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Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell have been together for over 13 years.
The couple credits their successful relationship to regular therapy sessions and hard work.
They believe that contempt leads to failed relationships and jealousy isn't a productive emotion.
Kristen Bell said she's learned not to walk out during a fight.
Kristen Bell said that when they first met, the two had a "toxic" relationship.
"The first year, you are working out your kinks. I loved it," Bell said on the talk show "Harry" in 2017. "We'd get in a fight — because we would fight, a lot — and I'd, like, yell something then slam the bedroom door, then I'd slam the front door, then I'd get in my car and then I'd skid out the driveway, and then I would sit around the corner in my car. And it felt so good, and I realized how incredibly toxic it was only after he pointed it out."
Bell said they overcame this issue when Dax Shepard put his foot down and told her she couldn't leave in the middle of a fight.
"Three months into our relationship he was like, 'You can't leave anymore during fights. I'm not going to do that,'" Bell added. "He has a very high standard and a strong code of ethics. He was like, 'No, I have more respect for myself ... I love you but I'm not going to do that my whole life.'"
They agree that relationships are hard work, so they treat their commitments like a job.
Many people call relationships "work," and Shepard has agreed with that.
He and his wife deliberately put dates on the calendar and treat their marriage with the same respect that they would a work commitment.
"You do have to take it as seriously as you take your work commitments," he told "People Now" in 2017. "It has to be scheduled and you have to prioritize it or it doesn't happen."
They try to remember that having a partner is a privilege.
Bell listed a series of marriage tips in an Instagram post on Valentine's Day 2018, one of which is to remember that having a life partner is a gift.
"In 10 years, when the dopamine has waned, remember: Life is a crazy ride," Bell wrote in the post. "It's a privilege to go through it with a partner."
Bell and Shepard prioritize vulnerability in their relationship.
Maintaining open lines of communication is a tried and true recipe for relationship success, but Bell and Shepard take it up a notch by adding vulnerability into the mix.
"Vulnerability always begets connection and intimacy," Bell wrote in the same 2018 Instagram post. "Stay vulnerable with each other."
"If you're in a fight with your husband, just stop and be vulnerable," Bell said in a 2017 interview with Women's Health. "Say, 'I'm so scared this fight is going to lead to us breaking up and I don't want to break up with you.' Like, say that in the middle of a fight about the garbage and s--- is gonna change."
It's important for couples to have individual lives and interests.
Bell has preached the importance of remembering who you are as an individual, despite living every day as a pair.
"Take necessary separateness," she also wrote in the Valentine's Day 2018 Instagram post. "It will make your marriage better."
She also added, "Rejoice in what makes the other person happy, and allow them their individual interests."
Bell has emphasized the importance of working on building emotional intelligence.
Bell has said that she works on expanding her "emotional toolbox" for her relationship.
"Know that everyone is doing the best they can with what they've got," Bell wrote in the 2018 Instagram post. "So get a bigger emotional toolbox to fix your problems."
Bell and Shepard have been open about going to therapy.
"We have a very healthy marriage and we got there by doing therapy when we needed it, and constantly doing fierce moral inventories," Bell told People in 2017. "We both take responsibility when we are wrong."
"Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about," Bell said in a 2015 interview with Good Housekeeping. "There may be something that really hurt your feelings that you're scared to bring up. Go talk about it with a therapist who can mediate. You'll walk out of the room feeling like you're [on the same] team."
In the same interview, Shepard added, "In my previous relationship, we went to couples' therapy at the end, and that's often too late. You can't go after nine years and start figuring out what patterns you're in."
The couple has shared that contempt has no place in a successful relationship.
Occasionally rolling your eyes at your partner might feel like a fact of life, but this small action is actually a sign of contempt.
"If you have contempt for the other person — if you roll your eyes or you disregard something they said — your relationship will fail. You might as well get out of it now," Bell told Women's Health in 2017. "We've made a commitment, a verbal commitment, and an active one, to never have contempt for each other."
According to People, in 2015 Shepard said, "I said to Kristen, 'We should try hard to police ourselves about becoming contemptuous of each other.'"
He continued, "If I ever see you roll your eyes at me, we need to hit pause and figure out what's going on."
Bell has worked on being empathetic during arguments.
"I do disagree with him on 90% of the issues on the planet," she told the publication. "But we have really wonderful, intense valued conversations about things, and I always see his point, even if I disagree. It's hard to do."
"I disagree with him on almost everything, but I have intense respect for his critical thinking skills and the fact that we were raised differently," she added. "I always see his point."
Whenever possible, they choose to be happy.
Bell told Women's Health in 2017 that she and Shepard try to remember that happiness can be a choice, and that daily choice informs their relationship.
"We choose to be this happy. You can wake up in the morning and choose to be grumpy or you can choose to be happy. Loving him is a choice," Bell said.
Shepard works to keep a sense of newness in the relationship.
Shepard went on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2018 and gave advice to an audience member who wanted to know how to keep intimacy alive in a relationship.
"In my experience, your lady wants to know that you're still very interested in her as a human being," Shepard said. " ... You need to, you know, go to dinner and actually be interested in follow-up questions and spend the time as if you just met this person at a bar. That's what's exciting I think."
They do their best to keep jealousy out of the equation, especially as actors who often have to be intimate with other people.
"The least attractive thing for your partner is jealousy, so if what your goal is is to keep them interested — and not interested in other people — it's not an option," Shepard said. "You gotta go, 'No, that's actually a repellent.'"
Bell has admitted they don't have a "perfect" relationship, and she actually prefers that.
Many people turn to celebrities who they think are "the perfect couple" for advice, but Bell told Men's Health in 2014 that all the imperfections are really what make a relationship great.
"We have a perfect relationship because we both aren't afraid to admit that we're not perfect," she told the publication. "Once you can admit that you're not perfect and you mess up all the time, it's so incredibly freeing."
Bell advised against trying to find a perfect puzzle piece when looking for a spouse.
On a 2020 episode of Justin Long's podcast, "Life Is Short With Justin Long," Bell talked about the dangers of trying to find "the right person."
"That's not how humans work. People change. People grow. Marriage is much more complicated than 'I just haven't found my perfect piece,'" she said. "Because relationships aren't a puzzle. You cannot pick them up and put them down."
Bell said she and Shepard aren't phased when one of them finds someone else attractive.
Bell told Self in May that she knows when Shepard finds someone else attractive.
"But it doesn't make me feel like he's going to leave me for that person because I'm not allowing my self-esteem to be affected," she said. "I know there are people on planet Earth that are more attractive than me, and well, we're not dead."
Bell even said that one night when they were watching "Friday Night Lights," they "were moments away from picking up the phone and asking both Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch if they wanted to join our marriage."
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