ILS: holly robinson peete & rodney peete

When you’ve got good love, you hold on tight. Actress Holly Robinson, 41, and former NFL player Rodney Peete, 44, know this for sure. The couple, who’ve been married for 16 years, have been blessed with four beautiful children, one of whom has autism. Robinson Peete is deeply devoted to the fight to raise awareness for autism groups, and she frequently credits her husband for holding things down at home. In the beginning, raising a special needs child was so challenging, they almost ended their marriage. Luckily, love (and lots of therapy) saved the day. Today Holly and Rodney have no qualms about talking about the rocky years, though they’d much rather focus on the more beautiful ones.
A mutual friend thought Holly and Rodney would be perfect for each other so she invited the actress to a picnic hosted by the then Dallas Cowboys quarterback. They started dating. After a year dating, Rodney surprised Holly with a wedding proposal on the set of popular 90s sitcom, “Hanging with Mr. Cooper,” which she was starring in at the time.

“Before we had kids, we were adventurous travelers, fun-loving — sex in the kitchen, stuff like that,” Holly and Rodney were blessed with twins Ryan and Rodney Jr. two years after getting married. Holly and Rodney’s son Rodney Jr. was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2. “We both were devastated”. Through the challenging times ahead, Holly and Rodney persevered. “It’s definitely brought us together. It’s the whole corny “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” thing,” said Holly. The beautiful couple welcomed their son Robinson in 2002 and another son, Roman, in 2005. The power couple refers to their family as Team Peete.

So what is the key to making a marriage work? “It’s about having trust and respect for one another, it’s laying out the ground rules before we got married,” The Peetes’ can always be found on the dance floor. “We have fun together; we have date nights and do things that we did when we didn’t have kids. We keep the spark,”

“We’re both willing to put the work in because what you get is so tremendous. And we have a special needs child so we have a lot of responsibility. I feel like we’re business partners in a way, the family business.” Holly and Rodney told Oprah that although their marriage is beautiful, they still see a counselor once in a while so they’re always on the same page. “We are married today because Rodney P. agreed to go sit down and talk about his feelings, and that’s the number one reason,” she said.

ILS: denzel & pauletta washington

Denzel is an accomplished Hollywood A-list actor, husband and father. Actress, philanthropist and mom, Pauletta is one half of one of Black Hollywood’s most beloved power couples. Oprah once asked Pauletta if she gets jealous when women swoon over her husband. Her response, “No…you know why? He’s coming home.”

Denzel didn’t experience love at first sight when he met his wife Pauletta, but a year after the two met on the set of the 1977 film Wilma (in which they were co-starring)–Denzel knew she was something special. Five years later they were married and have a beautiful family of four children John David (28), Katia (25) and twins Malcolm & Olivia (21), who are all succeeding in their own right. Three are currently enrolled in college (Tisch, Yale and U.Penn) and one is a professional football player for the California Redwoods in the United Football League. Denzel and Pauletta have been able to take the strength of their own 28 year-old relationship and share it with their children. This couple does more than make it last, they endure and thrive.

Why She Loves Him: Pauletta has no problem dealing with the women that come after her man. She told Essence.com that it would be senseless to be upset with flirting women because Denzel comes home to her. She even takes the flirtation as a compliment. However, Pauletta knows that Denzel’s appeal is more than his knee-weakening looks. He’s amazing inside and out. Pauletta told Oprah, “I thought he was cute, but I fell in love with his spirit. And then I thought, ‘Hmm, not a bad package.’”

Why He Loves Her: Pauletta’s got the kind of confidence you can touch. When your man is voted by countless magazines, women and even some men as the sexiest man alive, you’ve got to be one of the most confident women alive. Pauletta is just that. Her confidence is as sexy as Denzel’s demeanor and if it’s one thing that Denzel loves, its confidence. On an appearance at the Wendy Williams show, Pauletta explained, “I am so secure to whom Pauletta is and my mother raised me in a way to know that who I am. She married me for who I am and I’ve always felt confident in whom I am and it’s by the grace of God.”

Why They Work: Denzel says that love is a marathon and not a sprint. He prepared to put in the work and focus for a long-term love with Pauletta when the two were dating. These two also keep God at their relationship’s center. Denzel said in an interview that spirituality is his life and it’s reflected on his and his family’s lives.  Denzel told The Washington Post that his family is the base that keeps him solid. He added, “Acting is just a way of making a living. Family is life. When you experience a child, you know that’s life.”

ILS: tisha campbell-martin & duane martin

Tisha Campbell-Martin  & Duane Martin are both established actors, Duane is now a real estate developer. Despite the constant divorce and gay rumours, Tisha and Duane have remained devoted to each other and their children Xen (11), who has autism and Ezekiel (3).

Tisha’s advice on love: Neither my husband nor I claim to be experts… In fact, like learning about one’s Self, The World, and God My husband and I continue to learn more and more about our relationship each day; but these are some things we live by:  “I believe you must have the viewpoint of love just as if it is a trinity… Both people must be fulfilled mentally, spiritually and physically. Therefore, if one aspect of the trinity is off or missing completely in the relationship, your happiness will falter.”

  “If there is a secret, then there is also guilt which turns into an argument… Crimes, no matter how big or small, whether it’s cheating on a spouse or spending money that’s not agreed upon in the budget; it will always disrupt the marriage.”

