Barbra Streisand and James Brolin — a couple that proves you can fall in love at any age and maintain a happy, healthy marriage as long as you’re willing to put the effort into it.
How Did Barbra Streisand and James Brolin Meet?
With one divorce already behind her, and with two failed unions on his conscience, neither Streisand nor Brolin was particularly enamored with the idea of meeting one another at the pre-arranged blind date/soiree hosted by mutual friend Christine Forsythe Peters.
Of that auspicious night, Brolin recalls, “I had my cell phone in my hand, and I was going to call and cancel. I thought, ‘I need this like a hole in the head.’ I had so many disappointments in my life, I saw no future in romance.”
For her part, Streisand — who was busy editing her 1996 directing effort The Mirror Has Two Faces — saw the dinner date as a distraction. “This was a real imposition, to have to leave my work and go to a dinner party, which I never like to do anyway. So I told my editors to wait for me. I left around 7:30 P.M. and said I’d be back by 10.”
Streisand also had some preconceived notions about her expectant dinner companion and his outward appearance, which were instantly shattered upon their introduction.
“I…expected a bearded mountain-man type, and he had cut off all his hair and was clean-shaven. I asked him, ‘Who screwed up your hair?’ He later told me that’s when he fell in love with me. My fella likes to hear the truth, which is unusual.”
With the ice broken, the pair settled at the dining room table amongst the other guests — including George Foreman — but found they had little to say to anyone else. According to Streisand, “Once Jim and I got into a conversation, we just sort of locked spirits and forgot that everyone else was there.”
For Brolin, the evening was proving especially fortuitous. “After 10 minutes I knew we’d be together,” he said. “After 20 minutes I was a goner, and after two hours I knew we’d get married someday.”
When the meal concluded, Brolin convinced Streisand to let him drive her home. When they arrived, they talked until 3 a.m., and then adorably fumbled with the decision to end the revelry with a kiss or a handshake — what they chose remains a mystery.
A second encounter at her goddaughter’s birthday party seemed, “incredibly awkward,” in Streisand’s opinion. Though she feared that would mark the end of the courtship, Streisand was later greeted with a fax: “Respond or I’ll start sending filth.” At the message’s end was Brolin’s phone number and a PS. “Tonight, yes?”
The second official date included a feature film. Following that, the burgeoning couple embarked on a long-distance relationship. Streisand stayed put in Los Angeles and Brolin spent three months in Ireland directing the film My Brother’s Keeper. She cops to, “Falling asleep on the bathroom floor with the phone pressed against my ear,” at some point.
In November of 1996, Brolin decamped from his two-bedroom condo and moved in with Streisand. Nineteen months later — June 1998 to be exact — Streisand accepted Brolin’s proposal of marriage.
Barbra Streisand and James Brolin Get Married
On July 1, 1998 (two years to the day of their first encounter), Streisand and Brolin were wed. The ceremony was held inside the couple’s home and a reception for the 105 guests took place in a 2,800 square foot ivory voile tent erected in their backyard.
A highlight of the evening was Streisand dedicating and singing two brand new songs (including Just One Lifetime) to Brolin.
The event was strictly off-limits to paparazzi, a rule Streisand enforced by having her florist create a special flower-infused screen that was placed over the living room window and installing music blasting loudspeakers outside the house so no one could hear the specially written wedding vows.
Lessons To Learn
So, what’s the secret to their 21-years-and-counting marriage? Practically speaking, Brolin thinks it’s down to two things: separate bank accounts — “I have my own money and she has her own money…” — and a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep communication open and conflict resolved — even if that means turning to a third party.
“I do believe in counseling if anybody ever has a problem in their marriage. Bring in a referee, talk it over, and I swear to you, it will dispel by the end of the session, each time! Sometimes in a tough marriage, it’s tough to talk, but if you do, it works!”
For Streisand it’s down to, “Truth with compassion,” and not taking each other for granted. Sadie, Sadie married lady is happy at last.