There’s no shortage of iconic couples in Hollywood these days: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi… Tons of celebrity couples are devoted to each other, aren’t afraid to show it or talk about it and — bonus — look downright adorable doing it. That said, in our opinion, there may be no couple right now that is as adorable or relatable as hilarious and candid celeb couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.
The two actors met through mutual friends in 2007 and started dating just a few months later. Since then, they seem to be inseparable, making hilarious music videos, cheering each other on and raising their two daughters, Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3.
But while Bell and Shepard are the epitome of #RelationshipGoals, neither of them are afraid to admit that marriage takes a lot of work from both sides. In honor of their fifth wedding anniversary, here’s a roundup of some seriously sage advice they’ve given us about what makes their relationship work.
Love Is a Choice, Even When It’s Hard
In early 2016, Shepard uploaded a video to YouTube that quickly went viral. The video, which currently has over 8 million hits, showed the couple exploring on safari and dancing together to the tune of Toto's “Africa.” Despite the hilarity, Bell took time to point out in an interview with Bustle that marriage doesn't always mean frolicking through the wilderness of life.
“We make funny videos like 'Africa'… but we also go to couples therapy because we disagree on 99.9 percent of issues,” she said. “There are days when I'm completely sick of him, and there are days when he is completely sick of me. But we've chosen to love one another and to be a team.”
Take Care of Yourselves as Individuals
In an Instagram post on Valentine's Day 2018, Bell got a request from a fan who asked for marriage advice on behalf of his soon-to-be-married friend — and boy, did she deliver, posting a handwritten note with six paragraphs of relationship advice. In it, Bell stressed that couples need time apart as much as time together. “Take necessary separateness,” she wrote. “It will make your marriage stronger.”
Do the Work to Make It Work
In an interview with People, Shepard revealed that although his relationship might look perfect from the outside, it's definitely “not effortless.” He continued, “Relationships aren't just perfect. We do couples therapy, and we work at it like a job.” In addition, Shepard credited them both making “fierce moral inventories” with helping to sustain their strong marriage.
Always Remember to Make Time For fach Other
When it comes to building their relationship, Shepard and Bell don't just make time for each other — they schedule it. “If I say, 'Hey, what are you doing Thursday?' [Quality time is] never going to happen. But if I put something on the calendar… it works out,” Shepard said in an interview with People magazine. “You have to take [the relationship] as seriously as you take your work commitments. It has to be scheduled and you have to prioritize it or it doesn't happen.”
If You Fight, Then Fight Fair
Bell used to pride herself on winning arguments. But a few months into her relationship with Shepard, she realized that her talent for winning arguments would soon destroy her relationship. “I'd yell something, slam the bedroom door, slam the front door, skid out of the driveway and sit in the corner in my car,” Bell revealed in an interview on HarryTV. “[Shepard] put his foot down and said, 'You can't leave anymore during fights. I love you, but I have more respect for myself.' I had to compromise… And now we fight beautifully.”
Small Acts of Love Are as Meaningful as Big Ones
In an interview with Men's Health, Bell revealed that it's small, meaningful gestures that she appreciates the most from her husband. On their wedding day, for example, Shepard surprised her with a playlist of her favorite songs on the ride over to the courthouse. “That, to me, was better than any big, fancy wedding,” Bell said. “It's never about flowers and chocolate. The creative stuff is what keeps me interested and on my toes.”
It’s OK to Ask for Help
Although Shepard and Bell look completely in love on the red carpet, neither of them is shy about revealing stints in couples counseling to help them work through their problems. “Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about,” Bell said in an interview with Good Housekeeping. “There may be something that really hurt your feelings that you're scared to bring up. Go talk about it with a therapist who can mediate. You'll walk out of the room feeling like you're [on the same] team.”
Don’t Let the Bad Feelings Between You & Your Partner Hang Around
In an interview with Good Housekeeping, Shepard said what he believes endangers relationships the most: "I read Blink, the Malcolm Gladwell book, and there's a chapter about this University of Washington researcher who interviews couples. His conclusion is that if you have contempt for your partner, it's done — you might as well get a divorce attorney. I said to Kristen, 'We should try hard to police ourselves about becoming contemptuous of each other. If I ever see you roll your eyes at me, we need to hit pause and figure out what's going on.'"
Don’t Feel Like You Have to Be a Picture-Perfect Couple
Think a lasting relationship is made up of two perfect people with no weird issues? Think again. "We have a perfect relationship because we both aren't afraid to admit that we're not perfect," Bell said in an interview with Men's Health. "Once you can admit that you're not perfect and you mess up all the time, it's so incredibly freeing."
Don’t Try to Change the Other Person
Shepard isn't a doctor, but he plays one on TV. Every so often, he makes an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in a segment jokingly titled “Ask Dr. Dax” and doles out relationship advice to the audience. On a recent episode, when an audience member asked how to make his wife ditch an annoying habit (leaving cabinet doors open), Shepard stressed that we can only control ourselves, not the other person in the relationship, no matter how annoying it is. "At a certain point, you have to realize, 'OK, I'm a variable in this equation. Kristen is a variable in this equation. Which one can I change?' I can't change her — that's not going to happen. So that means I have to just shut those cabinets and deal with it," he said.
Make Goals You Can Achieve as a Couple
It's not often that a couple gets to work together for a living, but Bell has shared that she loves the experience and that it's actually brought the two closer together. “We love it. It’s wonderful because we get to spend time together, which is lovely, but it’s also rare that in a relationship, both people have the exact same goal,” she said. “When you do a movie together or an ad campaign… you have the exact same goal of making it great. It's actually fun to have a shared goal.”
If You Have Kids, Make Sure to Set a Good Example
For Bell, having a healthy marriage isn't just important for herself and her husband — it's crucial for their two daughters as well. Modeling a functional adult relationship, she said, is how their girls will learn to solve problems when they get older: “[After a fight] I'll say, 'Hey, you know what, Dad, I’m really sorry I was so frustrated yesterday when you were bringing in the groceries. I could have had a nicer tone in my voice.’ And he would say, ‘Thanks for saying that, Mom, I know you were stressed.’ And we let our kids see how to solve conflict.”
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