  Always have each other’s backs! My husband is the leader of our household. I have absolutely no problem with that. Just as my husband, as the leader, knows my strengths and what I contribute to our unit. He is perceptive enough to agree to me leading when it’s beneficial for our family. For example, while filming “The Seat Filler,” a film I wrote along with Duane who produced and starred in it, our son was diagnosed with autism. I told my husband, “Baby I got you. Let me take the reins on this and I will do my absolute best for our son. The only thing I need from you is, when I get weak or my faith wavers…Just tell me everything’s going to’ be okay.”  That is what makes a good team. I stand behind him, sometimes I stand beside him and if incited and it’s deemed necessary I will stand in front of him.

When you DO make jokes, never make fun of or use your spouse as humorous material. We learned that from Jada (Jada Pinkett-Smith) years ago. She said that it will always come back up in an argument later even if it was funny at the time. She was right. Additionally, outside of one’s household there may be people who may be against you, they might attack your relationship and make up stories even if they know absolutely nothing about you. My sons aren’t even allowed to tease or crack on each other. I tell them that we have enough people (gossip magazines. blogs, etc.) trying to attack us. We will NOT do it to each other.

I found this wonderful video of Tisha and Dunae getting ready on their wedding day, the video also features Tisha Arnold, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith.

ILS: courtney b vance & angela bassett

Angela Bassett and  Courtney B Vance are two of Hollywood’s most respected actors. They are college sweethearts who met at the Yale School of Drama. In the beginning they weren’t lovers, just friends; the best of friends. For years they ran in the same collegiate circle and their bond grew deeper and eventually blossomed into a love neither of them could deny.  After Courtney proposed to Angela, the pair made a decision to be celibate for the entire twelve months before their wedding night. “Because we knew this relationship was so special we decided to abstain from sex until after we were married,” Courtney once revealed in an interview. Angela followed, “That was my brilliant idea, but it wasn’t easy. Actually, one night, I did beg Courtney to give in.” They married in 1997 and have two children, twins born via surrogacy Slater and Bronwyn, both 6 years old.
In 2007 the couple wrote a book together titled, “Friends: A Love Story” that speaks on what they feel makes a relationship work. They trade-off chapters to tell their parallel autobiographies in a welcoming testament to love, faith and hard work. The book was released on Valentine’s Day 2007.

When asked how she and Courtney keep things so cozy and comfortable between them, Angela has said, having been friends before marrying is, is one of the reasons they have such a warm relationship.

ILS: blair & desiree underwood

Blair Underwood is a TV, Film and Stage actor. Desiree DaCosta was once the Business Executive Assistant to Eddie Murphy, she was then Underwood’s girlfriend for three years before his romantic proposal in Paris. They married in 1994 and have three children Paris (15), Brielle (13) & Blake (11).  Blair says that him and Desiree love going to the movies and hanging out  and he also advises that you keep dating after marriage because then you won’t fall into a routine and you will keep each other on your toes.

How Blair proposed:

It was New Year’s Eve 1993 when the former L.A. Law star popped the question to his girlfriend of three years, Desiree DaCosta. The couple was spending the holidays in Paris but, unbeknownst to Desiree, before leaving the country, Blair had secretly driven to San Diego to ask Desiree’s mother for her daughter’s hand in marriage. Fast forward to Paris: “I took Desiree out for dinner on a boat along the Seine, but I was so preoccupied with finding the right moment to propose that I kept drifting off, which made Desiree feel we weren’t connecting,” recalls Blair. As she now knows, nothing could have been further from the truth. When the boat ride ended, Blair suggested they skip the cab line and walk back to their hotel. While strolling the moonlit streets of Paris, he turned to Desiree and repeated the one thing he had told her since they first started dating: “Girl, I sure like having you around.” Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out an exquisite marquise diamond ring and added the two sentences neither will forget. “I’d like to have you around for the rest of my life. I’d like you to be the mother of my children.” Eight months later, in September of 1994, Blair and Desiree wed in a lavish outdoor California ceremony in which Blair and all six of his groomsmen galloped in on horseback. *sigh*

ILS : chris & malaak rock

Chris Rock is a comedian, actor, TV producer & director. A career woman in her own right Malaak is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce. When Chris and Malaak met in 1994 at an awards show, it was like at first sight, they were both in relationships at the time but they talked and hit it off, they got married in 1996. Together they have survived divorce rumours and mega success. Chris and Malaak have two daughters Lola Simone (10) and Zahra Savannah (8).  Malaak has had to make a few sacrifices in order to support her husband’s success. “I needed to make an adjustment in my life to make both my marriage and career work,” she said. Malaak and Chris have also made their name in philanthropy and recently partnered with Target to make a $1 million donation to the Bushwick Salvation Army where Chris grew up.

Asked what he most admires about Malaak, Chris answered: “She’s a giving person, she’s caring and she’s beautiful.”

ILS: forest & keisha whitaker

Keisha and Forest met while working on the set of the movie Blown Away in which she was cast as his girlfriend and they got married on May 4 1996 in Jamaica. Forest’s son Ocean Whitaker (22) was the ring bearer and Keisha’s daughter Autumn (21) was the flower girl, both children were from previous relationships. Forest and Whitaker have two daughters together, Sonnet Noel Whitaker (14) and True Isabella Summer (12). In 2007 Forest won the Oscar for the Best Actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Idi Amin in the movie the Last King of Scotland and Keisha was right there by his side and he also thanked her in his speech as well as their children. Keisha’s says that Forest’s busy schedule can be challenging for their marriage but they stay connected by having date nights or going to a hotel, order room service & watch movies.

Keisha about meeting Forest: “I had seen him in a Rage in Harlem. Right away, I thought Forest had a gentle soul and a nice spirit. In the beginning, we were more like friends. He was very easygoing and easy to talk to.”