In 2017, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell solidified their status as one of Hollywood’s sweetest and most relatable couples after numerous public attempts at dispelling the stigma of relationship counseling, particularly in relation to their own high-profile marriage.
The actor and dad of two reiterated his point, once again, in a new interview with the Today show published Wednesday, December 12. “If I had to sum it up in one word, it’s work,” Shepard said of his marriage. “Not unlike your body, which won’t just stay in shape on its own volition, you really have to be maintaining the relationship, and it is work. And it’s often uncomfortable work, but it needs doing or we won’t stay together.”
For Shepard, putting in the work is a point in marriage that he wishes more couples would acknowledge. “I think that we’ve all consumed a lot of fairytales and romantic comedies and sitcoms,” he mused. “In that architecture, it seems that your main job is just to select the right person, and I don’t really think that’s the main job. I think that’s maybe the least important aspect of it, truly. I think it’s far more about the work that goes into it to make it good.”
Bell and Shepard married in a low-key, courthouse wedding on Valentine’s Day 2013. Since then, they’ve both been especially vocal about their relationship—highlights and lowlights included—as well as the need for couples therapy. (Here at The Knot, we believe in healthy marriages. Check out the recently-launched Lasting app for more.)
“I think that couples tend to get into patterns that just repeat themselves endlessly,” he continued in his latest interview. “Unless you have an objective outsider who can recognize what patterns you’ve fallen into and then suggest some tools that prevent you from falling into that pattern.”
Much of the progress has come from self awareness. “We could argue all day long about what side dishes should be on the kids’ menu, but that doesn’t trigger any of my fears,” Shepard concluded. “I can always tell when something is actually triggering my fears, when my breathing changes and my heart rate changes. Those, to me, are red flags that I need to go figure out what is being triggered. You can argue about the logic of something or the details of something, but you’re usually avoiding what the emotional thing is that’s triggering the whole episode.”