Kristen Bell on Dax Shepard: people don’t realize ‘our marriage takes a lot of work’

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Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are both extra, and they’re extra together. It’s admirable that they’re so open and honest about their personal issues including past substance abuse on Dax’s part as well as Kristen’s history of depression and social anxiety, for which she takes medication. They’ve also been open about the fact that they go to couples counseling together, with Kristen comparing it to working out with a trainer at the gym. So when Kristen admits that her marriage takes work it’s nothing new from these two. To people with a passing interest in gossip it may sound like a harbinger of doom for their relationship, but this isn’t new from them. Kristen spoke to US at a charity event, and she was rather candid.

Their marriage takes work and Dax needs a lot of attention
“Our marriage took a lot of work, takes a lot of work. I don’t think people realize,” [Bell] exclusively told Us in NYC on Wednesday, August 9. “It is not easy to work around another human being, but if you commit to it, you can pretty much permanently respect that person, but then it doesn’t really matter if you disagree because you still respect that person. But on a daily basis, he just makes me laugh all the time. He’s obsessed with attention, so he’s constantly making jokes to try to get me to give him more attention or to get me to giggle. And you know, he was a stand up comedian, so I’m living with a comedian.”

They disagree on 90 percent of issues but respect is important
“I do disagree with him on 90 percent of the issues on the planet,” she said. “But we have really wonderful, intense valued conversations about things, and I always see his point, even if I disagree. It’s hard to do.”

“It’s all about contempt. Never roll your eyes at someone,” she told Us. “You might as well break up right then because its contempt. I’m telling you — I disagree with him on almost everything, but I have intense respect for his critical thinking skills and the fact that we were raised differently. I always see his point. I do not and will not ever have contempt for him.”

[From US Magazine]

This reminded me briefly of when Ben Affleck thanked Jennifer Garner in his Oscar acceptance speech for “working on our marriage for ten Christmases” except I should note that Kristen and Dax do this together, it’s not a one-sided thing where one person is working on it. In an interview that Kristen had with Good Housekeeping in 2015, Dax popped in when Kristen was talking about therapy and said that he loved couples therapy and didn’t understand the stigma around it. So these are two people admitting they get on each others’ nerves but committing to respecting each other and doing so with humor. I don’t know if I could stay with someone whom I didn’t agree with on 90% of the issues as she claims. I mean I doubt they’re talking about the big issues like religion, politics and science/climate change. They both are liberal. Maybe they’re talking about child care issues. Also I’ve heard that point she makes that rolling your eyes and expressing contempt to your partner will end your relationship. I used to do that to my ex all the time.

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56 Responses to “Kristen Bell on Dax Shepard: people don’t realize ‘our marriage takes a lot of work’”

  1. Jamieee says:

    I think people do realise, because you do an interview about it every other month!

  2. runcmc says:

    Uh, is it ok to roll your eyes at your man’s jokes though? Because my dude LOVES puns and he specifically tells jokes to make me groan and roll my eyes.

    WHERE IS THE LINE KRISTEN??

    (nah I’m kidding- their marriage seems super solid to me though so good for them.

    • ab says:

      lol! my husband LIVES for the eye roll and head shake he gets from me when he tells a particularly bad or borderline offensive joke. I think he would be disappointed if I actually laughed.

    • LizLemonGotMarried says:

      that’s what I was sitting here thinking…my husband’s day isn’t complete if I haven’t rolled my eyes at something he said. (He also likes to find the cheesiest videos out there and make me watch them so I’ll cry. Last night’s was the Tree TP episode of Shark Tank.)

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      @ LizLemon, @ab, @ runcmc-

      Right there with you. Hubs’ lives for the epic eye rolls and faces I make at his jokes & puns- he starts laughing at my responses & says, “Oh, Muffin, you are so much fun!” It’s just part of our repartee, completely different, though, from what disrespect she (KB) is referring to.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Haha Yes to the above ladies.

      Hubs has a beautiful head of lush hair, and he lets our kids play in it. They think it is funny for him to just walk into the room where I am with an outrageous hairstyle, headbands, barrettes, bows, tiny ponytails or whatever and say something mundane until I roll my eyes, it is usually when I am talking on the phone or napping. It isn’t effective unless I am busy. Or they play juvenile pranks on me or tell stupid corny jokes.
      Serious eye rolling is contempt. I have only done it when that was my point. She is right.

  3. Louise says:

    They dont seem to talk about much else apart from themselves.

