Happy Anniversary: Selena Quintanilla and Chris Pérez’s Love Story and What Almost Drove Them To Divorce

Today, April 2, would have been Tejano superstar, Selena Quintanilla, and her husband Chris Perez’s 28th wedding anniversary. Quintanilla was tragically killed just days before celebrating her three-year anniversary to Perez.

Though it’s been difficult, Perez has worked hard to help keep Quintanilla’s legacy alive and often gives her fans an inside look into who his wife was through photos and stories on his social media. In honor of their love story, here’s a look back on Quintanilla and Perez’s whirlwind romance. 

Selena Quintanilla and Chris Perez were close friends before they fell in love

Perez joined Quintanilla’s band as a guitarist in 1990. When speaking to Entertainment Tonight in 2018 about the early days of their relationship, Perez says he was enamored with Quintanilla at first sight. “[She was] Beautiful and talented,” he gushed. “I’m a shy person by nature, and there was just something about her that she was able to pull me out.”

Quintanilla described her relationship with Perez as just a friendship in the beginning that eventually blossomed into romance. The two had opposite personalities: Perez was quiet and reserved and Quintanilla was outgoing. Their differences is what Quintanilla loved the most.

Perez revealed that he knew he was falling in love with Quintanilla when they were traveling back from a gig. “We were sitting next to each other and we hit some turbulence. Next thing I know, she was holding my hand and that was the beginning of everything.”

Selena Quintanilla’s father was against her relationship with Chris Perez and had harsh words for him

Quintanilla grew up under strict rules laid out by her father, Abraham, who was also her manager. The singer kept her relationship from her father because she knew he would not be a fan. 

Besides being overprotective, Abraham was fiercely protective of Selena’s brand and wanted her to remain focused on her music career. Anything that he felt would take her attention away from performing was a no, including dating. Abraham went crazy when she discovered Perez and his daughter was dating.

“I think the main reason for that was it kind of hurt his pride and his ego to find out that he was the last to know and when things got tense and things were said by him,” Perez said of Abraham to CNN. “It hurt me that he was saying it but I didn’t let it get to me because I knew deep down he knew the kind of person I was…The worst thing he said to me was that I was like a cancer to his family. His family knew about us being together and was supportive; when he said that it was like, ‘C’mon!’

The day Selena Quintanilla and Chris Perez eloped

Abraham forbid Perez from seeing his daughter but their relationship continued. Hopelessly in love and out fear that Abraham would never accept her relationship with Perez, the two eloped on April 2, 1992. Quintanilla was 20-years-old – Perez was 22.

Perez shared an image of their marriage certificate for the first time on what would have been their 25th anniversary.

“It’s hard to believe that today marks 25 years since Selena and I decided that the only way to be together…was to run away and get married (at 20 and 22 years old) in secret,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “What a rollercoaster ride THAT day was.”

Chris Perez revealed in his book that he and Selena Quintanilla once contemplated divorce

Though the film painted a fairytale romance between Perez and Quintanilla, Perez admitted in his book – To Selena, With Love – that working together and not having much separation between their personal and professional lives caused problems in their marriage.

“We were married and together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We had to learn how to handle that and that was both of us. It’s not like she brought up the idea and I was fighting it because honestly, I was right there with her. We communicated with each other and when that came out on the table it wasn’t like I hadn’t thought of it myself. The more we talked about it and the more time went on, it wasn’t a long time, maybe a month, we ended up patching things up and making a promise that we would never let that happen again.”

Perez told CNN that Quintanilla’s brother, A.B., was the one who helped the two reconcile. According to Perez, A.B. told Quintanilla that if Perez moved on with another woman, it would crush her. The idea was enough for Quintanilla and Perez to get things back on track. 

Perez was devastated by his wife’s death and admitted that he was “numb” for years after. He later remarried, had two children, and eventually divorced. After writing his book in Quintanilla’s honor, he said it helped him heal. 

His relationship with Quintanilla’s family hit a rough patch in 2017 when Abraham sued him to block him from creating a television series out of his book. He also says the family gave him a hard time when he attended Quintanilla’s induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Still, Perez refuses to speak ill of his former in-laws. 

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