The SE­CRET to Our 16-YEAR MAR­RIAGE

Still go­ing strong! Sarah Michelle Gel­lar and Fred­die Prinze Jr. tell Us they’re more in love than ever

US Weekly - - ETERNAL FLAME - BY MARISA LAUDADIO

When Fred­die Prinze Jr. was 15, a girl stood him up and broke his heart. He re­mem­bers telling his mom what hap­pened as she cooked at the stove one night. “Mom said, ‘You’re a teenager, and teenage girls want to date jerks,’ only she didn’t say, ‘jerks,’” he re­calls. She as­sured him that when he grew up and started dat­ing women, “‘they’re go­ing to want a guy like you. And there are only go­ing to be six or seven of you left on earth, so you’re go­ing to have your choice.’ I stayed a nice boy.”

Six years later, he met the woman he’d marry. Fred­die, now 42, be­came friends with Sarah Michelle Gel­lar first — he was her ride to the gym when they were shooting 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Sum­mer. But a few years later, that friend­ship turned into more, and now, two decades and two kids later, they’re still madly in love. “Com­mu­ni­cate. That’s the [key],” the Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer ac­tress, 41, tells Us, ex­plain­ing why she thinks she and her

Scooby-Doo costar, whom she calls her “best friend,” are still go­ing strong 16 years af­ter their wed­ding. “It’s about be­ing present. Lis­ten­ing is the most im­por­tant thing.” Hav­ing a sense of hu­mor doesn’t hurt ei­ther. “We still make each other laugh,” says Fred­die. “And we treat each other with re­spect.”

WORK­ING AT IT

They also don’t pre­tend mar­riage is easy. Sarah half-joked last year that the se­cret to their suc­cess is sep­a­rate bath­rooms and

sep­a­rate credit cards for her shop­ping and his video game ad­dic­tion, but she and Fred­die both ad­mit it takes effort. “It’s fun be­ing sin­gle — you can be self­ish,” Fred­die tells Us.

“But mar­riage re­quires a step back from that and a bit of a sac­ri­fice.”

They es­pe­cially love mak­ing food to­gether and eat­ing meals as a fam­ily (Sarah has a no-phone­sal­lowed-at-the-ta­ble rule) with Char­lotte, 9, and Rocky, 6. Fred­die cooks break­fast for them just about “ev­ery sin­gle day,” he says.

Sarah knows she got lucky — but so did Fred­die. He knew she was the woman for him “from like two weeks in. I’m telling you, from the first time we kissed, I didn’t go on an­other date. It was just Sarah. That les­son my mom taught me in front of the stove was bang-on — I got to pick the best.”

“We were at the right placein our life when we met,” Fred­die tells Us of fall­ing in lovewith Sarah.

For Sarah, “the kitchen is the num­ber one” place she likes to spend time with Fred­die and kids Rocky and Char­lotte.

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