Fans of TLC’s show Sister Wives are given a glimpse into what it’s like to be a part of a plural family. We watch the triumphs and the challenges that the Brown family face. It can’t be easy to be a sister wife and the family has very strict rules, both spoken and unspoken, that the wives must follow. Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn all share the attention and time of their husband, Kody.
In order to make things run smoothly, these four women have an understanding just how things operate and it isn’t always easy. They all live in separate homes and Kody rotates which wife he spends the night with. This can lead to jealousy and competition but the women do their best to stay above it all. There are just a few things that have to abide by if they want to be a part of the family.
Some of the rules are logical and make totally sense while others seem hypocritical. From their career choices to family dynamics, the five parents are a sort of committee and all decisions are made as a group. They really are one big “happy” family. Please enjoy these 15 rules the sister wives have to follow.
15 One Ring To Rule Them All
Kody may have four wives but he’s really only legally married to one. The other three entered a “spiritual marriage” with him. This means that only one wife gets to sign to the legal documents and wear an official ring. The other ladies are left to trust that Kody will remain with them. It all sounds good on paper but complications did arise for the Brown family and it led to a shocking divorce.
For 24 years he was married to his first wife, Meri. Yet, in a surprising move, Meri offered to divorce Kody so he that could legally marry Robyn and become the adoptive dad of her three kids from a previous marriage.
According to the folks over at HollywoodLife, Meri was worried about the well-being of kids. “If anything happened to Robyn, we’d have no legal claim on Dayton, Aurora and Breanna,” explained Meri tearfully. But they’re “part of our family.”
Robyn was touched by the gesture but was fully aware that she would be taking on the responsibility of taking care of all the other wives and their children.“I’ve seen plural families where some first wives abuse the responsibility of taking care of the estate,” admitted Robyn.
14 Be A Mom To All The Children
The Brown family have a total of 18 children between the four wives. Each woman is expected to raise all the children as if they are their own. The kids consider themselves to be one big family and treat their half-brothers and sisters as if they were full siblings.
So, every child claims to have 4 moms, even if they are not biologically related.
The family wrote about the close bond they have when it comes to raising the kids on their blog, Kody Brown Family. “The wives mostly live separately on a day to day basis; the biggest thing that keeps us communicating with each other is our children. We constantly have “our” children over, not just “my” children. Christine has Janelle’s kids over, Meri’s daughter is at Christine’s, Robyn has Christine’s kids over, Meri has Christine and Robyn’s kids over, kids hanging out together all the time.”
According to The Huffington Post, the parents also gave each other the power of attorney over the kids in case any of them were arrested when they went public as polygamists. “We had actually all listed who our kids would go to in the event that we were taken away and put in jail.” Meri said.
13 The Wives Never Share A Kitchen
One unspoken rule within the Brown family that was revealed during an episode of Sister Wives is that the ladies never share a kitchen. According to HollywoodLife, Kody and his four wives visited another polygamist family, the Darger’s, and were shocked to learn that Joe and his three wives all lived in one house.
The Brown family live in four separate houses in a cul-de-sac in Las Vegas and it turns out that the ladies actually have a hang up when it comes to the topic. “I have two wives who think sharing a kitchen is abusive,” Kody announced, which prompted Meri to break down in tears.
He’d clearly hit a nerve with Meri and she admitted that his statement had re-opened an old wound. “When Kody says that, I take it personal because I know Janelle (wife #2) thinks I abused her in the beginning and that was never my intention,” she admitted.
Kody went on to say that he believed each of his wives deserved her own kitchen, since they can’t claim their own husband.“They would sacrifice their identity if they shared a kitchen. Their kitchen needs to be their domain. They need to express their own personalities,” he said.
12 The Group Makes All Decisions As One
It can be complicated to make decisions in any relationship but the Brown family make all important life choices as a group. This means that the ladies are forced to work together and all decisions are made as a family committee. Which can be totally stressful to all involved, especially since Kody works hard to make sure that every wife plays in an equal role in their business ventures. It’s an unspoken rule that all wives are equal.
HollywoodLife covered an episode of Sister Wives where Kody admitted that he was exhausted from having to listen to all 4 of his wives and take all of their individual feelings into account.
“I’ve never been allowed to be in charge of this family. When have I been in charge of this family EVER?” he railed. “I don’t feel empowered to make decisions!” Kody complained.
In the end, Kody was forced to be the CEO of their joint venture, My Sister Wife’s Closet, because one wife is not allowed to take charge. “Ultimately, someone has to be the boss and none of my wives can rule over each other in plural marriage,” Kody explained. “None of my wives want to be subordinate to each other.”
11 Don't Stray Too Far From The Family
One unspoken rule for the Brown is that all their life choices need to include their Sister Wives and they’re each expected to insert themselves into each other’s lives.
This became evident when Meri struggled to find her place in the family after becoming an empty nester. She broke the news to Robyn that she wouldn’t be able to continue her work at My Sister Wife’s Closet because she wanted to go back to college.
