When Jackie and Tom first started dating, Tom was 25 years old. At the time, he says he never imagined himself getting married until he was closer to 55.
"We started dating, and I had just all these incredible strong feelings of, 'I want to be married to you. I want to have babies with you,'" he says. "I couldn't believe it because I was just not at that point in my life, and yet, those feelings never went away."
Jackie and Tom tied the knot nine years ago, but Tom admits marriage isn't what he thought it would be. "I thought it was going to be maybe like dating, only legal," he says. "I had no idea...it was like kind of becoming part of something bigger than myself for the first time."
Over the years, Tom and Jackie say they've gone from being two 20-somethings in love to the parents of two children. "It's been amazing to me how we've been able to accommodate each other's growth at different times and on different levels," Tom says.
When Jackie was considering marriage, she says she looked to her parents for inspiration. "My parents were great role models," she says. "They fought and they laughed and they cuddled and they did all of that stuff."
Now, Jackie says she's learned for herself what it takes to have a healthy marriage. "I think a lot of marriage is understanding the other person," she says. "Not just communicating, but actually understanding what he's saying."
Oprah says she was inspired to ask this question after seeing Why Did I Get Married?, a movie written and directed by her friend Tyler Perry.
You won't see Tyler dressed in knee-highs and bad wigs in this film—he left his famous alter-ego, Madea, at home during the shoot. Instead, Tyler got an all-star cast together to take an honest—and hilarious—look at the realities of marriage.
The story, which was adapted from one of Tyler's stage plays, is told through the eyes of four couples who get together every year for a weeklong vacation. When an unexpected guest arrives, the mood takes a serious turn. One by one, the couples' marriages begin to unravel.
Tyler stars as Terry, a husband who's battling his wife about the demands of her high-powered job. Singing sensation Jill Scott plays Sheila, a woman whose husband is unhappy with her weight. Superstar Janet Jackson also stars in the film as Patricia, a psychologist whose marriage seems perfect...but it isn't.
Although Tyler has never been married, he says personal experiences helped him create the characters in his film. "I just got out of a crazy relationship [when I was writing]," he says. "I used a lot of that experience to write the women in this movie, so it was pretty interesting."
More than anything, Tyler says this film is about family and forgiveness. "Right now in my life, family is so important," he says. "Marriages are falling apart. All of these things are happening for no reason, and I think it's because so many of us don't have a spiritual connection. ... We don't know when to forgive when our partner makes a mistake. We don't know what to do to move on."
Though he's enjoying the single life now, Tyler says he'd like to tie the knot someday—when the time is right. "I think I'd be a great husband," he says. "I'm in no hurry."
In Why Did I Get Married?, the marriage of Janet's character seems perfect to her friends, but the couple is haunted by a tragedy.
Despite the serious nature of the film, Janet says acting with Tyler, Jill and the rest of the cast was the most fun she ever had working on a movie. "We got along like we had known each other forever."
Even though Janet's music brought her fame and success, she says acting is her true first love. "This is what I started doing first, acting," she says. "But it's more of a challenge for me. Music comes much, much easier for me. I really enjoyed this."
In addition to thinking about her own marriages, Janet was able to draw on another real-life experience for her role. In the movie, Janet's character learns that one of her best friends has a cheating husband, but she decides not to tell. When faced with the same circumstance in real life, Janet made the same choice.
"I didn't say a thing, and she was very upset at me for it," Janet says. "But I felt it wasn't my responsibility, my job to. I would want him to man up and come to her. And because of [my decision], we are no longer friends."
Even after portraying a similar situation onscreen, Janet says she would make the same decision again. "If it were happening to me, I would want [him] to come to me and let me know," she says.
In her second major movie role, soul singer Jill Scott plays Sheila, a woman struggling with her weight and a marriage that's at a breaking point. To get in character, Jill had to wear a fat suit, which prompted a surprising reaction from the people around her. "Everybody had a look of pity in their eyes. It was immediate," she says of their reaction to her weight gain.
Jill also drew inspiration from her personal life. At the same time of filming, she was going through her own real-life divorce. "It just seems as if everything falls in place as it should," Jill says. "I'm getting a divorce. It hurts. And now I have to play a character that is in the worst pain of her life. So I just tapped into that and let it happen. Let it be. Let it flow."
Tyler not only has a very successful film career—he also works in television and on stage. With all that on his plate he barely has time for fun! So, once filming wrapped Janet decided to take matters into her own hands. She invited Tyler to a party thrown by her longtime boyfriend, hip-hop mogul Jermaine Dupri.
What started out as a fun evening turned into a nightmare for Tyler—he accidentally spilled red wine all over Janet's white silk Valentino gown!
"My dress was sticking to my thighs," Janet says. But she wasn't angry—she took the loss of the dress in stride. "It was an accident," she says. "When it happened, he was so apologetic.... He didn't mean to do it."
For Tyler, the incident was "scarring!" So to put it to rest, he has a little surprise in store for Ms. Jackson....
After the red wine fiasco, Tyler offered to replace Janet's dress—and he's keeping his promise! He picked out four new white Valentino dresses for Janet to choose from. "No you did not!" she says.
With the help of the audience, Janet picks a floor-length, white gown from Valentino complete with dark gray beading. "It's beautiful. Beautiful," Janet says.
Now, a weight has finally been lifted from Tyler's mind! "I feel better," he says.
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