It’s no secret marriage is a journey full of highs and lows, big successes and unforeseen obstacles. Add to this the unique set of pressures, like intense public scrutiny and time spent apart while filming, that come with a Hollywood marriage, and it feels like the deck might really be stacked against you.
However, in the case of William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman’s 20-year marriage, it seems they’ve nailed how to make marriage work for them, and luckily for us, they were happy to share why that is. While on the red carpet at the premiere for their new movie, Krystal, Us Weekly asked them about the secret to marriage. “I lucked out, I married Bill Macy. But that’s as far as I can go. I don’t know how you make a marriage work. I just got lucky. I have no idea,” said Huffman.
Macy echoed her sentiments, telling the outlet, “I’m the luckiest guy, I won the lottery. I love being married to Felicity. I love being married, I really like it. Although I have screwed it up before. I just got lucky. There’s no secret, I got lucky.”
Macy and Huffman have maybe one of the most admirable relationships in Hollywood. They met in the 1980s at the theater company they both belonged to in New York City and dated on and off for 15 years before marrying in 1997. Huffman was apparently hesitant to marry, fearing she’d lose her identity. “I was so scared of marriage that I thought I would’ve preferred to step in front of a bus,” she commented in a 2015 Trib Live interview. “Men’s stock when they get married goes up. Women’s stock goes down. Another thing, 60 percent of first marriages fail, 80 percent of second marriages fail. And if we applied that statistic to anything else like the post office or the military, we’d go, ‘This isn’t working.’ Whereas with marriage we just go, ‘See you all,’ like that (she waves her hand in the air).”
Macy proposed to his love several times, and it was only after a breakup Huffman finally found the courage to say yes. “I was finally smart enough to go: ‘I’m going to marry this guy or really lose him for good … when he asked me again, I knew I couldn’t say no. It was the work I had to do in order to bring myself to the marriage and then the work that I did to be able to trust another person and see what comes out of that comfort and that safety. I was able to blossom out of that.”
It feels like it’s more than just luck that has factored into the longevity of Huffman and Macy’s union. In fact, other key elements like trust have also seemed to play a major role. That trust is exactly what Caroline Madden, marriage therapist and author, says helps build the kind of strong relationship that can go the distance. “As a specialist in infidelity, I can tell you that trust is the most important thing in a marriage. It takes years to build and a second to break. But it’s more than just sexual fidelity. A spouse is trusted with so much: fears, vulnerabilities, painful wounds from childhood. In a good marriage, a spouse discloses these innermost thoughts and trusts that it won’t be used against them in future arguments.” Other experts also recommend intimacy, mutual respect, friendship and presence to build a healthy relationship.
Macy addressed the idea of respect with Us Weekly, saying, “She sees us. I’ll just speak for my two daughters and me. When Flicka [Macy’s nickname for Huffman] looks at us, she sees us, and that’s rare in this world. She’s 100% supportive. She can criticize them, but she’s got your back. You’ll never question it.”
The film the couple is currently promoting, Krystal, is a coming-of-age comedy directed by Macy in which he and Huffman play husband and wife (not too much of a stretch, right?). While working together might seem like it could stress a relationship, Huffman told Closer Weekly in 2017 that it makes her stronger. “You know how if you play a sport with someone who is better than you, your game will improve? It’s true with acting as well.”
One thing is evident from these two lovebirds: They spend a lot of time noticing and appreciating one another. They pay attention to the other person’s strengths and aren’t afraid to talk about what they enjoy in their partner. So they may call themselves lucky, but it’s obvious they’re both as hardworking in their marriage as they are in their very successful careers.