Twenty-four years and counting! Patrick and Jillian Dempsey marked nearly a quarter century of marriage in late July — and the actor and celebrity makeup artist, both 57, aren’t taking the milestone for granted. “What an amazing path we’ve been on,” Patrick posted on Insta. “I love you!!”

Their journey included a separation in 2015. It was a turning point for the parents of Talula, 21, and twins Darby and Sullivan, 16, who committed to couples therapy. At the time, Patrick was devoted to his car-racing passion and the grueling Grey’s Anatomy shooting schedule.

“The split forced him to take a step back,” a source exclusively tells Closer. “Patrick was a bit of a free spirit, and his need for speed freaked Jillian out. He quit the show and cut back on racing.”

“I [learned] to prioritize,” Patrick ​revealed, insisting his marriage “was not something I was prepared to let go of. We both wanted to fight for it.”

Patrick and Jillian Dempsey's Marriage Secrets: 'Fight for It'
Photo by Sebastien Nogier/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The prospect of divorce or, as he put it, “a big section of his life that’s ending,” taught the onscreen surgeon some invaluable relationship lessons: “You’ve got to keep at it,” he said. “You’ve got to communicate and stay open and not get lazy. And not give up. And lots of sex!”

The source adds that the duo, who met in 1994 when Jillian, then a hairstylist, took on Patrick as a client, are “committed to never letting it break down again. They’re in a good place and they’re happy.”