‘Sister Wives’: Kody Brown Broke Meri Brown’s Heart While They Were Dating

Fans of TLC’s Sister Wives know Kody Brown and his first wife, Meri Brown, best for their strained relationship in recent years. But when they first married as a young couple back in 1990, Kody and Meri were head over heels for each other.

In their 2012 memoir, Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage, Meri and Kody wrote sweetly about their early courtship. Despite their growing feelings for each other at the time, the young couple experienced some bumps in the road. In fact, Meri claimed that Kody broke her heart at one point by telling her he just wanted to be friends.

Kody, Meri, Janelle, and Christine Brown
Kody, Meri, Janelle, and Christine Brown | Ida Mae Astute/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Meri and Kody formed a close bond early on in their friendship

While Meri was raised in a polygamous, fundamentalist Mormon family, Kody converted to the Brown family’s faith (a sect of fundamentalist Mormonism known as the AUB, or Apostolic United Brethren) as a young man. The principle of polygamy, or plural marriage, was key to Kody’s new religion.

While Kody was still investigating the faith to which he would eventually convert, Meri was one of the first young women that Kody noticed and began to fall for. Kody met Meri through his sister, Christy, with whom she’d attended a girls’ camp for members of their church.

Meri initially said she was impressed by Kody’s positive attitude, good humor, and fun-loving nature. She was also “impressed with the strength of his convictions and the depth of his spirituality,” as she wrote in Becoming Sister Wives. Her future husband asked her father if he could take her out for a bite to eat, and their bond grew quickly from there.

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Meri was brokenhearted when Kody asked her to be ‘just friends’

But after a few weeks of spending time together, when Meri “could no longer deny that [she] was falling for [Kody],” he did the unthinkable.

“Kody broke my heart,” Meri wrote in Becoming Sister Wives. While she thought they were on the same page when it came to their feelings for each other, her hopes for a romantic relationship were dashed one day when Kody came over to visit her.

“At the precise moment I’d expected him to make some sort of declaration to me, or at least hint at his feelings toward me,” Meri wrote, “he said, ‘I can’t get involved in any relationships with girls right now. I like our friendship, let’s continue that.’”

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Kody said he’d been too quick to fall in love in the past

Meri was devastated and brokenhearted by Kody’s suggestion. But, the Sister Wives star wrote in his memoir, he had a good reason to ask his future first wife to stay platonic for the time being.

“I’m a hopeless romantic and too easily infatuated,” Kody wrote, adding that he had often been “careless” in his relationships with girls. His mother noticed his habit of getting in over his head too quickly, and she suggested that he try to be friends first with the next young woman who caught his yee.

That woman, as it turned out, was Meri. “Meri was my experiment in friends,” Kody explained, adding that it was difficult to keep things platonic because she was “so cute and sweet.” The Sister Wives patriarch believed that Meri might be his soulmate.

Still, Kody stuck to his plan. “I was determined to be Meri’s friend until I knew her better and could confirm my suspicion that our destinies were intertwined,” he wrote.

Kody couldn’t hold off on sharing his true feelings with Meri for too long, though. Shortly after he was baptized into his new faith, the Sister Wives star took her hand in his. As soon as he did so, Kody declared, he knew that she was the woman he would eventually marry.