Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are one of the most iconic power couples in the entertainment industry—matched only perhaps by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. After dating for ten years, they wed in 2014, having already welcomed their adorable twins, Gideon and Harper, into the world in 2010. The cute pair’s relationship has always seemed pretty much perfect, with The Advocate once dubbing them the “Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward of the gay world.” But how much do you really know about these two? Here is the untold truth about their marriage…
It’s all about the timing
“I was in another relationship when I met Neil and was doing the long-distance, New York–to-L.A. thing,” Burtka told Out. “It was sort of on the rocks. Long distance is so hard.” An actor himself, he was aware of Harris’ work, adding, “I thought it would be nice to know him, but I didn’t think in a million years I’d start dating him.”
“I ended up breaking with my boyfriend,” Burtka said. “And a week later, Neil and I had a date. We started hanging out every single night, and after three months, it was just non-stop. We talk on the phone at least eight times a day and text at least 25 times a day.”
As they say, the rest is history.
Harris was head over heels. But Burtka?
Burtka wasn’t always so comfortable with the L-word. “I initially fell for David harder than he fell for me,” Harris told Out magazine. “I was in love with him before he was comfortable saying it, and I think that speaks to our past experiences. I remember saying, ‘I think I love you,’ and he was like, ‘That’s really nice,’ which is not necessarily what you want to hear.” Harris admitted, “I appreciated his honesty in not jumping the gun and saying something because he felt obliged to.”
We’re guessing it didn’t take long for Burtka to come around.
Harris was forced out of the closet
When he came out that November, the then-33-year-old had been starring as the very heterosexual womanizer Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother for more than a year. “Rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me,” Harris told People. “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.” Well said.
Harris gave his two cents about open relationships
“That’s part of being in a relationship, going through phases of things being great and things being not great,” he told Stern. “I don’t know that if you’re gay you get this card that says when things aren’t going great you can go f**k other guys. That doesn’t make any sense to me.” When pressed by Stern on the subject of long-term monogamy, Harris said, “I’m versatile. The best thing about being in a guy-guy relationship is sometimes you feel like being tough, sometimes you feel like being subordinate.”
They’re basically the same person
If you ask Harris, he and Burtka are two sides of the same coin. “We share a wardrobe. We have the same shoe size, body size, height, and weight,” he told Out magazine. “We both like the idea of family. Not a nuclear family, but a social family. Yet, we’re incredibly opposite in the way we process information.”
Who popped the question?
Harris and Burtka were so ready to get hitched, they both proposed!
“David first proposed to me five years ago on the actual street corner where we met,” Harris told Out magazine—the exact location was on 9th Avenue between West 44th & 45th Streets in New York City. “We were on our way to an event at an Indian casino 45 minutes out of town in a limousine, and David wanted to stop for some reason that I didn’t quite get,” Harris said. “I thought he wanted to get some booze or something. And then he got on one knee and proposed, and I was so freaked out by it that I said, ‘Yes,’ but I didn’t know what it meant.”
“Then I got the ring and loved it, and a year later, on Valentine’s Day, I proposed to him in Santa Monica,” Harris told the mag. “That was four years ago. The callus on my right hand is long-formed…[I’m] dying to move over to the other hand. I’d also like to call him my husband.”
They’re adjusting to fatherhood
Harris and Burtka always wanted to have kids, and since welcoming fraternal twins Harper Grace and Gideon Scott into their lives via surrogate in October 2010, these two dudes are inspiring some serious dad goals. But parenthood wasn’t a seamless transition.
“I didn’t love the first six to nine months,” Harris admitted on Oprah’s Next Chapter in 2012. “I struggled with it a lot… I didn’t feel like I was bonding with them.” The biggest challenge? “The sleep deprivation. You have to live in those spurts,” he told People in 2010. To which Burtka added, “And with twins, we can’t really take turns getting up.”
David gave up drinking for the twins
“It just didn’t mix well,” he told the New York Daily News in 2017 (via the Daily Mail). “That’s a big thing… I didn’t like the way I was acting and I think it was affecting me and I thought, ‘You know what? I owe it to myself, I owe it to my kids, to be there, 100 percent.'”
Their wedding was a secret
“It was nice, very small and intimate. Only about 45 people were there,” Harris told The View (via Us Weekly). “We did it as a destination wedding, and it kept the numbers down. I just wanted to be able to say nice things about David to David in front of the people that mattered the most to us. It was less about a proclamation and more about a declaration that I was able to share in front of our kids.”
They’re American Idol fanatics
While discussing their pre-dating acquaintanceship, Harris told Out magazine, “I was always around when he was around, hoping the stars would align. When we all hung out for the first time—I was invited by [our mutual friend] Kate to an American Idol viewing party—I just stammered around him. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. There’s something almost kinetic about him and his being.”
Okay, be honest, are you aww-ing as much as we are?
A perfectly imperfect union
“We go to couple’s therapy,” Burtka told Life & Style in 2017. “Not that there’s anything wrong, but it’s nice to sort of just talk to someone who is a mediator. That’s helped our relationship.”