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Emma Thompson's marriage secrets

Emma Thompson and husband Greg Wise talk about family and why their love works.

Emma Thompson has never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers. But the acclaimed British actress’ recent comment that she believes every married couple should take a sabbatical from their relationship at least once raised more eyebrows than usual – except for those of her husband, Greg Wise.
“Did she say that?” he asks. “Actors have sabbaticals all the time because you’re away working. There are always going to be periods of time when one of you is having a completely different life to the other.”
Emma (55), who has won two Academy Awards and countless other accolades during her 32-year career, said in April that she thought all married couples should be forced to take a break from each other every so often.
The recent comments come after last October’s remarks when she questioned the idea of monogamy, describing it as an “odd state”, and last month’s quote that working mothers “can’t be great mums and keep working all the time”.
Emma met her now husband Greg on the set of Sense and Sensibility in 1995.
But for actor Greg (48), who met Emma on the set of Sense and Sensibility in 1995 when she was still married to actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh, Emma’s slightly off-the-wall comments are exactly why he loves her. He says they make up their marriage as they go along.
“She was married and I was this little jerk just out of drama school,” he says, remembering seeing Emma for the first time.
“It was an extraordinary shoot. I think within any relationship it’s about where your jagged bits are softened by somebody, where a strength meets a fallibility on both sides, and I think we’re both lucky we have a profound need to go feral.”
Because he was told by a fortune teller that he would meet his future wife while working on the film, Greg went out with a 19-year-old Kate Winslet for a few weeks – but when it became clear she wasn’t the woman for him, he started to pursue Emma.
The couple wed in 2003 and have a daughter, Gaia (14), and an adopted son, Tindyebwa Agaba (26), a former Rwandan child soldier.
It’s a happy little family – one of the pair is always home with Gaia, and Greg‘s love of cleaning means the house is usually free of clutter.
They don’t watch TV and instead various members of the family tend to pile into their house at the end of the day for tea and conversation.
It sounds blissful, but Greg says their relationship is far from perfect, admitting that the pair have their disagreements, particularly over Gaia. But the most important thing is to learn from the arguments.
“I’m harder as a parent and Em’s more yielding,” he says.
It was their attempts to add to their family after Gaia was born that placed the most strain on their relationship, with many unsuccessful rounds of IVF taking their toll.
Emma has suffered serious bouts of depression, which began in the 1980s, and reveals there were times when she could not bring herself to get dressed or leave the house. “For years, I counted people’s children in the street and thought I’d never recover,” she recalls of that heartbreaking time.
Emma on the set of her recent film, Saving Mr Banks.
“IVF is very upsetting,” adds Greg. “It’s a brutal process and it’s very emotional. It’s really hard, but then you pick yourself up, look around and see this unbelievably beautiful little baby you’ve got anyway.”
In 2003, the couple met “Tindy”, as they call him, at a Refugee Council party, and after talking for a while, invited him to their home for Christmas – and he never really left.
But it’s their enduring love for one another that is truly remarkable, with Emma describing Greg as her “soulmate” and sharing that she knew from early on in the romance that he was the one.
“When we first got together, he took me away for a week in the country... and he cooked meals for me. Every night! I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘This man’s got staying power!’” she laughs.
“I’m so lucky. Greg is the man from heaven. He’s really kind, extremely decent. I don’t mean that to sound boring, but he’s kind to everyone all the time.
“He’s completely unaware of his own beauty; otherwise he’d be intolerable, basically!”

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