Their marriage has been going strong for more than 40 years, but Jeff Bridges, 69, remember the day they first met like it was yesterday. In fact, the romance is so strong that Bridges still carries a special picture of his wife, Susan Geston, 66, from the very first moment they met each other. With three kids and one grandchild, the love between these two is still strong. So, how do they do it? Let's find out their secret!
IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT ... FOR JEFF
The two first met in Paradise Valley, Montana, while Jeff was filming scenes for the 1975 movie ‘Rancho Deluxe.’ At the same time, North Dakota native Susan was working as a waitress and waiting tables to pay for college education. For Bridges, it was love at first sight. He recalled the moment on Conan O’Brien’s late night show: "I knew I was madly in love with my wife the minute I saw her.” He continued to add,
“Not only was she beautiful, she had a broken nose and two black eyes. I had this fantasy that she’d been beaten up by a boyfriend and that I was going to save her. Actually, she had been in a car accident a few days earlier.
I did what lots of guys do when they see a girl but don’t want her to see them: I held up a magazine, looked over the edge, and then ducked back behind it when she walked by. It took me all day to finally get up the nerve to ask her out. And she said no.”
“Just then the makeup man on the film snapped a photo of the two of us. About 15 years ago the guy sent it to me, saying, “Here you are asking a local girl for a date.” He didn’t know that that “local girl” became my wife. I still carry that photo around today. It’s one of my most prized possessions.”
Unfortunately, Jeff didn’t receive the response that he was hoping for. After finally building up the courage to ask her on a date, Susan turned down the actor. But that’s not where their story ended; fate was on their side, and they accidentally ran into each other later that night.
“After she turned me down, I ran into Sue again at the film’s wrap party, and I asked her to dance. We danced together, and then I asked her to go look at some property with me.
We drove to Yellowstone Ranch, and as I was looking at the land and looking back at Sue, I started thinking that I was looking at my wife-to-be. She was so relaxed and easy to be with. She had a fun attitude, and I had a feeling of being at home — a soothing feeling of being where I belonged.”
Although they’re happily married now, Jeff, like many young men, was terrified of the idea of marriage and commitment. It actually took the couple many years to finally get to that point. The actor went into detail about his fear in a 2006 Reader's Digest interview,
"I don’t know how it is for women or for other guys, but when I was young and in my 20s, I had a fear of marriage. I thought it was a giant step toward death. So I did everything in my power to resist it—the idea was frightening to me, man."
After a couple of years of dating, Sue was ready to settle down and get married. Marriage, family, and kids were her main priority at that point in time. That’s when Jeff mentioned his “marital death” theory to his girlfriend, and she simply laughed it off. Until she realized he was being serious. That’s when Sue gave her then-boyfriend an ultimatum - but Bridges just wasn’t ready. The pair ended up living apart for six months, seeing each other from time to time.
However, everything changed for Jeff as soon as Sue got a new job offer in Montana. This was when it really hit him that Sue might be leaving and Jeff is on the brink of losing his love:
“She actually talked to my mother about what she should do; they’d become the best of friends. And my mom, Dorothy — my own, wonderful, loving mother — counseled Sue to leave, forcing me to make a decision. My mother said, “Don’t stay with him.”
Thankfully, Jeff came to his senses fast and realized that there’s no way he can let her go. The actor recalls in an interview with OWN: "I said, 'Oh God, I can't let this woman go. I had this vision of an old guy thinking there was this girl from Montana, man, why didn't I marry her."
Even though it required a bit of push and pull from both ends, it all ended up working out. According to the Daily Beast, everything changed for the actor once he moved on to that new stage in his life. His “marital death” theory was sent to the trash, and now the pair are living happily with their three daughters and one grandchild:
"What you don't know until you get married is that you think all the other doors close, which is true, but this doorway you open [with marriage] is a hallway lined with all these other brilliant doors—kids, deeper intimacy, adventures, and everything else.”
He does mention, though, that marriage is a lot of work and it’s not always going to be easy. According to the actor, the pair used to fight often, but they both learned how to compromise and peacefully resolve issues they come across. Jeff stated that the key to their happy marriage is communication - they often talk about what’s bothering them and don’t interrupt each other until they’re done talking.
"If you change partners every time it gets tough or you get a little dissatisfied, then you don't get the richness that's available in a long-term relationship," he said. "My wife supports me and it makes me love her more."
Honestly, Jeff and Sue are the ultimate relationship goals. And with the constant cheating, breakup, and divorce scandals we see daily from Hollywood couples, it's a miracle that these two have lasted as long as they have! For those who’ve lost faith in love, look no further - the Bridges’ have all the answers and advice that you need. Do you guys agree with their happy marriage secret? What other advice do you have towards keeping a marriage strong? Let us know in the comments below!