Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, who tied the knot back in 2012, have long been held up as the internet’s favourite relationship, and that’s largely because they keep things on the sassy – as opposed to the schmaltzy – side.
Over the years, they have proven that they are more than happy to make fun of each other (and their marriage) on social media; we’re particularly thinking about the time that Reynolds cropped his wife out of his birthday greeting to her, and Lively responding with a picture of “rival” Ryan Gosling in place of her husband, if you’re wondering.
Essentially, they have excellent banter – and this is largely due to the fact that they were friends long before they became a couple.
“I met Blake on the darkest crease on the anus of the universe called Green Lantern,” Reynolds recently joked on the SmartLess podcast.
“We were friends and buddies and about a year and half later, we went on a double date but we were dating separate people. We hung out and we always kind of kept in touch sort of casually and next thing you know, she was going to Boston. I was going to Boston and I said, ‘I’ll ride with you.’”
Reynolds added: “We got on the train and rode together and then I was just begging her to sleep with me.”
Like we said before, banter. But it was during this same SmartLess interview that Reynolds ditched the jokes and got serious about his relationship, even going so far as to share the impossibly easy secret behind his and Lively’s long-lasting love.
Put plainly, it’s this; they always make time for the other to follow their dreams.
“I’m present with my kids and my wife and my marriage is incredibly important to me and that friendship is important to me,” Reynolds explained.
“And Blake and I don’t do movies at the same time. When Blake is ready to do some stuff, I’ll step down and then we go back and forth. She’ll do a film and I’ll be with her on location hanging out with the kids.”
It might not sound like much, but Dr John M Gottman – as in, yes, the same psychologist who made his name with four decades of work on divorce prediction and marital stability – has stated that most relationship conflict finds its roots in unfulfilled dreams.
Why? Well, because when one’s hopes and goals for the future are not being respected or honoured by one’s partner, it breeds feelings of frustration and resentment.
“[The] strategy of discussing dreams when you encounter conflict does not come easily to many people,” says Dr Gottman. “Perhaps that’s because we’re taught to stick to a narrow field of absolute facts when faced with opposition. If you believe there’s got to be a winner and a loser in every conflict, then you try to make your argument as objective and highly accurate as possible: otherwise you’ll be proven wrong.
“We lose a lot with this narrow approach – namely our ability to find shared meaning and connect emotionally. But once we broaden the landscape of our discussion to include dreams and hopes, we can see where our visions merge! We can find room for compromise.”
Gottman suggests that we ask questions about our partners’ dreams, offer emotional support and validation, and offer practical support to our partner’s dreams wherever we can; this can take the form of childcare, transportation, or whatever you feel able to offer.
Reynolds and Lively have, in wholeheartedly supporting one another’s career goals, absolutely nailed the above. But, more importantly, they have also achieved Gottman’s final key piece of advice: to empathise with one another (this can be something as simple as saying “I understand why this is important to you”) whenever they can.
Indeed, as Reynolds previously told Humans Of New York: “[Blake] always responds with empathy. She meets anger with empathy. She meets hate with empathy. She’ll take the time to imagine what happened to a person when they were five or six years old. And she’s made me a more empathetic person.
“I had a very fractured relationship with my father. Before he died, she made me remember things I didn’t want to remember. She made me remember the good times.”
And Lively, too, has praised Reynolds for doing the same for her, saying: “In other relationships, if something came up, I would call my girlfriends or my sister, and say, ‘Hey, this is what he did – what should I do?’ Where, with him, we were friends for two years before we were ever dating. And I treat him like my girlfriend.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, this happened. It upset me. This is how I feel. What do I do?’ And he does the same for me. He treats me like his best buddy.”
It seems, then, the couple’s relationship advice would be this: listen, empathise, support – and treat one another like friends first, lovers second.
And that, dear reader, is advice that we can 100% get on board with that.