Inside Niecy Nash's Relationship With Her Wife

In August 2020, actress, comedian, and television host Niecy Nash took to Instagram to reveal her marriage to singer and musician Jessica Betts. Their union came as a shock to Nash's fans, partially because Nash and Betts' relationship had been kept under wraps before this moment and partially because Nash had publicly only ever been romantically involved with men.


In 1994, the "Dahmer" actress married her first husband, Reverend Don Nash, and the two were together for 13 years before divorcing in 2007, according to Entertainment Tonight. In 2011, Nash married an electrical engineer, Jay Tucker, but in March of 2020, she announced on Instagram that they'd filed for divorce. In a speech she gave at Essence's 2020 Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon, Nash acknowledged the split, saying, "The untethering from my family's beliefs, the internet's expectations, and my marriage ending caused me so much pain. But what about my happiness?" (via People).

Now, Nash and her "hersband," as she calls Betts, are living their best lives together, and it seems like Nash has never been happier. "This is, by far, the greatest love of my life," she said of Betts on "Today." "And part of that is because, for me, it's the first time that I feel fully seen." 


Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts started out as friends

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts first talked in 2015, when Nash stumbled upon Betts' music on social media and gave her a follow, according to Essence. At the time, Nash was married to Jay Tucker, and Betts was also in a long-term relationship. Their romance was in no way an immediate one, and when Betts messaged Nash for the first time, it was actually more of a request for support in promoting her music than it was an attempt at flirting. The two began regularly talking and quickly became friends, but they didn't actually meet until four and a half years later, in 2019.


In fact, as was reported in Essence, the two shared such a platonic relationship that the very first time they hung out was before a date that Betts had planned with another woman. It wasn't until the next time they hung out that any sparks were felt or expressed between Nash and Betts.

"I've never had a friendship that turned into a relationship," Nash shared on NBC's "Today." "So I know that there is great added value to having friendship as the foundation."

A dinner as friends became something more

Even though there wasn't an immediate love connection between Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts, it only took them meeting in person twice for a romance to blossom.

Nash and Betts went out to dinner, just as friends, in 2019, and this is when Nash realized that the way she felt for Betts went deeper than friendship alone, according to Essence. The dinner wasn't supposed to be anything special — in fact, Betts showed up later than planned and Nash was already enjoying some Cajun crab by the time she got there. Despite this, over some Whispering Angel rosé, a romantic vibe developed between the two, and Nash later admitted that she did not want the night to end.


"I was nervous at dinner, because I felt something. I could not wrap my head around it. I was trying to see if I was off, 'cause I wanted to keep the night going. And the night turned into the rest of my life," she explained. After dinner, Nash invited Betts back to her house for a movie, and the two shared an intimate kiss for the first time (via The Advocate).

Despite this, Nash ended up ghosting Betts the next day. "Not only was it challenging for me to realize I'm having feelings for a woman that I've normally had for a man but it was compounded by the fact that this is my friend," Nash recalled of the experience when speaking to Essence. Eventually, she came around to this new chapter of her relationship with Betts after realizing that she couldn't imagine life without her.


Their relationship was a secret for a year

After Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts acted on their feelings for one another in 2019, they entered a relationship that was kept from the general public until they got married a year later. As Nash reported to The Advocate, this time period was extremely difficult and distressing for both her and Betts. "When we first started dating, when no one knew, she would just cry," Betts said. "She would cry because it was almost as if she was not able to show her love. And we had to tell each other we loved each other in secret."


Despite her close family and friends knowing about her and Betts' relationship, Nash not being able to express her love for her girlfriend nearly broke her. One day while the couple was grocery shopping, Betts heard Nash cry out from a different aisle. Betts asked her what was wrong, to which Nash responded, "I just want to hold your hand in the grocery store."

"So it wasn't as much about me coming out as much as it was about me coming into myself, owning that I allowed myself to not only feel what I felt but then to do something about what I felt," Nash explained of her growth and thought process during this era of her and Betts' relationship. "And then to love her enough — and myself enough — to be able to share our truth with the world."


