Jeff Bridges says it was "love at first sight" when he met his wife Susan Bridges, while making the 1975 film Rancho Deluxe in Paradise Valley, Montana, where Susan was working as a waitress.
The couple married two years later and are now the proud parents to three daughters — Isabelle, 39, Jessica, 37, and Hayley, 35 — and grandparents to Grace, 9, and Ben, 5
Bridges, 70, tells PEOPLE that the secret to his 43-year marriage is a mutual respect.
"We are quite different as people, and we celebrate that rather than making it drive us apart. I respect her wisdom, and I’m sure the girls do too," says Bridges. "I’ve really been blessed."
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The Big Lebowski actor, who stars in the upcoming TV series The Old Man, recently teamed up with daughter, Isabelle, for a new children’s book, Daddy Daughter Day, which she wrote and he illustrated. The book is about a dad and daughter who go on a series of adventures and is based on the close bond Bridges has with his girls.
Isabelle says her parents' marriage has served as an inspiration to her.
"They love each other, but they like each other, they spend time together. They make an effort to ask each other questions about what the other is interested in," she says.
And while Bridges has been an acclaimed movie star for almost 50 years, with seven Oscar nominations (and one win, for 2009’s Crazy Heart) he says his family has been his life’s greatest joy.
"Time goes so fast, and it’s so precious," says Bridges. "To spend it with people you love, there’s nothing richer than that."
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