Traditionally, Hollywood relationships get a bad rap and this year’s slew of gut-wrenching celebrity splits haven’t exactly done much to help. But for every headline-making breakup, there are dozens of other celebrity couples out there who are making it work, and using the spotlight to show the rest of us how it’s done.
Take, for example, Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn, who fell in love on the set of Swing Shift 35 years ago and have been together ever since. Or Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who have proven that love can endure despite its ups and downs. Or John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, who show us daily on social media (and every once in a while, via chart-topping songs) what #relationshipgoals really look like.
These couples—and many, many more—have shown us that the rom-com worthy onscreen love that most of us dream about is possible IRL. Read on as they share their best marriage advice, and spill their secrets for how its done.
"You have to talk about all the issues that arise, even the smallest things,” the three-time Academy Award winner told New Zealand Women's Weekly of the key to her 30-year marriage to Don Gummer. "You have to listen to your partner's problems, suggestions, and advice, and accept that you're not always right. Conversation is the key to a successful marriage."
"You can't expect it to be easy," Will said after 20 years of marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith. "It's like our marriage was the most difficult, grueling, excruciating thing that we have ever taken on in our lives. And you know, we're just not quitters. If there is a secret, I would say it's that we never went into working in our relationship. We only ever worked on ourselves individually, and then presented ourselves to one another better than we were previously... Really, at the end of the day, it's just not quitting."
Jada Pinkett Smith
Will isn't the only one in the relationship doling out marriage advice. "A wise man shared with me yesterday one word responsible for his 24 years of marriage. You know what that word was...forgiveness," she wrote on Instagram. Wise, indeed.
Freddie Prinze Jr
“We treat each other with respect, we didn’t just get married because we thought the other was young and hot. I think that sort of crushes relationships a lot. We don’t feel fortunate as much as we feel disciplined in the work. Sacrifice is something that’s required in marriage,” the '90s dreamboat told Us Weekly in a 2016 interview. “It’s fun being single, right? You can be selfish. When I was single making movies, I would travel all over the world and I didn’t have to think about anybody else’s feelings. Just my career. So if you’re in that mode, selfishness isn’t bad, it’s good. It’s how careers get made. But marriages require a step back from that and a bit of a sacrifice, and our sacrifice I think is maybe the biggest thing that’s made our marriage work.”
“I try really, really hard. I try hardest to be the best mother,” the former Spice Girl said at the 2018 Forbes Women's Summit. “I am trying to be the best wife and the best professional. When I get home I try to put the phone down and spend time with the children and spend time with David.” After 19 years together, she's grateful to have found a true partner in David Beckham. “I have the support of an incredible husband. We really are equal with everything we do at home with the children,” she said. “When I’m away he’s the one doing the school run and doing the cooking.”
“[Swizz and I] like surprising each other and going on secret weekend dates,” the 15-time Grammy Award winner told People in 2017 of how she keeps the love alive with her husband, rapper Swizz Beats. "One of us plans it and the other has no idea where we are going." Not only does it give them time away from everything else, but it also allows for their relationship to grow. "We've found some undiscovered gems and moments to take hikes or walks or just discover new things about life and each other. Those are my favorite times.”
As far as "iconic couples of our time" go, Bey and Jay may just hold the top spot—and for good reason. "I was independent before I met my husband, and we have such a natural chemistry and a genuine relationship, and it's based on the things that relationships are supposed to be based on," Beyoncé told GQ. "I've seen, growing up, when a woman or a man in a relationship—it doesn't matter which one—doesn't feel confident, they feel a bit trapped. Your self-worth is determined by you. You don't have to depend on someone telling you who you are.”
Jessie James Decker
“I think women sometimes stop flirting with their husbands and you can’t," says singer Jessie James Decker, who shares two children with her husband of five years, Eric Decker. "Men want to want feel good—they want to feel like their women love them. When they come home from work, don’t start nagging them with questions. Go up to them and give them a big kiss and ask them how their day was.”
