Advice for Couples from Derek Zoolander


In the year of YTK panic and Destiny’s Child, actors Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor tied the knot (a year before they both starred in the hit comedy Zoolander).

17 years later, this Hollywood couple called it quits.

“With tremendous love and respect for each other, and the years we spent together as a couple, we have made the decision to separate,” they said in a joint release.

And then the Covid pandemic hit. With lockdowns becoming a fixture Christine asked Ben to stay and be together with the kids. One thing led to another, and the couple decided to tear up their divorce papers, (which neither had completed signing,) and get back together officially.

“…over the course of time, it evolved,” Stiller told magazine Esquire. “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.”

The actor, who most know from his films including Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, Meet the Parents and more, reflected in his Esquire interview about how a little understanding of each other’s differences and similarities could go a long way. He talked about saving energy by not trying to force your partner to fit inside of a box that you feel you both belong in.

To help illuminate his point he shared an analogy about horse riding.

“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,” he said. “And once you know that, it just saves a lot of energy.” He continued, “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.’”

Sometimes a couple’s agitation is created by finding it hard to accept differences. From different hobbies, food preferences, movie choices, fashion etc.

Accepting differences doesn’t mean acceptance of any and all behaviours. There are lines that can be crossed that cause pain to one or both in a relationship. Those obvious behaviours should be treated, managed or even eliminated. Often though, the inability to understand someone’s differences is what causes discomfort. That’s what Ben was getting at. Understanding is one of the world’s most powerful words. A lack of understanding, which often comes from a lack of willingness to want to understand, can lead to fear, anxiety, mistrust and a distancing from someone once loved emphatically.