The couple proposed to each other on the same day

In an exclusive interview with People in September 2020, Niecy Nash detailed the intimate, humorous specifics of the day she and Jessica Betts became engaged.

"You know how you have those days where your significant other can just do things that drive you crazy? I feel like I was driving [Jessica] crazy all day," Nash began. If anything, things were tense between her and Betts, so Nash was surprised when her girlfriend followed her upstairs at the end of the day. "You know what? You've been getting on my nerves all day. But if anybody is going to get on my nerves, I want it to be you," Betts said to Nash. "You are absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me. Marry me, Cora." Betts created this nickname for Nash, a play off of Nash's legal name, Carol.


Nash, of course, said yes and accepted the ring. Apparently, Betts had questions about next steps – lots of questions. "'Well, what happens now? When do I get a ring? What do we do next? I don't know how all this goes. I've never been married before,'" Betts said to her new fiancée. Taking charge, Nash went upstairs and retrieved a ring that she'd already purchased for Betts. "And then I asked her to marry me," Nash revealed. "So we both proposed to each other the same night, which is weird but fun."

The couple's wedding came as a shock to fans

On August 29, 2020, Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts tied the knot, but they didn't share the news with fans until two days later, when they both shared a picture from the wedding on Instagram. The two married before 24 close friends and family members at their home in Ventura County, California. Event planner William P. Miller organized the event, and celebrity chef Will Jones catered the reception, which People reported was full of dancing.


After keeping their relationship a secret for an entire year, Nash and Betts were eager to finally "love ... out loud," as Nash put in The Advocate. The two devised a plan to make their relationship public finally — Nash would change her number, post a photo of her and Betts' wedding ceremony, and turn her phone on airplane mode as the newlyweds flew to Mexico for their honeymoon. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. Nash's passport had expired, so the newlyweds' destination became Santa Barbara instead, Essence reported. Because they wouldn't be able to escape phone service, Nash and Betts had to post their pictures and cross their fingers while they anticipated a reaction.

"A lot of people thought it was like a movie or some promo," Nash said of the reaction to her post. "They started calling everybody, and we were like, 'This is insane.' I never knew why where you lay your head is such a big deal to other people. I was like, 'People care?'"


Niecy Nash believes Jessica Betts is her soulmate

As she told Jada Pinkett-Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and Willow Smith on a 2021 episode of Red Table Talk, Niecy Nash feels that her wife Jessica Betts is her soulmate. "I met the most beautiful soul I had ever met in my entire life. And after spending time together, I was like, 'Oh honey, this fits me like an old pair of jeans I've had in my closet my whole life,'" Nash shared. "I felt like I was in a situation with my soulmate."


This declaration doesn't mean that Nash's past relationships were unhappy or should be deemed any less valuable than they once were. "It wasn't like I was living a lie. I loved the people who I loved when I was with them. ... I wasn't living a lie," Nash told The Advocate.

Similarly, in a People cover story, Nash said, "I love who I love. At one point in my life, I married twice and I love those people. And today I love this person."

Niecy Nash's children were surprised but accepting of their mom's relationship

While on "Red Table Talk," Niecy Nash was asked how her children initially reacted to and felt about her romantic relationship with Jessica Betts. According to Nash, her daughters, Dia and Donielle, were especially shocked but accepting."[Dia] made me watch a show, all about what are all the labels, all the names, and after it was over, my head was spinning," Nash told Tamron Hall (via BET). "I was like, 'Girl, I'm more confused now than I was before this. ... If I have to coin it in the moment, I would say I'm Jess-sexual." Nash's son Dominic had a less intense response, but he was still surprised by his mother's confession.


"My children were able to meet Jessica before they knew we were dating, so they were able to meet her and form their own opinion about her as a person. And they all were like, 'Oh my god, she's so cool! Oh my god, I like her!'" Nash shared on "Red Table Talk." "They were exchanging numbers and all this and that, so they already liked her."

