The Truth About Whitney Houston And Bobby Brown's Relationship

Grammy-winning singer Whitney Houston was one of America's most cherished vocalists of all time. She rose to fame in the mid '80s with her first No. 1 hit, "Saving All My Love For You," and later earned another top hit with her most famous song and cover of Dolly Parton's, "I Will Always Love You," per Billboard. Houston's songs charted repeatedly — she would earn a total of 11 No. 1 songs — and her talent was undeniable. Houston's talent was further demonstrated when she found her footing in the acting world with her film debut in "The Bodyguard." 

Obviously, her on-stage life was a success, but over the years, her marital and personal issues would bring her some unwanted publicity. While it did not overshadow her artistry, the controversy that followed her in the years after stardom gave fans a view into her personal life — particularly her relationship with singer and New Edition frontman, Bobby Brown.

Whitney meets Bobby

As two very popular entertainers at the peak of their careers, it's no surprise they eventually crossed paths. They first met in 1989 at the Soul Train music awards and were even seated near each other. Initially, Whitney Houston admitted she didn't think that she made a good first impression on Bobby Brown. Houston told Rolling Stone in 1993 their introduction to each other started with an odd physical interaction. "I and some friends of mine were sitting behind [Bobby Brown]. I was hugging them, we were laughing, and I kept hitting Bobby in the back of the head. Robyn said, 'Whitney, you keep hittin' Bobby, he's goin' to be mad at you,'" said Houston.

She apologized for the unexpected encounter. "Yeah, well just don't let it happen again," Brown responded, according to Houston. Afterward, she assumed he wasn't fond of her and wanted to change his mind. So, she invited him to a party for a more formal reintroduction. The two stayed friendly with each other, and months later, Brown asked her out. The pairing puzzled many because of their two very different media images. Bobby was an R&B singer and "bad boy," and Whitney was a pop star with a good-girl image (via Lifetime). Yet, the critics didn't stop the lovebirds, and they dated for three years before Brown proposed. It was only the beginning of what turned out to be a roller-coaster marriage.

The start of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown's rough 14-year marriage

On July 18, 1992, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown wed at her home in front of a star-studded guest list of 800 people, per Lifetime. The start of any union is expected to be one of the purest and earliest stages of a lifelong commitment, but the alleged drug abuse that followed the couple in the years after their wedding got its head start the day of their nuptials. According to Brown's account of his big day (via Mirror), he saw Whitney snort cocaine ahead of the ceremony, and she even allegedly offered him some. He says he declined and details more in his autobiography "Every Little Step: My Story." But that was only the first of many run-ins with drugs the couple had. Still, in between that, they both continued to see successful careers and welcomed the birth of their only child together, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.

They both admitted to using drugs and drinking alcohol, but it was kept under wraps and wouldn't be revealed until years later. But when Whitney started making headlines in the 2000s, a lot of people gathered that it was likely Brown's bad influence because of their two very varied media perceptions. However, her habit began years before she met Brown, and Houston's brother would admit it after her death (via The Los Angeles Times). The revelation would somewhat vindicate Brown after decades of blame, and it would also be backed up by Houston's longtime best friend.

Married life was a drug life

During their marriage, both Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown got caught with drugs. The first headline came when Houston was found in possession of marijuana in Hawaii in 2001. From then on, it was nonstop and countless stories about the singer's charges that shed light on the habit she kept hidden for years. Brown himself was no stranger to the law. He, too, would get arrested for possessing drugs, and legal issues from his past caught up with him in 2003 (per CNN). That year turned out to be a busy one for the couple. Not only did drugs dominate much of the news they made, but a domestic violence situation made matters worse. The couple remained together even as Brown was charged with battery for assaulting Houston. It was then people started to see the toxic relationship of the couple.

The stress of fame had started to come down on Houston. A year earlier in 2002, not long after getting caught with drugs — she appeared on the interview show "Primetime" with Diane Sawyer. The infamous interview (posted on YouTube) was a stunning admission where Houston discussed her drug use and uttered the memorable "crack is whack" saying. But by 2004, her drug use was worse, and she admitted herself to rehab for a few days, reported Entertainment Weekly. A full year later, she went back to rehab for a second time.

Brown's reality TV show showed their 'real' marriage

While the headlines and courtroom appearances were one thing, nothing brought even more attention to the pair's relationship than being on the reality show "Being Bobby Brown." The show premiered on the Bravo network in 2005 and filmed the couple for a few months the year prior. Mostly highlighting the career and personal life of Brown, obviously Whitney Houston played a major role in the series. Brown hoped showing that side of his life would change public perception of his image, but "Being Bobby Brown" did the opposite. It did not get rave reviews (via Today) and instead put a spotlight on their troubled relationship and behavior with each other. In a shocking and unforgettable moment, Brown proudly discussed removing feces out of Houston's butt on the show, leaving a bad taste (and visual) in the minds of many viewers.

The show was a train wreck for the couple, who at the time, could've desperately used some positive imagery. The cameras seemingly didn't help their profiles, and the show didn't return for another season. In about a year, a separation between them was on the brink.

The troubled romance ends in splitsville

In 2006, Whitney Houston filed for divorce from Bobby Brown, reported MTV News. Over the years, her marriage to the singer was mired with controversy, drug abuse, physical abuse, and an alleged infidelity. It was the end of a long ride. Houston would get full custody of their daughter when the divorced finalized the following year, and they went separate ways. Houston would sit down with Oprah in 2009 to talk about her split from Brown. In the tell-all interview (posted on YouTube), she accused Brown of being jealous of her and being physically and emotionally abusive.

