Denzel Washington and his wife, Pauletta Pearson, have been married for almost four decades, and spending time away from each other has actually helped their marriage.
Having a successful Hollywood career and a satisfying marriage is so hard that not many celebrity couples make it past the fifth wedding anniversary. That is not the case with “American Gangster” star Denzel Washington and his wife, “Genius” actress Pauletta Pearson.
While most people would agree that time and attention are critical to a healthy relationship, Washington once admitted that the distance between him and Pearson made things easier in their marriage. Their love story is one of a kind.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson on February 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
IT WASN’T LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Born in December 1954, Washington’s on-screen credits go back to 1977 when he took a minor role in “Wilma,” a made-for-TV biographical film about track legend Wilma Rudolph. Coincidentally, that project was also Pearson’s acting debut.
The actor revealed he and his wife saw each other for the first time at a hotel restaurant on Pearson’s last day of shooting. Washington didn’t know she was “the one” right away, mainly because they didn’t officially meet that day.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson in Westwood, California in December 1993 | Photo: Getty Images
He added that the people who say they knew their partner was “the one” right away were lying because love is a marathon, not a sprint.
About a year later, Washington and Pearson ran into each other at a party. Once there, he told someone he would see a play, and when he went to that show, he noticed Pearson also was there.
Although his wife told him she just happened to go to the same play, Washington joked that she had set him up. It was arguably the best setup in history as they tied the knot in 1983, welcomed four children, and have been together ever since.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson in Beverly Hills, California in July 1996 | Photo: Getty Images
Nowadays, Washington and Pearson have one of the longest marriages in Hollywood, but things have not always been easy. They have even faced cheating allegations!
In 2013, Washington was in the eye of the storm after photos of him allegedly kissing a blonde woman made the rounds on the internet. Shortly after, rumors about Pearson leaving him were everywhere.
There is a period of adjustment every time he comes back home after spending time away.
The photos supposedly showed Washington sitting on a couch, grabbing a young blonde woman’s arm and pulling her in for a kiss on the lips.
Washington’s spokesperson eventually released a statement shutting down the separation and divorce allegations. Three years later, another news outlet reported that the couple’s marriage was “on its last legs.”
Washington and Pearson’s relationship was described as a “show marriage,” especially because the actor had supposedly been caught “stepping out” more than once. Despite the rumors, the couple is still together and going strong.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson on February 7, 2012 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
Over the years, Washington has shared some details about his and Pearson’s relationship, including that being apart a lot has probably helped their marriage.
He even joked that he would get sick of him if he were his wife. Pearson “gets used to” being in charge of the family home when Washington is gone, and when he returns, he messes things up.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
There is a period of adjustment every time he comes back home after spending some time away working on a new project. The “Equalizer” actor admitted to having a strong personality and being “a bully.” He added:
“Pauletta and the kids would get used to doing things a certain way, and then I’d arrive and start telling the kids what to do.”
Washington said he needed a long time to notice that what he was doing was wrong, but he eventually worked on it. John, the couple’s eldest son, once told his dad he always thought he was “so strict.” When he grew up, though, he appreciated it.
Malcolm Washington, Katia Washington, Pauletta Pearson, and Denzel Washington on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
Speaking of their children John, Katia, and twins Olivia and Malcolm, Washington once said they lived well, but he and his wife didn’t just give them everything they wanted because they had to learn about hard work and fair play.
For example, when Olivia and Malcolm turned 16, Washington didn’t buy brand new cars but used BMWs. Still, Washington gives Pearson full credit for their children’s upbringing.
[Washington] joked that what made his marriage work was doing what he was told and keeping his mouth shut.
Denzel Washington on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
The couple decided decades ago that they would not drag the family around to every place Washington had to go for work. Instead, Pearson was the consistent parent at home, making breakfast for them, taking them to school, and teaching them their prayers.
Washington also described his four kids as good, generous, humble, and kind people, but not perfect. Some of them followed in their parents’ footsteps. John is currently the most successful as he starred in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”
Denzel Washington and son John David Washington on December 05, 2018 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
SECRET TO PERFECT MARRIAGE
Although Washington and Pearson have been married for 38 years, the actor is sure there is no secret to the perfect marriage as every relationship goes through ups and downs.
However, hard work, commitment, and a spiritual foundation are essential for every aspect of life. On a lighter note, Washington joked that what made his marriage work was doing what he was told and keeping his mouth shut.
He added that he appreciated the beautiful home his wife made and explained that a house and a home were two different things. He said:
“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.”
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
The actor credited Pearson again for raising, protecting, and sacrificing herself for the sake of their children and admitted she did the heavy lifting.
Nowadays, Washington is busy directing “A Journal for Jordan,” starring Michael B. Jordan, and producing “The Piano Lesson,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and his son, John. In Pearson’s case, she appeared in 2021’s “Steps.” What a talented family!