Some couples simply just work.
Maybe it's a shared goofiness, similar upbringing or love of some esoteric hobby, but there are some pairings that when they announce they're now a thing, the collective public nod their heads and go, "Oh, yeah. That makes sense."
Long before they quietly made their union official a little more than eight years ago on the same South Carolina plantation that was used in The Notebook (and then once again at their New York home, having realized, as Reynolds put it, that marrying at a plantation was "a giant f--king mistake"), the couple almost seemed destined to become one of Hollywood's most beloved pairs.
There's all the surface stuff: They both come from big families with Southern California-bred Lively the youngest of five and Vancouver native Reynolds the last of four. They both definitively fall into the easy-on-the-eyes category and Reynolds meets Lively's height requirement, his 6-foot-2 build allowing the 5-foot-10 stunner to stand eye-to-eye with him in heels. And boy have they mastered the art of the savage Internet takedown.
We already anxiously await how Lively will follow up last year's birthday tribute to Reynolds, turning 44 today.
But the attribute that takes them from a pretty good match to a pretty close to perfect one, the factor they point to as the true success of their relationship: They started as best buds. Costars turned close pals, they actually had that a-ha moment where after years of casual hangs, in-depth conversations and just generally knowing the ins and outs of each other's lives they realized, wait, are we right for each other?
"We were such good friends for so long and we both got to know each other as friends so when we were both single, we were still trying to find each other's [perfect date]—'Oh, who would be good for you?'" Lively described to Entertainment Weekly. "We'd sit around being like, 'Oh jeez, do you know anyone?' And it didn't click for, I mean, a good year and a half. Like, 'Oh hey, wait, hold on. We could date!'"
It's the dream scenario, one usually reserved for rom coms. But this one—while starring two people you'd be apt to find in your average popcorn flick—is playing out in real life, on red carpets and across social media, giving fans a glimpse of what happens after the credits roll. And just as everyone had hoped, the two leads do live happily ever after.
As to be expected, there was some necessary drama to take care of first, starting with their existing relationships. When the Green Lantern costars met on the New Orleans set in 2010, he was still wed to Scarlett Johansson and Lively was dating Gossip Girl costar Penn Badgley, a five-month romance with Leonardo DiCaprio in the offing.
But even more of a hindrance, as those relationships wrapped not long after the film's release, was their shared ignorance. It took months for them to reach the conclusion that they weren't just good together in cooking classes or as double date partners, but that they might actually work for the rest of their lives.
For Reynolds, the realization came in waves, the first inkling hitting him in the middle of said double date. "That was the most awkward date for the respective parties," he recalled to Entertainment Weekly, "because we were just like fireworks coming across [the table]."
The spark spread one night after dinner at a restaurant in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood. "This song came on and I was just like, 'Want to dance?'" he detailed to GQ in 2016. "No one was in there, so it was just totally empty. And it was just one of those moments where halfway through the dance, it was like, 'Oh, I think I just crossed a line.'"
Once it was there, once there was no denying it, the couple saw no reason to take it slow. Because they could skip the getting-to-know-you stage, they sped right through boyfriend-girlfriend status, to shared homeowners, to husband and wife before their public romance hit the one year mark.
It's not just that they knew, so much as they realized they'd found everything they ever wanted.
There was the actor thing, of course, and their shared desire to keep the truly sacred details private while still turning out on carpets for glitzy events such as the Met Gala, the Golden Globe and the Cannes Film Festival—even a White House State Dinner to honor Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
They shared a predilection for life outside Hollywood, specifically on their two-acre farm outside New York City, purchased so daughters James, 5, Inez, 4, and 14-month-old Betty could enjoy an unfettered, paparazzi-free existence. To date, the eldest two have been spotted exactly once, at Reynolds' December 2016 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, because, as Lively explained, "Ryan had a nice, normal upbringing, and we want our kids to have the same normal life that we had. We don't ever want to rob them of what we had, because we'd feel really selfish."
The small-screen vets also had the benefit of spending a decade or so each dating in Hollywood, long enough to figure out how to make an acting marriage function successfully ("My husband and I don't work at the same time, so we all go together as a family," she told People of their stay-tight strategy) and to learn what they did not want in a relationship.
"The fact that he lived so much before we got together, he's the exact realized person that he should be," Lively wisely gushed to Vogue in 2014. "And so I get to share my life with the person he's become, and we get to grow from there."
Which they will, neither seeming content to stop at just the three daughters they have. Lively, as she's said, would "spit out a litter of kids," and Reynolds would be delighted to raise them. "If I could have nine daughters, I would be thrilled," he shared during a 2016 interview on SiriusXM EW Radio. "Really, like I genuinely would be."
So, yeah, Lively was right on the money when she said, "He's going to be a great father and leader and patriarch—he's so meant to be all of those things." Smitten with his role as dad ("It's the best thing that could ever happen to someone," he's assured E! News), the Two Guys and a Girl alum talks about his willingness to "walk through a cement wall" for his girls.
And when he and Lively heard their eldest coo at the start of Taylor Swift's track "Gorgeous" during a 2018 concert, you better believe he's losing his everloving mind, because who cares that they have a combined 20 acting awards between them when tens of thousands of Massachusetts-based Swifties just listened to their daughter's broadcasted voice?
The utter preciousness ("That was the true, unfiltered version of our terrible stage parent pride," Lively admitted on Good Morning America), captured by pretty much everyone seated around them, was just one of those oh-my-god-they're-the-cutest moments for the duo, the others coming pretty much any time they sign on to Twitter or Instagram.
Their roastings have become spectator sport, not just because they're so frickin' funny (which they are), but because they make fans think, this is the type of relationship I want.
Because even when Reynolds celebrated Lively's 32nd birthday with 10 mid-blink, awkward-faced shots of his bride, she still looked pretty darn good, if just slightly more relatable. And for each time Lively trots out her dry wit (consider the time he tried to get plot points about her mystery thriller A Simple Favor, and she replied, "Oh darling, of all the secrets I'm keeping from you, this should be the LEAST of your concerns") she'll also engage in a little public gushing. Spying the photo from Reynolds' Aviation Gin shoot, she responded, "Feeling very happy about my life choices right about now..."
Trolling is simply a part of the couple's love language. "It's sort of like what my dad used to say. 'If you can't say anything nice, say something embarrassing.' So, that's sort of how we roll," Reynolds explained on Live with Kelly and Ryan in May. "I think it's a sign of a healthy relationship, personally. I do."
Because being in this pals-first type of relationship, it's pretty great.
In Reynolds, Lively has found the quintessential guy who can help her find the funny. When he crafts his zingers (all fictional, she assures), "He'll run them by me sometimes just to make me laugh," she told Glamour. "But oh, I'm so in love with him when he writes that stuff. I mean, I'm in love with him most of the time, but especially with that."
And conflicts? Super easy to resolve. "In other relationships, if something came up, I would call my girlfriends or my sister, and say, 'Hey, this is what he did—what should I do?'" she shared. "Where with him, we were friends for two years before we were ever dating. And I treat him like my girlfriend. I'm like, 'Hey, this happened. It upset me. This is how I feel. What do I do?' And he does the same for me. He treats me like his best buddy."
In other words, their marriage is every bit as enjoyable as it appears from the outside. "We poke fun at each other," Lively revealed at a 2018 press day for A Simple Favor. "All day long we joke around with each other because that's my best friend."
(Originally published Oct. 23, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)