'Sister Wives' Star Christine Brown Tells Final Straw That Made Her Leave Kody

Christine Brown is revealing the final straw that ultimately led to her leaving husband Kody Brown after 26 years together. The Sister Wives star opened up to PEOPLE about her decision, which she announced in November 2021, sharing that Kody's refusal to accompany her and their daughter Ysabel to New Jersey in September 2020 for the 19-year-old's major spinal surgery due to COVID-19 concerns was it for her.

"He broke my little girl's heart," Christine told the magazine. "I really find it hard to stay with a guy who I don't respect," she added. "I understood COVID, and why he couldn't come, but she didn't. And she still has a really hard time with it." She recalled being in New Jersey for the surgery, "And I remember them pointing out, like, 'Are you here alone? Where's your husband?' I'm like, 'Oh, he's not here.' And they're like, 'Whoa, isn't that hard?' And I'm like, 'No, it's hard for her.' It's hard for Ysabel, but it's not hard for me.'"

"It was a good wake-up call. In the end I would've preferred to have him there, of course, because it's what Ysabel needed," Christine said. "But I didn't need him anymore." The TLC star had been working on her communication issues for years with Kody, who is also married to Meri, Janelle and Robyn Brown, but realized she needed more communication and trust. Christine and Kody are also parents to son Paedon, 24, and daughters Aspyn, 27, Mykelti, 26, Gwendlyn, 20, and Truely, 12.

Despite their best efforts to stay together and professional counseling, Christine revealed, "It wasn't just the physical aspect of intimacy that we didn't have. It was that layer of love, and commitment, and trust." She continued, "The most important thing anybody can do is just stop and listen to your heart. Once I did, I was like, 'Oh, okay, then I can't do this anymore, and I need to figure out how to make the rest of my life how I want it,'" she says.

For a while, Christine feared she was making "selfish" choices. "Then I was like, 'Is this selfish?' I realized, 'No, this is exactly what you should do. You should be in charge of your life,'" she remembered. "It's scary, yes, because you don't know what it looks like, but it's a lot better than staying where you shouldn't be." Season 17 of Sister Wives premieres Sept. 11 at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.