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Ellen Pompeo has lived much of her life in the spotlight ever since she first appeared as Dr. Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy in 2005. But despite Pompeo's fame, she's managed to keep her long-term relationship with husband Chris Ivery relatively private.
After meeting in 2003, Pompeo and Ivery married in 2007 and later welcomed three children. Throughout Pompeo's busy career and life in the public eye, their marriage has remained strong and steady, and the actress counts Ivery as her No. 1 supporter. As Pompeo wrote in an Instagram post in 2018, "This man has been my rock ... my soulmate."
In 2018, Pompeo told PEOPLE that the success of her long marriage is partly due to Ivery's understanding nature. "My husband is not at all intimidated by my drive or my bossiness," she said.
So who is Ellen Pompeo's supportive other half? Here's everything to know about Chris Ivery and his relationship with the actress.
He worked in the music industry for nearly 30 years
Ivery spent many years working as a record producer. While little is known about his work in the music industry, he is credited as a writer on Rihanna's song "Cheers (Drink to That)."
He met Pompeo in 2003
As Pompeo told PEOPLE in 2006, she and Ivery met in 2003 in a Los Angeles grocery store. For six months, they were just friends. "Then one night she just looked different to me," recalled Ivery.
As far as Pompeo was concerned, their relationship was written in the stars: they had grown up only a few minutes apart in Boston. "We were six degrees our whole lives, so I feel like we were sort of meant to be," she said.
He and Pompeo married in 2007 in an ultra-private ceremony
Ivery proposed to Pompeo in 2006 on her 37th birthday after three years of dating. "She was surprised and thrilled," her rep told PEOPLE at the time. Pompeo's engagement ring was a 3.5-carat, emerald-cut diamond in a platinum setting by the jewelry designer Tacori.
The pair tied the knot a year later in a quiet ceremony at City Hall in Lower Manhattan. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg served as a witness. "She just didn't want a big thing," Pompeo's father told PEOPLE. The actress had previously expressed her desire to have a small affair, telling PEOPLE after her engagement, "There will be no 'big' anything.' It's going to be very small."
He has a hard time with Pompeo's intimate scenes on Grey's Anatomy
For Ivery, being married to a television star hasn't always been easy. For one thing, Pompeo's job means that she's often away from home on set. "He did say the other day, he said, 'Don't you think you could work a little less now?' " Pompeo told E! News' Daily Pop in 2021.
Ivery also reportedly didn't exactly enjoy Pompeo's love scenes on the show. In a 2019 interview with Us Weekly, Ivery said, "I would say I'm not jealous; I'm really confident, but it's awkward."
Pompeo has also commented on her husband's distaste for her sex scenes. "I remember in the beginning it was really hard for him," she said on the Ladies First with Laura Brown podcast in 2021. "He was like, 'This is not what I signed up for. You go to work and make out with that. I like Patrick [Dempsey] and everything, he's a good dude, but like really?' "
He's supportive of Pompeo's career
Despite Ivery's early hesitation about some of Pompeo's Grey's Anatomy scenes, the actress told PEOPLE in 2018 that her husband is "not at all intimidated by my drive."
"I never thought I'd be at the height of my career at 48 years old. I'm at the top of my game, with no end in sight," said Pompeo, adding that when it comes to being successful, "it's really important for men to be on board."
She also noted that she tends to get a bit commanding with Ivery when she's juggling many things, but that her husband is "good about letting me know when I'm talking to him like an employee."
"Occasionally, I get told 'I don't work for you, don't speak to me like that,' which is okay," she said. "I need to hear it if I'm not coming correct."
He and Pompeo have three children
Ivery and Pompeo have three children: Stella Luna, born in 2009, Sienna May, born in 2014, and Eli Christopher, born in 2016.
After the birth of their third child in 2016, Pompeo wrote on Instagram, "Chris Ivery just fell a notch … I've got a new guy."
The actress previously discussed raising her two daughters with PEOPLE in 2016, saying that it's important for her girls to have role models to look up to and that she prioritizes pointing out the accomplishments of Black women to them.
"My daughters are Black so it's very important to me that they see a lot of images of beautiful, powerful, strong Black women," she said.
"Every time there is a Black woman on a magazine cover, whether it is Kerry Washington or whoever it is, I make sure that magazine is in my house and on my table. For me, that's super important."
In June 2022, Pompeo, Ivery and their children made a rare public appearance at the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda Women's Show in Italy. Pompeo posted several photos of the family decked out in Dolce & Gabbana gear on Instagram, including one sweet snap of Ivery and Eli posing on a Vespa.
He's an executive at a famous athleisure brand
As Pompeo told Us Weekly in 2019, she could not be prouder of her husband for making the career change from music to fashion at the age of 50. "He's been in the music business for 25 years and he changed careers at 50," she said. "And he killed it. I mean, knocked it out of the park. It's amazing!"
Ivery frequently posts about the brand — which counts Justin Bieber as one of its celebrity fans — on Instagram.
He and Pompeo know how to prioritize their relationship
Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty
It's clear that Ivery and Pompeo know how to keep their love alive. For one thing, they spend plenty of time together on date nights — even if they're just relaxing at home.
"We go out to dinner sometimes, but date nights really kind of happen inside at home. And actually, we both go to bed pretty early, so we do a lot of lunch dates, too," Pompeo told PEOPLE in 2016.
Ivery also keeps the spark alive by making sure his wife feels appreciated. "He tells me constantly how I have the body of a 20-year-old. He is the best," the actress said.
"I don't really like a lot of makeup, and my husband doesn't really like a lot of makeup," she added, noting that Ivery "is so supportive. He is amazing."
What's more, Ivery has learned the benefit of keeping his sense of humor in the face of the media onslaught. As he once joked to PEOPLE, "I'm the real McDreamy!"