They’re in better physical shape than most couples, but married dance professionals Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd are pretty normal, too. They sometimes disagree on what to watch on TV (Peta’s obsessed with Vanderpump Rules) or what music to listen to (Maks is partial to Frank Sinatra). They spend a lot of time doting on their boys, Shai, 6, and Rio, 4 months, and are thrilled when they can escape for a date night alone. “Taverna Tony in Malibu is our favorite,” Maks tells Closer, noting that Peta always orders the same Greek salad. “It’s just so good!” she adds.
Of course, thanks to their time on Dancing With the Stars, Maks, 43, and Peta, 37, are also two of America’s most beloved dance personalities. Although Maks left the show in 2018, Peta has been competing with Brady Bunch alum Barry Williams this season. The couple has also teamed up with Hallmark and Venmo to introduce their new gift cards.
Your son Rio was born in June. Has it been hard to go from one child to two?
Peta: It’s a lot. The most difficult part has been time. How do I share my time with two children, a husband and a dog? That almost made me nervous in the beginning. I think you sort of learn as you go. You get organized, you get into a routine, a rhythm, and you just make it work.
How has Shai adjusted to being an older brother?
Peta: He’s excited. He’s thrilled. He can’t wait for Rio to start talking and playing.
Maks: They also have the same age difference as my brother and I. They’ll have footsteps to follow in. It’s a way to make brothers be close and love each other like Val [Chmerkovskiy] and I. I’m going to follow the way of our parents, who kept us so tight.
Val and Jenna Johnson’s son, Rome, was born in January, so Rio will have a cousin the same age.
Peta: That was really exciting for us that Jenna and Val had a baby five months before. We’re going to be a close-knit family.
Do you plan to have more children?
Maks: As a matter of fact, we’re pregnant with triplets! (Laughs)
Peta: If it happens, I will be thrilled. To have three would be amazing, but one day at a time right now.
You celebrated your sixth wedding anniversary this year. What’s your secret for a happy marriage?
Maks: I think the secret to a happy marriage is a great foundation. In a world where people want a building with colors, lights and all this stuff, they have to think about the building’s foundation first. We live in a world where it’s so easy to run away from each other, it’s so easy to divorce. I believe in fundamental things. We have that spark, we have that love. I don’t want to be without her and she’s sad without me. Every time one of us is going on a plane, there’s tears.
Do you have the time for date nights?
Peta: Right now, it’s hard. We’re both working full time, but it will start soon, especially when the show comes to a close for me. You really do have to carve out the time. It’s important to go out for dinner, go see a movie, go out and do anything together.
How has it been partnering with Barry Williams on DWTS this season?
Peta: Barry is the perfect partner for me. He’s somebody who gives me all the time in the world. He’s cleared his schedule for Dancing With the Stars. He’s such a beautiful human being and I’m happy to have him.
You’ve done very well together!
Peta: He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had. We start rehearsals around 1 p.m. and they go until 5. Before 1 p.m. he is in his gym stretching, going over his moves, and he almost does it to make my job a little bit easier so I don’t have to start from scratch everyday. He turned 69 this year and he’s so fit and so willing to give me everything that he’s got.
Did you watch The Brady Bunch as a kid?
Peta: I did, yes! Obviously, I didn’t watch it when it was airing in America because I wasn’t even born yet, but I did watch it in Australia. Australians loved that show.
Maks, do you ever give Peta advice on her routines for the show?
Maks: I try to stay away. I really do. Obviously, if she needs help, I’m not going to be a [jerk] and say, “No, I don’t want to offer you my opinion on the cha-cha.”
Peta: I feel like if I do bombard him with stuff, it’s not the best dynamic for us. We usually choreograph with another male pro-dancer who is not on the show. We choreograph on them and then we put that choreography on our celebrities. I don’t need to have [Maks] there every step of the way. I’ve done this for long enough now.
Maks: It’s also not that type of project. This is a project that’s personal. If you’re going to spend 24/7 with the [celebrity], it’s you who should be doing [the choreography] because [you’re] going to have to explain it.
Tell us about your partnership with Hallmark and Venmo.
It’s a first-of-its-kind collaboration where [shoppers] get to marry a physical, beautiful Hallmark card with a Venmo [money gift] inside with just a click of a button. I can think of a bunch of times where I’m late for a birthday party, I need to run and get a card, and I don’t know what to get for a present. This combines it all in one.
Maks: I love Hallmark already because they made card-giving for guys a lot easier. I can pick something that is already written and the cash part of it is amazing. I was like, this is brilliant, why didn’t I think of it?
Do you have any mottoes you live by?
Maks: Don’t be an ass—!
Peta: That is such a Maks thing to say.
Maks: It’s a good motto!
Peta: For the show, especially, I would say at the end of the day, it’s about fun. If you can’t have fun together, your relationship is not going to be one that people will vote for. You need to have a good relationship with your partner and have fun.