Katherine Heigl Breaks Relationship Rules – and It Works!

07/20/2009 at 10:30 AM EDT

Katherine Heigl Breaks Relationship Rules – and It Works!
Katherine Heigl
John Shearer/WireImage
Katherine Heigl's character learns the not-so-pretty romantic rules of male/female relationships in her new comedy The Ugly Truth, but the actress admits that she's already tested them with husband Josh Kelley.

"I'm not very good at being a wife because I sort of break them all," Heigl laughed while discussing the film with reporters. "So does he, though, so whatever." She admits that, like her character, she set up a lot of rules about what she wanted in a man when she was single.

"I definitely went the whole make-a-list [process]," she said. "I'm definitely a little OCD, I'm particular about how I like things, and how I want things." But she's learned that despite the sometimes dramatic differences between the psyches of men and women, compromise is the key. "You don't have to necessarily completely change who you are to be with someone you want to be with, but you do have to compromise a little bit. You have to let go of a little bit of yourself."

After meeting Kelley on the set of his music video "Only You," she threw any rules about waiting for him to call out the window. "The next day I waited until three o'clock and I went, 'Screw it, I'm going to call him.' I called and invited him out to a friend's barbeque. He showed up and we had a great time, and it was on from there."

Kelley Keeps It Cool

Kelley, however, followed one standard relationship rule of thumb, which she admits worked in his favor. "He played it really cool," says Heigl. "It was at least a couple of months before I was like 'Does this guy like me as much as I like him?' It was very disconcerting, but it was intriguing, and I was so into it! He says now – and I think he's lying – that he was not trying to play it cool. This was just how he was. I was, like, 'Bullsh-t! You are not like that!' That was an act, but it worked so great. It was so mysterious and intriguing."

"If you have a guy who is relentless and obviously so into it, sort of puppy dog-at-your-feet, then it's not as sexy and interesting as the guy who plays it a little cool," she says. "I had to really fight for him to like me as much as I liked him. There is a fine line between honest and desperate. You can be honest with someone about your intentions, and how you feel about them, and you can get the 'Thank you.' And that's awful. Or you can be honest and they reciprocate. Sometimes it's just about risking it."

No 'I' In Team

The risk paid off for the couple, who wed in 2007. "He's just such an awesome guy and it's not a lot of work," Heigl says of married life, though admits there can be the occasional bump in the road. "There is always work, there is always compromise, and stupid moments: 'Really? You can't put your Coke can in the trash? Really?' That will always exist, but I think the most important thing we've learned in the last year and a half, that I've become more aware of and grateful for, is that this person is always on my side."

"That is the one thing I think you cannot mess with," she adds. "You have to support each other even when you get pissed. All those underhanded, little snarky comments, all the resentment that bursts at times – you have to remember you're a team. There's nothing more valuable in this world than having that partner, having that person on your side, because it gets kind of lonely, scary, and weird out there. And I love being able to go home to him."

InStyle is hosting an advance screening of the film Monday night in New York City.

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