Sister Wives follows the lives of wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn and their shared husband, Kody Brown. All together, the polygamist family consists of five adults and 18 children — which means there is no shortage of drama on the popular TLC series.
The show premiered in 2010 and, since then, has amassed quite a following and has sparked controversy among viewers. Although the Brown family’s lifestyle isn’t exactly typical, all of the wives on the show have really captured the hearts of America. It’s clear that they all love each other, despite the obvious obstacles — like jealousy and sharing spaces — that get in their way.
In the many years since the show premiered, Kody’s wives have gone through their own transformations. However, Meri has changed quite a bit — and fans have plenty of theories about her next moves. Here’s a look into the untold truth of Meri from Sister Wives.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown grew up in a polygamist family
While plural relationships aren’t the norm for most people, they’re kind of all Meri Brown has ever known. As the reality TV star grew up in a polygamist family, having sister wives is not exactly unusual.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Meri explained that she was free to make her own choices growing up, even though her family were polygamists. "My family was in the LDS faith but converted [to the Fundamentalist Mormon faith] when I was about 6 or 7 years old, so I grew up in a plural family with five mothers and 25 brothers and sisters," she explained. "My parents never pushed me into this lifestyle though," she clarified.
Additionally, in a clip shared by TLC, Meri added that as a child she quickly learned it was normal for her dad to have more than one wife. "My dad had a few plural wives, and so I did see him, you know, through the courtship process a little bit. … It’s somewhat normal for me, it’s a lifestyle that I grew up in." Meri’s childhood certainly prepared her for her future, that’s for sure.
Meri Brown from Sister Wives is Kody’s first wife
Though the entire principal of polygamy rests on the idea of being with more than one person in marriage, there ultimately has to be a first wife. And in the Brown family, that was Meri. For a time, she was also his only legal wife. In a TLC clip, Meri explained how she and her hubby first got together. "Kody and I met through his sister, she introduced us," she revealed. "I was 19 and he was 22. It actually was a very short courtship, I guess I was just young and in love, and 20 years old."
Kody and Meri were legally married in 1990, ABC News. This meant that Kody’s other three relationships were "recognized as ‘spiritual unions’ by their church, the Apostolic United Brethren Church," according to the outlet.
And, as all the sister wives noted in the clip for TLC, if it hadn’t been for Meri and her willingness to enter into a plural marriage, none of them would be with Kody. And that means fans of the series have Meri to thank.
Meri Brown and her sister wives "don’t go weird"
Since polygamy isn’t as normalized as monogamy or other types of relationships, people tend to have a lot of questions about it. After all, there wouldn’t really be a show about the Brown family if people weren’t interested in their literal day-to-day lives. But as strange as a plural marriage might sound to a lot of people, Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn set the record straight about their arrangement.
In an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show back in 2010, Meri explained that they were all living in one large house together. "Christine and Janelle and I each have our own bedrooms, and Kody is welcome in each of those bedrooms alone," Meri divulged. "That’s just how it is. We don’t go weird." Basically, Meri wanted to make it clear that the wives don’t get in on each others’ intimate time with Kody, and they don’t cross that line.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown shares one daughter with her husband Kody
Even though there are 18 children between all the wives and Kody Brown, Meri has but one daughter. As the TLC site noted, Meri and Kody Brown welcomed their one and only daughter, Mariah, in 1995, some five years after the couple’s wedding. At the time, Kody had already entered into another marriage with Janelle, his second wife who he married in 1993. Before long, the Brown family was bustling with wives and babies (Janelle and Kody have welcomed six children together).
Throughout the years, Meri has had a complicated relationship with her only child, but it’s clear she loves Mariah with her whole heart. In an episode of Sister Wives from March 2020, Meri and Mariah are seen having a disagreement. Meri shrugged it off, having gotten used to life with an only daughter. "Let’s be real," Meri told the cameras, (via Screen Rant). "Mariah pretty much thinks anything I think is weird." If that doesn’t sum up mother-daughter relationships, nothing does.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown struggled with infertility
Not unlike the stars of 19 Kids and Counting, The Duggars, it seems as though the Brown family loves having kids. After all, Kody Brown and his four wives share many children together, and they seem pretty happy to have a full house (or four). However, there’s a reason Kody and Meri only welcomed one child.
