Gabrielle Union talked about many things during her appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast. She talked about meeting Shepard on a lost episode of Punk’d (she figured out it was a prank and they had to abandon the gag), how Dwyane Wade adjusted to retirement, and even how she was called out for water usage by the Los Angeles Times (she denied the report). She even entered into a debate about whether hooking up with a ghost would be considered cheating. But that’s not what made headlines. That honor went to Union’s comments on infidelity in her first marriage.
“During that first marriage, I definitely wasn’t getting Wife of the Year awards,” she said, referencing her four-year marriage to former NFL player Chris Howard, which ended in 2005. “In that first marriage, neither one of us felt that our marriage should get in the way of our dating.” Noting that part of the infidelity was her trying to match her husband’s, Union added that she “felt entitled to it.” “I was paying all the bills. I was working my ass off. And I felt that’s what comes, the spoils of riches,” she said. Cue the “Union Felt ‘Entitled’ to Cheat” headlines.
The story quickly became clickbait, and while technically correct, the headlines have left out some key context like how her first husband was also unfaithful — something she detailed in her book We’re Going to Need More Wine — and how this was learned behavior. “Like my dad before me, whoever has the most gets to do what they want. That’s what I thought,” Union explained. Looking back, however, she admitted she didn’t feel particularly guilty, noting, “I wish I had more guilt for that. It was just such a stupid relationship that should have never gotten out of the dating phase. We were gifted therapy, and the first session, the therapist was like — that was literally what she said — ‘I don’t know how you guys made it out of the dating phase.’” At the time, the actor said, she was “horny for validation.” She continued, “Having certain kinds of guys like me and want me, that made me feel like I was worthy and good and valuable.”
As more fans begin to point out the disconnect between the context and the headlines, Union has remained silent on the matter. She did, however, like a tweet from April Reign that called out the media’s framing: “In @itsgabrielleu’s first book, released FIVE years ago, she talks about how her ex husband treated her poorly and cheated on her ALL THE TIME. Somehow the story is now ‘she cheated because she was the breadwinner.’ No.”
As for what’s different about her marriage to Wade, Union said it boils down to taking care of herself: “Over time, we both had to commit to ourselves and then, through that inner work, we randomly came back around as more healed people and more open to understanding our complicity in some of the challenges that we’ve created for ourselves.” That said, she’s not ruling out cheating entirely, at least not when it comes to the supernatural. When asked if she would consider it cheating if she hooked up with a ghost, Union said, “I would feel zero guilt. I would just enjoy it.” Honestly? Fair.