Christine Lahti Jokingly Shares the Secret to Her 40-Year Marriage: ‘Don’t See Each Other That Much’

The actress has been married to television director Thomas Schlamme since 1983

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic</p> Christine Lahti (left) and Thomas Schlamme in 2023

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Christine Lahti (left) and Thomas Schlamme in 2023

For Christine Lahti, the old adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder" rings true.

During an appearance on The Talk on Monday, June 3, The Blacklist star, 74, said the secret to her 40-year marriage to her husband, television director and producer Thomas Schlamme, comes down to "one major, important thing: don't see each other that much."

While she said it with a serious face, she quickly broke into a big smile and laughed as the audience enthusiastically reacted to the joke.

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"There it is, there it is. Nobody agrees with me. I said live in a separate house, right next door to each other. That's the key to staying married to me," co-host Sheryl Underwood said in response, while fellow co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila playfully swatted Lahti with a pillow.

Lahti jokingly continued of her and Schlamme, "We don't have separate houses or bedrooms — yet! — although, I'm thinking…" before addressing the topic of marriage more seriously.

"The truth is, Tommy and I are equal partners, and we always have been," the Oscar-nominated actress said, explaining how she knew Schlamme, 74, was different early on compared to her previous romantic partners.

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty Images</p> Thomas Schlamme and Christine Lahti

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Thomas Schlamme and Christine Lahti

"I honestly never thought I'd meet a man who didn't need to hold me down or hold me back, because I was always really ambitious and wanted to have a big career and a big life. I only met boyfriends who felt threatened by that," she said. "And I finally met Tommy … and we've always been really equal partners in parenting, in our lives, in our careers. It's like supporting each other always."

Lahti and her husband, who wed in September 1983, share three children — Wilson, 35, and twins Emma and Joseph, 31. Schlamme — who is well-known for his collaborations with Aaron Sorkin — has worked on shows including The West Wing, Sports Night and The Americans.

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Continuing to build on her more than 45-year acting career, Lahti currently stars in the Paramount+ series Evil. Back in 2017, she opened up to PEOPLE about the memorable moment in 1998 when she made headlines for her Golden Globe win — only, for all the wrong reasons.

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<p>John Lamparski/Getty Images</p> Christine Lahti

John Lamparski/Getty Images

Christine Lahti

During the awards ceremony, the star was announced as the winner of the best actress award for her role in the drama series Chicago Hope, but she happened to be in the bathroom at the time. Comedian Robin Williams even jumped onstage to entertain the audience for a few minutes until a very flustered Lahti finally appeared, theatrically wiping her hands on a towel before saying, "I was in the bathroom, mom!"

“Everyone felt so embarrassed for me, maybe they could relate in a way,” the actress recalled of the moment to PEOPLE.

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Lahti explained that she blurted out the first thing that popped into her mind when she reached the Oscars podium. “That was the first thing that occurred to me, that my mom would say, ‘What the hell were you doing in the bathroom? Couldn’t you have gone before?’ ”

Looking back years later, the Jack & Bobby star said she had a newfound appreciation for the experience. “It put it in a good perspective for me — a healthy perspective. Suddenly there’s this great humor attached to this whole evening instead of just nerves and anxiety and ‘who’s gonna beat who?' ” she explained.

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