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JET Love

Talking Love with Bravo Newlyweds Toi and Rouvaun

Sometimes love has to go the distance – and that’s exactly what Toi Troutman-Walker, a celebrity publicist-turned-entrepreneur, and Rouvaun Walker, a mortgage banker from Northern California, proved in a major way.

The couple had their first date in 1996 and sparked a flame but decided that it wasn’t the right time for romance. Now, fast-forward 15 years to present day, their love is in full bloom as they embark on their first year of marriage on Bravo’s hit reality show, “Newlyweds: The First Year,” which airs its season two premiere tonight at 10 p.m. EST.

JET caught up with the lovely couple to talk about their romance, the importance of second chances, and what viewers can expect from them on the small screen. Don’t miss out!

JET: You all got back together after 15 years apart. That’s a true test to your love. Can you tell JET readers more about how your relationship got started?

TOI: We actually met on AOL Black Voices back in the day when that was the only way to meet people online.  We had our first date in 1996 and decided that we were going to pursue being together but then realized that things weren’t lining up. I had been working a lot and was divorced. I also was busy raising two kids and we just knew the timing wasn’t right.

Then one day, over Facebook, we decided it’d be good for us to catch up and reconnect in person. I was living in LA at the time and Rouvaun called me up and said we should do lunch. I agreed but only with one condition. I said, “I want dinner, not lunch!” It’s funny. I knew what I wanted. We went on that first date and we’ve been going strong ever since.

JET: Wow. So unlike most, you two had to give each other a second chance.

ROUVAUN: Absolutely. We just had to be open. It was like one door closed on the relationship and the other one opened. When we went out again, I had no clue that I was going to meet the love of my life. I saw Toi on TV and she looked exactly the same years later, and my best friends encouraged me to go on a date again, so I did. Of course, it took a chance. Toi was single for 15 years and she raised two boys by herself, but we’re happy that we’ve come together.

TOI: A lot of time, when women get past 40, they definitely don’t think that “Mr. Right” is still out there, but it’s possible and if he is the one for you, and it’s meant to be, you both will come together. You have to be open and get creative about staying close. If there were no social media there would be no us.

JET: True, but did you feel any fear about coming together again? Were you nervous about the second-time relationship and how did you all move past that as a couple?

TOI: Again, as women, you’re pre-programmed to have all these preconceived notions about what men think and vice versa, so when we reconnected, we were still 500 miles apart. We were pursuing a long-distance relationship, and I definitely had reservations about getting deeply involved, especially with someone that didn’t live in my city. But I think I can speak for both Rouvaun and myself when I say, we really did just throw caution to the wind. If we ever wanted a chance of moving forward, we knew we had to trust each other.

ROUVAUN: Being in love means that you risk being vulnerable. You risk accidental stabbings of the heart, verbal jabs, misunderstandings, drama – all that. People really put walls and guards around themselves for protection and rightfully so, but when I found the right one, I knew I didn’t want to lack trust. Through and through, Toi is one of the most honest people I’ve ever met. I can say that I’ve had trust issues in the past and for me to leave those behind did take a leap of faith, but I’m glad I did. I completely trusted in her.  We do love each other deeply and our connection really was instantaneous. It was so close that we instantly could read each other’s thoughts and finish the other person’s sentences.

JET: What can viewers expect from you two on Bravo?  

TOI: They can expect to see us as we experience all our changes as a new couple. For me, they will see growing pains with adapting to my new city and environment, and that’s a lot of my struggle on the show. I own my business, Renown Hair, and I’m just trying to adjust to a completely different pace and lifestyle now that I’ve relocated to be with Rouvaun. I’m originally from LA as well and it took me a few years to get adjusted to Northern California. It’s not slow per se, but it’s definitely a lot slower than my lifestyle in LA!

JET:  In terms of your role on the show, do you feel any pressure to represent black love on TV?

ROUVAUN: First of all, everyone has a lot of common things that happen to them. Everyone wants to fall in love and meet a partner to spend the rest of their life with them. I don’t think there is one person that doesn’t want to fall in love and the challenges that life throws you — job changes, deaths in the family, relocating, etc -are all common among every couple. That’s what we’re focusing on in terms of our role on the show. We don’t feel any pressure necessarily to represent all black couples, but with that said, we do feel like we are good people and we represent well. We’re just being ourselves and experiencing the changes that should connect with any couple. If I’m going through something in my relationship, I’m not going to think, “I’m black and now I must cope with this in a black way.

TOI:  Yes, we are the one African American couples on the show, but as you watch the other couples, you’ll find that many of us are similar. As a black couple, I don’t feel any pressure to represent black couples everywhere as much as representing newlyweds everywhere. At the same time though, I hope that in just being us, African-American sisters and brothers will feel proud of us and enjoy our story, but we’re not feeling any pressure to necessarily represent one black couple.

JET: Can you offer any advice for JET singles looking for love?

TOI: I know it sounds really corny but my advice, especially for women, is be specific about what you want and what you’re looking for in a partner.  Then once you know, you really need to wait on the person of your dreams and you’ll know when you meet him. Don’t settle. Go for what you want and be patient till it comes.

ROUVAUN: And to add to that, I would say that men settle sometimes too. And I’m trying to speak for all the good men out there. I have several friends who have been through a lot with the opposite sex but there still are good men out there looking for a second chance. Heck, even a first chance. Those men should be patient as well and know that love comes. You just have to wait for it.

Check out a sneak peek of “Newlyweds: The First Year” HERE and be sure to tune in for the show’s season two premiere tonight, March 10 at 10 p.m. EST on Bravo. Also follow Rouvaun @RouvaunW and Toi @ToiTroutman on Twitter for more on their exciting love journey.