On Sunday’s episode of “Sister Wives,” the couple had their first one-on-one outing together since their 2019 anniversary.
During a confessional, the 52-year-old detailed his strained union with Meri, 50.
“Meri and I had problems like this long before [sister wife] Janelle even came into the family,” he reflected, as quoted by People magazine. “But the catfishing [scandal] was what really woke us up to the state of our situation.”
According to the outlet, Meri revealed in 2015 that she’d been catfished after entering into an online relationship with someone she thought was a man. However, the person turned out to be a female admirer. Brown and Meri entered therapy to cope with the emotional fallout, but the patriarch later said that he no longer desired to be intimate with her.
“We went a couple of years, a lot of counseling, figuring things out, and 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,” said Brown “And in this time, it has never manifest.”
Brown told Meri that he didn’t think they missed one another as the families live apart in four separate homes in Arizona during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we miss the idea of us – we don’t miss each other,” he said.
“Speak for yourself,” she said. “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.”
In her own confessional, Meri said she tried initiating romance with Brown, but it wasn’t received in return.
“He has said to me, ‘You just need to make it known. You need to flirt with me,’” she said. “And so I try those things and he backs off more, so I back off more. I was like, ‘Oh, that didn’t work. That was uncomfortable.’ You know? But at the same time, like, I want to keep putting myself out there because this is what I want. I’m not giving up. I’m not walking away.”
Brown told Meri he didn’t feel like she was “courting” him.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to court you,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you, honestly.”
Brown clarified that he wasn’t “suggesting that Meri chase me.”
“In fact, that could be off-putting,” he said. “But there has to be more magic in this than what we have. She’s not making any effort. I’m not making any effort. Where do you think that puts us? She was to be loved romantically – then there has to be a spark for that. And then she’ll get from that, she will receive romance, love and a full marriage and sexual relationship.”
Meri said she’s been trying to get Brown interested in their relationship.
“I will ask him to come over,” she said. “’Hey, come over, let’s go do something.’ Or, ‘Hey, let’s go on a walk.’ Or, ‘Hey, let’s go to dinner.’ He says no. When I ask, he says no.”
Despite their marital woes, divorce wasn’t an option, the outlet note. Brown said “there’s always a chance” the pair could come back together in the future.”
“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,” he explained. “I’m not doing that. I will never do that. My faith doesn’t allow me to, my conscience doesn’t allow me to. And because I haven’t done that, there’s always a chance that we might actually get back together into full fellowship.”
Brown insisted he was no longer angry or bitter. He simply feels their love needs to grow.
“I’m sitting here with Meri going, ‘I’m finally out of the anger phase. I’m finally out of the bitterness. Now how are we going to do this right?’ And Meri’s like, ‘Well, you’re going to have to love me.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, well, be lovable.’”
“Meri and I are in a marriage, but we don’t want to be part of a hookup culture, OK?” he continued. “Romance and sex are saved – in my world – for people who are in love.”
Brown and Meri tied the knot in 1990. Three years later, the couple welcomed sister wife Janelle into their plural marriage, followed by Christine in 1994. Robyn joined the family as a fourth wife in 2010.
Brown was only legally married to Meri. However, Meri agreed to divorce Brown so he could tie the knot with Robyn in 2014. That legal change would allow Robyn’s three children from a previous marriage to access the same benefits as the rest of Brown’s children.
Brown said he considers himself to be “spiritually” married to his four wives. The family shares a combined 18 children.
“Sister Wives,” a reality TV series on TLC, aims to show how Brown and his family navigate life in a world that seems to shun their lifestyle. The series has been airing since 2010.
Being married to more than one person, or bigamy is illegal across the United States. The law in Mormon-heavy Utah is considered stricter because of a unique provision that bars married people from living with a second “spiritual spouse.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned polygamy in 1890 and strictly prohibits it today. The Browns consider themselves fundamentalist Mormons.
Back in 2019, Brown told Fox News that the family has agreed on not considering a fifth wife anytime soon.
“We really took the fifth wife thing off the table a long time ago,” said Brown. “And because we don’t want to snub the concept, we’ve always sort of been very casually dismissing it, and I think that’s one reason the question keeps coming up. But it’s technically been off the table as long as we’ve done the show.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.