steve & marjorie harvey (essence cover)*There’s no question that Steve and Marjorie Harvey have a solid marriage.

But according to Steve, the union was almost torn apart over a past debt.

Speaking with Essence magazine, Steve Harvey revealed he had a $20 million tax lien, which complicated the start of his new life with Marjorie.

“According to Steve, no sooner had they been married than he learned his accountant had died, leaving seven years’ worth of Steve’s tax returns unfiled,” according to Essence. “Tax payment checks made out by Steve were attached to the returns, but had not been mailed out, evidently, for years…the same year the Harveys vowed to stay together “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,” Steve Harvey was hit with a staggering $20 million tax bill…”

The tax lien was obviously an unexpected complication. So much that Harvey sought advice from close friends on whether or not to inform Marjorie.

‘No one has ever even heard this story,’ he says quietly. His confidants at the time all advised him not to tell Marjorie. ‘She’ll leave you,’ they said,” Harvey told Essence. “This is the happiest we’ve ever seen you,’ they had told him after he married Marjorie, ‘but nobody is going to stick around with this kind of mess.’ Of course, Steve told her. ‘I said, ‘If this woman leaves me over this, I will be the most surprised man on planet Earth.’ “ Marjorie stayed…”

For more of Essence’s interview with Steve and Marjorie Harvey, check out the February 2014 issue of Essence magazine, which is currently on newsstands.