“You hit me!” he says recalling the true version of events. “No you hit me!” she replied laughing, “Or I hit you cuz you said something slick! Either way I took off running cause I knew he was coming to get me.” The two, smiling wide and nestled together, his arm around her as she paints their origin story on the season premiere of Black Love Season 5, are reliving the moment they first met at a rec center in fifth grade. She has a clear goal in mind–him.
The magic between Tabitha and Chance Brown (or as he calls himself, “Thunda Cat”) went from palpable to viral when their home life and marriage gained a magnificent stage on social media last year. Tabitha, an actress, mother, wife, and viral vegan, and Chance, a police officer and the head of the Team Chance Basketball program, opened up their home and life on the regular through their IGTV show Fridays with Tab & Chance. They show us the ins and outs of the relationship, partnership, and friendship that we have grown to Stan for the sheer joy it brings.
With wide smiles and a contagious sense of humor, just watching the pair carry a conversation is as warm and genuine as a Frankie Beverly and Maze two-step in the backyard at a summer barbecue. Tab and Chance have one of those stories so full of spirit that you feel yourself sitting in the front seat of a love story that’s ever-unfolding. You can’t help but feel it wrap you in joy, and that’s exactly what we love. Better yet, it’s what we need.
The love between the Browns was hardly a straight path, especially after the couple split before entering high school, but as they expressed in Episode 1 of Season 5, their connection ran so deep that Tabitha couldn’t resist calling Chance’s dorm room at 4 a.m. to confess her love to him. “I couldn’t get him off my mind! I would get this feeling in my stomach when I saw him.” So she called, he got to the phone, she made her declaration, “and he said nothing,” she recalled. Even still, that call was the starting point for the two to reconnect months later. The ebbs and flows never stopped, but instead of pulling the two apart, it built their ability to grow as partners. Friends.
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In a time where couples are closing ranks, keeping challenges behind closed doors to avoid judgment and thus bearing the weight of maintaining perfection, Tab and Chance have discovered a secret. A way to love openly and authentically, harnessing that transparency to cultivate joy by keeping their eyes locked on one another and not on unsolicited feedback. They keep it real all around.
After relocating to Los Angeles from Eden, North Carolina in their early 20s, the young couple found themselves overwhelmed and on the brink. Tabitha was watching her mom’s health decline, Chance was starting his career as a police officer, admittedly scared, and the two were trying to balance life and transition in a new place, with a young child. She was frustrated by a lack of support. He was frustrated with the weight of responsibility to provide for his family, feeling his efforts to be supportive being dismissed. Eventually, Chance acknowledged, “I had never dealt with death before…but I didn’t know how to communicate that.” Over time they got vulnerable with each other and Chance saw that the vulnerability he thought would break them solidified them.
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“We all have these emotions that we go through and oftentimes we think we’re the only ones suffering. We forget that they’re suffering too,” Tab says reliving this time in their marriage. In her recollection, Tab explains that the road to recover from that time was hardly overnight. In fact, she describes the years it took to completely heal. “You have to be willing to work through and forgive,” she says, “and how much do you want it to work? Is it worth keeping? For me, that’s what it was about.”
The Browns weren’t made overnight, but rather over years. Years of drifting apart before coming back together. Years of committing to what they’ve built together. And with that time, commitment, and work they’ve fostered a love that’s nothing short of incredible. It’s empathetic in how it acknowledges the growth and sees the genuine humanity of each individual. It’s radical in the way it cuts through the noise of life to preserve the root of who they are in each other and as individuals. It’s pure in the way that it commits to the work required to hold on to its sanctity. All of what they are has created an inspiring demonstration of love as friendship, honesty, and reverence.
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After being married for 18 years and together for 23, Tab and Chance have achieved one of the hallmarks of incredible marriages. To see them look at each other, love on each other, and live the love they’ve created is evidence that they managed to hold on to it. They’re still dancing together at the reception. He’s still posted up on the front porch waiting for her to pull up. She’s still getting butterflies when she thinks about him. After 23 years, they’re still 5th graders at the rec. How could we NOT Stan that?
Watch the new season of Black Love on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) every Friday at 10/9c. Seasons 1-4 of Black Love and the official after show, After Love are available on the free Black Love+ App for Android and iOS.