  4. Jamie42 says:

    If a marriage needs that much work, it probably isn’t worth saving–to be blunt. A good marriage is a support and source of comfort, not “work.”

    • Jamieee says:

      I agree. There’s nothing wrong with couples therapy, and marriage does require ‘work’ in that you take care of each other and yourselves as a couple even when you may not be feeling it, but the emphasis these two put on it is something else.

      If your marriage is all work all the time, and you need regular couples therapy just to maintain a baseline level of comfort in your relationship even when everything’s going fine, you’re probably just in the wrong relationship.

    • Lalu says:

      Yes. All relationships take work… I def believe that. But I think there is a point when you have to ask maybe, why is this taking so much work/ so hard.
      Some people are hard to be married to, and that may be the case here. My guy is hard to be with. I don’t love him any less for it… And I don’t want out but still, I understand that relationships don’t have to be that complicated.
      I wish them all the best. Life can be hard enough, without having to fight daily to keep your marriage together.

      • ash says:

        im sorry for being nosey….but why is it hard???

        i’ve been in relatinoships and when it was consistently hard (he has awful anxiety and control issues, one was lazy and a leech no drive, and one was a perpetual cheater) I had to ask myself…..does love have to be this hard…

        im always curious when i see a comment like yours informative wise

    • astrid says:

      yes! I’m left wondering about a couples marriage every time I hear someone say they “work” at it….

    • Patricia says:

      Exactly. There’s are times when marriage is work, sure. They are rare when you have a good and healthy and happy marriage.
      Marriage is strength and love and partnership and like you said, comfort. Life itself is work, marriage is support for that work.

    • senna says:

      I agree. I don’t think it’s a shameful thing to admit you have to work on your marriage, but you know what you are working on when you do so? Yourself, as a partner. A romantic relationship makes us realize how much we are still selfish, greedy, in our own heads, and spendthrift even if we thought we were selfless, generous, giving, and a great communicator. Putting in the work is about making yourself a better person as much as it is about the relationship. I don’t get all this talk about “we are working soo hard on the relationship” as if it is a separate entity from self-improvement, which really benefits you as a person no matter what happens to the partnership.

      Also, the right relationship will not feel like an uphill struggle. It’ll be the anchor in life that will stand through the storms and will make everyday life much more joyful and fulfilled.

    • Erinn says:

      But at the same time – it doesn’t sound like she’s saying it’s horrible work. She said he’s constantly making her laugh – on a daily basis. They make sure to respect eachother – they actually communicate their feelings/opinions on the ‘issues’. To me that sounds like the ‘normal’ kind of relationship work that happens when you have two people with different backgrounds and upbringings living together and raising a family.

      To me it doesn’t sound like she’s saying “our marriage is terrible, it’s hanging by a thread” – it sounds more like “it’d be easier to not communicate certain things and let them pile up – but instead we put the work in and talk things over respectfully” because that IS more work. I have a habit of holding on to things and then bringing up a bunch of things all at once. My husband has a tendency to try to avoid conflict as much as possible – both of these tendencies usually end up making things worse… but at the time it’s easier to ignore than sit down and have a conversation that might not be all peaches. It’s not easier in the long run … but at that moment in time it seems to be the path of least resistance… until it’s not.

      Kristen has talked about mental health issues, and them running in her family. She’s dealt with depression and anxiety. Dax has plenty of his own issues as well – many stemming from being sexually abused as a kid. Both of them have things that they need to work on personally – which obviously seeps into their relationship to some degree. But I’ve listened to Dax on talk shows saying how important therapy is, and how much he finds that it helps. So it makes sense to me that they have someone to check in with, and who can help them work through any little blips of issues.

      • Shirleygail says:

        Oh, thank you Errinn, I was surprised it took so long to get to a positive comment. I’m glad there are so many women who are happy with their spouses so that’s a positive. Your take sounds way more likely. Thank you.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Very insightful post Errinn. It is very true what you said. My coping skills and my husband’s coping skills created resentment and anger. When I feel cornered my tongue is a lethal weapon his response was to corner me further. Not good. You have to work and it can get tiring if it is left too long or ignored. He is used to being the leader in charge all the time but I don’t like following anyone. To him, he was making things easier but to me, he was trying to control me.
        It could be for them that they both know they have deep scars and coping skills that make it hard for them, but they love each other and want to try as hard as they can. It easy to hurt and damage relationships like theirs.
        Thanks for the perspective.

