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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' marriage now 'stronger than ever' after split

The Chicago actress and the Basic Instinct star opened up about their reconciliation in 2013

Catherine Zeta-Jones in a red dress with her husband Michael Douglas on the red carpet© Shootpix/ABACA/Shutterstock
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
October 17, 2023
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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas are approaching their 23rd wedding anniversary, and their marriage is "stronger than ever" following their brief split.

The Chicago actress, 54, and the Basic Instinct star, 79, met at the Deauville Film Festival in 1998 and tied the knot at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in November 2000. While they continue to make loved-up red carpet appearances together, fans may not remember the couple – who share son, Dylan, 22, and daughter, Carys, 19 – announced they were taking time apart back in 2013.

WATCH: Inside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' enduring love story

"Catherine and Michael are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage. There will be no further comment," Catherine's representative wrote.

Why did Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas split?

Michael Douglas standing with Catherine Zeta-Jones© Dimitrios Kambouris
Catherine and Michael first met in 1998

They have remained tight-lipped about the reason for their split, with Michael simply describing it as "a little bump in the road" to Event magazine in 2015. However, it was thought to be in the wake of his tongue cancer diagnosis, which he suggested was the result of oral sex.

"I so regretted any embarrassment that it caused Catherine and her family," he told the publication. "What I was trying to say was that there is a sexually transmitted virus called HPV, but there is a vaccination that they recommend to all kids before they become sexually active so they don’t catch HPV, which is a cause of certain types of cancer – cervical cancer, tongue and throat."

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He later opened up about their mistakes, hinting that he took Catherine for granted. "First you have to admit that you made a mistake, then dealing with it is easy. Of course, it’s important to make mistakes, as long as you grow from them," he explained to The Sun on Sunday.

"When you are younger you care what other people think and you take the person closest to you for granted. You waste a lot of energy on strangers to make a good impression. When you’re older you focus that energy on the people closest to you, on your family. And you’re courteous."

Their split was short-lived, as Michael announced the following month that they were "working things out", according to People.

What saved Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' marriage? 

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Portafino© MEGA/Getty
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones admitted they worked together on their marriage

Both Catherine and Michael have commented on how they got their relationship back on track, and the answer is fairly simple – working together.

Fatal Attraction star Michael said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015 that they were "stronger than ever" after both committing to making things work. "It can't be a one-way street. But I'm crazy about her. And yeah, I think every couple has their difficult times. The only problem is, as you well know, we're all in the public eye, and it tends to get a little more exposed than most," he said.

 Carys Zeta, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 76th annual Cannes film festival © Ernesto S. Ruscio
They share two children, Dylan and Carys

He reiterated to Event: "We worked things out – if both people want to work something out and make it better, you can do it. You can’t do it if it's just one person." 

After recovering from tongue cancer, Michael admitted: "You have a much deeper appreciation of marriage, of your children – you see everything a little bit clearer, and a little brighter.”

Catherine has also been candid about working through their issues, telling the Telegraph: "It's impossible for there not to be ups and downs if you live with the same person and wake up with them every day." She added "constant love and respect" and maintaining a "sense of humor" are the secrets to their happy marriage.

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