Anyone who believes romantic relationships are easy may still be lacking in the experience department. Actor and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart has shared many a side-splitting comedy routine with the world precisely about this most difficult of engagements: romance.
Whether it’s being newly (and obnoxiously) in love, being longterm married (and bitter about it), or any other potentially hilarious scenario on the romantic spectrum, Hart has harnessed it to make people laugh. But even having an epic sense of humor doesn’t make one immune to screwing up royally, or leave one unaffected by the harsh impact a brutal mistake can have on one’s relationship.
Hart married his second wife, Instagram model Eniko Parrish in 2016, after they had already been together several years. Their son, Kenzo, was born the following year in November 2017, and the very next month Hart publicly admitted to having cheated on his wife while she was close to 8 months pregnant.
As if being cheated on isn’t bad enough all on its own, the added intensity of having to deal with such a betrayal while pregnant—and toward the end of a pregnancy no less—verges on unthinkable. But while many have wondered whether such a blatant transgression is simply unforgivable, the bond that Hart and Parrish share has thus far proven strong enough to weather the storm and come out better for it. Their second child, a daughter, was born in September 2020.
The cheating scandal changed their marriage
Brass tacks: Hart, who is also a father to two teenagers from his previous marriage, cheated on Parrish with model Montia Sabbag during a trip to Las Vegas in 2017. Their sexual encounter was caught on video and later released in an effort to extort him for millions of dollars. Sabbag has insisted publicly that she was not the one who released the tape, maintaining that she was as much of a victim of its release as Hart. Later, she sued Hart for $60 million, claiming he and his friend conspired to hide the camera. While the lawsuit was dismissed, the drama and the pain left over from the entire incident has been much slower to subside.
In episode 3 of his Netflix docuseries, “Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up” (2019), Hart and Parrish both shared openly about the cheating debacle that tested their marriage. The episode, aptly called “What Happened In Vegas,” starts with Parrish getting real about how she discovered her husband had cheated. Simply put, it was awful: she got a DM.
I don’t know who it was. They sent me an edited video of Kevin and another woman…I was having breakfast and I opened my phone and immediately I just lost it. I called him, I’m crying, I’m like pissed.Eniko Parrish
“Right then and there, I just kept saying, ‘How the f––- did you let that happen?’ You publicly humiliated me. Everything is on Instagram, everything is on social media. So it was an ongoing fight all the time. Every single day. I kept questioning him, like, ‘If this is what you want to do, I don’t want to be a part of that.’”
Getting serious: Kevin Hart’s journey to accountability
Initially, Hart denied rumors that he had cheated on Parrish, but a few months later, after the extortion attempt by an unknown party, he went on to apologize publicly on Instagram, both to his wife as well as his two older children. It was an uncharacteristically serious post for the comedian.
I made a bad error in judgement and put myself in an environment where only bad things can happen, and they did. It’s a shitty moment when you know you’re wrong, and there’s no excuses for your wrong behavior.Kevin Hart on Instagram
Alongside the video, Hart wrote, “Sending so many apologies to my wife & kids. I gotta do better and I will. I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be …I love you all.” Many view his willingness to admit wrongdoing and apologize on a public forum as a real willingness to redeem and improve himself going forward.
Hart has said that, “the toughest thing” about the experience “was just telling my wife.” He explains, “the worst part was just knowing how you made somebody feel. There’s a major effect that it can have on the people that you are closest to, the people that you love the most and when I got to see that firsthand with Eniko — when I got to see the effect that my reckless behavior had — that was crushing, that tore me up.” He went on to describe that time as “the lowest moment of my life.”
Parrish’s forgiveness is tied to Hart’s accountability
“I’m happy that it kind of happened,” Parrish has said, looking back on the harrowing experience. “I get sensitive every time I talk about it,” she said. “He’s f– up, this was a bad one, this was major…I think looking forward, it’ll be better.”
Both Hart and Parrish have been very vocal about the factors that kept their marriage intact after Hart’s betrayal of Parrish’s trust at an extra sensitive time in their life as a couple.
Because Parrish was nearing the end of her pregnancy, she has described how she “kept worrying about the baby,” and how she had to “maintain a level head.” On the decision to give Hart a second chance, she said, “I think that’s the only thing that really got me through. I wasn’t ready at the time to just give up on my family. I wanted Kenzo to be able to know his dad…It was a lot for me, but we’ve been through it, we’ve gone through it, we passed it and he’s a better man now because of it.”
I believe in second chances. I’m all about forgiveness, and you only get two times. Three strikes you’re out, you’re out of here. So, as long as he behaves, we’re good.Eniko Parrish
Kevin owed her one thing
Speaking on The School of Greatness podcast, Hart said of his wife: “She came to an amazing conclusion of, ‘I like the fact that we have a family, that we have a household, and I like the fact that we now got a job to do to get better. That’s what you owe me. You owe me the get-better.’
And she held me accountable. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but it was her understanding that we don’t let the outside world affect our inside, and I credit her for setting that tone.Kevin Hart
Hart went on to praise his wife, calling her “the strongest person in the world.”
We all make mistakes, some bigger and more serious than others. But it’s whether we’re willing to come clean and deal with it that really counts. In Hart’s case, his willingness to be held accountable for his hurtful actions has kept him human, kept him honest, and kept his family strong.
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