How much I relate to Kristen Bell (particularly as a very short woman attached to a rather tall, funny man) is probably off-putting to those who aren’t as familiar with (or enthusiastic about) the actress and mom of two. For one, I’m not an actress or a mom, so, at first glance, the differences might seem to outweigh the similarities. But when it comes to her outlook on love and marriage, Bell and I are kindred spirits – and her relationship with Dax Shepard is one that I would happily mimic.
Bell has been married to fellow actor Shepard since 2013, and their path to marriage was the first indication I had that the former Veronica Mars star and her husband are the celebrity couple I most identify with when it comes to my own relationship with my fiancé. They began dating in 2007, became engaged in 2010, but put off marrying for several years. As a long-term engaged lady who has been in a relationship for over 7 years, engaged for nearly 5, and is in no rush to walk down the aisle, I admire the fact that Bell, like me, hasn’t centered her life around a wedding.
“We’ve been very vocal about not wanting to be married in a state that doesn’t allow that right to all of its citizens. We’ll wait until California gets on the right side of history,” Bell said in 2012, when asked about her wedding plans. Though Bell and Shepard’s reasoning was political and ethical, mine has been more a matter of life getting in the way of the planning, paying for, and throwing of a wedding. But the point remains the same: The act of getting married isn’t the most important aspect of my or Bell’s relationship.
When the two did eventually tie the knot after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned in June 2013, Bell “re-proposed” via Twitter and Shepard responded with an enthusiastic “fuck yes.” It warmed my heart, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t remind me, at its core, of my own engagement story: “Hey, wanna get married?” my sweaty fiancé said to sweaty me after we’d spent 12 hours moving across Brooklyn into a new apartment. “Fuck yes” (or the gist of it) was also my response. Perfectly casual, perfectly us.
Bell and Shepard’s $142 wedding in October of that same year (which Shepard once jokingly referred to as the “world’s worst wedding”) was a courthouse affair, without all the bells and whistles typically associated with Hollywood weddings. But that didn’t stop Bell from getting teary-eyed, and who could blame her? She was marrying her best friend in a ceremony that was just about them and their love for one another. I’ve fielded plenty of opinions regarding my own wedding specifics since I got engaged nearly 5 years ago, and when I do eventually get married, my goal is to make it something that’s more about us than something meant to satisfy other peoples’ expectations – just like Bell did.
And Bell’s emotional response to the casual ceremony didn’t stop Shepard from making fun of her, because if one thing’s certain, it’s that these two know how to make one another laugh – yet another aspect of their silly partnership that I always want to keep in my own relationship.
They know how to have fun with one another, something that’s also yet to change in my long-term relationship (and, ideally, never will). Just watch their rendition of Toto’s “Africa” – filmed while they were, in fact, vacationing in Africa – and try not to smile as you feel the love and joy radiating off of these two. This goofiness, in my opinion, is the surest way to maintain the genuine love and best friendship that helps a marriage go the distance and avoid eventually feeling like a glorified roommate situation, once the so-called “honeymoon period” ends.
Silly videos and playful teasing aside, these two always remind you that the serious stuff matters, too – traditional vows include “for better or worse” for a reason, and being able to anticipate your partner’s needs during disastrous, life-changing moments is key to a successful long-term relationship. For instance, in 2013, Bell told Redbook an emotional story about the time she surprised her then almost-husband by showing up, heavily pregnant, at his terminally ill father’s bedside (a story that had previous been shared by Shepard via his blog):
“We finished shooting [House of Lies] a day early, and this feeling came over me that Dax needed me. So I got on a place, without telling him, and walked into the hospital room. And sure enough, it had been a bad day and Dax and his dad had gotten some rough news. Two days later, his dad passed away. I was meant to be there.”