Love, marriage, and a little therapy. Good Housekeeping's May 2015 cover girl Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard opened up to the mag about getting couples therapy regularly — and it only makes their bond stronger.
"We’re the Paula Abdul video ‘Opposites Attract’ personified," Bell, 34, told the mag. "I thought I had this life thing down pat when I met Dax. I didn’t realize that I needed a much bigger toolbox to have confrontations and disagreements with people."
The couple — they both hail from Michigan originally — first hit it off at a Detroit Red Wings hockey game back in 2007. "I thought to myself, 'Who is this sparkly creature?'" Shepard, 40, recalled of the game, saying the two have "been pretty inseparable" ever since. "We have such different backgrounds, it’s comical. Until I was 32, I thought the world was just wolves, that there was no way anyone was acting with any kind of benevolence. When I met her and her friends, I was suspicious of their unbridled happiness. I thought, 'Something stinks here; they’re in a cult.'"
Eventually, Shepard accepted Bell's sunny disposition, but he still remained skeptical. "Slowly I began to see her positive way of looking at the world," he explained. "She gives people the benefit of the doubt. There were hurdles, things she didn’t trust about me, things I didn’t trust about her. I just kept going back to 'This person has the thing I want, and I have to figure out how we can exist peacefully.' So we started [seeing a therapist together] right away."
Bell said counseling was essential to their marriage, and she's proud to admit it. "You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe," she reflected. "Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about."
The Frozen star's husband of two years backed her point with one specific anecdote. "I noticed an actor and her husband on [a recent cover of a celebrity tabloid] that said In Couples’ Therapy! The clear message is, 'Oh, their marriage is ending.' There’s such a negative connotation," he shared. "In my previous relationship, we went to couples therapy at the end, and that’s often too late. You can’t go after nine years and start figuring out what patterns you’re in."
Along with her marriage, Bell also discussed what it was like to raise her daughters Lincoln and Delta, ages 2 and 3 months. "I wasn’t positive I wanted kids. But I can now confirm having them is absolutely unmissable," she confessed. "Before we had the girls, I asked a few people in my life who are annoyingly blunt and honest on every level if we should, knowing that if it wasn’t worth it, they’d have the balls to say, 'Listen, don’t. Live your life.' But across the board, everyone said it was unmissable."
She joked that she was far from prepared for her first child. "When Lincoln came out, at first I was like, 'Eh, what do I do with it? I can take it home?'" Bell said. "But when I started breastfeeding, the oxytocin or my hormones or hundreds of thousands of years of evolution kicked in. I didn’t want to let her go. Having kids feels like that first seventh-grade crush that overwhelms every molecule in your body, but it’s permanent. You don’t get free time as parents; Dax hasn’t gone to the bathroom solo in three months, because Lincoln is obsessed with him! But other than the sleep deprivation in the beginning and trying to figure out how not to screw your kid up, the rewards are mountains larger than the battles. Lincoln just started singing her ABC’s yesterday. I left the house and she was singing a sloppy version of it, and I just had a huge grin on my face."
The House of Lies actress said she never understood her own mother until she welcomed her kids. "When she would look at me like I was the first drop of water she’d seen at the end of a desert trip and go, 'You will never understand how much I love you,' I would go, 'God, get away! Enough!'" Bell shared. "Even in my 20s, I just thought, 'You’re so dramatic and overly sentimental.' Now I look at my kids that way and think, Wow, this is a cycle. Lincoln won’t understand it until she decides to have kids…that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Motherhood right-sized everything for me. I’m happier, and I was pretty happy before."
The May 2015 issue of Good Housekeeping hits newsstands on April 21.
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