Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is well acquainted with success — and not only the kind that comes from winning a television trivia show. He has been married to his wife, Jean Currivan, for twenty-nine years, and like all marriages, Currivan tells People, the two have had their share of stresses and challenges. But Trebek has “a great sense of humor,” Currivan says, and “he takes his job very seriously, but won’t take himself too seriously.” That’s important: Research shows that laughter — particularly the ability to laugh at yourself — plays an important role in the happiness and development of a romantic partnership.
No matter how many years you’ve been with your partner, we can all learn from the advice of people, like Trebek and Currivan, whose relationships have endured joyfully — especially these six celeb couples, who have found ways to thrive together even amidst stressful periods.
Meryl Streep and Don Gummer are compassionately direct with one another
“You have to talk about all the issues that arise, even the smallest things,” Streep said to New Zealand Women’s Weekly, about her 41-year marriage. “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.”
Michelle and Barack Obama aren’t afraid to ask for help
“Marriage counseling for us was one of those ways where we learned how to talk out our differences. What I learned about myself was that my happiness was up to me. And I started working out more. I started asking for help, not just from him, but from other people. I stopped feeling guilty,” Michelle Obama says of their 27-year marriage. “I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there’s something wrong with them. And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it.”
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi make an effort to understand one another’s perspective
“In our vows, Portia recited a quote—’It is good to be loved. It is profound to be understood’—and to me, that’s everything. What ‘I love you’ really means is ‘I understand you,’ and she loves me for everything that I am,” DeGeneres says of their 11-year marriage. Often, making the effort to understand your partner’s perspective, especially when it differs from your own, can be useful to help you reframe how you’re thinking about a problem you’re facing together.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka raise issues right as they come up
“In our relationship, communication is super important,” Neil Patrick Harris says of his five-year marriage to 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.” Surfacing issues, rather than burying them, or pretending they don’t exist, can be key in avoiding long-term stress.