Ne-Yo credits the COVID-19 pandemic with saving his marriage, the Grammy-winning singer revealed to Essence. Speaking with the outlet on Monday (Jan. 17), Ne-Yo said quarantining with his wife Crystal Smith strengthened their bond.

“What the quarantine did was kind of force us to sit down and have these really uncomfortable discussions that we, honestly, would not have had otherwise,” he explained. “We would’ve never had the patience to sit in each other’s face and really just talk about what we don’t like about each other. If I’ve got an excuse to be gone, I’m gone, just to avoid the conflict.”

Ne-Yo and Smith filed for divorce in February of 2020, just before the Coronavirus caused nation-wide shutdowns and quarantining. At the time, the artist said on the “Private Talk With Alexis Texas” podcast, “We realize that our demons don’t mesh and until both of us get ahold of our personal demons, it’s gonna be just difficult for us to stay married.”

However, later that same year, the couple reconciled and in June of 2021 they welcomed their third child together.

“[The pandemic] made us face the conflict head on and what that did is basically strengthen us because now, I don’t have to pull punches when I talk to you. You know exactly where I stand,” he told Essence. “I know exactly where you stand and through that we’ve decided to keep going and it’s a more genuine feel to what it is we’re doing now.”

Ne-Yo recently released his new song “Stay Down,” which he said was partially inspired by Smith.

“The song is about the multiple people in my life that I know are going to stay down with me,” he explained. “That becomes very, very important at a certain point in your career and at a certain age.”