Bell appeared on Tuesday’s episode of the “Life Is Short With Justin Long” podcast and talked about a tense argument she had with Shepard that lasted three whole days.
“We had this pretty incredible fight recently. Incredible. I mean like top of the lungs screaming,” the “The Good Place” actress told Long, before relaying the marital drama.
“It was about the things around the house that I felt I needed help with. We have a relationship where you are supposed to be able to say, ‘I need your help with this,’” Bell said, before adding a caveat, “For those of you listening, I’m telling this from my perspective. He’s not here; he can’t defend himself.”
As Bell told it, before leaving for work, she left a note for Shepard listing a few chores that needed to be done around the house. (With two girls, Lincoln, 6, and Delta, 5, under their roof, the Bell-Shepard household is no doubt busy.)
“I left a note and I was like, ‘Hey, Dad! Would you mind taking the two towels in the dryer and folding them’ and then like one other thing. I thought, ‘That’s 10 minutes of work, I can say that,’” she said. “At that point, the house [work] was getting to be a lot for me. The keeping up with the mom stuff, the shoes being outgrown, all of that.”
Bell continued, “So I left this note and I came home on Sunday, everything was fine. Monday night we’re laying in bed and … he goes, ‘When you leave me notes, yeah, I feel really controlled,’ and he launched into how he felt about it.”
Instead of lashing out, Bell said, she paused a beat and tried to respond as calmly as possible. “I said, ‘OK, I totally hear you. It will never happen again. If I need something to be done around the house what is a way I can do it, that you’d be OK with hearing?’”
What started as a calm conversation escalated quickly.
“Somehow, then we both blacked out and got into a fight and I don’t actually remember what happened but what transpired was a lot of volume, a lot of harsh words being thrown around, and it was an angry, angry fight about how nobody does anything for anybody else,” Bell said. “I grabbed my pillow and stomped down the hall and I sleep in the front room and I’m crying. We don’t talk for three days.”
Of course, complete non-communication is impossible when you’re parents, so Bell said they did speak when something came up with their girls.
Eventually, the couple made up, thanks in large part to a rescue dog in need.
The actress told Long she’d taken her daughters to a dog cafe and met a rescue dog there named Frank. When she video-chatted her husband to show him Frank and how he got along with the kids, Shepard said he’d be open to adopting the dog. (Shepard and Bell are big “adopt, don’t shop” advocates.)
“I didn’t get an apology, but I got a dog!” Bell said, adding that she was taken aback by her husband’s response because he’s allergic to dogs and can only be around hypoallergenic animals. “This is so much better than an apology. So I bring the dog home, it’s great.”
She added, “We never talked about that fight, ever, but I will say this: Every single thing that I have needed done or thought, ‘I’d want help with this,’ since that fight, he has been ahead of. I couldn’t complain about him if I tried right now.”
The candid anecdote isn’t surprising coming from Bell. More than maybe any other celebrity couple, she and Shepard don’t shy away from discussing the harder parts of marriage with the public. Or even recording the harder parts. Shepard hosts the popular podcast “Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard” and had Bell on as a guest early in the show’s run. Unfortunately, right before recording, they got into a fight.
They recorded as planned but the tension was palpable, so much so that Shepard wasn’t sure whether he wanted to release the episode. Ultimately, he decided to share the conversation because it was so tension-filled.
“I decided to put it out because it’s real and true and we do find our way back to liking each other by the end,” he told listeners. “In short, I want you to think of this episode as the antidote to our Samsung commercials.” (The actor was referring to the TV spots where Bell and Shepard are portrayed as nothing short of the perfect couple.)
It’s that idealized, couple-goals image that makes Bell and Shepard want to show their not-so-perfect side.
“Something happened with Dax and I early on where we decided we were never going to not be asked about our relationship,” Bell told Long on Tuesday’s podcast. “So if we were going to talk about it, let’s make sure we show the good, the bad and the ugly and how we handle it. Let’s not make it saccharin, and we really try hard to not make it saccharin, and we talk about the fact that we do fight, we do go to therapy, we dislike each other a lot sometimes.”