‘Sister Wives’: Kody Brown Thinks Having Sex With Meri Brown Would Be Like ‘Participating in Hookup Culture’

On the April 4 episode of TLC’s Sister Wives, “Can I Light You Up,” Kody Brown and Meri Brown dug deep into their tumultuous marriage on their 30th wedding anniversary. Kody and his first wife haven’t lived together as husband and wife – and have essentially been separated or estranged – for around five years. The conversation became increasingly painful as the Sister Wives couple reflected on their past.

Robyn, Meri, Kody, Christine, and Janelle Brown from 'Sister Wives' at the grand opening of Mike Tyson's one-man show at the Hollywood Theatre in Las Vegas in 2012
Robyn, Meri, Kody, Christine, and Janelle Brown | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kody accused Meri of not putting in enough effort

Kody and Meri headed out for a nighttime picnic in Flagstaff to celebrate their 30 years of marriage. But the estranged polygamous couple was visibly uncomfortable with each other as they headed out for a drive.

“Here we are, celebrating our non-anniversary, because we’re not a couple,” Meri told Kody. “But we’re a family, and so, what are we? And what are we celebrating?”

Meri admitted that she desperately wanted her relationship with Kody to improve. But he simply didn’t seem interested. In fact, they hadn’t gone out on a date since their wedding anniversary the previous year. They also hadn’t shared a bed for years.

“He knows that I want things to move forward,” Meri told TLC producers. “And I know where he stands, which is that he wants to take it really, really, really, really slow.”

But Kody accused Meri of not putting in enough effort to improve their marriage. After all, he pointed out, he wasn’t the one “missing this relationship”; she was.

“You want to be with me…but you’re not courting me to that relationship,” Kody told his wife.

Meri retorted that she didn’t know she was supposed to be courting her own husband. The Sister Wives star also said she didn’t want to be overly pushy when it was clear that Kody lacked any sexual or romantic interest in her. When she tried to flirt with him, he just seemed more turned off than ever.

Meri said she wasn’t ‘walking away’ from the relationship

Kody continued to get even more blunt with his first wife when she told him she’d just been “waiting” for him to pursue her.

“And I’m not coming,” he retorted.

The Sister Wives patriarch went on to explain that he didn’t feel comfortable having sex with Meri when their relationship wasn’t positive. He even said that would be akin to “participating in hookup culture.” In his review, romance and sex were for “people who were in love.” Because he wasn’t in love with Meri – and didn’t know if he ever had been – he didn’t feel it would be appropriate or even ethical to have sex with her.

“She wants to be loved romantically,” Kody explained. “Then there has to be a spark for that. And then she will get romance, love, and a full marriage with a sexual relationship…There has to be more magic in this than what we have.”

In other words, he argued, if Meri wanted to “be loved,” then she had to “be lovable.”


‘Sister Wives’: Meri and Kody Brown Seem to Have Very Different Ideas About Their Marriage

Kody and Meri disagreed about the future of their marriage

While Kody seemed dead-set on avoiding anything more romantic with Meri, she made it clear that she was very interested in keeping their relationship going.

“I’m not giving up,” Meri told TLC producers in no uncertain terms. “I’m not walking away.”

As for Kody, he thought Meri just missed the idea of them as a couple. He didn’t believe they actually missed one another – but Meri vehemently disagreed.

“Do you know that every time you put your hand on my hand, how I feel? I just wish you knew!” she exclaimed. Meri went on to say that she “knew” Kody once loved her, but he refused to commit to an answer or agree.

“Like what we’ve had for 30 years or not, it’s 30 years,” Kody’s first wife insisted. “It’s not something I’m willing to walk away from.”

But Kody responded bluntly, “I’m not motivated by what we’ve had to sit here and talk about saving it, though.”

Still, Kody admitted there was always a chance that he and Meri would get back into “full fellowship” one day. He told Sister Wives producers that he would never ask for a divorce due to his faith and his conscience.