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The Brown family is best known for their television show Sister Wives. While the family was hoping to give the world a positive glimpse into plural marriage, they’ve managed to do the exact opposite. Between personal problems, fighting between the wives and the sometimes-misogynistic approach to family dynamics, fans have found themselves less than impressed by the alternative setup. The Browns, however, are entirely at home with their plural living situation, and it makes perfect sense. Several of the family members were born and raised in polygamist households.

Meri and Kody were introduced by Kody’s sister

Viewers of Sister Wives have noted that Meri appears to have a jealous streak when it comes to her fellow wives, but she is actually the woman who has encouraged Kody to court several women. Not only did Meri introduce Kody to both Janelle and Christine, but she actively encouraged his pursuit of Robyn, nearly two decades after the last wife joined the fold.

Meri and Kody were introduced by Kody’s sister, according to ABC News. In 1989 Kody’s sister headed out of town to visit with Meri and Kody decided to tag along. It was there the future plural family patriarch began courting his first wife. They were married in 1990. Meri and Kody’s sister became friends through church and shared the same polygamist vision.

Janelle had a family connection to Meri

Meri Brown and Janelle have a long history with one another. In fact, the link is one they’ve actively tried to hide. According to Radar, Janelle Brown was once married to Meri’s brother, Adam Clark Barber.

While Janelle alleges to have known Meri’s family for years, she has stopped short as mentioning the marital connection. According to court documents, Janelle divorced Adam in 1990 after several years of marriage. She was given the couple’s home in the divorce settlement, while Adam took several vehicles.

Janelle seems to be the wife that is best suited for plural marriage; she is also the only Brown that didn’t grow up within the religious sect that encourages polygamy. Janelle has noted that plural marriage appealed to her mostly for the help with child rearing.

Christine met her future family through church

Christine pursued Kody for years before she became the family’s third wife. Allegedly, Meri and Christine were good friends before Kody even gave the mother of six a second look. Christine notes in the family’s book Becoming Sister Wives that Meri would even call Christine to discuss the family’s pursuit of another woman to add to their family.

Christine, who prefers not to talk about that period, married into the family in 1995, two years after Janelle became the family’s second wife. Christine has mentioned in interviews that she always saw herself as a third wife. She grew up in a plural family and met both Kody and Meri when they were youth leaders at the family’s church.

Robyn grew up in a polygamist family in St. George, Utah

Robyn, the fourth wife to join the family and Kody’s legal wife grew up in St. George, Utah. While her father worked in Las Vegas, the alternative family held down the fort in Utah. Robyn was married to David Preston Jessop prior to meeting Kody.

As it turns out, Jessop has deep ties to the Brown family. Not only is he Christine’s first cousin, but he’s also related to both Meri and Kody through marriage. Robyn notes that when she married David they had planned to add a second wife to their family, but David filed for divorce in 2007 before that happened. According to The Ashley, David lives off the grid in Montana and doesn’t have any relationship with his three children with Robyn Brown.