Lasting love. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka have defied Hollywood odds, spending nearly two decades together, but they didn’t always know they’d end up happily married.
The actors met when they were both on Broadway, with Harris in Cabaret and Burtka in Gypsy. However, the chef was in another relationship, often commuting to Los Angeles to see his then-boyfriend.
“I didn’t want to be that guy who was creating some sort of romantic interference,” Harris explained to Out in 2012. “So, I was always around when he was around, hoping the stars would align. When we all hung out for the first time — I was invited by [mutual friend] Kate to an American Idol viewing party — I just stammered around him. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.”
Burtka hadn’t even thought of courting his future husband. “I gave him a, ‘Hey, what’s up, nice to meet you,’ and that was really it. I thought it would be nice to know him, but I didn’t think in a million years I’d start dating him,” he explained to Out in the same interview.
The Doogie Howser, M.D. alum sat back and waited for the food connoisseur to become single. A week after Burtka broke up with his beau, the Michigan native had a movie date with Harris. The two watched Taking Lives, starring Angelina Jolie, and they quickly started seeing each other every day.
Harris hadn’t expected to ever find someone to spend his life with, and he fell in love fast. Though it took some time, Burtka eventually caught up to him. The lovebirds moved in together in New York City and later moved to Los Angeles when Harris landed a little sitcom called How I Met Your Mother. After Burtka guest-starred on the show in fall 2006, Harris publicly came out as gay.
The couple expanded their family in October 2010, welcoming fraternal twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace via surrogate. The pair married four years later, partly due to wanting to give a clear answer to their children’s questions.
“Our kids got to the age when they were having reasonable conversations where they’re asking lots of ‘Why?’ questions, then it seemed [important] to be able to have a real clear-cut [identity] of who their daddy is — that he’s my husband, it was easier than partner or boyfriend,” Harris explained during a September 2014 appearance on The View shortly after the wedding.
After they secretly tied the knot in Italy, the newlyweds revealed that their nuptials were very intimate, with only 45 guests (including Elton John).
Nearly five years later, the couple gave Us Weekly some exclusive insight on why their marriage works. “We tend to communicate and talk a lot,” Harris said in April 2019. “I think when you keep things pent up and you exist in, like, a façade, it seems to lead to more problems, so we talk about stuff when we have problems with each other.”
A good sense of humor helps their marriage as well. When Harris gave Us his sincere advice, Burtka chimed in, adding, “And tasers!”
Harris quipped, “Tasers work really well too. At least they make the other person stop talking.”
Later that year, the Life is a Party author explained that they also prioritize date nights. “We try to go away or take a date night every so often because I think that’s really important, not only for the couple, but for the kids to see,” Burtka told Us exclusively in October 2019. “The kids see that their parents are safe and their parents are on a good foot.”
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