“Janelle is a strong independent woman and realized she can do it on her own,” a source tells In Touch, adding that the Sister Wives star – who has been in a spiritual marriage with Kody since 1993 – “outgrew him.”
While Janelle and Kody have been together for almost three decades, their relationship began to crack under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disagreeing on how best to navigate the health crisis as a family of 23 – and as parents to six kids themselves – Janelle refused to follow Kody’s strict rules, telling him to “f–k off” during an intense argument about their 2020 holiday plans.
The dynamic between the couple declined in the months that followed, with an inside source telling Us Weekly in January 2022 that a split between Janelle and Kody was inevitable, further bolstered by Christine Brown and her choice to leave the patriarch.
While Christine’s separation from Kody was a prominent storyline amid season 17 of Sister Wives, Janelle and the Brown family patriarch have seldom seen eye-to-eye as of late. Arguing over pandemic protocols, living arrangements and how to proceed amidst a changing familial dynamic, Janelle told cameras during the most recent season of Sister Wives that she was seriously questioning her role in the polygamist marriage.
“I’ve caught myself in the last few weeks really reflecting and being like, ‘OK, look: Do I still choose plural marriage?’” Janelle said during the January 16, 2022, episode. “Yeah, I still choose it, but I’ve had to [make] that conscious decision with myself.”
“My children are almost grown and there’s not a huge necessity anymore to stay,” Janelle further confessed of her husband, who is only legally married to wife Robyn Brown. “With Kody and I right now, our relationship is pretty strained. And you know, it’s easy to walk away.”
Fans picked up on possible separation rumors when Gwendlyn Brown, Christine’s daughter, let it slip during a November 2022 TikTok Live that the only wives left were Meri and Robyn. Further fueling the speculation, Christine’s aunt, Kristyn Decker, exclusively told In Touch in November 2022 that Janelle left Kody “a long time ago.”
“As far as any relationship, any marriage goes, I think [Janelle’s] similar to, in Meri [Brown]’s situation where she’s just staying in a marriage that’s not really a marriage,” Kristyn told In Touch. “I don’t think they’ve had a marriage for a long, long, long time. It’s just platonic.”
Explaining that the Brown’s religion – the fundamentalist Mormon sect known as Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) – looks down upon men who leave their wives more harshly than if the woman chooses to pursue separation, Kristyn alleged that Kody did what he could to push Janelle away for his own sake.
“That’s why [Kody] wants them to leave,” Kristyn claimed. “If they’re going to, if they kick him out, then they are looked down upon much worse. Kody’s got to get them to [leave on their own].”
A rep for Janelle and Kody did not immediately respond to In Touch‘s request for comment.