As Hollywood Life noted in a recap of a 2012 episode of Sister Wives, Meri has been open about her fertility struggles and shared some of her heartbreak on camera. In one episode, Meri shared that she suffered a miscarriage after she and Kody welcomed their first child, Mariah. Her family expressed their desire for Meri to have more children, and in another episode, fellow sister wife Robyn even offered to be a surrogate for Meri, but the Sister Wives star wasn’t so sure. "I haven’t made a decision. I need a little more time to figure it out … I don’t know what I want," she revealed in the episode (via Hollywood Life).
Meri Brown from Sister Wives found it difficult to go public with her lifestyle
Considering the polygamist lifestyle is controversial, you may have been surprised that a family was willing to star in Sister Wives and put themselves — and their relationship — in the spotlight. When the Las Vegas Sun asked the family about being "out," Meri Brown revealed that going public wasn’t actually all that easy for her.
"We did keep very quiet before we went extremely public," she explained. "There was a time when some co-workers and friends knew, but there were some co-workers who never knew." Meri continued, saying, "The decision to go on the show wasn’t that quick and easy for us. It took time for all of us to get on board."
Ultimately, though, the sister wives were able to dispel some myths about their lifestyle, which is something Kody’s wife Christine hoped would happen. "We have a story that needs to be heard. We’re a normal, healthy and happy family," she explained. "That’s why we decided to show you our family." Had Meri not gotten on board, though, that may have never happened.
This is what Sister Wives star Meri Brown does for work
It’s no secret that supporting a large family is one hefty task. And while the stars of Sister Wives are obviously paid for their time on camera, that doesn’t mean they don’t have — or want — to work day jobs to make ends meet. For Meri Brown from Sister Wives, that means selling clothes for the pretty controversial multilevel marketing company LuLaRoe. Meri has her own Facebook group where she sells the products and, with over 64,000 likes on her page, she’s obviously pretty successful at it.
However, the company has seen some problems over recent years and has been accused of operating as a pyramid scheme. According to The Sun, Washington state filed a lawsuit against LuLaRoe in 2019, accusing the company of making misleading claims about the products and the benefits of selling them. Per The Sun, the company was accused of "primarily rewarding participants on recruitment of new participants rather than on bona fide retail sales, thereby resulting in a substantial percentage of participants losing money." Still, Meri has continued to push the products and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Meri Brown is close to her sister wives
When you share your spouse with someone else, let alone three other women, it has to be pretty hard to not see them all as the competition. But for Meri Brown, it comes with the territory of the lifestyle she has chosen, and she is actually very close to her sister wives. Really, there’s a reason the show is called Sister Wives.
In an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, all four of Kody’s wives along with Kody himself were questioned by Oprah Winfrey about their relationship. At one point in the interview, Winfrey noted, "In being in the same family, you have to sort of develop a sister relationship or friendship in order to all get along." At that, Meri heartily agreed.
"It’s definitely a very bonding experience," the reality TV star said. "We’re sisters in that sense, and we’re very close." Being in a plural marriage certainly has its complications, but Meri enjoys getting to spend her life with her sister wives, as strange as other people may find it.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown regrets how she handled her daughter’s coming out
One of the most dramatic moments in Sister Wives history happened when Meri Brown’s daughter Mariah came out as gay to the religious family. While most of Mariah’s family members immediately accepted Mariah for who she was, her mom, Meri, had a hard time with it.
In a later episode of Sister Wives (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet), Meri reflected on her reaction to her daughter’s announcement. "I remember the day that Mariah told us that she was gay," Meri recalled. "I’ll never forget my stupid reaction. I felt like the worst mom in that moment." Meri continued, "All these thoughts and ideas that I had in my head of what her life was going to be like was changing. I didn’t react well to it."
In an interview with ABC News, Meri further explained, saying, "I realize now that it’s okay for me to mourn what I thought was going to be her life." Meri felt she needed time to adjust, but she still regrets her initial reaction.
Meri Brown has been jealous of her sister wives for most of her marriage
Children are often taught that "sharing is caring," but, as kids and adults alike well know, not everything is easy to share. Now, imagine having to share your spouse? Meri Brown from Sister Wives has agreed to do that for almost her entire marriage. And while she might love and truly care for her fellow sister wives, that doesn’t mean that a certain little green monster isn’t ever-present in her life.
