Oprah: That's why the divorce rate is over 50 percent.
Bette: Marriage is such hard work. And it's full of rage and real human drama.
Oprah: It's an episode!
Bette: Every day is a struggle. My husband and I are having a good year, but the first years were truly terrible. We got married, and then we realized we had very different opinions about a lot of things. But this year we had a breakthrough.
Oprah: What was it?
Bette: In a marriage, you struggle and struggle and struggle, and then you realize that you have to ride the horse in the direction it's going. You stop trying to pull the reins in another direction.
Oprah: Did both of you realize that—or just you?
Bette: My husband already knows that stuff. But for me, it was the whole square-peg-in-a-round-hole thing. Finally, I said to myself, "This would be so much nicer if..."
Oprah: If you just let him be.
Bette: Let him be. That was my mother's big line in Yiddish. She used to say to my father all the time, "Leave 'em alone! Let 'em be!"
Oprah: And that happened in your marriage this year, with all that you have going on?
Bette: Yes. And I am so glad that I have him as my backup. He is so generous and overwhelmingly kind to let me do all this. He's never made me feel guilty for one second. He has always said, "Do what's good for you, and do what's good for the show. I am fine. I'm taking care of this; I'm pulling this together; I'm taking up the slack."
Oprah: Let's talk about your TV show. How important is it to you that it work out?
Bette: Not very. I did it as a lark. It was a big experiment. At first I felt like, I'm going to get thrown off any day now, so I gotta hurry! It's all a crapshoot; you never know what they're going to do to you. But now that people seem to like the show, I'm getting into it. I see the possibilities. I want to have fun, and I want to give people a good laugh. I also want to take the wind out of certain sails—the country is so caught up in this celebrity mania!
Oprah: Isn't it?
Bette: It would be good to do something to make people see that the emperor has no clothes.
Oprah: The emperor is just buck naked! The show seems like a lot of work, though.
Bette: And you can't let the effort show—it's supposed to look effortless. At first I thought I was going to die, but now...