The media mogul, 65, opened up about their unwavering relationship, explaining in an essay in her magazine O, The Oprah Magazine — published on Wednesday — that had she and Graham, 68, gotten married, “we would not still be together.”
Winfrey shared that she once believed she did want to get married, but when Graham proposed in 1993, after the two had been dating since 1986, she quickly realized, “My life with the show was my priority, and we both knew it.”
She recalled simply wanting to be “asked” for her hand in marriage rather than really going through with it.
“I realized I didn’t actually want a marriage. I wanted to be asked. I wanted to know he felt I was worthy of being his missus, but I didn’t want the sacrifices, the compromises, the day-in-day-out commitment required to make a marriage work. My life with the show was my priority, and we both knew it. He and I agree that had we tied the marital knot, we would not still be together,” Winfrey explained.
Similarly, Winfrey told PEOPLE in October, “Both he and I now say, ‘If we had married, we would not be together.’ No question about it — we would not stay married, because of what that would have meant to him, and I would have had my own ideas about it.”
So, Winfrey and Graham proceeded with a fulfilling partnership — notably one of the most long lasting relationships in Hollywood.
“Anyone who’s ever met him is always amazed by what a genuine gentleman he is,” Winfrey gushed in the recent O article. “He’s so positive. Wants the best for me and everyone he knows. He’s appropriately named because he’s steady as a mountain. Even-tempered, accountable, trustworthy, patient.”
As for how they’ve made it work all of these years, Winfrey said it’s “because he created an identity beyond being ‘Oprah’s man’ (he teaches Identity Leadership around the world and has written multiple books on the subject). And because we share all the values that matter (integrity being number one). And because we relish seeing the other fulfill and manifest their destiny and purpose.”
Winfrey went on to reveal that she defines her relationship as a “spiritual partnership,” a phrase coined by author Gary Zukav, who was a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“Partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth,” Winfrey explained in the magazine.
Graham has previously echoed Winfrey’s sentiments on the key to relationship bliss after appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May.
The author and educator explained that to have any successful relationship, you must first understand your own identity and have agency in your own aspirations, because only then will you be able to support your partner through theirs. Being able to find this balance is what has kept his partnership with the successful media mogul thriving for nearly 33 years.
“Well, the thing about our relationship is, so I’m dedicated to her happiness, so that’s great for her and I want her to be the best she can possibly be and she’s done a pretty good job of doing that,” Graham told host DeGeneres, 61, on the show. “And so for me, I’ve been able to find my own happiness, my own skills, my own talents, my own abilities and I’m satisfied with that. I’m happy with that.”
“So the combination — when you have a good partner that is able to self actualize their potential and you’re able to self actualize yours,” Graham — whose new book, Identity Leadership, was released that month month — added.