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Learn how Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy mastered the “complicated balance” of matrimony.

Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy have been together for over a decade and they’ve mastered the “complicated balance” of matrimony. After tying the knot in a secret ceremony in France in 2009, they welcomed their first son, Cyrus Michael Christopher, in 2012, followed by son Rowan in 2018, all while actively worked on their union. As Dancy told the Evening Standard, their success lies in being able to strike the perfect note between individual and joint ventures. “We have got to be happy as a unit and I also want both of us to be happy independently and fulfilled in what we do, so there has to be some elbow room,” he said. “You have to have, not rules, but things to aspire to, like not being apart too long, basic stuff,” he continued. However, they would have never had the chance to discover this perfectly balanced bliss if it weren’t for a number of imperfect relationships (and flings!) that helped show Danes how truly special her bond with Dancy was.

Claire Danes’ previous relationship stirred up drama 

Claire Danes and Billy Crudup (Credit:
Theo Wargo / Staff via Getty)

Before Claire Danes met Hugh Dancy on the 2006 set of Evening, she had a three-year relationship with another fellow actor, Billy Crudup. The pair met in 2003 on the set of Stage Beauty and their romance was plagued by scandal. That’s because Crudup was dating The West Wing star Mary-Louise Parker at the time (they had been together for eight years) and she was seven months pregnant when Crudup reportedly left her to be with Danes. Danes’ rep denied the rumors, telling People that she and Crudup were “friends” and had been for 10 years, but the truth turned out to be different. By mid-2004, People was reporting how the pair had been “spotted nuzzling all over New York City this summer.” It wouldn’t last, though, and they eventually called it quits in 2006. 

During the years that followed, the exes kept exceptionally quiet on their headline-making romance and it wasn’t until 2009 that Danes opened up to Blackbook about the scandal, saying, “That was a choice I made to fall in love.” Admitting it was “unpleasant to be cast in such an unflattering role,” she said she simply listened to her heart and kept “living with the same kind of integrity that I had always lived with.” Jump to 2015 and she touched on the subject once more, this time telling Howard Stern it was a “scary thing” and “really hard.” She explained, “I didn’t know how to not do that. I was just in love with him, and needed to explore that, and I was 24,” she said, adding, “I didn’t quite know what those consequences would be. But it’s OK. I went through it.”

Claire Danes’ romance with Hugh Dancy didn’t happen overnight 

Hugh Dancy and Claire Dane (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Claire Danes may have no regrets about following her heart with Billy Crudup, but she’s made it perfectly clear that the romance, all of the headlines it generated, and the breakup that followed took a real toll on her. It’s no surprise then that when she met Hugh Dancy in 2006, right as her relationship was ending, she wasn’t eager to jump into another union.

Fate had other plans. As the pair’s Evening co-star, Mamie Gummer, revealed, their connection was undeniable, and unstoppable. “I was there when it was happening and it’s something that I will never forget,” she said, noting, “They are perfect for each other.”

Even so, it took Danes a moment to realize that herself. Joining Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast in 2020, she recalled vowing to avoid relationships for a while, but the idea didn’t stick after she had her “palate cleansed” by a one-night stand that made her realize, “Oh s***. I think I’m going to marry [Hugh].”

Dancy himself further explained what happened on The Michelle Collins Show (via E!), clarifying that they “were not in a relationship when that happened,” but rather, “it was kind of in the moment [when] I was single and she was single and we were both clearly thinking about it. But she was also thinking, I suppose — as one often does — ‘Well, do I wanna jump back into another relationship?'” The hookup showed her that she did and, as Dancy joked, he’s “really glad that my wife chose to have a one-night stand with an inadequate lover. It could have gone either way, who knows?”

Making a marriage work requires work, and love  

As Claire Danes slowly began to realize that, despite just having gone through heartbreak, her bond with Hugh Dancy was too special to pass up, the actor solidified his place in her heart with some… crafting. Reminiscing about when they “first started sorta-kinda-dating for real(ish),” she told Porter how “I had an ornament-making party for Christmas, and he helped organize it. Then he made an ornament of cowboy paper dolls, and I thought, ‘And he crafts?’ That was it,” she laughed. “You have me for the rest of our lives.”

Something else that convinced her to take a leap of faith was the fact that “while relationships are work, this just didn’t feel like it.” Speaking with Blackbook, Danes shared the importance of working on a relationship without forcing it, saying, “It’s the kind of work that feels energizing rather than enervating. There’s that pledge, and people talk about it being claustrophobic but I find it the opposite,” she told the magazine.

I find it very freeing to know that, okay, it takes constant nurturing and attention, but I can also stop looking for the one — that’s established.

Claire Danes

It’s that commitment to putting in the work that explains why the couple has set strict rules for their careers. Recalling the years when she was filming Homeland in North Carolina and he was shooting Hannibal in Toronto, Danes admitted to Porter that it was “tough” because “that distance is corrosive, and I’m just bad at it.” And so, “we learned along the way how essential it is for us to be physically together as often as possible.”

What’s more, she’s also been able to draw inspiration from her parents. “My mum Carla taught me that a long marriage can work,” Danes told The Sun, adding, “My parents have been together since they were 18 so I am privileged to have them as role models.” And it doesn’t hurt that she genuinely enjoys being a wife. “I like marriage,” she said, explaining, “I feel very secure. It helps when you are in love with the person you are married to,” she added, concluding, “He keeps me sane and happy.” 

When you know you’ve found the right person, the idea of commitment doesn’t seem like a burden — quite the opposite. Marriage takes work but the effort but the right partner is always worth it.

be strong enough to love again
“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” — David Wilkerson