In an interview with The Oprah Winfrey Show, Meri admitted, "I’m not going to lie — there are jealousy issues. " She continued, saying, "Those are natural. Hopefully that’s something that I can overcome." Meri explained that she had to work through her jealousy issues with each of Kody’s other wives. "I have to work through them," Meri added. "We’ve had a lot of time together, so I don’t get them as much with them [Janelle and Christine]. I get them more now [with Robyn]." Jealousy in a plural marriage has got to be very natural, one would think.
Meri Brown lost her job upon starring in Sister Wives
When the Brown family decided to go public with their polygamist lifestyle and star in Sister Wives, they readied themselves for what that would mean. They expected to be met with a lot of criticism and controversy after the show aired, but one added repercussion of going public was a hard hit for Meri Brown specifically.
Though Kody and his wives told ABC News that they wanted to do Sister Wives to normalize plural marriage, Meri lost something important to her when she went public. "My job, I absolutely loved," Meri said in the interview. "When I came out as a polygamist, and you know, became public, I was fired. That being said, some of my friends that had no idea have been extremely supportive of me."
In another interview with The Oprah Winfrey Show, Meri explained that she knew why she was let go from her job in the mental health field. "They felt that they needed to protect the company, I think," Meri said. "It actually makes me really sad because I loved my job. It breaks my heart, definitely. … But I understand where they’re coming from." Still, that couldn’t have been an easy pill to swallow.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown has endured some marriage problems
When you’ve been together for as long as Kody and Meri Brown have (they tied the knot in 1990), there are bound to be some issues. Add in three more wives, 18 children, and a reality show and the marriage essentially becomes a pressure cooker. Fans of Sister Wives know that Meri and Kody have had some relationship issues, but over the years, Meri has become more forthcoming about them.
In an episode of Sister Wives, Meri and Kody were filmed having a very honest conversation about the state of their marriage, and Meri was visibly distressed about how things had been going. "Kody, I just feel like I’ve spent a lot of years not knowing where we were … and I don’t know what you want anymore," she told her husband. Meri continued, "Kody, I need to be able to come to you with something that I need, even if it’s just a ladder or even if it’s just a trying to figure out the sprinkler system, without you saying, ‘I can’t do it’ — without you saying, ‘It’s just too much for me.’" Emotions ran high, for sure.
Sister Wives star Meri and Kody Brown got a divorce
In a polygamist marriage, there will always be the "first wife" — that is, the woman who married the husband first — and, in the case of the Brown family, that woman was Meri. Meri was also Kody’s only legal wife for most of their relationship, as his marriages with Janelle and Christine were only "spiritual unions," according to ABC News. However, when Kody’s fourth wife, Robyn, came along, Meri found herself in a tough situation.
In an episode of Sister Wives (via International Business Times), Meri explained, "Robyn has her three kids from her previous marriage that we have wanted to get adopted by Kody. But to do that she’ll need to have a legal marriage to Kody." As such, that meant Kody and Meri would need to file for a legal divorce.
In a Sister Wives clip, Meri revealed that although getting divorced was difficult, she considered herself "a team player" for the entire family after the divorce was finalized.
Sister Wives’ Meri Brown got caught up in a catfishing scandal
As Meri and Kody Brown struggled through their marriage, Meri found solace in someone else. In 2015, the reality TV star began communicating with someone through Twitter. Mari was swept off her feet and thought she had formed a true connection to this person called Sam. However, it wasn’t long before Meri learned she was being catfished and that Sam was actually a woman named Jackie Overton, as In Touch Weekly reported.
In a later episode of Sister Wives, Meri revealed just how much the catfishing scandal damaged her life, especially her marriage. "This catfish was planting things in my head an telling me how horrible my family was and specifically how horrible Kody was," Meri said. "That was one of the reasons why I didn’t want him around. I was just angry. I’m just angry at him." She continued, saying, " I just pushed Kody away. I did. He’s not the one I should’ve pushed away." The catfishing scandal was rough for Meri, but at least she learned to be a lot more careful about who she talked to online.