A long time coming. Sister Wives star Janelle Brown says husband Kody Brown has been on thin ice in his relationship with Meri Brown for a while — and the drama has started to impact the entire brood.
“Kody does a very good job of keeping things very separate. He doesn’t usually talk about the other wives with me,” the TLC personality, 51, told Us Weekly exclusively on Tuesday, March 16. “I know they have struggled for a long time and it really kind of hurts when I see them not [happy] because it sort of spills over into their families. … I’m always trying to advocate and go to bat for both of them. It’s just a hard thing, I think, for the whole family.”
Janelle is the second wife of Kody, 52, whom she “spiritually married” in January 1993. The couple share six children. Tensions have been high between Kody and Meri, 50, since the Wyoming native decided to divorce his first wife in September 2014 in order to legally marry his fourth wife, Robyn Brown. (Kody is also in a spiritual union with third wife Christine Brown, with whom he shares an additional six kids.)
Earlier this year, the salesperson told Us exclusively that he and Meri “have been in a very dark place,” which has made their marriage “very difficult.” For Janelle, it’s hard not to be affected by the “deep troubles” plaguing one of the other partnerships.
“When one relationship struggles, they all struggle,” she explained on Tuesday, adding that she doesn’t “completely” know the specifics of Kody and Meri’s drama. “I don’t go asking. … I just think sometimes they’re entitled to their privacy.”
During a season 15 episode of the family’s reality series, which aired in February, viewers watched Meri tell her couple’s counselor that her relationship with Kody is “dead” and “over.” However, the Becoming Sister Wives author previously told Us that he doesn’t think he has “the right” to completely end his marriage with Meri after all these years.
“I have dominion over my own body and where I’m at but I’m not in a place where, like, I can say, ‘Hey, I’m divorcing you.’ I can’t do that. However, any one of [my wives], I feel like, can. I feel like they need to understand that — that they can leave,” Kody explained. “If it’s not working for them, they can leave. Nobody’s going to be a prisoner here.”
While she can’t picture what she would do if faced with the option of divorce, Janelle is “of course” rooting for her husband and Meri to work things out. “We’ve been together for so many years and I just cannot imagine after three decades, you know … I don’t want to change any piece of our lives and our family,” she said on Tuesday. “What do you do after 30 years? That’s, like, my whole life.”
Janelle added that it’s a “hard thing” to determine what’s right for one couple in a plural marriage when there are so many others involved, especially when it comes to Kody’s 18 kids. If a separation is in Meri’s future, Janelle thinks things “would all be very friendly and amiable” among the other wives.
“There’s multiple layers of relationships,” she told Us. “It’s not like I’m just going to leave Cody. I’m going to be leaving Robyn and Christine and Meri and all the kids. … I just can’t even fathom that.”
Sister Wives airs on TLC Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.