Believe it or not, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ relationship wasn’t always so perfect! Back in his mid-20s, the Texan — eager to learn more about his construction co-workers’ language and Mexican culture — convinced then-girlfriend Joanna Stevens to handle his three businesses while he drove south of the border for an immersion program. But Chip left the talented bookkeeper “sorely underprepared” to deal with his unconventional accounting methods, and just two weeks in, he had to face the music. “‘Your business is a joke!’ she yelled. ‘All these people are… demanding to be paid, and there’s no money!’” Chip wrote in his upcoming book Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff (out Oct. 17). Then, Chip wrote, Joanna issued a devastating ultimatum: “‘You have three days to get back to Texas, or this relationship is over.’ Her tone made it clear that she was not playin’. My heart broke.”
It was a major turning point in his life. He raced back home to Waco, eventually cleaned up his mess and found forgiveness, but he couldn’t deny the truth: Joanna had almost left him. “It became very clear to me that I had to grow up,” he wrote. “It became my mission to prove to Jo, my parents, her parents, and myself… that I was the real deal.” Six months later, he proposed. Now married for 14 years, they’ve built a thriving business empire thanks to their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper — but in recent months, the parents of four have also dealt with divorce rumors on social media. “Won’t ever happen,” Chip vowed in an Aug. 4 tweet. “You can take that to the bank!” Yay!
Yet their relationship hasn’t always been easy. Joanna called her and Chip “opposites” in their 2016 book, The Magnolia Story, and had said they’re no “match made in heaven.” Chip confessed that she spent most of the first year of marriage crying. Early on, “There were times when we would fight like cats and dogs,” he admitted, and Joanna questioned why she gave him so many second chances. “But I’m very glad I did,” she wrote, “because sometimes second chances lead to great things.”
And while this past year has been their most successful yet, their personal life took some major hits. Chip and Joanna had to defend themselves against, not only fresh-split rumors but claims that Joanna was leaving their show to launch a beauty line as well as a headline-making lawsuit from former friends and business partners. Tension mounted last November, when the deeply religious couple came under fire for their close affiliation with Waco’s Antioch Community Church, whose pastor spoke out against homosexuality and gay marriage and believes in the widely discredited and controversial practice of conversion therapy. When Chip finally addressed the controversy in a January blog post in which he proclaimed “disagreement is not the same thing as hate,” many felt it was a cop-out and that he and Joanna wouldn’t directly address the issue and their stance on it. Still, Chip said, “Jo and I refuse to be baited.”
However, they’ve always done their best to tackle the problems together. “Whatever stupid mistake I made — and there was plenty of stuff that set her off — we’d find a way to get through it,” he said, “and we’d wind up being even closer to each other in the end. Every time.” #RelationshipGoals.
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