A work in progress. Melissa Joan Hart and husband Mark Wilkerson still put plenty of effort into keeping their marriage strong after nearly 20 years.
“You know, it’s a lot of work,” the Sabrina the Teenage Witch alum, 46, told Us Weekly exclusively at 90s Con in Hartford, Connecticut, on Saturday, March 18. “[Officially] 20 years this summer and it doesn’t get easier.”
Hart went on to reference a quote from Russian author Leo Tolstoy. “It’s basically not about … whether or not you fight, it’s [about] how you fight. That kind of thing,” she said. “I’m paraphrasing big time. But I think that’s the key. [You have to] ride through the low times because the high times are that much better. And it is really about kind of sticking it out and working through it and remembering where you came from.”
The New York native and the musician, 46, tied the knot in July 2003 before welcoming sons Mason, Braydon and Tucker in January 2006, March 2008 and September 2012, respectively.
According to Hart, the couple continue to “do a lot of work in our marriage” — including speaking to a third party. “We’ve been in and out of couples therapy and we really enjoy that because it just helps us understand each other better even after 20 years,” she told Us. “We do it once in a while.”
The Drive Me Crazy actress noted that she and Wilkerson have been in therapy “consistently” since fall 2022 after seeking the advice of a counselor at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic two years prior. “We kind of go in and out of seasons of it, but I just find it to be so helpful because it really kind of helps us have a safe space. And that helps a lot,” she explained. “But we just work on [our relationship] a lot. We kind of just remember that we love each other and try to be nice to each other.”
Hart and her husband “have big differences in how we view things,” which makes seeing eye to eye a little bit “harder” — especially when politics are involved. “When we know there is an election coming up and whatnot, [we know] some things are going to get a little wild,” she teased to Us. “But we are just trying to make sure to find that common ground and we have the same goals [for how] we want to raise our kids and just base everything in love. It’s not easy though. I mean, I make it sound easy, but it’s not easy.”
When it comes to parenting, the Melissa & Joey alum joked that “everything” has become a challenge. “I have spent the last few months just at home trying to get a handle on each one and what they need and how I could be there, and making sure school is going well and their mental health is good and working on their after school activities and they are well-rounded,” she told Us. “And then I snuggle with them and then we watch TV and we share things together, like music and movies and time in the car. All of that. [I want] everything I can get because I know it’s ticking away.”
The pair’s eldest son will be a senior in high school this fall, so his parents are making sure he’s as prepared as possible. “I keep asking [him], ‘What do you need to learn from us before you leave? Do you want to learn how to jump a car? Change a tire?’ We taught him how to do his laundry,” she said. “I think he needs to learn how to grill a burger. He hasn’t learned how to do that yet. He flies airplanes now and he drives. … He’s going to get his private pilot’s license really soon. It’s scary!”
Hart got emotional while reflecting on how quickly her sons have grown up, adding, “Everyone prepares you for the first[s], but no one prepares you for the last[s]. So I’m sort of focusing on the lasts now. I’m going to cry thinking about it.”
The Clarissa Explains It All alum and more ’90s icons gave fans a healthy dose of nostalgia at the star-studded convention, which featured Q&A panels, photo-ops and more. As she looked back at her hit sitcoms of the decade, Hart celebrated the “smart” writing and important lessons aimed toward young viewers.
“I feel like there were messages in there that were teaching you about certain things plaguing the world, and yet it was done in a fun, fluffy way where it didn’t seem like it was a message at all. We would never do ‘This week on a very special Sabrina.’ We didn’t do that kind of thing,” she told Us. “So they were really smart about making things funny and relatable. And there was great stuff that a 9-year-old could watch, but then the cat would make jokes that would go right over a 9-year-old’s head and the parents would be like, ‘Oh! I got that. That’s a sexy joke.'”