Oprah Talks to Camille Cosby
Oprah: I read that you and Bill went through a time in your marriage when you were both focused on selfish needs.
Camille: We were both young. We had to go through a lot. It's difficult to learn to live with somebody, to be unselfish and to be responsible for your behavior—and even to think how you hurt others if you do certain things.
Oprah: Like fool around?
Camille: Or anything that is selfish. You go through a transition, if you are committed to each other. You cleanse yourself of all of that baggage, and you look at each other and determine whether the relationship is worth salvaging, whether you really love each other and want to be together. Then you realize, "Wait a minute. I might have been doing this because I just didn't want to think about how this would affect the other person or to allow myself to love someone with emotional intimacy."
Oprah: Onstage, Bill sometimes talks about when your marriage got its juice, when you knew, "We've gelled; we've made it." When did that happen for you?
Camille: When we knew that we really wanted to be with each other, that we didn't want to live without each other. That probably happened ten years after we were married, when we really spent time talking about what marriage means.
Oprah: Do you think marriage is difficult? People say you have to work at it.
Camille: You do. Because you are two different people, and you have to respect that. You have to learn not to project your stuff onto the other person. You have to give the other person space to do what he or she wants to do, to not be threatened by his or her absence or achievements.
Oprah: People must think that the wife of Bill Cosby is cracking up all the time.
Camille: Bill is not funny all the time. He is a serious man, a thoughtful man. And he likes to have his quiet time. He's not consistently humorous, but he is funny. It's in his bones. He sees the world from a serious perspective, but he is able to look at the funny side of human behavior. He is probably a great social scientist. That is the only way he can be a humorist. He is a storyteller. He does not like to see anyone in the family sad. So he'll do things to make us laugh, and sometimes I say, "Bill, I just want to have my moment to be sad. Don't try to make me laugh."
Oprah: He is, undeniably, the greatest husband gift-giver. What are your favorite gifts?
Camille: Bill has given me some beautiful paintings.
Oprah: Is he romantic?
Camille: Very. He has kidnapped me a couple of times. I walked out of a theater after seeing a show, and a few hours later, I was in Lake Tahoe. He does those kinds of things. Flowers to fill a room. Trips to places, unusual things, and I must tell you that I never felt I didn't deserve these things, even when my self-esteem was low. I love gifts from Bill, because he loves giving them. I'm not a great giver to him like he is to me, but it is something he loves to do. And he is so creative.