‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Reveals Secret of Being Happily Married So Long

It’s refreshing to see a celebrity couple who goes the distance with their relationship… NCIS star Mark Harmon and his wife, actress Pam Dawber, have been married now for 31 years. That’s not often heard of in Hollywood and Harmon is finally revealing the secret to their long marriage.

NCIS star Mark Harmon with wife Pam Dawber.
Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber | Ron Galella/WireImage

How did Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber meet?

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber met through a mutual friend and began dating in 1986 — the same year that Harmon was named PEOPLE magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” At the time, Dawber had risen to fame with the sitcom Mork & Mindy and went on to star on My Sister Sam.

The couple were married in 1987 in a small ceremony and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mark Harmon and wife Pam Dawber at the Golden Globes.
Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon | Ron Galella/WireImage

Dawber made a career decision that made all the difference

One of the potential downfalls for celebrity couples is that their work often has them feeling like ships passing in the night, with projects that require them to spend time apart. Early on, Dawber decided to put her acting career on hold so that she could put her energy into raising the couple’s two sons.

She explained during an Entertainment Tonight interview: “I don’t think two people can work all the time in show business and stay married. I was in a number one show. I had my own deal. I got to do Broadway. I got to do musical theater. I got to do cartoon voices. I did everything you can do in this business, and then I had children and it’s like, ‘I’m not going to chase this fame thing.’”

That decision was one she never regretted

Dawber knew that her family was the most important thing and never regretted the decision to stop acting, explaining: “I wanted to drive my kids to school. I wanted to be there for their birthdays and bring cupcakes and donuts and do the school festivals and all that, and I did. I got to teach in their art class and so it was a different life then and I was very happy to do it.”

She added: “Their father is already iconic enough for two boys. I am just the mom. I’m just their mom. They don’t care about what I did. They care about what they’re doing. They want their parents to care about what they’re doing.”

Harmon shared one of the keys to their longevity as a couple

Part of the reason the NCIS star believes that he and his wife have stayed together all these years was their ages when they got married — they were both 35.

He told PEOPLE magazine recently: “We were both in our thirties when we got married, so hopefully the stupid stuff we did earlier. That’s probably the closest I have to what the key is.”

Pam Dawber and husband Mark Harmon in 2013.
Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon | David Livingston/Getty Images

Harmon and Dawber keeps things low-key too

Another factor that’s contributed to their many years together is keeping their private life out of the spotlight.

Harmon explained to TV Insider in 2017: “It’s not even a choice. It’s who we are. We stay home. A lot. I’m not a Twitter guy or a Facebook guy. Our sons aren’t into that either. Pam and I have both made a living in this business, and still, there’s a part of that that’s just not natural.”

Harmon is ‘proud’ of his wife

Harmon doesn’t take their relationship for granted and when asked during the PEOPLE interview about a ring on his left ring finger, he explained: “I wear it or a few others I have because when I’m not shooting, I like to make sure I have something on my ring finger, because I’m proud to be married, and I’m proud of who I’m married to. I’m just so proud of her.”