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, 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 and Bobby 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 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, Houston filed for divorce from 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 Houston's death but from 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).