For Better, for Worse
“Many people say that you’re like the princess and the bad boy,” I say, and Whitney laughs. “I’m pretty bad myself,” she says. “Bobby’s not bad by himself, trust me. I’m just more quiet than Bobby.”
When they make the news, though, she’s usually at his side as he’s rushed to a hospital emergency room for reported heat exhaustion or to court for yet another appearance before a judge—the last time in DeKalb County, Georgia, last fall. “You know,” I say to her, “it’s been so long I’ve forgotten what he was in court for. Was it speeding?”
“We thought he must have murdered somebody,” Whitney says. “It was like he was a murderer. I was going, ‘All he got was a ticket.’ They make it into a public spectacle because it makes them look good.” “Do you think part of the problem is that he’s your husband?” I ask.
“Of course I do,” she says. “They don’t understand it. They don’t know that we don’t entertain 24–7, that we go home, we brush our teeth and go to bed and get up with bad breath and stuff like that. They don’t realize that it’s about two people who love each other. As long as I can be with Bobby and he’s with me, none of that matters.”
“What was the most difficult time in your marriage?” I ask her.
“Probably the second or third year,” she says, which would make it the mid-nineties, when she was doing a string of movies and he was in and out of the tabloids. “It was rough, rough time. You know, you get through the first year, it’s like honeymoon time. The second year you start to really know some s--- and learn from it. The third year you go, ‘Oh, who the hell are you?’ So you find out about the person, you start to really get into him, start to know him. Third year, fourth year, fifth, sixth, seventh are trying times. After seven years you’re home free; you’re riding after seven. You make it to seven, you’re cool.”
“So what do you think has kept you together?” I ask.
“God, definitely God,” she says. “I don’t care what we’re going through, whatever it is, I always turn to God. I pray, ‘Please help us, please, just give us strength to bear this weight and to overcome it.’ ”
She says they’ve gotten to the point where all they can do is laugh at what people say about them. “All the talk made us closer,” she says. “It didn’t push us farther apart. We look at the TV and go, ‘Hey, look at that. Oh, that’s funny.’ As a matter of fact, we’re going to make a parody of it pretty soon.”
Their daughter, Bobbi Kristina—Krissy, they call her—also helps keep them tight. Back at the photo shoot, when a gaggle of 10-year-old girls romped into the suite from the pool, it was easy to tell which one was Krissy. She was the quiet one who looks just like Bobby and whom Whitney says can already sing. An 18-year-old niece also lives with them, and come summer and Christmas vacation, Whitney plays mom to two of Bobby’s children from Boston—LaPrincia, 13, and Robert, 11—bringing her brood to four. “They make my life,” she says. “They teach me to be unselfish, not so self-centered. I jump on the trampoline with them, do flips in the backyard, skate. It’s fun.”
She’s not your average mom. “I know who’s singing what,” she says. “I know the music on the radio. I’m a very cool mom. I can dance the little dances. But there’s a side to me that Krissy understands is her mother. There’s nothing that she could ask us for, not the slightest thing, that I would not try to give her.”
She wants things to be different for her daughter. “I spent all my twenties making music, doing gigs and videos and movies,” she says. “By the time I got to be 28, I was like, whooooo. I was ready to par-tay. Do my thing. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m bad. I’m crazy. I did that and had fun. I know what that’s all about. I can definitely tell Krissy, ‘This is what you don’t do.’ ”