The 56-year-old actor/director delves into why he reconciled with his wife and fellow Hollywood luminary, Christine Taylor, and discusses his realizations about what makes a marriage work as you get older.

Ben Stiller just quietly subverted society’s biggest fear around divorce. 

The actor was recently spotted posing on the red carpet with Christine Taylor — his wife of over 20 years, with whom he had separated in 2017. Their reunion was low-key and straightforward — a heartwarming example of the power of love and how it keeps on persisting in the face of adversity. Not every relationship is salvageable — some are better left in the rearview mirror, never to be revisited — but some romances will benefit from each individual party taking the time to reassess their needs and desires. 

Here’s what Ben says about their reconciliation, and what we can learn from him as we navigate our own journey through love:

Ben Stiller Reveals How He Reconciled with His Wife Christine Taylor

Ben Stiller and Wife Christine Taylor
(Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

In May 2017, the Night At The Museum star announced he and his wife were separating after nearly 17 years together. Though neither stated why they wanted to go through a split, rumors started swirling about potential factors. Some said Ben’s prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment caused a strain on their marriage while others said the death of Christine’s mother impacted the relationship. Still others had a lot to say about Ben’s personality and how it could have alienated his wife. There is no way to verify any of the theories, especially for something as private and devastating as a divorce, which is usually driven by a multitude of factors. 

Though Ben and Christine appeared together on a couple of professional endeavors following their separation, such as an Omaze commercial in June 2017, they had stopped living together. By 2019, they were photographed grabbing lunch and appearing in various red carpet affairs. When asked about a possible reunion, Christine said, “We’re a big family. We’re together all the time.”

In 2022, Ben Stiller finally confirmed he and Christine had reunited, revealing that it took the COVID-19 pandemic for them to realize that they still wanted to remain married. As a result of the lockdown, Ben moved back into their family home to help co-parent their children Ella and Quinn. As per the Esquire profile, it was “the only way he could see the kids during those early months of lockdowns.” However, the dynamic between Christine and himself “evolved” over the course of the pandemic.” Today, they are delighted that they were able to put aside their differences to focus their energies on what truly mattered. The lockdowns allowed them to zero in on what they wanted from each other and their partnership, therefore providing an unexpected second chance at marriage. Fortunately, they had never gone through the divorce filing in 2017. 

We were separated and got back together, and we’re happy about that. It’s been really wonderful for all of us. Unexpected, and one of the things that came out of the pandemic.

Ben Stiller on Esquire

Stiller Changed His Attitude on What Makes a Marriage Work

The reunion also allowed Ben to reimagine his idea of marriage, specifically what makes a marriage work. Now, what makes a marriage work doesn’t necessarily have an objective answer — it’s the million-dollar question that we have been pondering for centuries. From his perspective, though, Ben thinks the key to a successful, long-lasting marriage is respecting each other’s differences. He explained his ideology through a nifty metaphor: 

A few years ago, I realized I don’t like horseback riding. If there’s an opportunity to go horseback riding, I’m probably not going to do it. Now, I like horses! I think they’re beautiful. I like petting them. I like watching people ride horses, I like watching my kids ride horses. I just don’t really love riding horses. And once you know that, it just saves a lot of energy.

Ben Stiller on Esquire

What he essentially means is that you need to learn how to demonstrate respect for your partner, even if you dislike or don’t particularly care about their opinion on something. You and your partner will inevitably disagree on many things, but instead of letting those differences torpedo your relationship, you need to draw the line on not liking their perspective vs. not liking them altogether. As Ben said, “If you have that trust level with your partner, you know that me saying ‘I don’t like doing that thing’ is not me saying ‘I don’t like you.’” 

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor Teach Us to Embrace the Middle Ground

Instead of fighting over dissimilarities, couples should to celebrate the middle ground. There’s no point in trying to change them or getting them to change you. If you’re with them in the first place, it’s because there is something compelling about their personality, and part of living with their personality is dealing with their likes and dislikes, which may be drastically different from yours.

As a result, instead of fighting over ideas that you will fundamentally not see eye to eye on, it’s better just to agree to disagree and simply move past these conversations. You need to give yourself both the time and the space to reframe the partnership based on a common goal. If the common goal is to sustain the marriage, that’s where your focus should be.