The letters in the TLC network stand for The Learning Channel — or tender loving care — and viewers of the hit show Sister Wives have certainly learned a lot about what it means to be in a plural marriage. Since September 2010 the Brown family — fundamentalist Mormons originally from Utah — has opened their home to the world in an effort to combat what they feel are prejudices and stereotypes about polygamist families.
The reality series follows the lives of husband, Kody Brown, and his four wives Meri Caroline Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Ruth Brown, Robyn Alice Brown and their eighteen children. Over the course of the television series the Browns have faced ups and downs just like any other American family. However, because of their unique relationship they have also faced trying circumstances including legal investigations brought about by authorities due to the publicity surrounding the show.
Here is a cheat sheet to learn more about who the Sister Wives are.
1. Who Are The Sister Wives?
The Sister Wives are four women who have married the same husband, Kody Brown. Although for three of them this is a “spiritual marriage.” For them, a spiritual marriage is a union “in the eyes of God,” but not a legal marriage by the state. Meri Caroline Brown was Kody’s first wife, who he legally married in 1990. Then in 1993 Janelle Brown became his second “spiritual wife.” In 1994 the family grew again as Christine Ruth Brown became the third wife in the household. For the next 16 years Kody was husband to these three women while living together in Utah, but Robyn Alice Brown became his fourth wife in 2010 around the time the first season of the TLC series began.
2. Where Do The Sister Wives Live?
When the show began in 2010 the Sister Wives lived with their husband, Kody, in a large family home in Lehi, Utah. Much like the arrangement of other polygamist households each wife had her own bedroom along with small living quarters to share with her children. They left Lehi and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where each wife and her children lived in a separate house at the end of a cul-de-sac. In late 2018 the Brown family moved again, this time to an area outside of Flagstaff, Arizona where they slept under the same large roof in a single-family home.
3. Which Sister Wife Was The First To Marry?
Kody Brown met his first wife, Meri Caroline Brown, in 1989 through mutual friends. The pair were married six months later on April 21st, 1990 when Kody was twenty-two years old and Meri was just nineteen. The couple who now are a family of 23 spent the first five years of their relationship as a monogamous couple with no children. Meri has one biological child with Kody, their daughter Mariah.
4. Who Is Husband To The Sister Wives?
The patriarchal head of the polygamist family documented on Sister Wives is husband Kody Brown. Kody is a fundamentalist Mormon originally from Wyoming who, before the success of the TLC show, worked as an advertising salesman. His father was also a polygamist who had three wives, and Kody grew up with nine siblings in a plural marriage household. Kody is the biological father of 15 children from his four wives as well as three adopted children.
5. Is Their Polygamist Relationship Legal?
After the premier of their reality TV show in 2010 documenting their lives together, the family faced mounting legal action in Utah where the legality of plural marriage is taken very seriously. Kody contends that his relationship with his four wives is on the right side of the law since he is only legally married to one of them at a time, as far as the state is concerned. In the United States bigamy — or being married to more than one person — is illegal. However, in the state of Utah where plural marriage used to be common, the law is even more strict. Utah's law states that “spiritual wives” are not allowed. The Browns sued the state of Utah and in 2013 a district court judge ruled in their favor declaring the anti-bigamy law unconstitutional. Essentially the government cannot intervene if a legally married couple wants to invite other people into their home to have a romantic relationship. In 2017 this ruling was reversed. The Utah Senate passed an updated bigamy law disallowing a married person from being legally married while also living with another person they claim to be their spouse.
6. Why Did The Sister Wives Move From Utah to Nevada?
Sin City, also known as Las Vegas, Nevada seems like a strange place for a religious family to move. However, after the launch of the TLC series in 2010, the Brown family faced the threat of mounting legal action from authorities in Utah where anti-plural marriage laws specifically target polygamist fundamentalist Mormons. After the premier of the show Meri Brown lost her job working in the mental health industry when her employer found out about her family relationship. Due to these factors the family decided to move to Nevada in 2011 where they felt that they were “living in exile.” They stayed there until 2018, when they moved to Arizona.
7. What Is The Sleeping Arrangement For The Sister Wives?
The Sister Wives say this is the number one question they get asked. No, the women do not have sex with each other. Instead Kody develops a schedule rotating which wife he will sleep with on what night. He tries to make sure that his time is divided equally to avoid jealousy among the wives.
8. How Many Children Do The Sister Wives Have?
The Brown family shares 18 children. Kody’s first wife Meri, was only ever able to conceive one child with Kody — a source of pain and jealousy in the family. Kody’s second wife, Janelle, had six children with him. Kody’s third wife, Christine, added six more babies to the growing family. In addition to the three children she had from a previous relationship, fourth wife, Robyn produced two more children for Kody.
9. Why Did Kody And Meri Get Legally Divorced?
Meri Brown was Kody’s first wife, and they had been married for 24 years when the two got a divorce in December of 2014. This was not due to the end of their marriage or an irreconcilable falling out. Instead Kody divorced his first wife so that he could legally marry his fourth spiritual wife, Robyn in order to then legally adopt her three children from a previous marriage. This adoption included her son Dayton and her two daughters, Aurora and Breanna.
10. Do The Children Of The Sister Wives Want To Have Plural Marriages?
Three of the 18 children of the Sister Wives have gotten married, and none of them have entered into a plural marriage. All of the older children have stated that they do not plan on living a polygamist lifestyle. While still supporting the family religion many have declined to enter into a plural marriage saying it is not for them. For his part, Kody says he respects his children’s decision not to follow in his footsteps.
11. How Do they Afford To Feed 18 Children?
Before the TLC show Kody worked in advertising sales. Now, each family member pitches in to earn income to support the large and growing family — all while taking care of the kids. Robyn Brown runs an online clothing and jewelry store called My Sister Wives’ Closet. Meri Brown runs a bed and breakfast called Lizzie’s Heritage Inn. Janelle had a food storage business in Utah, but once the family moved to Las Vegas, she became a real-estate agent. Before the success of the television show Kody and three of his wives had filed for bankruptcy. By some estimates the family may have made as much as $3 million for appearing in the show while earning supplemental income from it as well.
12. What Religion Do The Sister Wives Practice?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints outlawed the practice of polygamy way back in 1890, which also led to the state of Utah enforcing strict laws concerning polygamy and bigamy today. The Brown family of Sister Wives is open about considering themselves Fundamentalist Mormons, separate from the mainstream Mormon church. However, they point out that this is also distinct from some of the other Mormon groups that have made headlines in recent years including The FLDS church. Although it can’t be confirmed the family has been associated with the Apostolic United Brethren, another polygamist Moron sect.
13. Do The Sister Wives Get Along?
Like any family the Browns have their issues both good and bad. Recently, it was revealed that the four Sister Wives don’t really talk to each other, which has put a strain on the relationship with their mutual husband, Kody. As some fans of the show suspect, jealousy can be an issue. Christine recently confessed on an episode, “You’re trying to be best friends with a woman who has a relationship with your husband. When I’m having a bad day with Kody, the last thing I want is to see him having a good relationship with someone else.” We pay for juicy info! Do you have a story for RadarOnline.com? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (866) ON-RADAR (667-2327) any time, day or night.