According to HollywoodLife, Robyn was not happy with the news. “I wasn’t mad, I felt ditched,” she told Meri. “It’s like when they say to you, ‘You’re a great person and I want to be your friend, but I don’t want to date you.'”
In the end, Robyn admitted that she was concerned Meri would become too independent if she went back to school.“I’m worried she’ll develop a life outside of the family. Relationships are much easier outside our family,” she admitted, “but not as rewarding. How far is college going to take her away?”
When Meri opened a bed and breakfast in Utah, everyone raised concerns that she was leaving the family. She took to Twitter to squash that rumor. “Already starting the night with a blocking spree! Come on guys, I have a family, I'm not bailing! Sheesh!! #SisterWives"
10 Be Willing To Hash Things Out In Therapy
If the Sister Wives have a problem with each other or Kody, they better be prepared to go to therapy to deal with their issues. All 5 of them have met with family therapist, Nancy Hunterton, to learn how to overcome issues that have popped up as being part of a plural family. So, this means that the ladies often hash out very personal issues for the whole world to see. That takes some guts, for sure.
Janelle and Meri have issues that stem from their early days of marriage and have turned to Nancy many times to help them overcome their problems. Which it seems is mostly just a clash of their personalities. According to Hollywood Life, the two ladies sat down on the couch and were asked to role play being one another.
The results were pretty life changing for the pair. “I have to learn not to take her directness as offensive,” admitted Janelle. Conceded Meri: “I have to learn to communicate your way, too.”
The family has been to see Nancy various times. Christine and Kody had private sessions together as well as Meri and Kody. It all plays out in front of the cameras.
9 The Wives Must Hang Out
Robyn, Janelle, Christine, and Meri make it a point to spend time together and are required to have a girl’s day. The ladies are expected to foster friendships and make time to spend together as a family.
They addressed this rule in a blog post entitled “Daily Life” on The Kody Brown Family Blog. “We get together a few times a week, the sister wives all go out to lunch once a week, and there is a family get together most Friday nights and Sundays are usually spent together.”
Although, InTouch reports that they all play nice for the show but things are much more tense once the cameras stop rolling. “Although the wives love talking about how great having a sister wife is, the reality is that they actually aren't that close. The wives all live in separate houses on a cul-de-sac and are only together when Kody is around. It’s worse than ever. The family is arguing constantly," An insider said. “They pretend to be happy for the show, but the family is a mess."
It’s hard to know which case is true but it does seem to be an unspoken rule that the Sister Wives should at least try to play nice with each other.
8 They Have To Stand Up For Their Household
The Brown family have risked their freedom by coming out as polygamists and allowing cameras into their home. Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states in the United State, including Utah, which is their home state. Kody is very passionate about fighting for their personal freedom and even attempted to change the law when he filed Brown v. Buhman lawsuit in 2016. The case was dismissed but that didn’t stop the Browns from fighting against Utah’s bigamy law.
The family decided to take to the streets to rally at a march in order to legalize polygamy and all of the Sister Wives were expected to stand up for their rights, if not physically, at least in word. They risked being arrested to support the cause.
InTouch shined a light on how Meri felt about taking the risk.
"Yeah, I feel like that we could be thrown [behind bars]," Meri said in an episode of Sister Wives. "There's a chance it could happen, but I don't wanna back down because I'm scared."
Not every wife was on board with marching, though. "Janelle and Meri and Kody are like, 'Let's go fight. Let's go do something. Let's go march.' And I'm like, 'We have little kids,'" Robyn said in her confessional.
7 They Have The Choice To Stay Or Go
Another rule that the Sister Wives follow is that they choose to remain with Kody and continue to be a part of the family. They aren’t forced into staying and are free to go if they were to decide that they wanted out. According to TODAY, Kody spoke with the folks over at The Clicker when the show first aired and addressed the topic.
"We chose to be married," he said. "Nobody forced us to do this, and we choose to stay in it out of love and commitment. Just like any marriage. I hate to say it, because I don't like divorce -- nobody likes that -- but my wives are free to leave, if they make that choice."
Kody went on to say that despite the challenges the Sister Wives face being in a plural marriage, in the end, he believes that none of them would actually ever leave the family.
"Each one of my wives is a strong and independent woman, and essentially could have a good relationship with the man of their choice," Kody told The Clicker. "They just are in this relationship with me. And we have chosen to be a family out of love, out of devotion, out of faith."
6 Not All Wives Are Created Equal
The Sister Wives are no strangers to drama and the addition of Robyn to the family brought with it a lot of stress and jealousy. The family was rocked by a scandal when Meri admitted to having an emotional affair with a man that she met on-line. Except, she was totally being catfished by a woman posing as “Samuel”. The damage was done and although Meri has yet to officially leave the family, she has started to distance herself.
This leads us to an explosive report that spilled all sorts of Brown family secrets. One of which is that Robyn is the only wife that Kody really cares to continue to have a relationship with and the other wives are thinking of leaving him as well.
