In a world ruled by social media and keeping up appearances, it can be easy for couples to show the highlight reels of their relationship without revealing the rough cuts. Circumstances happen in relationships that test their strength, be it cheating or a health crisis or simply the decision to stay celibate until marriage.
Through it all, couples like Ciara and Russell Williams, Jada and Will Smith and Erica and Warryn Campbell have never hid the good, bad or indifferent about their relationships. Best of all, they never gave us faith to keep going.
Scroll through the gallery for our favorite “keep it real” couples.
Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin
The couple, who have been married for almost four years, have been open about their decision to be celibate until marriage. “The decision to wait was one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever made in my life,” Franklin writes in the couple’s co-authored book The Wait. “I asked myself, ‘What if what I was doing disqualified me for the full manifestation of the call God has on my life? Would it be worth it?’” Ultimately, Good says waiting not only strengthened their relationship long term but also brought her closer to God. “I learned self-control and loved myself in a more meaningful way,” she says. “If I could give God one of the most tempting areas of life, anything else is possible.”
Ciara and Russell Wilson
Ciara once told InStyle that she and her Super Bowl-winning husband maintained a “no sex” policy until their wedding day. “That took a lot of prayer,” Ciara joked. “It was hard. I can’t lie.” Ultimately, the wait was worth it. Ciara says Wilson turned out to be the man she prayed for. “I prayed for a God-fearing man. I prayed for discernment. I prayed for wisdom, to really learn from the wisdom that I’m gaining from the experience that I’m going through,” she told Angie Martinez in an interview. “I was ready to level up!”
Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks
Not is this husband and wife team partners in business…they’re also partners in love. As hosts of the podcast/YouTube show “Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship,” the couple has openly shared that their Open-Minded Relationship simply means that something like an extra-marital affair wouldn’t be a deal breaker to their marriage. In an interview with ESSENCE, Mo’Nique spoke on the backlash she received for being open about their relationship rules. “[People thought] ‘she’s gonna let this man do anything he wants to do because she’s famous and she has money and now she can have whatever she wants, but she’s gonna let the man use her and abuse her.’ No one knew it wasn’t Sidney’s idea to have an open marriage. It was mine.”
Teyana Taylor Iman Shumpert
If there’s one thing Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert have no qualms about, it’s letting the world in on their adventures in the bedroom. Taylor has openly discussed the fact that she and her husband occassionly partake in threesomes (she even sang about it on the song “3Way” from her album KTSE). When a follower on Twitter criticized her transparency as “tasteless,” Taylor clapped back with straight facts. “I’m not losing any sleep at night over UR opinion. Just because I, ME I repeat ME enjoy bussing bitches down from time to time w/ MY HUSBAND, doesn’t mean I don’t respect ‘self.’ So, u should go and enjoy your wack ass sex life & stay out of mine.”
LeToya Luckett and Tommicus Walker
From the very beginning, Luckett and Walker took their time and let God lead the way. For them, this meant turning off the social media sharing of their relationship in the beginning. “I felt that it was important to get to know each other without any distractions or any he-said she-said,” she explained to ESSENCE. “I wanted to do something different with this relationship because I felt something different about him.” After tying the knot, the couple became co-stars on the VH1 reality series T.I. Friends & Family Hustle, where they opened up about the process of blending families. Walker, who has an adorable daughter named Madison from a previous relationship, tried to balance his time between being an involved Dad and also gearing up to welcome a newborn baby with his wife. “Getting into a blended family, I feel like Tommi and I haven’t had our time time,” LeToya told Monica on the show. “He’s trying to find his balance, he’s trying to find his footing, and I am too!”
Erica and Warryn Campbell
During an appearance on OWN Network’s Black Love series in September 2017, Campbell and her husband opened up about a time when infidelity almost destroyed their marriage. Warryn admits that his mistress ended up getting pregnant and, although she decided not to keep the baby, the magnitude of what transpired hit him hard. “I was being selfish because I wanted things to change but I wanted [my wife] to do the changing,” Warryn admits in the clip. The couple managed to work out their issues with prayer and stronger communication, as shown on their reality show We’re The Campbells.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith
After nearly 22 years of marriage, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith still sometimes find themselves having to address rumors of an open relationship. But the couple doesn’t define themselves by that term. In 2013, Pinkett Smith clarified some misconceptions in a Facebook post, saying, “Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.” Though she denies that infidelity has ever played a role in their relationship, Pinkett Smith says there have been ‘betrayals of the heart‘ that they’ve since worked through. “We had to rebuild with new rules and something way, completely different.”
DJ Envy and Gia Casey
Breakfast Club host DJ Envy (real name Rashaun) and his wife Gia Casey have been together since high school and share five beautiful children. Although they are madly in love with each other, their relationship was tested by Envy engaging in an affair. “I didn’t expect it, because he treated me amazingly,” Gia told The Real hosts. “I really didn’t see any red signs, so when I found out I hired a divorce attorney and I even began to prep my kids [for the news].” Believe it or not, singer Tyrese was instrumental in helping them reconcile. “[Tyrese said] God gave me a sign to help you. I want you to book a reservation at this restaurant. I’m going to sing and talk to y’all.” After weeks of counseling from the singer, the couple was able to patch things up.