Mira Sorvino Shares Her Secrets to Keeping Romance Alive After 17 Years of Marriage

mira sorvino husband
mira sorvino husband

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Mira Sorvino knows a little something about keeping romance alive.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the Oscar winner and mother of four, 54, shares her secrets to maintaining a strong and loving relationship with her husband of 17 years Christopher Backus.

"Date nights kids are absolutely essential when you have four children, because so much of your time is spent parenting," says Sorvino, who shares Mattea, 16, Johnny, 15, Holden, 12, and Lucia, 9, with Backus, 39. "You're next to each other, but you're relating to your kids, rather than to each other. So we'll go on date nights where we'll leave the kids with our trusted, wonderful, amazing nanny."

"We'll go to a hotel somewhere," she adds. "This is our ritual. We'll be like, 'Where do you want to go tonight?' We'll pick up the phone, and we'll see. Maybe we'll go to Pasadena, or maybe we'll go to downtown L.A., or maybe we'll go to Beverly Hills, or Venice Beach, or just someplace out of our zone, and just go to a dinner ... so that we get to be a couple, not a couple with children, just for that moment. That's really important."

For more from Mira Sorvino, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

The couple tied the knot at the Santa Barbara courthouse on June 11, 2004 after less than year of dating.

Sorvino and Backus are currently in Rome, where the actress is filming an upcoming project, and she says the two still find time to be spontaneous together.

"We've just had the most amazing [trip], almost like a honeymoon while I'm working," she says. "By getting all this time to run around the city, and go to the beautiful sites."

"We went for a run in the Borghese Gardens and we ran to a lake where they had rowboats for rent, and then we stopped the run and had a picnic lunch. We went out on the rowboats with a bag of sandwiches and brownies, and it was just really nice," she adds. "Just sort of sweet and romantic. So I think it's important to do that kind of thing, that keeps your romance alive."

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Though the two relish their alone time, they also enjoy all the family time they can get.

"I try to have family dinners and it's not always possible every night, because we get back so late from various activities and practices," says Sorvino. "It's just modern life. But one of the weirdly good things about quarantine was that we did start spending a ton of time together as a family."

"I think the kids were losing their minds by the end of it," she says. "But I loved us being able to eat together and cook together."