"We got married, and then we realized we had very different opinions about a lot of things," she revealed.
Bette Midler knows she has something rare by Hollywood standards in her nearly 40-year marriage to performance artist, Martin Von Haselberg. The couple married in 1984 and welcomed their daughter, Sophie, just two years later. The Emmy Award-winning actress admitted that her husband's calming presence is her anchor.
Speaking of the first time they met she told Oprah in an interview, "We first met at a party; a group of us went to a concert together. I didn't see him for years after that. Then, in the early 1980s, I went to this performance-art show and he was there. He said, 'I don't know if you remember me, but I met you at a show once.' He took my number, but he didn't call for two years."
The 77-year-old continued, "The day he did call, I was sobbing—I was going through a bad patch. I picked up the phone, and he said, 'Is this...who is this?' And I said, 'This is Bette.' We went out the next weekend, and a few weeks later we were married." Just six weeks after meeting him the two got married by an Elvis impersonator at 2 a.m. with a $45 ceremony in Las Vegas.
Also Happy 37th wedding anniversary to @BetteMidler, and her husband #MartinVonHaselberg AKA #HarryKipper! I know they love each other very much. #BetteMidler #weddinganniversary pic.twitter.com/1MT75KUuGP— Chris Michael Ward (@ChrisMichaelW) December 16, 2021
The Hocus Pocus star couldn't wait to be a mom and when she was in her late 30s, "he and I both wanted to have a family. It was romantic and not romantic at the same time. Romance is an illusion. Well, romance is not a complete illusion, but it's ephemeral. It does not last."
The first years of their marriage were "truly terrible. We got married, and then we realized we had very different opinions about a lot of things." But were they able to resolve it? The Wind Beneath My Wings singer explained, "In a marriage, you struggle and struggle and struggle, and then you realize that you have to ride the horse in the direction it's going. You stop trying to pull the reins in another direction."
What worked was to let her husband just be and she admitted she is "so glad that I have him as my backup. He is so generous and overwhelmingly kind to let me do all this. He's never made me feel guilty for one second. He has always said, 'Do what's good for you, and do what's good for the show. I am fine. I'm taking care of this; I'm pulling this together; I'm taking up the slack.'"
The couple knew they had to make their marriage work for their only child. According to AZ Central, when asked about their secret to a long marriage, she replied, ''We never see each other! No, he really is the wind beneath my wings, he has looked after me for many, many years, he's sacrificed a lot. We used to fight bitterly, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to raise a child, we wanted to raise a really wonderful child, we never wanted to hurt that kid in any way and we stayed together until it got better, and it did get better and it was really fascinating."
Midler noted that her partner was an incredible father and parenting worked both ways. "I didn’t do it by myself," she told PEOPLE in 2014. "My husband is probably the greatest father who ever lived. He’s fantastic. He picked up the slack when I was on the road. He taught her a foreign language. He taught her to cook."
Accepting her partner for who he is and appreciating everything he's done for the family is what helped their marriage grow all these years.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Andrew H. Walker