Generations of Americans have grown up with Henry Winkler. He made families laugh together on the iconic sitcom “Happy Days,” hilariously shocked audiences on “Arrested Development,” and now serves as yet another off-the-wall staple on the HBO show “Barry.”
While he’s been a consistent on living room TV screens for decades, though, his most consistent role has been in his own family life. The 73-year-old New York native just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary, ringing in his 40-year mark with Stacey Weitzman in May of 2018. Their relationship is one of the longest-lasting in Hollywood—and in a recent interview with talk show host James Corden, Winkler revealed the secret to so many years of bliss.
When Winkler met his wife, she wasn’t used to the spotlight. She was a single mom with a 4-year-old son, awestruck by the fact that she was being introduced to a television star.
Winkler was just as starstruck by the woman he insists he fell in love with on the spot, though, and the couple have navigated the roads of marriage together by remaining loving, understanding, and respectful.
He started the interview with some hilarious jokes about the ways to keep your spouse happy through raising children and grandchildren alike.
Eventually, though, he got serious.
“Honestly?” he said. “I really believe, first of all, that you [have to] want to. The will to do it, number one.”
“Number two, at the center of all relationships are the ear. It is not how you meant it, whatever you said, it is how it lands. And to respect what the other person heard as opposed to what you thought you meant.”
The consideration displayed in the answer was shocking and impressive but made it clear how Winkler has managed to remain happily married for so long. In a world where so many are determined to shrug off perceived insult to others simply by claiming that they were misunderstood, Winkler explained that happiness comes from respecting the feelings of the person you love—not just insisting that they bend to what you meant to say.
His wife, of course, had the same level of respect and understanding for the journey that has been their marriage in her own discussion.
“The most wonderful thing is to really be able to grow with someone,” said Weitzman, 71, via Fox News. “We’re not the same people we were when we got married […] It does take work. There are glitches in the road, and you get a little off kilter, but if you have the ability and the stick-to-itiveness based on love, then your friendship and your relationship only get better.”
Winkler and Weitzman have gone on to raise a beautiful family, having two more children in addition to Weitzman’s oldest son and eventually getting to watch as they became grandparents.
Now, their job seems pretty easy—they claim that the best parts of their days are getting to hang out with the new grandchildren they have, and Winkler has finally started to get formal recognition for his acting skills in the form of his first-ever Emmy win this past year.
When it comes to how they got through the difficult years in between first love and old age, though, it’s clear that these two really get it!