According to Hollywood Life, “Kody is reportedly only sleeping with his legal wife Robyn,” an insider close to the family revealed. “He spends the bulk of his nights with her, which has caused major jealousy issues within the other wives, especially Meri. So, she revealed these so-called feelings and secrets to “Samuel”, because she reportedly had one foot out the door from the Brown compound. Thus, giving “Samuel” aka Jackie, real meaty evidence to write a book.”
5 Don't Be Affectionate With Kody In Front Of Other Wives
It is understood that Kody and the wives aren’t affectionate in front of each other. This rule came to light when the Browns went on their vacation with the another polygamist family, the Dargers. Joe and his 3 wives pack on the PDA and it caused the Browns to reflect on all the wives being able to be affectionate with their husband. RadarOnline had all the details.
Kody expressed that he wished he would be able to be so open in front of all of his wives but that it the end, it just wouldn’t work for them. “For me to be openly affectionate with all four of my wives works in theory,” He said. “We want it theory. In practice, it’s not easy at all.”
The wives are all in agreement that they prefer the way that they handle affection and that it’s best just to keep it between the couples.
“We’ve got so many other things that we have to deal with in our family and our relationships that we have jealousy over,” Meri said. “Sometimes I feel like why add one more thing on when we don’t have to, when we can step back and have our own relationships and affection in private with him.”
4 Stay Out Of Each Other's Bedrooms Unless Invited
All of the Sister Wives insist that they love being a part of a plural family and have no problem sharing Kody with each other. He has a schedule and rotates who which family he spends the night with. According to The Huffington Post, the wives do not enter each other’s bedrooms often because it’s a glaring reminder that Kody spends time with each wife in their own bed.
The family gave a tour of their homes during a special about how the family can afford furniture for all of their separate homes. “The four wives practically gagging when they had to tour each others bedrooms as part of the show, Robyn’s bedroom seemed to make them especially squeamish, especially because Kody had left something on the nightstand.” blogger, Bonnie Fuller wrote.
“As the wives admitted on the last episode — many sister wives like to banish from their brains, the fact that their husband is having full intimate relationships with his other wives, but that becomes unpleasantly difficult when a sister wife becomes pregnant.”
So, just to keep things easy, the women do their best to only enter into a sister wife’s bedroom if they are invited and even then, it can be awkward and weird.
3 No Brother Husbands
Although Kody is totally permitted to have 4 different wives, the ladies are forbidden from going outside of the marriage and finding another husband. During an episode of Season 1 of Sister Wives, Meri and Kody went out to a romantic dinner, just the two of them, for their 20th wedding anniversary. At the time, he had yet to marry Robyn and the two were just courting. Meri was struggling with the time he spent “dating” Robyn.
Meri asked him how he would feel if she was giving attention to another man and his response was very telling. "That's just not something I'm comfortable with imagining," Kody said in the episode. "The vulgarity of the idea of you with two husbands or another lover sickens me. It seems wrong to God and nature. I understand this seems somewhat hypocritical, and I don't know how to get around it."
So, there you have it. Kody can totally have relations with four different wives but the ladies are not given the same luxury. It would take a strong woman to handle sharing a man with other wives. The hypocrasy is just so evident when it comes to Kody’s opinion on the matter.
2 They Must Handle Their Own Jealousy
It can’t be easy to share a husband and the Brown family has to deal with their fair share of jealousy when it comes to Kody’s attention.
The Sister Wives are expected to cope with any feelings of envy on their own and not allow it to affect the family as a whole.
This is easier said than done and fans of the show watch on as each wife is left to sort through feeling neglected by Kody.
The timing was terrible when Kody courted Robyn because Christine was pregnant with Truly at the time and it was difficult for her to watch him date another woman while she was expecting. InTouch reported about a tell all interview when Christine admitted that she struggled when Robyn joined the family. "What I get jealous about most is time and where he spends his time," she said. "That's what it comes down most with me."
It wasn’t until Robyn and Christine sat down for a heart-to-heart during an episode of Sister Wives that she was able to admit her feelings. "I want you to know, during all of (the problems), it was him that I had a hard time with -- it wasn't you," Christine confessed. "It was Kody.”
1 The Wives Don't Go Weird
Kody may get the pleasure of being intimate with his four wives but they have a strict no bed-sharing policy. This means that the wives don’t have a physical relationship. Kody once addressed the question that is on everybody’s mind. “We might do something as a family, we might do something as a couple but, we’ve already said it — we don’t go weird!” he told Access Hollywood during an interview.
He also went into further detail about the understanding he and his wives have when it comes to hanky panky in his book, Becoming Sister Wives. “All I’m going to say is that my marriages aren’t different from anyone else’s in that respect. The one constant is that I keep my marriages distinct and discreet,” Kody insisted. “There is no overlap, no ‘sharing,’ nothing untoward or salacious.”
According to CafeMom, when the Brown family decided to allow cameras into their lives, wife # 2, Janelle claimed that the what happens between the sheets is really not open for conversation. “We really ... we have opened our home to the camera, to show our family, but we've really tried to cut it off with bedroom questions. It's a very private thing for us, and we aren't really discussing that.”