‘Sister Wives’: Kody Brown’s In-Laws Once Staged an ‘Intervention’ to Get One of His Wives to Leave
Kody Brown of TLC’s Sister Wives converted to the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), a sect of fundamentalist Mormonism in which members practice polygamy, as a young man.
Shortly afterward, Kody married his first wife, Meri Brown, in 1990. In 1993, he married his second wife, Janelle Brown—followed by his third wife, Christine Brown, in 1994, and his fourth wife, Robyn Brown, in 2010. Along the way, Kody had 15 children with his four wives and adopted Robyn’s three children from her previous marriage.
But the Brown family wasn’t always solidly intact. In fact, Kody’s wives have all admitted to having doubts about their relationship with their husband at one point or another.
In the Browns’ 2012 memoir, Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage, Janelle revealed that her family members had even staged an intervention of sorts to try to get her to leave Kody early in her marriage. At the time, Janelle was pregnant with the Brown family’s first child, Logan Brown.
Janelle converted to fundamentalist Mormonism before marrying Kody
Kody’s second wife, Janelle, was raised in the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), or Mormon, church. She grew up believing that her marriage would be monogamous and didn’t know much about polygamy, otherwise known as the principle of plural marriage.
In fact, Meri and Kody were the first polygamists Janelle knew. Janelle was first married to Meri’s brother, Adam Barber, for a brief time. But when that marriage fell through, Janelle gradually developed a friendship with her “polygamist friends” in her hometown of Bountiful, Utah. She slowly became interested in their faith, and even in practicing “the principle.”
After the young couple moved to Montana, Janelle paid them a visit. It was during that visit that her interest in fundamentalist Mormonism “progressed from a curiosity to a calling,” Janelle wrote in Becoming Sister Wives.
Some of her family members weren’t happy about her choice
Eventually, that calling turned into a full-on spiritual marriage to Kody. Janelle became Kody’s second wife, and she wrote that she was “enchanted with the idea of polygamy” at first. But things in the growing polygamous family quickly fell apart. Meri and Janelle didn’t get along at all, and their tumultuous relationship left Janelle feeling like a roommate in her own home.
When Janelle became pregnant, the Sister Wives star thought both her marriage and her family life might improve. But at least some of her relatives saw it as an opportunity to try to extricate her from her marriage entirely.
Janelle visited Salt Lake City with Kody and his third wife, Christine, when she was eight months pregnant with Logan. There, Janelle wrote in Becoming Sister Wives, some of her family members tried to “reconvert” her to the mainstream LDS faith.
“Some of my…family members even went so far as to stage a small-scale intervention to reconvert me, or, as they saw it, save me,” Janelle wrote in the Brown family’s memoir. When Kody left for the day while she visited with relatives, she was confronted with their disapproval of her marriage.
Kody’s second wife explained, “I guess my family decided to take advantage of the fact that I was a captive audience until Kody got back. They cornered me in the living room and began hurling Mormon scripture at me. They told me that what I was doing by living with Kody (they didn’t recognize our marriage) was wrong. They said that I was giving up my blessings.”
Feeling “furious and hurt” by the intervention, Janelle revealed that she simply ran upstairs and waited for Christine and Kody to come back—but only after telling her relatives to “go hang it in their ears.”
Kody’s second wife lost many close relationships due to her conversion
That difficult day was not the only time when Janelle experienced the repercussions of her unconventional decision to become a polygamist.
She lost many close friends due to her conversion, which often left her feeling isolated early on in her marriage to Kody. What’s more, she had left her stable career behind in Utah and moved to a small town in Wyoming in order to join the Brown family.
The Sister Wives star also lost the affection of some family members, who were never able to get over her choice to leave the LDS faith.
“Many of my other relatives, such as my maternal grandfather, never forgave me and did not speak to me again,” Janelle wrote in Becoming Sister Wives of the aftermath of her conversion. “Over time, I’ve rebuilt many of these relationships, but those first years when I was new to the principle, losing my family really hurt.”
Fortunately, Janelle was able to build her own family through her marriage to Kody—with 18 children total, no less. But someone else had her back, too: her mother, Sheryl Usher, who actually married Kody’s father, the late polygamist patriarch Winn Brown.
Sheryl converted to fundamentalist Mormonism around the same time as Janelle, and the two were able to empathize with each other about their transitions into their new religion and lifestyle.