A life worth living: Denzel and Pauletta Washington’s 40 yrs Marriage

6 09 2020
(L-R) Denzel, Pauleta, Jnr, Katie

When Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living, he means that only when we strive to acquire self-knowledge would our life be meaningful. This truth was evident to all gathered last year at the American film institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award to Denzel Washington. Delivering the opening speech to a packed hall full of stars and superstars,  Julia Roberts thanked Denzel for mentoring and helping her put her life back together when she was going through a rough patch during the shooting of the movie Pelican brief in 1992. She said that his warm human qualities drew her to open her troubles to him, and Denzel and his wife took her problems to heart and helped her through it. Undoubtedly, this is an amazing story in Hollywood, an industry famous for men taking advantage of vulnerable women. A black man going out of his way to help a white woman, but not just that, he introduces her to his wife.

Julia Roberts

There is valuable lesson here for married men: If you wish to help other women, do so with your wife. That way your help will be more effective and what’s more, you will not run the unnecessary risk of endangering your marriage by getting emotional entangled with a woman who is not your wife and whom your wife know nothing about. The devil that drives men to adultery thrives in secrecy. When fail to introduce their wives to the women they work with, leave the door open to possible infidelity.

Again,  in Hollywood  where serial divorce, adultery and infidelity are the norm, there is no doubt that a good role model like Denzel Washington who have risen to the very top of that industry and yet kept his sense of duty, family and honor intact is in high demand.

Interestingly, when Denzel finally mounted in the midst of thundering applause, he began by thanking God and asking God’s forgiveness for what he had done badly.

Denzel delivering his thank you address

“I m up here to say thank you to God,  for giving me this ability, for blessing me, for shaping me, for chastising me, for teaching me, for punishing me, for allowing me to be a vessel to touch people around the world.”

 Few actors can boast of the kind of success that Denzel Washington has had in Hollywood: two times Oscar winner, starred in at least 53 movies–most blockbusters, in a career that spanned 40 years, yet even fewer actors can boast of his capacity for self-examination. While success often spurs disdain for religion, Denzel’s success, on the other hand, makes him more humble in acknowledging God and his instrument for sustaining, nurturing, and supporting him.

In his speech, he appreciated his mother at 95, and declared that his father taught him how to be a man. Turning to his wife of 40 years, he proclaimed, “I would not be alive, without Pauletta Washington. 40 years of sacrifice, 40 years of forgiveness, she taught me about faith, spirituality, love, real love, unwavering love, inspite of myself.”

Older than Denzel when they got married, Pauletta has played the balancing force in his life helping to anchor him from the illusory world of make belief to the nitty-gritty of reality. Mother of his children, she surely must have fought many fearful battles with jealousy whenever it rears its ugly head as beautiful dashing damsels  flock towards her handsome husband ready to give him anything if he so much as smile at them. However, she did not let fear override the trusting confidence that every spouse deserves. Her devotion to the home, made him long to return home, to her and his children. Today, she is blessed to hear him acknowledge it before the rich and powerful and attest to the truth that the power of a woman is not solely in her external beauty, but the internal as well.

Unfortunately, many people claim that happy marriage is all about the money and that having made money, Denzel and Pauletta no longer need struggle to love each other. This is not true. A cursory look at the dismal marital landscape of Hollywood full of battered, violent, and ruptured marriages, with all the abuses, infidelities, and misery is sufficient to refute this argument.

Denzel and Pauletta have confirmed that marital fidelity is possible regardless of the environment. Their example is a challenge to those who have already caved in to licentiousness to pick up the pieces and begin again, and an encouragement to the young. It also demonstrates that the prevalence of toxic culture opposed to life, values and spirit, is largely due to individual choices.

Denzel then played a video where Pauletta’s father said:

“We were put her for a reason. God created man and God intends for us to love all mankind and by being in a loving mood, caring for one another, that is our purpose for life. We should care for one another, and we should love one another.”

His words echoed the words of Jesus Christ, “Love one another by this all men will know that you are my disciples,” reminding all that all lives matter. Love does not discriminate. Jesus said to love our enemies and do good to them who hate us and thus we will be like our father in heaven. The hate we see today is the proof that we have ditched the Christian faith and that witness is lacking.

 “In this twitter-tweet mean world we have created for our children,” Denzel continued, “the least we can do is to consider what we have done, and think about the young people, the future and individually, collectively do the best we can to try and turn this thing around.”

 Perhaps to the surprise of many of his colleagues whom have been blaming President Trump for all the evil in the world, Denzel said, “I blame no one, I look in the mirror.”

“On the other side of it,” he continued, “what an opportunity we have–because tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives– what an opportunity we have to practice what Pauletta’s father preached.”  

 In the end, Denzel qualities as an actor, for which he was being honored, is the quality expected of all, but more especially from Christians. The Christian faith calls all Christians to do all things well as Christ did. St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, has preached message of sanctification of work since 1928 that Christian holiness depends on work well done, for God.

Finally, Denzel has borne witness that a well-done work leads us towards God, and that work sanctifies, and sanctifies others. Millions the world over watched as Julia Roberts narrated how working   with Denzel and seeing how much he loves his wife made a deep impression on her.  Julia, who herself is a remarried divorcee, knows more than anyone does the challenges of marriage. She has now been married for 17 years with her present husband perhaps due to her emulating the life of Denzel, a life worth living.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Editor of Authors-choice








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