Finding true love in Hollywood isn’t easy, but James Brolin hit the jackpot when he married wife Barbra Streisand. The Life in Pieces star reveals the secret to the couple’s decades-long marriage and the special reason their relationship is a total success in an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly.

“Well I’ll tell you — my secret is trying it with the wrong people twice!” the 80-year-old jokingly shares. “I always think there’s a reason that you’re with somebody and that you should stick with them, but there’s a dichotomy there that once you pick somebody … you’re going to bind yourself in the marriage.”

James Brolin Barbra Streisand
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In order to make their relationship work, James notes marriage is all about rolling with the punches. “There’s a reason you’re there and no matter what comes up negative, learn to deal with it, both of you,” he explains.

The Marcus Welby, M.D. actor, who tied the knot with Barbra, 78, in 1998, says “you both have to agree” on making sacrifices. He even credits marriage counseling for saving many relationships.

“I had a friend that has a very successful marriage and they started their marriage counseling six months before they were married,” he tells Closer. “So it was her insistence and if the guy hadn’t gotten into the habit and wanted her enough to go to that thing, then he was probably the wrong guy.”

The Amityville Horror alum says in a good marriage, others can tell “how silly you both are.” He adds, “One of my favorite movies is Being There where Peter Sellers is talking about something and everybody thinks he means something else. They totally misinterpret but they’re carrying on the conversation as if they’re both talking about the same thing. I think a lot of marriage differences are like Being There.”

James Brolin Barbra Streisand

James and the Funny Girl star have become quite the Hollywood couple since they tied the knot over 20 years ago, but the Emmy Award winner credits his aunt and uncle for being the greatest example of what a good marriage should look like.

“They started putting some little money in stocks early on and then about their early 50s, they moved to Kona, Hawaii, and lived off their stocks and had the best marriage,” he says. “Every time I would see them I would think, ‘If only other people could be like that. If only I could be like that.'”

Although James’ beloved family members have since died, he holds their memories close to his heart. “When Barbra did a concert in Sydney, Australia, they’d be on a cruise ship from Hawaii and be in Sydney and come to the thing and we’d see them and spend time with them and they [were] just the sweetest people,” he gushes. “But the whole point is for them, they became iconic for both of us. If we could only be like them all the time, you know. I never saw a foul word, I never saw anything but them trying to serve each other and give each other a better life than the day before.”

Be sure to catch James as the narrator for the new Netflix/DC Comics series Sweet Tooth. Episodes of Life in Pieces are also currently streaming on CBS All Access.

Reporting by Diana Cooper