On "Sister Wives," third wife Christine has consistently been the cheerleader for polygamy. When we met her in the first season, she introduced herself with the tidbit that she'd always wanted to be a third wife, not a first, not a second.
And here she is, struggling the hardest in the family's new life in Las Vegas. The reason isn't difficult to see, at least for an outsider.
She's not living the life she signed up for.
Judgments aside about the rightness or wrongness of the Browns' lifestyle, it is one that works for them - or, at least, has in the past - and it is a completely consensual arrangement made among adults. But now, with the family all living in separate houses in their smaller units, they are no longer the interwoven fabric they once were, leaving the thread whose biggest job was pulling them all together hanging loose in a house by herself.
What Christine seemed to be saying with her determination to be a third wife was more about the structure of the institution than about her own ordinate desires. A third wife is not a testing of the idea of polygamy, but a commitment to it, and Christine threw herself into the realm of the plural family, staying at home, taking care of the children of all of the wives.
Now, as she worries about her relationship with Kody, and seems like she's missing something she once had, it's not really stemming from her marriage; it's the disintegration of her family. Just like monogamous couples who get fulfillment outside of their marriage from friends and family members and hobbies, it seems as though, for Christine, the huge pluses of polygamy were the dynamic of the family unit, the relationships with the other wives, and her strong bonds with all of the children.
Tucked away in her own house with only her kids, she no longer has the structure of the family she envisioned back when she dreamed of being wife number three, and like many people unfulfilled by the rest of their lives, she's looking to Kody to fix a void he never addressed before. With four wives now, instead of three, the time he can devote to her is even more fragmented, and he's less able to give her what he was ill-suited to give her in the first place.
In a way, it's like watching a plant that sprung from seed somewhere toasty and warm, where it grew and was nurtured. Suddenly it's transplanted across the country and it doesn't like the climate and it doesn't have the same nutrients. It's not going to flourish.
Polygamy practiced in one home made Christine happy, as much as she talks about how she enjoys her own home. She doesn't have that anymore, and of course it will affect her relationship with Kody, because suddenly all of her needs must be met by ¼ of a husband, when she had these other relationships as an original part of her bargain. Now she sees her husband one day out of four, instead of three out of four. When they were all under the same roof, it was a matter of saying goodnight; now it's goodbye.
The ironic aspect of the Browns' situation in general and Kody and Christine specifically is that they left their single-home living because someone else's definition of family is law. Now that law seems to be succeeding in driving apart what was once a smoothly functioning family, even if it looked different to the rest of us.
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