Chip Gaines on His Marriage to Joanna: ‘We Care More About One Another’ Than ‘Being Right’
The Fixer Upper alums got real about their relationship for PEOPLE’s Kindness Issue
The Fixer Upper alums recently opened up about their relationship for PEOPLE’s Kindness Issue, on newsstands Friday, November 8, and shared their secrets for a romance that lasts. The couple, who share five children and a slew of a lifestyle empire, revealed that when things get tough, they always put kindness first — even when they are at odds.
“Jo and I are the best of friends, and yet obviously we don’t agree all the time,” Chip, 44, admits. “I’ve conceded to her dozens of times, if not hundreds throughout our relationship, and she has done the same with me.”
He adds, “In the end, Jo and I sincerely care more about one another than we do about one of us being right during a debate.”
His proclivity for kindness is one of the things Joanna, 41, says she loves most about her husband.
As the couple navigates raising their family and running their Magnolia businesses, Joanna says Chip’s “kindness with no strings attached” has raised their family to new heights.
“If you are stranded on the side of the road, you want Chip Gaines to drive by, because he’ll turn around and help,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on, who he has to meet, and he expects nothing in return. It’s that quiet kindness that’s challenged me, our children and everyone here at Magnolia. We all need more of that in our lives.”
Chip and Joanna met back in 2001 while she was working at her father’s auto shop in Waco, Texas, and he was holding down a handful of small businesses. Two years later, the couple tied the knot at the historic Earle-Harrison House, and honeymooned in New York City, even naming their first child after the Drake hotel where they stayed.
“Match made in heaven is not the term you would use to describe us. But when we mixed our personalities together, it created a spark,” Joanna told PEOPLE in 2016 of the early days of their relationship.
Opening up then about making their marriage work, Joanna revealed that after over a decade together, the pair still make sure to prioritize their relationship.
“Chip and I have a standing date night once a week,” Joanna said in the 2018 summer issue of their Magnolia Journal magazine. “We usually choose to stay close to home and rotate through our favorite dinner spots.”
This September, the couple spoke about their relationship at the INBOUND conference, noting that they weren’t always successful in the way the world sees them on-screen today.
“The four or five years before we did the show, when the housing crisis hit, things were so hard for us,” Joanna said during the conference’s closing session. “For years, every Friday we were saying, ‘Are we gonna make it?’”
“But we kept pressing through, even in those hard times,” Joanna told the crowd. “The value of what we learned in that is something I’d never want to do again, but I’d never not want that. The hard is what makes us appreciate this.”
“This is a very hard thing to do, to work together with someone you also have a relationship and a family with,” Chip told the audience. “But we’re this odd yin and yang, this whole opposites attract. It really was this powerful chemistry that happened early in our marriage. We enjoyed spending time together, taking on challenges together.”
Chip then went on to reveal “our secret ingredient to our marriage and working relationship is a solid mutual respect.”
“It’s not perfect,” he said. “A lot of hard work goes into this, but if you can get to a mutual place of respect, you can change the world.”
PEOPLE’s first-ever Kindness Issue is dedicated to highlighting the ways, big and small, that kindness can make a difference and change lives. Click here and pick up the issue, on stands Friday, Nov. 8, for more stories on the impact of kindness from Julia Roberts, Tiffany Haddish and other stars, as well as everyday people practicing kindness in their communities.