Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness are the unicorns of Hollywood couples, defying the odds with their 21-year (and counting) marriage. So what’s their secret?
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Jackman gave us a glimpse into their decades-long union during an interview with Today, chalking it up to three strict rules that both lovebirds live by.
“Deb was in the business before me and made some rules,” the “Greatest Showman” star says of his actress-producer wife. “We are not going to spend more than two weeks apart, and we are not going to work at the same time if we don’t have to financially. So one of us is always there to support the other. And we have maintained that for, well, next month is 22 years.”
And the third rule for “Debugh” (are we doing this couple’s-name-mashup thing right?) is that Jackman and Furness make time for adventures by traveling and experiencing the world together. Um, can they adopt us, please?
Furness and Jackman’s first sacred rule of not spending more than two weeks apart is a piece of cake for people who live together in the same place. But for long-distance couples or couples with one or both partners traveling a lot, this tip becomes crucial. Roni Beth Tower, Ph.D., ABPP, a retired clinical, research and academic psychologist, writes for Psychology Today that, while you can’t always be physically close to your partner, you can identify and foster other kinds of “closeness.” These include mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual closeness. So sweet.
“Try sharing a book or movie or solving a puzzle together (mental), reacting to the events of your days or those coming up in the future (emotional), discussing current events in your respective locations (cultural) or sharing the seemingly strange synchronistic things that happen to each of you during the course of the time when you are apart, permitting opportunities for gratitude, generosity and making the world a better place (spiritual),” she writes.
And, OK, we recognize that the couple’s second tip, which dictates that only one of them will work at a time, isn’t exactly realistic for most people. But an important takeaway is that support is key to a healthy relationship. Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a New York City-based therapist who specializes in relationships, tells LIVESTRONG.COM that offering your support and undivided attention shows your partner that you care.
“Asking your partner how they are doing sometime without even sharing your own personal issues allows you to be completely available to them,” Hershenson says. “Listening to others’ problems and lending an ear is a good way to ‘get out of your head’ and let your partner know you are fully present to listen to them.”
As for their third and final rule: Doing fun things together and making awesome memories is kind of the point of being in a relationship with someone, right? Wellness counselor Anne Parker adds that it is “absolutely critical to keeping relationships alive.”
“There are many ways to share fun and laughter, and doing it on a regular basis is essential to support love and stability in any relationship,” Parker tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “Make sure that creating space and time for fun is at the top of your priority list.”
During the interview, Jackman also dropped some wisdom on when you’ll know that you’ve found “the one.” Hint: Sweatpants are probably involved.
“Until you feel that comfortable with your partner, you don’t really know if you’re right together,” he says. “So, literally, from day one, Deb and I had that feeling. It was like a relief. I could just be myself. I am not saying we don’t ever dress up or impress each other, but being comfortable is a key.” Fair enough. But who wouldn’t love Hugh Jackman in sweatpants?
In a previous interview with People, Furness and Jackman revealed another practice that keeps their marriage strong: meditation (because they just aren’t adorable enough already).
Jackman and Furness prove that even Hollywood romances are not always a fairy tale — they require commitment and work. But that’s easily worth it if you’ve found someone who will love the sweatpants version of you as much as they love the red-carpet version.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you and your partner established any rules to help keep your relationship strong? What are some aspects of your relationship that sometimes require a lot of effort? What’s one couple that keeps your belief in love alive? Share in the comments section!