Houston made efforts to clean up her image after the divorce. Brown got remarried and had three more children with his manager, Alicia Etheridge. According to The Star, they married in 2012, just a few months after Houston tragically died in a hotel tub at the age of 48 on February 11. But even with all the drama that followed their relationship, the love was not lost between them. Brown reportedly cried during a performance when he learned of her death, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The relationship's only child saw similar tragic fate

More details about their relationship would come out after Whitney Houston's death but from Bobby Brown's point of view. He highlighted how the relationship affected their daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, in his autobiography, "Every Little Step: My Story." 

Brown said the couple's turbulent marriage filled with drugs and verbal abuse did not set a good example for their only daughter, and says that they set her up for failure, per USA Today. "How much quality time can you spend with your daughter when you're high all the time? I would get really mad at Whitney, scream and yell that I wanted a divorce. This went on for years and years. Our daughter saw it all. When I think about now, I just feel enormous pain. We failed her," he said.

Sadly, in 2015, the couple's only child was found unresponsive in a bathtub. Bobbi Kristina Brown spent months in a coma before sadly dying at the age of 22. In a tearful 2016 interview, Brown talked about the pain of losing his daughter and Houston (posted on YouTube). But mother and daughter are together again. Bobbi Kristina was buried next to her mother at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey (via Find A Grave).

Bobby Brown misses Whitney Houston

It's been 10 years since Whitney Houston's death, and her ex-husband feels her absence. In an episode of Facebook Watch's "Red Table Talk," Bobby Brown described Houston as a friend even after their marriage ended in shambles. When asked by host Jada Pinkett Smith what he would tell Houston if she were still alive, Brown answered that he misses her. Despite their marriage ending, which occurred mostly because of drug abuse, he said, Brown maintained that they still loved each other, per ET Online.

For Brown's A&E series "Bobby Brown: Every Little Step," cameras followed him as he visited Houston's grave. It was an unscripted and emotional moment for Brown, and it included a visit to his daughter's grave, as well, per ET Online. Brown said he cried and grieved in front of the cameras. Brown found that filming the documentary was therapeutic, and the visit to lost loved ones helped him and his wife, Alicia Etheredge, find peace, per Extra TV.

He thinks Houston would still be alive if they had stayed together

From the outside, it appears that the Bobby Brown-Whitney Houston divorce was inevitable, but Brown thinks differently. In his documentary "Biography: Bobby Brown," he claims that the divorce was driven mostly by outside voices — mainly Houston's family and personal team — who advocated for their separation. The divorce was ultimately triggered by Houston's wishes, not Brown's. What's more, Brown believes that Houston would still be alive if they had remained together. Although he admits that Houston's drug abuse caused friction in their marriage, he says he would've helped her through her struggles, as she would've for him. In fact, Brown was taken aback by the news of her death since he assumed that she had become sober, per People Magazine.

However, in the same A&E documentary, Brown describes an incompatibility between him and Houston when it came to drug usage. He was imprisoned in 2000 after violating parole, and it occurred at a time when his drug addiction had worsened. 65 days later, he left jail free from narcotics and was immediately struck at how Houston was still using. When she picked him up from jail, there were drugs in her car, and Brown believes that's when their marriage began to deteriorate, via Yahoo News.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He was scared to marry Houston

Whitney Houston wasn't the only one doing drugs on her wedding day. Bobby Brown locked himself in a bathroom and did drugs as he was hit by pre-wedding jitters. He described himself as "scared to death" and resorted to drinking and smoking in the bathroom in order to gather his nerves. But in a sign of things to come, his future wife Alicia Etheredge was on hand to calm him down and remind him of his responsibilities. Brown told her that he was afraid Houston didn't love him. Etheredge reassured him he was wrong. The stubborn Brown finally relented, and in his documentary "Biography: Bobby Brown," Brown said the moment has stayed with him since (via Entertainment Weekly).

When he emerged, he saw Houston also using drugs. Although it was shocking, it made him feel as if he was making the right decision to wed since he realized he and Houston were in similar places in life. In a further twist, he learned that while he was a novice to cocaine, Houston had been using it for years, per Yahoo! News.

He was hurt by allegations that he caused Houston's death

From the early days of their relationship, Bobby Brown's "bad boy" image cast him as a bad influence on Whitney Houston. But Brown feels that public perception and media portrayal of him has been unfair to who he truly is. Immediately upon Houston's death, he was blamed by fans and news outlets for her drug addiction, per Fox News. According to US Weekly, anonymous members of Houston's family felt that Brown's sobriety during Houston's persisting addiction rubbed them the wrong way. After Houston's autopsy results were publicized, Brown had to defend himself on the Today show, and he insisted he did not introduce his ex-wife to drugs, per The Washington Post. And in recent years, Brown has also worked on his alcoholism and has reached sobriety since attending a treatment program in 2020. He said the accusations were hurtful and ignorant of the truth, per Fox News.

Houston's friend and reported lover, Robyn Crawford, confirmed that Houston had been using cocaine long before she met Brown. Additionally, Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, wrote in her memoir that Brown was not to blame for her drug usage. However, Cissy believes Brown didn't help Whitney to get past it, either. Meanwhile, in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney's brother Michael Houston admitted to introducing her to cocaine when she was a teenager at a time when drugs were not as condemned in popular culture (per Yahoo! News).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).