One day not long after their first date, Mary blurted out something that, three years later, would turn out to be prophetic. "You're my husband," she declared. "But how is this possible that you are my husband and you're taken?" That's the one detail Isaacs didn't want to focus on much when he first met Blige: He was married but separated, with two young children. He also had an older daughter from a serious relationship he'd had as a teen. He never lied about anything, but he wanted to protect his burgeoning relationship with Blige and deal with his situation in his own way. For the most part, that's what happened, until one day he impulsively put his then 2-year-old baby girl on the phone with Blige. "I think that kind of twisted Mary up," he now realizes.
It was more than she could handle. "I thought, I can't do this. I'm not a home wrecker," she remembers. "I was like, give me a gun and I'll just blow my brains out, because I'm at the point of...like I said...my spirit is dead. There was a lot of pain, so I ran straight into more self-destruction. I was thinking about the wife, I was thinking about the kids, and I was thinking, I just don't want to be responsible for that."
Isaacs insists that his first marriage was already dissolving before Blige was fully on the scene, and he says that today he and his ex-wife have a good relationship. Still, it took some time to convince Blige that she hadn't torn apart a family. Eventually she opened her heart back up to Isaacs, and he moved in to her New Jersey home. But as they got closer, they started reading the Bible together, and it got harder to pretend that they were living according to the Word. "When you're having *** and you're not married, it's called fornication in the Bible," Isaacs says. He tried to rationalize their living arrangement with the thought that he was in love and planning to get married. But the guilt was eating away at both of them, and they knew they had to stop.
"Men don't really do well with no ***," Blige says bluntly. "But I said, 'You will have to show me that you really love me that much and move out.' And he showed me that he loved me that much." Isaacs moved out, and for a year and two months the couple abstained. They were married December 7, 2003.
Children of God
Having moved outside to get a little air, the couple end up sitting casually opposite each other in their outdoor living room. Blige throws her feet up on the *** table and picks up the thread of a conversation from a few minutes earlier. "They're just so loving," she says, referring to her stepchildren, Nas, 7, and Jordan, 8. "They're a product of their mother and father. The kids are so sweet, and they're so smart. They asked, 'You want us to call you mom?' I said, 'No, call me what you want, and if you're ready to ever call me mom, you do so. But for now, we're friends.' "
On the subject of having her own children, Blige wrestles with conflicting emotions. She wants them: "I think I'm going to have children." She doesn't want them: "But it's not something that I have planned." She wants them: "But if it happens, I'm not going to get rid of my baby." She doesn't want them: "Well, you know what it is with me? I've just got so much work. God's got to be done with me, the low moments and all the insecurities of the past. Your kid is around you 24/7. When you have stepchildren, they come around and then they go home. My child is going to be watching me go up and down on the days that I go down. I don't want my child to feel what I felt when I was coming up, what it was like for my mother to hurt all the time. So I have a fear-it's probably one of my biggest fears-a fear of my child suffering, you know, with that energy."
Isaacs is intently listening to his wife speak. His body language suggests he is really hearing this for the first time. "I could keep having kids until I can't have them no more, especially with her," he counters. "I wouldn't mind it. But I understand what she's saying." He goes on to explain that even his children sense what Blige is talking about. "The two babies, they see it. The things she worries about them seeing-her ups and downs. They also get it with their own mom."
Blige is especially proud of her relationship with Isaacs's 20-year-old daughter from a teenage relationship. "I love Briana," she says. "Yeah, we were both having little issues on the low with each other, because we are the same kind of people. But I had to realize that I'm older and I have the most wisdom. I said, 'I've got to grow up right now for Bri.' So I did, and now we're cool. She calls me with all her stories that 20-year-olds have."