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Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber’s Surprisingly Simple Secret to 33 Years of Marriage

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so we’re looking back at our favorite famous love stories. Despite being two of the most beloved TV stars, Mark Harmon and wife Pam Dawber have managed to keep their relationship away from prying eyes. That emphasis on privacy isn’t what they’d call the secret to their successful love story, though.

“We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier,” Harmon told PEOPLE in 2019. “That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is.”

As one of the longest-lasting couples in Hollywood, with 33 years of marriage and two sons (Sean, 32, and Ty Christian, 28), he may be on to something. The NCIS leading man was 35 and Mork & Mindy starlet was 34 when they tied the knot back in 1987.

Harmon also credited the pair’s differences for keeping things fresh over the years. “We don’t generally like the same thing, and that’s been healthy for us, actually,” he said. For example, Dawber wasn’t keen on the idea of him starring in the slapstick movie Summer School, which was released the same year they got hitched.

“That was a game changer for me,” Harmon explained, referring to how excited he was to work with legendary comedy director Carl Reiner. “Like, ‘He thinks I can do this?’ and that meant a lot.” So, he didn’t follow his wife’s advice to skip the film, but disagreements like that don’t cause any rifts between the pair. Clearly, opposites really do attract when it comes to these two.

Harmon and Dawber posing together at an event in 1989.Getty Images

Harmon also spilled that although he has a few different rings he switches between, he likes having one on display whenever he’s not filming “because I’m proud to be married, and I’m proud of who I’m married to. I’m just so proud of her.”

Dawber stays totally out of the limelight these days, but had her own chat with PEOPLE just before she and Harmon walked down the aisle in 1987. “We’re not trying to keep something secret,” she said. “But if you don’t want it totally exploited by the press, you have to.” She also described Harmon as “fabulous,” saying he checked off qualities from her “list of requirements” for a man, including strength, intelligence, independence, sensitivity, warmth, and a sense of humor.

Although we wish the couple would share a few more sweet stories like these with us to gush over, we can understand wanting to keep it all to themselves.

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