TLC’s ‘Seeking Brother Husband’ explores open marriages
Texas couple Kenya and Carl Stevens had been married for a dozen years, when he confessed to his wife that he had feelings for a co-worker.
But rather than being angry with her husband, Kenya proposed they go out for dinner as a trio.
“My husband wanted several wives. He actually talked to me about this before we got married, and I laughed, like, ‘Whatever!’ I was open to the idea, but if he has the privilege, I would absolutely want the same privilege, which is just fair,” Kenya, 48, told The Post.
They decided to see a marriage counselor, who told Kenya and Carl to stay monogamous, work on their relationship and “just forget about it” when they noticed other people.
“And we didn’t want to do that anymore,” Kenya said.
They decided to become non-monogamous and now their marriage also includes Kenya’s other husband, Tiger.
Their unconventional family is one of the subjects of the new TLC reality series “Seeking Brother Husband.” Premiering March 26 at 10 p.m., the show follows a variety of couples in which the woman is either dating other men — with her husband’s knowledge and blessing — or, in Stevens’ case, has got two “brother husbands,” essentially a gender-flipped version of “Sister Wives.” (Though most of the guys are also dating, the show focuses on the women.)
Married for 26 years, Kenya and Carl, 52, are both Houston entrepreneurs and authors who preach about their lifestyle as part of their Progressive Love Academy. While Kenya’s only legally wed to Carl, she’s been “married” to her second husband, Tiger Moonstone, 40, an investor, for a decade.
After decades sharing the same bed, Kenya said she and her first husband were “not interested in sharing a bedroom any longer.” And so Carl has his own room in their house, while Kenya shares hers with Tiger.
Carl and Tiger also date other women — but among their trio, Kenya is the only one who has multiple live-in partners whom she considers spouses.
And she told The Post she’s open to adding more.
“What is too many?” she said. “We like community. We don’t believe that the nuclear family is sustainable, and we think community is more sustainable than a nuclear family.”
While they have rules about how to navigate jealousy — Kenya wouldn’t go into detail for fear of revealing “spoilers” — she said her two “brother husbands” have a good relationship with each other.
“I think they became so close because every time I had an issue with Tiger, I would have Carl talk to him,” she said.
“So, he became like a big brother. [Tiger] started out as a foreigner, somebody who is new to this family. But my other husband, Carl, became his confidante — somebody who had experience dealing with me.”
When Kenya and Carl first decided to open up their marriage, they sat down with their three kids, who were teens at the time, and shared the news.
“Most of their friends’ parents are divorced,” said Kenya. “So my children were excited that we still love each other and were not coming to have the divorce talk, like the majority of their other friends. They had questions — they wondered how would it work, would they have another father? Those types of logistical questions. But overall, there was excitement, because they have a community to raise them, instead of two very tired parents.”
There were other learning curves along the way, Kenya said.
“We had to explain to Tiger’s ex-wife why his son should stay in a house with a married woman and her husband, and what that was like. I had to befriend his ex-wife and really explain the logistics of polyamory to them. That took years. Currently, everyone is really great together.
“When you’re an ex-wife, you still love your husband. I made it clear that they could still love each other [whether platonically or romantically] — that would be fine! She’s a good friend of ours, now. There are a lot of relationships involved in our marriage.”
As for naysayers, she said she counters them with statistics.
“We’ve had people going, ‘Why are you doing this? This is wrong,’ ” she said. “We ask them, ‘Have you looked at the divorce rate? It’s 55%. Have you looked at the cheating rate? It’s 66% in the US and 75% in the UK. Forty percent of couples currently married are sexless.’ So, we direct them back to the stats, and ask, ‘Have we beat the stats?’ And the answer is yes.”
Elisa Alpizar, 32, an LA bridal stylist who is also featured on “Seeking Brother Husband,” has just one hubby, mechanical engineer Mike Onorato. But with Onorato’s blessing, she’s dating other men, too. She and Onorato, 35, were monogamous at the beginning of their eight-year relationship, until she cheated on him two and a half years in.
When she anxiously confessed, she assumed they would break up.
“This was the first time I had ever cheated on a partner, but it wasn’t the first time I had experienced having feelings for somebody else while being in love with a partner,” she said.
“And I was always confused, because I was always like, ‘If I really love my boyfriend, why am I feeling this way about somebody else?’ When I explained that to Mike, he was like, ‘It sounds like you want to be able to see multiple people, and be in love with multiple people at one time.’ ”
The couple decided to stay together and become non-monogamous. But they still took two years to talk it through, do research and “work on our foundation” before dating other people, she said.
“I had met people who were like, ‘I’m in an open relationship.’ But for the most part, it was guys, and often it seemed like they were not being fully honest. So, my initial perception of any sort of situation with multiple relationships was not good,” she said.
But after her husband Mike floated the idea of dating other people while staying married to each other, “I started doing research, and I realized, ‘Oh wow, this is a very viable option.’ ”
Surprisingly, her friends and family reacted to the news positively.
“My friends are all like, ‘Do whatever makes you happy — as long as everybody is happy, that’s all that matters.’
“My parents were actually very supportive. My dad likes to joke, ‘This is not a new thing — back in the ’70s, people were doing this all the time!’ ”