Sometimes when you know, you know!
So, how did they meet?
A lot of the times, the way to Mr. Right is straight through a Mr. Wrong. The two met on a spiritual retreat run by Johnson himself—he has served as a pro sports chaplain working with teams like the Arizona Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the L.A. Dodgers while also running a nonprofit serving urban youth and their families with spiritual retreats called Elevate International.
After breaking up with a cheating boyfriend, Williams decided that she should practice some self-care. Instead of sulking and drowning in negativity to cope with the breakup, she attended the Elevate International retreat to reconnect with herself and with God.
"I was in a horrible, dark place. I just needed to go somewhere where I could get a message of hope and restoration, rejuvenation — get connected to God."
Connecting with God led her right to Johnson, who was also having a rough time dating and had almost given up on the dating scene altogether. While on retreat, the two certainly seemed to hit it off, but Williams was determined to stay focused on her personal healing process. Plus, she was not trying to flirt with her pastor! Instead, they exchanged contact information and stayed in touch with one another.
A friend of Johnson's convinced him to pursue Williams, and he tried his best right until he thought he got curved! Johnson recalls:
"I tried to roll in with some mac daddy game — and I tried to flirt a little bit and said something like, 'How about you and I connect sometime?' And right away, she texted right back with one word and six question marks behind it: 'Connect??????' I thought she had dissed me. So I was embarrassed, and I didn't reach back out to her because I thought I'd ruined the friendship."
Johnson has got to be thankful that Williams pulled one of the most stealth, confident-in-myself, dating moves by sliding right into his Instagram DMs a week later. Interestingly enough, she replied to one of his Instastories in which he was on vacation with the 15- and 16-year-old nephews he has been helping to raise. And according to Johnson, "The rest is history!"
These two are leading by example by showing that making a solid connection as friends first is not only crucially important, but it's also a highly successful and great way to feel out another person before making any type of strong commitment, emotionally or physically.
Soon enough, social media convos led to late night FaceTime chats, and Johnson added:
"We spent almost three months without even seeing each other, just building a strong foundation on the phone and through FaceTime; it was really built on friendship and communication."
In true pop star fashion, their first date wasn't regular degular. Last July, the pair went of their first real date to a wedding in the Dominican Republic! That is when Johnson decided to really shoot his shot and revved it up to the next level. "I told her, 'I've been looking. I don't want to look anymore. I'm done. My search is over,'" Johnson recalled. There, they shared their first kiss and officially became a couple. Can anyone say first date goals?!
But Williams knew she wanted to continue to do things differently this time around, especially after all the bad luck and bad decisions she previously made in her dating life. Williams opened up by saying:
"I didn't even tell any people I was talking to Chad. I wanted to treat this relationship differently because obviously all my past relationships have failed. I didn't want to talk about another relationship that possibly wasn't gonna go anywhere."
Ladies, I am taking notes! Are you?
And one of the best parts about this pairing is that despite Williams' super-stardom, Johnson makes her feel comfortable enough to just be herself, even if it's a little ratchet.
"What kept drawing me and drawing me at first was I felt like I could be myself. My first name is Tenitra; my middle name is Michelle. I felt like I could be Tenitra: just ratchet, I didn't have to have on any makeup, if I had to have on my hair bonnet — he just made me feel very safe in being myself."
If I can't wear my satin bonnet and watch a little Atlanta Housewives around you, what are we even doing?
But what some of us want to know about this undercover relationship is did he get the seal of approval from Beyoncé herself? Well, not only have they met, Johnson has also met Kelly Rowland, JAY-Z and even Momma Knowles. Ms Tina has said—in only the way she can say it—via an IG caption posted back in September, "This is my newest favorite couple. They are evenly Yoked. A fine young man. A gorgeous young lady inside and out." Consider Johnson part of the Carter family now, honey.
If you're not crying yet, the story of how he proposed will have you grabbing for the tissues! Like only someone of this generation might concoct, Johnson mixed a little of the old with the new and flew to Rockford, Illinois, Williams' hometown to formally ask for her hand in marriage. He involved her entire family and filmed the entire thing, too! On March 21, a year to the day after they officially began dating, Johnson coyly reminded Williams how she dissed him. The playful banter at a Pebble Beach, California hotel led to the ultimate proposal.
On Johnson's cue, the waiter brought over an iPad to the table, playing the video of Johnson asking her family for permission to propose. Of the moment, Williams ecstatically recalled:
"I started weeping and wailing when I see all these special people! Towards the end of the video, something in my head said, 'Pull yourself together! He's about to propose! Stop all this crying!'"
Just like something out of a fairytale, Johnson got down on one knee and proposed with a 5-carat stunner from L.A. jeweler Denis Mahgerefteh. According to People, the ring was special not only for its beauty and its symbolism, but because of what Johnson went through to give it to his bride-to-be.
For 11 years, the pro sports chaplain saved up for the engagement ring. After his 30th birthday, he made a commitment to establish a ring account, and for every month throughout those 11 years, he put $150 away, determined to save for the moment that he made things official with the woman who'd be the love of his life:
"Every month I'd put money into that account; I would just say, 'My wife's coming; this is for my wife.' I did that for 11 years."
Talk about speaking things into existence!
And for those of us still looking for our permanent plus one, the couple reminds us that patience and self-love are the ultimate keys that will manifest that one true love to making their way to us. Williams sums it up by saying, "Don't lose hope in love."
"I do think you should not focus so much that if you're not in love that you get depressed about it. I was in a place where I was like, 'I'm just going to focus on my career and my family and just keep it moving.' I started taking myself out; I started traveling by myself, to the point where I loved being by myself. Just don't lose hope. But definitely be doing what you can do to make yourself a better person for the person that possibly is on the way for the way for you."
Did we just get the secret code to finding our true love? Self-love enhanced by self-care and spirituality, check. Friendship first during the initial stages of dating/getting to know someone, doable. Keeping your relationship on the low AND off of social media while making sure that person is actually going to stick around, got it. Once fully vetted, then bring them around those special people in your life for the final approval, bam!
Congratulations, Michelle and Chad! May your union be blessed with love and laughter!
For the full exclusive with People magazine, click here.
Featured image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com