Make It Last Forever: Rouvaun And Toi Walker
In July, Vernel and Shaneek Samuel schooled us on the importance of preparing for marriage prior to even meeting “the one.” This month, Rouvaun and Toi Walker of Bravo’s “Newlyweds: The First Year” share their fairytale-esque love story, which proves that what’s meant to be will be.
For our readers who have not seen the show, can you explain how the two of you met?
Toi: We met on America Online: Black Voices in the ‘90s back when AOL was the only way to get on the Internet. We met in a chat room. I was in LA and Rouvaun was in the Oakland area. He was coming down for a visit—he’s originally from LA—and he took me on a date. It was the best date that we had both ever had, but I was already divorced with two kids. He didn’t have any children and I just kind of thought, ‘Eh, he’s 500 miles away, and he doesn’t have any kids. Probably not.’ And I guess he had his own internal thoughts about what he wasn’t ready for so we both made a decision not to push through it and that was pretty much the beginning and the end until fifteen years later when we reconnected through Facebook.
What made the second time around so different?
Rouvaun: Well, it wasn’t really different because when we [reconnected and] went out the second time, I was visiting my mom again during the holidays, and we went out on our second date. It was just like the first date.
Toi: Right, it was that same kind of vibe. It was like somebody just fast-forwarded fifteen years later, and we just went on our second date. From that point forward, we were pretty much inseparable even though there was distance between us. Her kids were gone and out of the house and I was a parent with two kids.
So things changed a little bit.
Rouvaun: It did, and I have my kids fifty percent of the time, so we were juggling that. I was so hypocritical at that point.
Toi: Right! Good thing I’m not like you though! [laughs]
Rouvaun: She was more understanding and more empathetic than I was at the time. For me back then, I was 28 years old and I had just borrowed money from my parents the year before. I didn’t feel like I could take care of a family. I take pride in being family oriented and being a man in that role. I just wanted to be ready for that at that moment. And then, back in ’96, I was between jobs. That played a factor too. I just wasn’t ready and the timing wasn’t there. Fast-forward to fifteen years later, and the timing was better for the both of us. I wasn’t married, her kids were out of the house and I could really court her like I wanted to. Also, that first date was so powerful. I didn’t really know what that was. But I found out on the second date that it was one of those instantaneous love things. We said ‘I love you’ within like 72 hours.
Rouvaun: Yeah, that rarely happens so we kind of just went with the flow. We both sort of put ourselves out on a limb. And what I mean is that your heart is open, and you’re willing to be vulnerable with that person. We’ve never held anything back. We’ve really been completely honest the whole relationship.
Were either of you apprehensive about rekindling a romance with an ex?
Rouvaun: I didn’t really consider her to be an ex. I considered her one date.
Toi: Yeah, it wasn’t really like an ex. We really stopped before we ever got started.
Rouvaun: We have no history.
Toi: Yeah, to speak to that, if you’re my ex, you’re supposed to be my ex.
Rouvaun: Exactly, there’s no turning back.
Did you have reservations about showcasing your relationship on reality TV?
Toi: Well, Rouvaun didn’t want to do it.
Rouvaun: My first reaction was “hell nah.”
Toi: He was like, ‘No.’ so I had to kind of persuade him to do it. I wasn’t apprehensive because we really didn’t have anything to hide. We really get along that well. We’re really that compatible so I didn’t really feel like we needed to be different when the cameras started rolling.
Rouvaun: I was apprehensive. I’m a very private person. I have employees and they don’t know me in that way. I think even just looking back at it, I think that was hard for them to kind of see that side of me anyway because they know me in one way and one way only. That was really my apprehension. The story itself, to me, was kind of fairytale-ish. I don’t know many people who have actually lived through something that we did like this. You always hear about this kind of stuff in movies, but you don’t necessarily see it in reality. That’s how she convinced me. She was like, “Hey, we have a great story. What are the odds of us getting back together like this? We should tell it.” After a few weeks, that’s what got me.
Toi: [Laughs] I won!