They have been together for decades but the love for each other still shines as bright as it did when they just met.
Hollywood marriages aren't exaclty known to be particularly long-lasting, but there are always couples whose deep commitment to each other inspires us. Denzel Washington, 65, and Pauletta Pearson, 70, are one such couple. They have been married for 37 years and continue to cherish each other years after their wedding day.
Denzel and Pauletta met in 1977 while working on the TV movie Wilma and started dating soon. "I met her then, but I didn't meet her then," he said of the time on the set. "I saw her then." And a year later, their paths crossed at a party again. "I had talked at that party about going to see a play. I went to see the play, and at intermission, the lights came up and she was sitting [there]. She said she just happened to go see the play... I'm getting in trouble as I speak!" he said.
For their first official date, Denzel wanted to splurge, he told Jimmy Kimmel, by taking a cab to her house, and he wanted to pay for it. He jokes that Pauletta will differ on the matter and say that she paid. "It was walking or taking the subway then," he added. So, when they were in the cab, the meter kept running and he was worried about the bill. Eventually, Pauletta paid for it.
Three years after they started dating, he asked her to marry him. In an interview with Access Hollywood, the couple revealed that he had to ask her thrice before she said yes. They jokingly sparred about it since Denzel only remembered asking once.
"Why was it twice? Why would I have to ask again?" said Denzel. "Because I said no!" Pauletta replied. "You heard it here first!" Denzel added. "She turned me down, she said no. And since it was three times, that means she turned me down twice." They got married on June 25, 1983. He went on to become an A-list star and Pauletta also continued with her career. She has appeared in the Oscar-nominated Philadelphia (1993) and Spike Lee's 2017 TV series She's Gotta Have It, among many others.
What forged their bond is their love for films, but a relationship is so much more than shared interests. During a recent interview Denzel said, "I do what I’m told. I keep my mouth shut!"
However, he gives most of the credit for the successful marriage to his wife.
"What pops into my head: security, food, a beautiful home," he said, according to People. "The difference between a house and a home, it’s a big difference. You can buy a house, but that doesn’t make it a home—and not to say a man can’t make a home a home, but my wife has made our house a home, and raised these beautiful kids, and protected them and sacrificed for them. She did the heavy lifting," he said.
She too had something to add about being "the strong woman behind that powerful man." She said, "Any woman behind an influential man, has always been there. Maybe the public, and the media, is now saying we recognize you, but take it from me, I've been on the scene a long time."
A few years ago, he shared his secret to the perfect marriage with The Guardian as well, "I have been married 27 years [at the time] to Pauletta. Everybody has their ups and downs; we've had ours. It's hard work, you know. But we made a commitment. A spiritual foundation helps everything—marriage, work, peace of mind."
When he received the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award in 2019, he credited it to his wife, "40 years of sacrifice. 40 years of forgiveness. She taught me about faith, spirituality, love, real love, unwavering love, in spite of myself."