All three of Nash's children are shared with her first husband, Reverend Don Nash, who is still very much so involved in Nash and her children's lives. In a 2020 interview with SheKnows, Nash shared that she spends holidays with Don, their children, and Betts. "Everyone will stay in their pajamas and we will celebrate and love on one another as best we can," she further explained.


Niecy Nash's mother took a bit longer to warm up

While Niecy Nash's children pretty much immediately supported her romance with Jessica Betts, Nash's mother, Margaret Ensley, took a bit longer to come around to the idea of her daughter being in a relationship with a woman, Nash shared on "Red Table Talk."


"I have never doubted for one second that my mother loves me," Nash clarified on the show. "I felt like her fear was, 'How will you be received? How will I be perceived?'" Nash explained that her mother being from an older generation was likely a contributor to this thought process and that she comes from many generations of women who felt they needed a man no matter what. Because of this, and her devotion to the church, Nash's mother had an especially difficult time detaching herself from this idea.

It turns out, though, Nash's grandmother (Engley's mother) actually played a major role in helping Engley come to her senses about her daughter's relationship with Betts. As Nash shared in the episode, her grandmother called Engley right after meeting Betts and said, "Leave them kids alone. Let that girl go on and be happy. If you want anything for your children, above all else, you should want them to be happy."


There's quite an age gap between Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts' relationship came as a shock for a number of reasons — one being that there is a 12-year age gap separating the two. Nash was born in February 1970, while her wife, Betts, was born in June 1982. While Nash hasn't directly spoken about the difference in age between her and her wife, she told Essence, "I'm not limiting myself on what that love is supposed to look like."


While the couple's age difference isn't as large as those in some other celebrity relationships, it is the biggest age difference that Nash has ever had in a marriage. Nash's first husband, Don Nash, was born in 1969 and her second husband, Jay Tucker, was born in 1970. All in all, Nash has been very close in age to her previous spouses, and this appears to be her first time straying from that constant.

The Reno 911 actress took Jessica Betts' last name

After the two got married, Niecy Nash took her wife's last name, making her Carol Denise Betts, as was reported by Essence. Despite this, Nash's professional name remains the same (Niecy Nash). Before she got together with Betts, Nash had taken her first husband's (Don Nash) last name, according to The Advocate, which she didn't change back to her maiden name after they got divorced back in 2007.


Nash announced that she'd decided to take Betts' last name in the Instagram post that she shared after the two wed in August 2020. "Mrs. Carol Denise Betts," Nash captioned the photo, which shows the couple walking down the aisle after officially becoming wife and wife.

"I've got my feet up, I'm looking at the ocean and I've got the greatest love of my life in my peripheral," Nash told People after the wedding. "I couldn't be happier."

Niecy Nash hasn't labeled her sexuality

In 2022, Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts made history as first same-sex couple ever to grace the cover of Essence magazine (via NPR). "Making H E R S T O R Y," Nash captioned an Instagram photo of the magazine's cover. Nevertheless, Nash told the magazine, "The least of my attraction is gender."


After Niecy Nash revealed that she'd gotten married to Jessica Betts back in August 2020, she faced many questions about her sexuality. Before dating Betts, Nash had not only ever been in relationships with men, but she'd also never even found herself attracted to women, the star admitted in an interview with "Red Table Talk."

"I was not suppressing my sexuality my whole life," she revealed to People in September 2020. "I've done everything I wanted to do on my own terms and my own way. So my choice now in a partner has nothing to do with who I've always been. It's a matter of who I am in this moment."

Similarly, Nash further told Essence, "What I was and am still attracted to is Jessica's soul. She was the most beautiful soul I had ever met in my life. Now that I've experienced it, I can't imagine going through life without it." Congratulations, Nash! We can only dream of experiencing love as pure as this!