyn, his time started to get spread extra-thin, which a pregnant Christine didn’t appreciate. Even though Meri had encouraged Kody to pursue Robyn, she was also starting to feel a little jealous. Not only was Kody adding another person to the rotation, but Robyn lived hours away which meant Kody would have to be gone for several days at a time just to court her.
Christine ends the episode with honest feelings about her trepidation about bringing Robyn into the family. “I don’t want to be a boat rocker, and I don’t like my boat rocked,” she says. “And so no, I’m a little hesitant to accept another wife, but if it happens she has to be absolutely amazing, otherwise it might be a little difficult.”