Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have been candid about some of the intense arguments they’ve had as a couple. Now they’re letting us in on how they resolve their conflicts, while teaching their daughters to do the same.
In an episode of “The Motherly Podcast” that dropped Thursday, Bell said that when daughters Lincoln and Delta were still babies, Shepard made a keen parenting observation: Kids often pick up on tension between adults but rarely get to see the resolution. How are parents supposed to equip their children with these skills if they don’t see them modeled, he wondered.
“We’ll come home. We’ll be tense with each other. We’ll snap at each other in the kitchen, not realizing they’re witnessing it,” Bell told host journalist Liz Tenety. “We put them to bed. We go into the bedroom and then, just privately, we say, ‘God, I’m sorry I snapped at you, I had a really tough day.’ Well, they don’t ever see that. But the next morning, they just assume the problem went away.”
Shepard made his wife promise that they’d always apologize and make up in front of their kids — even if that meant having to reenact an apology for them later.
“He said, ‘Let’s make a deal that if we ever make up when we’re behind closed doors, that we role-play the next morning,’” the “Frozen 2” star said.
“So every time we’re testy with each other, the next morning I say, ‘Good morning, Daddy. Hey, I just wanted to say last night, I had a really long day and I’m sorry I snapped at you about not having the dinner that you wanted or not having this.’ And he would say, ‘Yeah, you’re right, Mommy. I had a hard day too and I’m really sorry.’”
Afterwards, they end the exchange with some PDA.
“Then we physically kiss and hug, even if [the kids are] within earshot,” she said.
Bell and Shepard have been together for 13 years and married for six. Though many fans regard them as “relationship goals,” they try to debunk the idea that they’re the perfect couple by being open about their struggles and the work they put into the relationship.
“Something happened with Dax and I early on where we decided we were never going to not be asked about our relationship,” Bell said in an episode of the podcast “Life Is Short With Justin Long.” “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 saccharine, and we really try hard to not make it saccharine. We talk about the fact that we do fight, we do go to therapy, we dislike each other a lot sometimes.”
In fact, both Bell and Shepard have publicly credited couples therapy with helping them grow and mature into the partners they are today.
“You do better in the gym with a trainer. You don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe,” Bell told Good Housekeeping in 2015. “Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.”