Let’s start this article by stating the obvious: Many of the people on this list are going to be older. Maybe not 60+ but they’re headed in that direction fast. You will also find some surprising younger names on the list, which shows you how hard it is to stay married and remain in the public eye. Many of these celebrities have managed to keep their personal lives under the radar of the media, which may be a big reason they remain married.
Couples who have lived together for a substantially long time and decided to marry later and same sex marriages – David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn, Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham – didn’t have much chance of making the list because the majority of them have been married less than 10 years. (We realize that same sex marriage didn’t become the law of the land until 2015, but we haven’t become a major political force – yet.) Also, marriages where one of the spouses has died are disqualified from the list.
The list is presented from the fewest number of years married to the greatest number. You are likely to be surprised at who tops the list, unless you are a regular listener of her music. Beware that a few celebrity couples on this list have been rumored to be separated or in the throes of a divorce. For the record, we ignored those rumors since we know that too often the media is just looking to get some unwarranted attention.
Finally, a list of the names of successful marriages can be found in many places. With this list, you will find the lessons you can apply to your own situation and learn from the voice of experience, reading the very words the celebrities say when asked about how their marriages lasted as long as they did.
20. Beyoncé and Jay Z – 11 years
There is an obvious reason this couple makes the list – their international popularity. You may think this is not a significant factor, but given the number of high profile singers and actors who advocate not getting married, Beyoncé and Jay Z provide a reasonable and often ignored alternative. They were married when she was 19 (he was 31) and have endured rumors of infidelity despite their attempts to keep their personal lives private. Beyoncé said, “We were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any dates.” This idea of “friends first” is a common piece of advice to young people today because you have to like talking to each other before getting involved with the challenges of marriage and children. Beyoncé added, “You have to find a person you can make it through the tough times with.”
19. Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar – 16 years
Freddie Prinze Jr. is the son of the late Freddie Prinze who took his own life at the age of 22. But that tragedy did not change his approach to life or marriage. In fact, this couple has managed to avoid the rumors and slander that accompany most Hollywood romances. When asked how he and Sarah kept their marriage intact, he gave an answer that summed up what life is all about: “We ended up being the perfect balance. But it didn’t happen until years after and there was a solid foundation built.” Anything that lasts will need a solid foundation, and when you build on that foundation it needs to rise in a way that it won’t tilt over the higher you go.
18. Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor – 18 years (technically still married)
While the couple have said they are separating and will likely divorce, as of this writing that step has not been taken. The rumors have the source of the problem as Ben, who has become increasingly difficult to work with and has recently joked about having bipolar disorder. If true, then the solution to the separation may simply be that Ben needs to into a treatment facility and get things worked out. If he takes that step, then he will have a support structure that will begin with his family. Marriage is the one social structure two people can depend on during the most difficult times. It should be noted that Ben affirmed his love for his wife and children in the joint statement.
17. David and Victoria Beckham – 18 years
So do you know who the former Victoria Beckham was? Yes, it was Posh Spice, born Victoria Caroline Adams in 1974. They first met at a soccer match in 1996 and were married in 1999. This year has been a particularly difficult one for the Beckham’s, as David seems to becoming less interested in his wife’s professional pursuits and more interested in keep the marriage together as part of his responsibility to his children. This is a traditional position, but one that has not worked out well in many marriages in the 21st century. One take away from their current problems is that people in a marriage will change over time, sometimes imperceptibly, but the little changes add up and soon you don’t know who you married.
16. Jessica Sklar and Jerry Seinfeld – 19 years
For those old enough to remember, Jerry Seinfeld was involved in a scandal that subjected him to a significant amount of public scorn. The year was 1993 and Seinfeld had met Shoshanna Lonstein, a stunning looking 17 year old high school student. Seinfeld was 39 at the time. The public pressure was too much for him to handle, so the relationship soon ended. Which begs the question of who would consider marrying him given his past history. Jessica Sklar is the answer, and she had been the subject of a scandalous situation herself that was noticed by the media. Today, she is 46 and he is 63, so the age gap between his socially accepted wife and the earlier scandal is not much different. The lesson here is that being a celebrity brings with it the necessity to live with cultural norms, otherwise you may find your private life becoming very public, which will destroy a potentially successful marriage.
15. Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy – 20 years
Macy’s continued excellent performance as Frank Gallagher on the Showtime series Shameless has been noticed by television critics, as he continues to go strong at age 67. When asked about how their marriage was able to last as long as it has, he said it was mostly luck, but then added, “I met her, she said yes … she’s a good woman to her core and evolving always. And no one has ever seen me the way she sees me.” This last part is often ignored in discussions about marriage and relationships. You need to be more vulnerable to your significant other than with anyone else so they can see you for who you are. After all, how can you be anyone else?
14. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith – 20 years
This is one of the more controversial marriages on the list because as Jada had said in an interview,”People have to be married in a way that works. As couples, we really do have to see what is best for us.” This comment was in response to rumors that Will and Jada had been seeing other people, with speculation that the couple lived a swinger’s lifestyle. While there is no admission of an “open” marriage, there is not a denial of it either. As both people are stars in their own right, their working schedules may keep them busy to the point that they don’t spend a lot of time together. Some people say that is one way to stay married for a long time. But if you define marriage as a commitment of time and not just space, then excluding this couple from the list is justified.
13. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick – 20 years
In celebration of their 20 years of marriage together this year, Parker sent a photo to her hubby with this written on it: “Monday May 19th, 1997, It flew by Baby. Good golly I love you. XXX, Your wife.” This is one of the subtle signals that is evidence you are in a good marriage or relationship – you put things in writing. It’s a simple thing and yet is so easily overlooked in a relationship. Handwritten messages of love, or even a note telling them they are in your thoughts, beats a sterile – and erasable – text message or email. If you think it is just a romantic thing, think again. Entire relationships were cemented by husbands and wives writing letters during World War 2, and many of those letters were read over and over until they returned home. The law calls it evidence, but a marriage calls it love.
12. Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness – 21 years
Several of the names on this list include couples who have been rumored to be headed for divorce court. Here is an example why those rumors are often misinterpreted or outright lies. Only a few months ago, Jackman and Furness were rumored in the media to having problems that would soon result in their separation. It only took one appearance at a Met Gala to squash those rumors with a few select words. Jackman had called his wife, “the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” He hints that there may have been problems, but that time had resolved the situation: “No matter what she’s facing, she will never burden anyone else with it.” It is sometimes difficult to share problems in a marriage, but there are also problems that need to be kept to yourself until the time is right to talk about them. Apparently, the time was right for Furness.
11. Annette Bening And Warren Beatty – 26 years
If their Hollywood careers seem decades apart, it is because Beatty is 20 years older than Bening. This is one of the oddest couples on the list for a number of reasons. First is obviously the age difference. Second is that Bening managed to “convert” a man who was infamous as a Hollywood womanizer and keep him committed for more than 25 years. Take time to consider how Beatty feels about his decision to stay married as he has moved past the age of 80. You may want to ask yourself what’s love got to do with it. It might be everything or maybe just enough to keep the fires burning.
10. Robin Dearden and Bryan Cranston – 27 years
Cranston is the more luminous of the two actors, and they both had to end relationships in order to move forward together with their own. Dearden is three years older than Cranston, and the couple has a good amount of success keeping their private lives out of the public eye. Cranston was once asked what was the favorite thing he liked about his wife, and he replied, “She still gets giddy when she sees a firefly.” These are the little things that the other person always notices and, though they may not always mention it, it is what makes them special. In the absence of the little things, most people are the same.
9. Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick – 29 years
Both are well-known actors and if Bacon’s Labor Day tweet he posted to his followers is any indication, there is no love lost (in a good way): “Happy day to my life love @kikkosedg,#29years.” She returns the sentiment during interviews, telling the interviewer that, “He’s still a mystery to me and getting older together is scary and exciting.” He is 59, she is 52. For Kyra to say Kevin is still a mystery to her says one of the most important things about a marriage. It is a lifetime of exploration for both people, and what holds it together is the willingness to continue to discover exactly who the other person is beyond the superficial.
8. Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan – 29 years
Theirs is actually a simple story. They had first met when filming an episode of Family Ties where Fox was playing the role of a teen conservative elitist, Alex P. Keaton. Pollan was cast as a friend and roommate of Alex’s girlfriend, who he eventually would fall in love with. Ironically, it was a two part episode titled “The Real Thing” which gave Fox plenty of opportunity to get to know Pollan. Their ongoing battle with Fox’s Parkinson’s disease is a story or staying in a committed relationship when the walls of the house are falling down. When asked how they manage to keep things going under such challenging circumstances, Tracy said it largely was about keeping your sense of humor and a balanced perspective. She is one year older than him – and 2 inches taller.
7. Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber – 30 years
Many people will identify Mark Harmon with NCIS of recent years, but Pam Dawber may be somewhat of a mystery to Millennials. Dawber was most famous as her role as Mindy in the television series Mork and Mindy where Robin Williams was cast as Mork from Ork. Though they both passed the 60 year barrier (they are both 66) their 30 year marriage continues to run smoothly. Both had acting careers when they met, and both decided at age 30 it was time for a committed relationship. The year Harmon was named “Sexiest Man of the Year” by People magazine was the year he met Dawber and was married a year later. It says something about making the decision to marry while you are at the top of your game.
6. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall – 30 years
Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently made the news when she announced she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Though their careers as comedians brought them together while attending Northwestern University, Julia became the far more successful comedian and actress. When you think of her character on Seinfeld it is hard to imagine how she could remain married for three decades – and counting. Louis-Dreyfus had said about her commitment, “Brad was the right guy, and he’s remained the right guy.” Here is an example where two major issues that are a constant in many Hollywood marriages – fame and money – have not interfered with the marriage even though she has received all the accolades – and the lion’s share of the income.
5. Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest – 33 years
Here is another couple where both people have never been married to anyone else. When it comes to the subject of divorce and what is the secret of staying married, she quipped, “Don’t get divorced.” It sounds overly simplistic, but perhaps the point is that if you think about divorce as an option when you get married, then it will always be an option. She met him between the covers of a Rolling Stone magazine. When she saw his picture, she said I am going to marry that man. And so she did, though it took more than a few months for them to finally meet – and eventually get married. Their story is interesting because Jamie Lee committed herself to one person before even meeting him, and made it happen. This is the opposite of what you find in many Hollywood movies, particularly the older ones, where the man is constantly chasing after a woman as an essential part of the storyline. Maybe part of staying married is to ignore the people who make the movies about love and marriage.
4. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman – 35 years
We almost had to remove this one from the list because the most recent news is that the two are planning to divorce. According to DeVito, “We’re not getting a divorce, but we separated, yeah.” Tabloids are digging their grave, but it seems that given their ages (he’s 73, she’s 69) it may be they lost their sense of reality. Some other notable facts are: they dated for 11 years before getting married and had a separation back in 2012. If you live with somebody for 11 years before deciding to marry them, divorcing them seems irrational – at any age. Didn’t you learn anything during those early 11 years? He has had both the fame and the fortune, so it’s not like he can improve his Hollywood image. The lesson here may be that marriage doesn’t always have to make sense.
3. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne – 35 years (still technically married)
Ozzy Osbourne made tabloid news for quite some time after he admitted to having sexual affairs while married to Sharon – when he was 68 years old. This brings up a number of questions and suspicions about whether he had any previous sexual liaisons, but nothing has surfaced. That leaves the question of why Sharon would choose to stay married to him. Her response was, “I just can’t think of my life without out him. Even though he is a dog. He’s a dirty dog. So there we are. He’s going to pay big.” What the payback will be remains to be seen, but there is one significant point of interest in what she said. They had a history, and that history had more meaning to it than his romping around from bedroom to bedroom.
2. Meryl Streep and Don Gummer – 39 years
While Streep has gotten her share of media attention for some of her recent political statements, her husband mostly stays in the background away from the fray. Gummer is Streep’s second husband, as her first husband died of cancer. In a stunning move to family and friends, she married Gummer very shortly after putting her first husband to rest. “I haven’t got over John’s death, but I’ve got to go on living and Don has showed me how to do that” she said. Sometimes finding the right person is about being willing to find a guide rather than worrying about striking a balance. There is a difference between rules and guidelines, and knowing the difference can mean the difference between finding the right person or finding a number of people who are right for you.
1. Gloria and Emilio Estefan – 39 Years
Cuban-born Gloria Garcia had become the lead singer of a group known as The Miami Sound Machine. Her future husband was also a member of the group and is how they met. Both have hit the big 6-0 yet they continue to be role models on how to create and maintain permanent relationships. Perhaps her most famous quote came when she was asked if she dated at an early age and what her dating history was before getting married: “he was my first and only boyfriend.” That says it all. Truth be told, Gloria and Emilio Estefan may be the only celebrity couple on this list who can make that claim, an amazing feat given the popularity of her music in the 1980’s as most definitely temptations abound when you are only 20 years old, wealthy, and famous.