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21 celebrity secrets to a happy marriage

From Michelle Obama to Helen Mirren to Channing Tatum, these celebrities share their top relationship tips for how to make a marriage last.

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Image | Anthony Harvey

1. Marriage requires hard work (Michelle Obama)
“Marriage is hard work. Even the best of marriages require a lot of work — even if you’re married to your soulmate who has very few flaws. Building a life with a person other than yourself, and raising kids and dealing with all of the bumps and the bruises and the joys and the pains that go along with life, that creates the natural state of marriage, and it’s a challenge. I say that to people not to discourage them but to say that you will inevitably hit those bumps. Don’t view that as a shortcoming of yourself or your spouse or your marriage. Don’t give up on it. Just understand that you’re going along the path that everybody else goes on. Go in ready for the work.”

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2. Keep the element of surprise (Hugh Jackman)
“My number-one rule for romance is surprise. If I bring Deb flowers every Tuesday, yeah, it’s nice, but is it romantic?”

3. Pay attention to the little things (Channing Tatum)
“To make it work you have to pay attention. You have to want to make sure they’re okay. I know if Jenna’s had a bad dream. I know if she’s going to wake up in a good mood. I just know. Maybe because I’ve spent a lot of time with her, but pay attention guys. If you love the person, just figure out how to make them happy. Write a little note. Put it under the toilet seat. Do something crazy. Make them laugh. It’s not that hard to pay attention and care.”

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4. Don’t go to bed angry (Matthew McConaughey)
“We never go to bed holding a grudge.”

5. Spend time together as a couple (David Beckham)
“You have to have fun together. We’ve got beautiful children together which our whole time is making them happy and making sure they’re healthy and good so most of our time is spent on them. But we have to also spend time together as a couple and that’s always important.”

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6. Equality is key (Victoria Beckham)
“He’s a fantastic father. He’s incredibly talented, a wonderful husband. I supported him for many years, and he’s proud of me. He supports me. We’re very equal at home.”

7. You can’t be happy in your marriage if you’re not happy in yourself (Beyoncé)
“I was independent before I met my husband, and we have such a natural chemistry and a genuine relationship, and it’s based on the things that relationships are supposed to be based on. I’ve seen, growing up, when a woman or a man in a relationship — it doesn’t matter which one — doesn’t feel confident, they feel a bit trapped. Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.”

8. Talking is key (Meryl Streep)
“You have to talk about all the issues that arise, even the smallest things,” she said. “You have to listen to your partner’s problems, suggestions, and advice, and accept that you’re not always right. Conversation is the key to a successful marriage.”

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9. Don’t be afraid to spend some time apart (Helen Mirren)
“We miss each other terribly [but being seperated] isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Listening to the other person, giving the other person room to be who they want to be, who they are. Certainly giving them room and support in their profession and work … but that has to be a two-way street.”

10. Don’t throw in the towel (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
“It’s a long road and I think people today are so quick to throw in the towel on marriage. You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises, because that won’t be the last problem. There will be many more down the road.”

11. Sex is key (Cate Blanchett)
“It’s about rhythm. I’m sure if you have a good sexual relationship, then you’re in sync with one another.”

12. Be supportive of each other (Giselle Bundchen)
“My father always said, the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships, and I think, no matter how challenging it was, we’ve always been supportive of one another. I think that’s the most important thing you can have in life, you know? A support system and love.”

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13. Never take each other for granted (Tom Hanks)
“We just like each other. You start there … I still can’t believe my wife goes out with me. If we were in high school and I was just funny, I’d never have the courage to talk to her.”

14. Pay attention to what your other half needs (Reese Witherspoon)
“I want so much for him to be happy, and he wants me to be happy. That’s a big part of my day, thinking, ‘Is he happy?’ And for him, ‘Is she happy?'”

15. Some rules don’t hurt (Justin Timberlake)
“We have a couple of rules in our relationship. The first rule is that I make her feel like she’s getting everything. The second rule is that I actually do let her have her way in everything. And, so far, it’s working.””We have a couple of rules in our relationship. The first rule is that I make her feel like she’s getting everything. The second rule is that I actually do let her have her way in everything. And, so far, it’s working.”

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16. Don’t air your dirty laundry in public (Sarah Jessica-Parker)
“The secret is, we don’t discuss it. To reporters or anybody else. That’s it!”

17. Respect each other (Emily Blunt)
“The best relationships that I have seen of my friends, and hopefully that I am in, is that you can’t clip each other’s wings. You have to really empower the other one to be everything they can be.”

18. Say “I love you” often (Aaron Paul)
“Tell her you love her. Tell her you miss her. Tell her you can’t live without her. Love love and cherish life.”

19. Know what’s important (Blake Lively)
“Work is important, but my greatest passion is my personal life.”

20. You have to want the same thing (Cameron Diaz)
“Timing is everything. If you get into a relationship where you want something the guy doesn’t want, it’s never gonna work. You’re never going to get him to be in that place … No matter how old you are, finding the guy who’s in the same place as you are and wants to show up is the only way a relationship works, period.”

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21. Don’t stop laughing (Jennifer Aniston)
“I’m lucky because Justin is the funniest person I’ve met, and we make each other laugh. Laughter is one of the great keys to staying youthful.”