The singer and reality star shares why she and husband Kiwane Garris chose to seek marriage help in front of the cameras.
When “R&B Diva” Syleena Johnson and her husband, former NBA baller Kiwane Garris, were first announced as part of the cast for season 2 of WE tv’s Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, fans were just a little confused. There were never any signs of trouble—they appear so in love on TV and Instagram and they clearly support each other. So, what happened? They were smart enough to know that when they hit a rough patch after seven years of marriage they needed real help; that’s what. When they joined the cast, Garris was adjusting to life as a stay-at-home dad while Johnson kept busy in the spotlight. They say, joining the cast was all about making their marriage stronger – and it did.
“We had to make the decision together,” says Johnson, who admits they were going through therapy before they were ever approached by the show. “He didn’t want to go at first, but I did because I like therapy and I know what it has done for us. This was just another chance to work on our marriage.”
On the show, experienced relationship coaches Jim and Elizabeth Carroll attempt to help onscreen couples like Johnson and Garris not to fall victim to the “reality TV breakup curse.” “People say, ‘When ya’ll get on TV, it’s going to break up your marriage up,’ but actually that’s not true,” Johnson insists. “Your marriage can break up off TV. If there’s something that’s wrong, TV is only going to enhance it, but that means something was wrong anyway.” Other couples seeking help on the show include Natalie Nunn and her husband Jacob Payne (Bad Girls Club and Bridezillas) (Braxton Family Values) and Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag (The Hills).
Johnson admits that her philosophy about being on camera is what made it easier to join the show. “What I try to do is just be as genuine as possible and don’t say nothing that you can’t stand 10-feet tall in afterwards,” Johnson insists.
The show taped for two intense weeks last summer, and the couple says it didn’t take long for the drama to unfold. “On the very first day they hit us with lie-detector tests!” she adds.
Despite what you may or may not see play out on screen this season, they say they’re still on top. “I feel great about it, and I know she feels great,” says Garris. “[Taping the show] made us closer and our marriage better. It also made us understand each other more.”
“We already knew our problem,” Johnson inserts. “When people don’t know their problem, and then they go through the program, they get upset and defensive. You have to be ready to receive criticism, or it’s a bust. It was a bust for a lot of the people in the house.” Garris agrees: “At the end of the day we’re human and we go through the same things as everybody else.”
Although they’re still solid as a rock, Mr. and Mrs. Garris say you’ll have to tune in to the show to find out which couples’ relationships survive and which do not.
Catch the premiere of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars tonight at 10pn EST on WE tv.