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8 Rules Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka Follow To Keep Their 18-Year Relationship Strong

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David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, and Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris

Neil Patrick Harris’s relationship with David Burtka didn’t start out how most Hollywood relationships do — they had to be very secretive about it at the start.

Linked together as far back as 2004 and finally marrying in Italy in 2014, Harris and Burtka have figured out how to stay together in a successful marriage — thanks to some of the rules they’ve followed over the years.

Here are 8 rules that Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka follow in their marriage.

1. Keep date nights alive.

Harris and Burtka have made it a point to keep their date nights alive as they traverse their busy Hollywood lies and responsibilities as parents to their pair of twins — 12-year-olds Harper Grace Burtka-Harris and Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris.

In October 2019, Burtka spoke exclusively with Us Weekly about how they’ve made date nights a priority.

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“We try to go away or take a date night every so often because I think that’s really important, not only for the couple, but for the kids to see,” he told them as he promoted his Gardein partnership.

“Even if the kids fall asleep and we end up watching Netflix on the couch, that, we feel, is a connection because we’re sharing something,” Burtka explained. “Or just cuddling in the morning or bringing each other a cup of coffee. It’s the little gestures that make up for the bigger stuff.”

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2. Prioritize the marriage for their kids' sake.

When talking about keeping their date nights alive, Burtka also revealed how important it was to him and Harris to show their kids that they have a functional, successful, and loving marriage.

“The kids see that their parents are safe and their parents are on a good foot,” he said. “Of course, they don’t want you to leave. ‘Please stay. Don’t go away from us.’ But it’s important for them to see that we are working on each other because it’s another job to cultivate.”

Prioritizing the futures of their children and their responsibilities as parents are important to the pair, and part of that involves prioritizing their marriage as a whole.

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3. Expose the kids to diverse experiences.

Six years after their move to Harlem in New York City, Burtka spoke with Us Weekly about their experience living in the concrete jungle — New York.

“[The best part is the] culture and energy and being engrossed in the world,” Burtka revealed. “When you live in Los Angeles, you’re so isolated. You got in your car and you had to drive to the Asian park or the Hispanic park. [Here], everyone’s so melted together.”

The move to New York, Burtka revealed in 2013, was about figuring out where they wanted their children’s education to be, confirming that they made the right choice all these years later.

“We live up in Harlem so they see a ton of stuff, and they’re exposed to stuff at a young age. I think they grow from that,” he said.

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4. They keep a ‘marriage is work’ mentality.

After 18 years together, Burtka and Harris know a thing or two about keeping a marriage together, although they’ve never had a problem keeping it real about their struggles.

"Every marriage hits rough spots and that's just the way it is," Burtka told E! News on November 21, 2022.

"Having open lines of communication is super important in your marriage," he shared. "Going to see someone to talk about your issues as a couple, there's nothing wrong with that."

He revealed that “marriage is work,” but explained that the moment you stop putting in the effort is when the spark starts to fade.

"You have to take care of your marriage, you have to go on dates, you have to see someone, if you can, to talk about it."

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5. Be able to fight and make up.

In the same interview with E! News, Burtka stressed that arguing with your partner is completely normal and healthy.

"Being able to fight and being able to make up is really important," David said. "And having your kids see that you fight and seeing that you're able to make up is important."

It’s important to him to show these healthy behaviors off to their children so they learn that it’s okay to have disagreements.

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6. Don’t treat the kids like babies, but as equals.

Part of teaching their children and molding them into responsible adults is how they communicate with them.

"Having a conversation with your kids is so important,” Burtka says. “Talking to your kids as normal human beings, not having the baby talk, it makes your kids feel like they're equal with you."

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7. Step into the ‘role model’ role.

When reports that their marriage was in trouble were released in 2018 by InTouch Weekly, a source revealed that they’re aware of how public their marriage is, and how important it is to keep up their successes.

“They’re constantly told how much their public marriage and kids have meant to the gay community, and both take that seriously and want to remain role models,” said the insider.

They were struggling with differences in personalities and figuring out how to navigate through Burtka’s decision to go sober.

“They’re both decent people who love each other and their kids and are trying to work it out.”

Seems like they’ve figured it out as four years have gone by since the reports.

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8. Take the kids to Disney every year.

Neil Patrick Harris takes their family’s annual trip to Disney World very seriously.

In a conversation with PEOPLE in April 2021, Harris told the publication that he would take his kids to Walt Disney World every year until his kids “can’t stand” him.

Every year during Christmastime, they take the trip to an Orlando resort for a magical visit.

"Our kids have grown up appreciating and valuing not only the amusement rides, but the architecture and the Imagineering that goes on, both in front and behind the scenes," he claimed.

But all jokes aside, traveling and spending time with their kids has been a key piece as to the reason why Harris and Burtka are able to keep their relationship chugging along.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.

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