It’s no secret that TLC’s Sister Wives stars Meri Brown and her polygamous husband, Kody Brown, have struggled for a long time in their marriage. In recent seasons, fans of the show have started to notice that Kody’s tension with Meri also seems to be affecting her closeness with her sister wives, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown.
On the Feb. 23 episode of Sister Wives, “Doubting Polygamy,” tensions between Meri and the rest of the Brown family were achingly obvious to viewers. Fans took to social media to push back against Kody’s treatment of Meri, even urging her to leave her marriage if things didn’t change.
Kody and Meri struggled in their marriage for some time
Kody and Meri, who was his first wife, have struggled with marital troubles for many reasons over the years.
Unlike her three sister wives, Meri dealt with infertility issues. Kody and Meri had only one child, Mariah Brown, while all of the other Brown wives have at least five children. After Mariah headed off to college, Meri felt isolated in her “empty nester” status and felt abandoned by her husband and sister wives.
Meri was Kody’s only legal wife for years. But after fourth wife Robyn entered the family, Meri agreed to legally divorce Kody so he could adopt Robyn’s three children from a prior marriage. Although the Browns don’t recognize marriage and divorce as defined by the state, Meri confessed to struggling with the decision and feeling a sense of loss.
As Meri became more independent, she began to seek out friendships with other people. One friendship blossomed into an online romance in 2015. Although the “man” Meri was flirting with ended up being Jackie Overton, a female catfish, Kody eventually admitted he didn’t trust Meri. The Sister Wives star didn’t even want a romantic relationship with Meri anymore, at least not yet.
Meri’s offer to host family gatherings at her home went over awkwardly
On the latest episode of Sister Wives, the ongoing problems between Meri and her family were obvious to fans after Robyn told the others she would have to move to a different rental home in Flagstaff. The owners of her current rental had decided to sell, leaving the family without a central gathering spot.
“I need you to know, you are welcome to gather at my house,” Meri offered. The response from Kody and her sister wives was uncomfortably silent. “I’ve got a lot of space that goes unused,” she continued. “So if anybody is ever interested, I’m just saying.”
Janelle told producers noncommittally, “Maybe we’ll use Meri’s. I don’t know.” Robyn said only that Meri’s place was “great” before clearing her throat and changing the subject after the awkward silence. Meri looked visibly upset at the family’s response.
‘Sister Wives’ fans thought Kody didn’t treat Meri with kindness
Many fans were surprised at how Kody and his other wives appeared to treat Meri on the episode. Some viewers believed Kody was still punishing his first wife for her online indiscretion back in 2015. Others thought Kody’s wives were taking his lead in disrespecting Meri.
Fans urged Kody to forgive Meri or, at least, to be open about his lack of interest in her so they could get out of the relationship.
“I’m stunned every episode as to how you speak to @MeriBrown1,” one critic wrote to Kody on Twitter. “The level of disrespect is astonishing it’s actually putting me off from watching now because it makes me cringe to see how she’s treated- she made a mistake and she’s paid for it please show her some kindness.”
Another Sister Wives viewer agreed, tweeting in the same vein, “I think it’s time you took a lesson in forgiveness. Meri has suffered enough. Your wives are starting to treat her with the same disrespect you do. Lead by example. You should have jumped at the offer she gave to use her place as a meeting place.”
Yet another Sister Wives fan admonished the polygamist patriarch for his treatment of his first wife. “The way you treat @MeriBrown1 is appalling,” they wrote on Twitter. “Seriously. I wouldn’t speak to a dog the way you speak to her. It’s quite clear you don’t have any love or feel any affection towards her, and the other wives treat her like a pariah. Awful.”
Some viewers thought Meri should leave the Brown family
In addition to chastising Kody, many Sister Wives viewers encouraged Meri to finally leave the Brown family once and for all. Several fans pointed to the fact that Kody didn’t even spend the night with his first wife anymore, while others noted that things had only seemed to have gotten worse in the five years since the catfishing scandal.
“Meri has 1000 and one reasons to walk away…Yet, she doesn’t. Why?” one fan asked.
Viewers speculated that Meri might be staying for the show or financial stability. Others thought she might be motivated by the remnants of her love for Kody, her relationships with her sister wives’ children, or the tenets of her fundamentalist Mormon faith.
Adherents to the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) faith believe that marriages are “sealed” for eternity, meaning that Meri’s relationships with her children, husband, and sister wives are believed to extend beyond death.
Another viewer thought Meri should finally get away and establish herself as an independent woman. “Meri needs to leave,” the Sister Wives fan wrote on Twitter. “There’s nothing for her in this situation. She’s an empty nester in a loveless marriage who doesn’t really have a strong bond with the other women. Leave, move into your B&B, write a tell all. Light Kody’s man bun up.”
One Twitter user thought the threat of divorce might wake Kody up when it comes to his first wife. “I really like Meri and I know she could easily find a man who adores her!!” they argued. “It’s painful to watch how cold & dismissive Kody is with her. Either he steps up and acts like a husband, or she should find someone who will.”