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Professional Athletes Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece Share Their Marriage Secrets

After 20 years together, these two are doing better than ever.

Associate Digital Editor

 

Decorated surfer Laird Hamilton and volleyball champion Gabrielle Reece have been married for two decades. In that time, they've been there to witness each other's greatest victories. Now, the pro athletes are opening up about their private life, telling People how they've kept their marriage strong for 20 years.

 

"I say it's called a relation 'ship,'" Hamilton explained. "We are in a boat, we have to work together. Sometimes it's stormy, sometimes it's calm, but you have to put the effort in and you have to want to." While the ocean analogy is appropriate for the surf star, he reverts to something simpler when he's in unchartered waters. "I just agree with everything that she says, and then it works fantastic," he joked.

 

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For Reece, it's all about giving her husband love, attention, and respect. "If you have someone you really love and respect, show them you admire them, appreciate them and even desire them on a regular basis," she said. But she also explained that it's important to find inner peace, and to channel that personal happiness into the marriage. "We always joke, 'You go make yourself happy, I'll go make myself happy and then we can come together and work from there,'" she continues. "Not, 'It's your job to make me happy and my job to make you happy,' because that's not realistic."

 

Hamilton finds this balance by doing what he does best—catching a wave. "The way I find my happiness is I ride a wave, ride it really far, ride it really big and ride it really fast," he said. For Reece? It's all about rediscovering who she is, outside the confines of marriage and motherhood. "I need to have my own outlet as a person," she said. "I [find ways to] challenge and express myself other than being someone else's something." The athletes married in November 1997 and share two young daughters, Reece and Brody Jo.

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