Christine and Kody Brown of "Sister Wives" have called it quits. For "Sister Wives" fans, the revelation isn't new: After 25 years in a plural marriage with Kody, Christine announced her plans to leave her marriage in Nov. 2021 post on Instagram.
But Season 17, which premiered on TLC on Sept. 11, goes into the behind-the-scenes conversations that led to Christine's decision.
The premiere, titled "It's Over," centers around a long conversation the couple had with one another about what went wrong in their marriage.
The action picks up after Christine decided to move out Kody's things from their bedroom, following his proposal for a "romance-free" marriage.
“The intimate part of our marriage is over. And to be honest, I’m not okay with that. I’m not okay with staying in a marriage where there’s no intimacy. That’s not a real marriage. I’m not interested in a half marriage or a partial marriage or whatever we have,” Christine says in the Season 16 “Sister Wives” finale.
In the Season 17 premiere, Christine tells Kody that that she, too, isn't interested in an "intimate marriage" with him anymore. “A couple times a year doesn’t work for a marriage,” Christine says, referring to their sex life. Kody slumps back in his chair. “You say, ‘A couple times a year. It feels like an accusation.”
Speaking to the camera in an interview, she explained the dynamics of her decision, "I don't want Kody in my room. It's gotten to the point where his presence gives me anxiety."
Kody and Christine had a "spiritual" wedding in 1994, with Christine becoming his third wife. At the time, Kody was already legally married to first wife Meri Brown and "spiritually" married to his second wife Janelle. Today, he is legally married to fourth wife Robyn Brown.
Over the course of their 25 plus years together, Kody and Christine had six children: Aspyn, Mykelti, Gwendlyn, Ysabel, Paedon and Truely.
In the conversation, Kody and Christine try to pin down the root cause of their intimacy issues. Kody denies Christine's claims that he said their intimate relationship was over: “I just shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t tell you it was over,” he says.
Christine responds, “I don’t want to be married to a guy who’s just shrugging his shoulders when I’m asking him if we’re going to have an intimate marriage ... bull---t that.”
Kody pins the blame on hearing that Christine complained about their marriage to other people.
“I shrug my shoulders because I’m not going to be fooling around with a woman who’s talking about leaving me,” he says in an aside interview.
But Christine says that their problems date back much farther than this recent debacle. She says the trouble came when she was pregnant with Truely in 2010. "I was overwhelmed with everything," Christine said, saying that she asked Kody for help and he said, "I can't do that. I'm in other houses."
Kody denies her claims: "That never happened. As I look back on this and analyze what she was saying, she wasn't fairness with other wives. She was wanting more. She was asking for stuff that I couldn't give her because I had other wives."
Kody's other wives also factor into the conversation. Kody says the "reason he's not attracted" to Christine is because he feels she doesn't treat her fellow sister wives with "kindness and respect," and her "complaints about plural marriage."
Robyn, Kody's fourth wife, joined their plural marriage in 2014. In an aside interview, Christine says that Robyn was Kody's "favorite wife."
“That’s just what it comes down to. I think he has a favorite wife and that’s why all of this is like it is. And apparently I’m not treating her well enough, so there’s nothing I can do. I mean, honestly, what he’s asking from me is ridiculous," she says.
At one point, Christine describes feeling unmoored in her plural marriage, as a result of this sense of competition: “I felt displaced. I felt hopeless. I felt jealous for the first time ever.” Later, she says she feels "not important" and calls herself a "third wheel."
Going even further back, they also examine the origins of their relationship, and find they disagree over the circumstances of their marriage.
Kody says, "It's true that we married under circumstances that were not romantic ... it felt like we were following through with our destiny." Christine replies that the marriage was "romantic for her."
Christine, who called the conversation "embarrassing" in an aside interview, says that ultimately, Kody is not attracted to her — even if he blames their problem on her treatment of the other sister wives.
“If I have to meet all these criteria in order for him to be attracted to me then I just can’t be myself. He’s just not attracted to me. I can count on my hand how many times he told me I was beautiful, and I don’t think that has anything to do with my sister wives,” Christine says.
Finally, they decide to end things. "Why are you insisting on holding onto me? This isn't working," Christine says. "You said you were not interested in me." In her words, "It's over."
"It's been heartbreaking being your wife," she says.
"I don't want a marriage with you," she says, finally. He responds, "I'm good with that. No one is a prisoner here."
Looking back, in an aside interview, Christine says that she made the right decision in walking away from the relationship: "There's no doubt in my mind that I've chosen correctly here." She tells Kody, “It’s been heartbreaking being your wife."
"Sister Wives" airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.