  5. LT says:

    She’s referring to the research done by John Gottman, who has extensively studied relationships and divorce. There are the “4 horsemen of the apocalypse” that sink relationships: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Contempt is the most lethal and relationships where contempt is present are basically doomed.

    I think their openness is great. Most couples don’t attend therapy until it’s too late – and usually at the insistence of the wife, who have likely been asking for a while and by the husband agrees to therapy have already emotionally checked out (75% of divorces now are initiated by women). My ex husband and I did months of therapy and it was awful, but we were too far gone by that point. My current partner and I aren’t married, but we have had a few sessions and they have been awesome – we walk out of every session with a greater understanding of each other and even stronger than when we went into the session.

  6. Lari says:

    Yeah, is marriage supposed to be THAT much work? Mine certainly isn’t, we’ve both got so much else going on that if we had to “work” at our relationship all the time it would be utterly exhausting. But we get on really well and agree 90% of the time.

  7. Linda says:

    She needs to go away and be quiet already.

  8. Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

    I can’t be in a relationship with a man I do not agree on 90% issues with. That would make us too different to have something solid. Or even one core issue I care about, and I am usually black or white, no pun here, but racism, misogyny or superiority complexes are deal-breakers for me. Of course, I have no idea what issues she is talking about. But whatever is going on there, it doesn’t sound nice.

  9. Jayna says:

    I’ve seen a lot of celeb couples say marriages takes a lot of work. Ben just got dragged on it.

    • Jamieee says:

      Ben got dragged for it because he did it in his Oscar’s speech, and because at that point everyone knew what the ‘work’ in their particular relationship entailed and that he was basically saying ‘thanks for putting up with me screwing around’.

      There’s a time to talk about your relationship difficulties and the work that goes in, and there’s a time to just say ‘thanks to my lovely wife’.

  10. Nicole says:

    Eh I get what she’s saying here. They have separate issues that probably require more maintenance than other couples. I know therapy for me is work (my personal therapy not professional) and any time I get lazy is when I get into trouble. I can’t imagine how that is with another person to worry about.
    I also agree with above posters that there is a line. Too much work is maybe an indication that you shouldn’t be married. I think it’s up to the couple to decide. Marriage is different for everyone

  11. Isa says:

    I imagine for them, it is a lot of work because of their separate issues, and the pressure of being famous, and disagreeing about 90% of issues. It sounds exhausting and I hope they never get tired of fighting for their marriage.

  12. KBeth says:

    People don’t realize that her marriage takes work? Nobody is thinking about your marriage Kristen.
    Dax is seriously FUG, there is something about his face..he’s really hard to look at.

  13. kimbers says:

    She keeps talking about how hard her relationship is….so people know. It just doesn’t sound like she picked a good partner, because it takes SOOOOOOO much work. Relationships are work, but she makes it seem horrid and crappy.

  14. slowsnow says:

    Ok, I’ll be the one to say that they probably have too much time on their hands.
    Also, why are couples now trying to become brands? I truly think she is going down that line, trying to market herself as a life coach/tv presenter/blogger type.
    Right?
    I am so sick of people shoving their therapy fuelled, branding obsessions down our throats.
    Ok I may have spent too much type exploring Robbie Tripp’s instagram account. Traumatized.

  15. lastone says:

    So many of these relationships seem like they would have lasted even less longer without children acting as glue.

  16. Harryg says:

    I do realize it, because you tell us all the time! I believe there’s something wrong if a marriage needs a lot of work.

  17. Lauren says:

    I actually really like Dax. He did an interview about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a neighbor growing up and I think he is very brave for getting help and confronting what happened to him.

    I like Kristen Bell too. I will never get over that time she cried on Ellen with the sloth. It was adorable.

  18. Electric Tuba says:

    Yeah well it takes a lot of work to get through one of your interviews too, lady. Hearing about how much work they do on their life makes me want to run for the hills to live as a solitary hairy human away from all the haaaaaarrrd wooooooorrrk lol

  19. Jennifer says:

    Well damn. I am an eye-roller.

  20. Nope. says:

    Every marriage does. Do people not realize this going into it?

    • still_sarah says:

      I don’t think they do. I think they get all excited about the wedding and don’t think much past that. I am a big supporter of engaged couples taking those marriage courses where you talk about money, children, THE FUTURE and stuff like that. Do a lot of written exercises and homework.

  21. magnoliarose says:

    They don’t bug me but I don’t pay any attention to them so that might be why. Hopefully, it works for them. I do feel a book coming, however.

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