Jeff Daniels Shares the Trick to His Nearly 45-Year Marriage to Wife Kathleen: 'Know When to Shut Up' (Exclusive)

The actor also tells PEOPLE how Kathleen remains a "leveling influence" in his life

<p>ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty</p> Kathleen Treado Daniels and Jeff Daniels in New York City in June 2019.


Kathleen Treado Daniels and Jeff Daniels in New York City in June 2019.

While Jeff Daniels’ successful career has had its ups and downs, his wife Kathleen has always been his constant.

During a recent interview with PEOPLE, the 69-year-old actor, who currently stars in the new Netflix series A Man in Full, opened up about Kathleen, his high school sweetheart whom he wed in July 1979.

“In the good times and the bad, she’s been a leveling influence — my biggest fan, my biggest cheerleader — telling me it’ll be okay,” he says in this week’s issue. “You’re going to get something else. It turned out she was right.”

The actor, for his part, has learned the key to making a marriage, or at least his marriage, last.

Related: Why Jeff Daniels Moved His Family to Michigan 32 Years Ago — and Never Looked Back

<p>Aliah Anderson/WireImage</p> Jeff Daniels and Kathleen Treado Daniels at a screening of 'A Man in Full' in Los Angeles, Calif. in April 2024.

Aliah Anderson/WireImage

Jeff Daniels and Kathleen Treado Daniels at a screening of 'A Man in Full' in Los Angeles, Calif. in April 2024.

“Know when to shut up,” he explains. “Mansplaining is a disease, and the cure is to just stop talking.”

In 1986, the couple opted to abandon big city life in Hollywood and New York City to raise their three kids — Ben, 39, Lucas, 36, and Nellie, 33 — in Chelsea, Michigan, where the population hovers around 5,400 people.

Almost 40 years later, he doesn’t regret settling down in the Midwest.

“I didn’t want what happened to some other people to happen to me. I didn’t want to get contaminated by stardom,” he says. “For the family, staying away from all the fame stuff felt like the right decision.”

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Despite living outside of Hollywood, Daniels still worked steadily over the years, adding high-profile performances in films and shows like Something Wild, The Comey Rule and The Squid and the Whale to his resume. Meanwhile, his children grew up, choosing to stay close by.

Lucas works as an artistic associate at the Purple Rose, a nonprofit theater Jeff opened where he serves as artistic director. Nellie teaches U.S. government at a public high school, while Ben wears several hats, working with his dad on the podcast Alive and Well Enough, which explores Jeff’s life as an artist, and serving as an audio engineer when the actor records audiobooks and voice-overs or narrates projects.

Related: Jeff Daniels Thanks Horse Who Broke His Wrist in Emmy Awards Speech: 'It's Officially Healed'

<p>Netflix</p> Jeff Daniels in 'A Man in Full.'


Jeff Daniels in 'A Man in Full.'

Jeff has also toured the country playing guitar with the Ben Daniels Band, which includes his son and daughter-in-law Amanda.

“We’re in vans going from gig to gig and five-hour drives and showing up playing at some 200-seat club,” he says. “It’s a way of sharing what I do with them but also featuring and empowering them. You give them that solo in a certain song, and they’ve got to do it every night in front of a crowd.”

Performing and recording music feeds into his desire, decades ago, to become a full-time musician if acting didn’t pan out.

“That’s what I was going to do,” he says. “I’ve got 20 years of gigs, which isn’t bad for somebody with a day job. I really enjoy it. There’s no director, no studio, no editor, no writer. You’re all of it — and I like that.”

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All six episodes of A Man in Full are available to stream on Netflix.


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