One Man, 4 Wives: Are The Sister Wives Happy?

4 women, 1 husband, no problem! TLC's new reality show celebrates polygamy.

man playing footsie two women polygamy

Chances are, if your husband were having sex with another women, you'd refer to her as his mistress, the other woman, "that minx," or by a term we can't publish here. You certainly wouldn't call her a friend, let alone a sister.

Leave it to TLC to find four women who are not only married to the same guy, but who are so buddy-buddy that they call each other sisters. If you're having a hard time imagining four women sharing one man (and a slew of his offspring), you can observe their marriage for yourself on TLC's seven-part reality series, Sister Wives.


The show's premiere introduced us to Kody Brown, a Billy Ray Cyrus lookalike legally married to one woman, engaged to another, and "spiritually married" to two more. (Since polygamy isn't actually legal, Kody married his additional wives in purely religious ceremonies.) Like Kody, his wives—Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn—are fundamentalist Mormons living in Utah. Together, and through Sister Wives, they want to diminish prejudice about their lifestyle by showing conventional families how loving and functional they actually are. Polyamory: What If You Keep Falling In Love?

"We're a real family, we're just a bigger family than normal," Meri, the first wife told AOL.


We don't doubt that they're a real family. We'd just like to know if they're a functional one. In addition to Kody, the three current wives, and the soon-to-be-fourth wife, there are 12 children living under one roof. How do those kids all get along? It's tough enough competing for a man's affection, so how do the mothers deal with rivalry over who bore him the best brood of kids?

While the wives acknowledge conflict in their "integrated family," they claim to have worked out their problems with each other. Even though the house is split into separate sections for each group, the mothers invite all of the children (and Kody) to wander around freely. He claims that the kids used to brag about their parents' polygamous arrangement to their peers (more moms, more Christmas presents).

The show also revealed that Meri could only bear one child. Instead of being resentful, she teared up on-screen, saying that she trusts the other mothers to raise her daughter in the event of an accident. Granted, that's typically the husband's duty, but the Sister Wives (plus Kody, plus twelve) are no typical family. I Have Two Husbands: A Polygamist's Diary

While the anecdotes about the wives' relationship with their children sounds all fine and dandy, we're still unsure how they share Kody. Media guru Bonnie Fuller called Kody the "country's biggest con man and bad dad" while blasting the wives for their low self-esteem. Why share a guy when you can have one all to yourself? And why settle for another woman to help you raise a child because your "husband" is too busy romancing a fourth wife? Sure, the Sister Wives claim to have made things work with each other, but don't they ever wish they were a man's one-and-only?


Fuller makes a good point about Kody. At this rate, he seems to function as a figurehead within the family, and the women appear more interested in being on the "wives team" than in building a closer relationship with him. Kody claims to not be a sketchy guy, that much I suppose we'll buy. But we don't know if it's possible to satisfy four women equally.

"I'm a polygamist," Kody told AOL. "But I'm not the polygamist you think I am."

What do you think? Are the sister wives selling themselves short?