Thirty and thriving? Not exactly. Kody Brown and Meri Brown went on a drive together to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary during the Sunday, April 4, episode of Sister Wives. However, the celebration wasn’t exactly a happy one.
“Here we are, celebrating our non-anniversary because we’re not a couple, but we’re a family,” Meri, 50, told Kody, 52, while in the car together. “You and I have not been out together since last year’s anniversary, which is fine. It is it what it is.”
Kody responded by asking if that’s “troubling” to her, revealing in his confessional that he’s trying to figure out if Meri, who he married in 1990, “has a spark” for him or if she’s just “lonely for anything.”
He added that the pair have had struggles for years, which became worse after her catfishing scandal in 2015. Despite many counseling sessions, they hadn’t been able to move forward. “As we went through this process, I’m looking for a spark — something to initiate some form of desire for a relationship with each other,” he admitted in his interview. “In this time, it has never manifested.”
In the car, Kody told Meri, “I think we miss the idea of us. We don’t miss each other.” She solemnly responded, “speak for yourself,” before adding, “I do have a strong draw to you, but I do not act on that because I know how you feel. I can’t make you care for me. I can’t change that.”
During the conversation, the Wyoming native also told Meri that she doesn’t “court” him in the way he’d like. “I’m just as guilty, but I’m not missing this relationship,” he said.
Meri then explained that she didn’t know he wanted to be courted and was waiting for him to make a move. “I’m not coming,” he told her. “You have not made an effort in this and you’re the one that wants it. There’s a lack of real interest.”
Through tears, Meri replied, “Not on my part. … Do you know that every time you put your hand on my hand, how I feel? I wish you knew.”
The duo, who share daughter Mariah, 25, were definitely on different pages, something that came through loud and clear during their confessional interviews.
“She wants to be loved romantically, then there has to be a spark from that. From that, she will receive romance, love, a full marriage and a sexual relationship,” Kody explained. “My discussion with Meri right now isn’t about me telling Meri that she has to have a divorce with me, that she has to leave. I’m not doing that. I will never do that. My faith doesn’t allow me to. My conscience doesn’t allow me to. … I’m like, ‘I’m finally out of the anger phase, I’m finally out of the bitterness now how are we gonna do this right?’ and Meri’s like, ‘Well, you’re gonna have to love me.’ I’m like, ‘Well, be lovable.’”
Later in the episode, the pair enjoyed dinner outside on a blanket and she said she wanted to kiss him. When he was clearly not interested, she felt rejected. In his interview, he noted, “Romance and sex are saved in my world for people who are in love.”
As the sun went down, they continued talking and the father of 18 opened up about not being happy in the plural marriage overall — and hinted that his relationship with Meri wasn’t the only one in a tough spot.
“I feel immense pressure all the time for satisfying the emotional needs of a wife that I have sometimes no interest in satisfying,” he told Meri, but noted that he wasn’t talking about her. “I have a wife who, I think, will never be happy. Basically, in all the years that I thought we were happy, she wasn’t.”
Through it all, Meri still felt the same way: She wanted to find a way to make a real relationship with Kody work. He, however, seemed to be at a crossroads with the entire idea of polygamy.
“The whole one-house thing was, like, this huge wake-up call for me about how much we don’t want to be together,” he told her. “Going forward has me really asking the question, do we really benefit from this? It makes me wonder if people wouldn’t just — who have been happy for so many years — couldn’t just leave and find something that made them happy instead of sitting and badgering me about how I’m not doing it right anymore.”
He continued, “This is not what I want. This isn’t what I signed up for. I don’t want to have a big breakup. What I’d like instead is a big commitment that everybody will actually do their part and not have it just be me or not have it be blamed on me all the time … like, ‘You don’t love me’ and all this type of stuff. Well, sometimes I don’t. Love really isn’t unconditional. Maybe some people have that, I don’t know.”
Meri sat and listened while Kody shared his thoughts, but got upset when he finally said, “Nobody is stuck with me and they can all leave.”
Sister Wives airs on TLC Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.