By Elia Esparza
They are both popular thespians in the TV and movie industry.
However, unlike most 15-minute Hollywood marriages, Maria Canals-Barrera and David Barrera have made it work for 14 years and plan on one day celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Have they lasted because of their Latino background and traditions? Nah. Jennifer Lopez tossed that theory out the door not once but three times.
It must be that for this couple, marriage is serious business whose foundation is based on love, trust and respect. Family first, always.
Or perhaps it’s a wizard spell cast on the couple by Canals TV character Therese Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place, mom to Alex (Selena Gomez), Max (Jake T. Austin) and Justine (David Henrie). Barrera is consistently working on TV many Primetime dramas… his Eddie Salinas in NBC’s GRIMM “La Llorana” episode last December, is worthy of an EMMY!
Since February is the month of love and friendships, we caught up with couple to ask what their relationship secret is.
Latin Heat: I understand you both did not like each other when you first met. But soon after something changed. How did your feelings for each other start?
Maria Canals-Barrera: No, no, no! It’s not that we didn’t like each other it just wasn’t “love at first sight”
David Barrera: Which is usually just lust at first sight anyway. (He laughs.)
MCB: But rather as we got to know each other and appreciate each other’s talent….
DB: We met while doing a staged reading for a new play.
MCB: And, that’s when we started falling in love… hard.
DB: (Laughs) It only took 10 days!
LH: Favorite Valentine Day’s gift you’ve received from your spouse so far?
DB: Honestly, we are each other’s gift. We’re not too materialistic and we give each other gifts all the time, not just on designated days.
MCB: So I don’t even remember if that necklace I adore was given to me by him on an anniversary or on a Valentine’s Day! He really is the best gift God has given me. He’s perfect for me and I am so grateful.
DB: Any gift she gives me is just icing on the cake.
MCB: That’s what I am. I’m the cake. (Laughs)
LH: What is the secret to have a successful marriage, career and raise your kids in a good balance?
MCB: Take a good look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
LH: We know it well… Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers.
DB: That pretty much sums it up.
MCB: A good marriage is the basis for a child’s security. That commitment and love to each other as a couple is so important to their well-being.
DB: It also models for them how they should expect to be treated by the opposite sex. It prepares them for when they start dating.
MCB: David is a wonderful daddy to our girls. So patient, kind, fun, respectful and firm when necessary.They adore their daddy. I’m crazy about him, too. David has great parenting instincts and I’ve learned a lot from him.
DB: And, Maria is such a great role model for our girls. She is a fantastic mom.
LH: When you argue (if you argue) who is the first one to step forward and apologize (even if not your fault)?
MCB. We believe it is not good to go to bed angry. We always purposely apologize and forgive each other. If one does not do this, those negative emotions can set in and turn into resentment, which is the death of a good marriage.
DB: We are ‘one’. We are on the same team. It would be foolish not to apologize and forgive.
LH: You’ve been married 14 years…
DB: That’s like 50 years in Hollywood! (Laughs)
LH: When you each met each other’s family (parents, siblings, etc.) was it nerve racking?
MCB and DB: It was not nerve wracking at all to meet each other’s families. We are confident in who we are. Our families were very happy for us that we found each other and that we are good for each other.
LH: What do you think is the perfect Valentine’s gift for your wife? for your husband?
MCB and DB: The perfect Valentine’s Day gift is the gift of pure honest, communication of your feelings for each other. An undistracted heart to heart conversation of what you both appreciate most about each other and how you would like to connect even more as a couple emotionally.
A conversation like that is more ‘delicious’ than a fancy meal and means so much more than a piece of jewelry. If you can and want to do both, then by all means, go for it! But I find that kind of personal connection, thrilling. It surprises me how much that kind of vulnerability and openness is missing in a lot if relationships.
DB: By not forgetting what is most important: The blessing of being together, of our health, our family’s health, our faith in God and remembering how incredible it is to even get to do what we love, acting.
MCB: This business is crazy, fun, glamorous, frustrating, a blast, not fair, fantastic glorious and painful! All at the same time! But we love it, and we keep our priorities in order. That’s the secret.
LH: What are your current projects you’d like to tell us about?
MCB: The Wizards of Waverly Place Reunion special to air March 15th on Disney Channel!
DB: I am currently developing a period piece that a friend of mine wrote. We will shoot it in Texas, my home state.
LH: The happiest moment in your marriage (I know there are many) but if you can identify one or two…
MCB: I hadn’t felt that lightness and joy of spirit in years! That wedding cake with Champagne is still the most delicious dessert I’ve ever had.
MCB ad DB: And, when we first found out we were pregnant, both times!
When our girls were born! And, when they do incredible sweet things as they grow up.
At the Barrera household, it’s all about keeping the romance alive and making family first.