“When we got married, Portia’s line was, ‘It’s good to be loved, it’s profound to be understood,’ and she understands me because that is the best gift anyone could have ever given me,” the talkshow host said of her wife of 10 years, Portia de Rossi, who she has also called her "best friend."
Neil Patrick Harris
No, NPH's marriage advice is not, "suit up" (though we've gotta admit that's pretty good advice every once in a while, too). "In our relationship, communication is super important," he says of husband actor David Burtka. "Good friends of ours said, 'You need to talk it out,' and if that means raising your voice, you need to raise your voice. Know what you're talking about. Know where you're standing as opposed to letting stuff build up, I guess,” he told Entertainment Tonight.
The Biel-Timberlake's secret to happiness? “Communication, communication, communication,” Biel told People in 2018. “The ability to be really honest about how you’re feeling and what your needs are. Just be able to communicate really honestly with your partner. That’s worked for us so far. I would never want to speak on anyone else’s relationship, but that’s what we do.”
And a tip from Timberlake? Never stop dating. "That's always my rule, even when you get married you have to keep dating... It's just the difference comes when you have kids you have to actually schedule the date," the singer says. "So when you say you're going out at 6:30pm, you need to go out at 6:30pm."
How do John and Chrissy Teigen manage to stay so in love all the time? "You just have to make time for each other, go on little trips like we did for her birthday and go to dinner just the two of you sometimes," Legend said in 2016. "You still have to have romance time."
According to Teigen, a little bit of space helps, too. "Travel away from each other a lot—that helps," she said in the same interview. "We're not together 365. It's nice to be able to really be like, 'Oh my gosh, I miss you. I miss you so much.' That works for both of us."
“Love, gratitude, compassion, because sometimes every man or every woman will drive their partner crazy. Family. Fun. Laughs. Sex,” Goldie Hawn says of her 35-year romance with Kurt Russell. “If you don’t nurture that, and remember, you’re done.”
“Keep the lines of communication open. We hear that all the time, but it’s really important that whenever you have something to say, that you feel a certain way, that you share it and don’t let it fester," says the boxing champ, who has been married to football player Curtis Conway since 2007. “Make sure you have someone that, as you change and you grow and you start a family, that it’s the right person for all of those things."
Earlier this year, Kristen Bell (who's been married to Dax Shepard since 2013) took to Instagram to share some marriage advice to her newly wedded friends. "Vulnerability always begets connection and intimacy. Stay vulnerable with each other. in 10 years, when the dopamine has waned, remember: Life is a crazy ride. It’s a privilege to go through it wit ha partner. Take necessary separateness. It will make your marriage better. Loving someone despite their faults, failings or other character defects is the most powerful loving thing you can do. Rejoice in what makes the other person happy, and allow them their individual interests. Know that everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. So get a bigger emotional toolbox to fix your problems."
“She always responds with empathy," Reynolds told Vanity Fair of his picture-perfect romance with Blake Lively "She meets anger with empathy. She meets hate with empathy. She’ll take the time to imagine what happened to a person when they were five or six years old. And she’s made me a more empathetic person.”
Sarah Jessica Parker
While Carrie Bradshaw's onscreen romances were usually up and down, Sarah Jessica Parker's real life relationship with Matthew Broderick has held steadfast for over two decades. "I know this sounds nuts, but we have lives that allow us to be away and come back together,” Parker said on Girlboss radio in 2018. “His work life takes him here, and mine takes me there. In some ways, I think that that’s been enormously beneficial because we have so much to share in a way.”
She continued, “Relationships are hard. I always felt that I wanted to invest more. I love him, and I think he’s brilliant. I’m sure I annoy him. He annoys me sometimes. I’m enormously proud of the person he is. I think the longer you can last, the more invested you just are.”
"People say, 'Jeez, it must be hard to stay married in show business,'" Hanks, who's been married to Rita Wilson since 1988, said in 2016. "I think it's hard to stay married anywhere, but if you marry the right person, it might work out. We give each other a natural sense of support for whatever the other wants to pursue. Our marriage doesn't require vast work. We have been married 28 years and dig each other a lot.”