Olympia Dukakis On Love & Marriage

Olympia Dukakis

Olympia Dukakis reveals the secrets of a 40-year marriage to Louis Zorich.

And this is not just some old-fashioned view that wives have to put up with philandering husbands because men are built that way. I think marriage is a big enough idea to contain two individuals and all their wants and needs, as long as you learn to keep it flexible, so it can bend and stretch, rather than shatter.

One thing that worked for Louis and me was participating in group therapy in the 1960s. In the groups, married couples would confront their issues, learn how to fight, and get feedback from the others. Everyone made a commitment not to leave the room, no matter how difficult the discussion became. Louis and I still benefit from the things that therapy taught us about ourselves and each other. I think many young couples could benefit from groups, from learning how to fight and to come out the other side stronger—individually, and as partners. When we first got married,we slept together on a single cot. But, sooner or later, everyone hits that point where you want to spend time apart. Your initial instinct is to think it’s wrong—but it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or your marriage. It just means that you’re still two individuals.

Now, 42 years later, there have been many times when we’ve spent two months, three months apart.We live in New York, and Louis used to spend several months a year in Los Angeles shooting the television series Mad About You. Lately, I’ve been the one doing most of the traveling: In the past few years I’ve done films, plays, and personal appearances in Borneo, South Africa, London, and San Francisco, and on Vancouver Island.

When I'm on the road, Louis sometimes joins me. When he's not there, we stay in close touch by phone, often talking late at night so I can vent to him about what happened that day on the set, and he can catch me up with what’s happening with the kids. Before I leave town, we make certain to celebrate all the upcoming birthdays at big family dinners. Another tradition we began about five years ago is to take everyone on a family vacation. We rent a great big house on the ocean and play games and cook and laugh until our sides hurt.

Louis Zorich has been my rock-solid friend with whom I've weathered many storms and shared profound joys and sorrows. Yes, there is love, but equally important is our deep mutual respect, trust, and admiration. I will never forget the look of pride on his face as I stood to accept the Oscar for Moonstruck. All of our years together, everything we’d shared,was in that look and in his tears, as he held my face in his hands.We were like two little kids. Life is richer and fuller because of Louis.

Photo: Splash