Ellen Pompeo is open about the sexist backlash she faced after it was revealed that she takes home $20 million annually for her role as Dr. Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy. But the 48-year-old star and founder of the production company Calamity Jane knows one place she’ll never face misogyny: at home with her husband of over a decade, music producer Chris Ivery.
“My husband is not at all intimidated by my drive, or my bossiness,” Pompeo told PEOPLE during the Marie Claire Power Trip, a women’s empowerment conference. “I never thought I’d be at the height of my career at 48 years old. I’m at the top of my game, with no end in sight.” So when it comes to being successful, she said “it’s really important for men to be on board.”
Pompeo also noted that it helps that she and Ivery are open and honest in their communication.
“I have a tendency to be a little bit bossy just because I’m juggling so many things,” she said. “He’s really good about letting me know when I’m talking to him like an employee. Occasionally, I get told ‘I don’t work for you, don’t speak to me like that,’ which is okay. I need to hear it if I’m not coming correct.”
She also knows his strengths and weaknesses, and responds accordingly. “My husband can’t multitask,” she said. “That’s why I have an assistant, two nannies and two housekeepers. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford all this stuff. I don’t ask him to do it because he’d have a f—— meltdown. The poor guy can only handle so much.”
But that’s men, she said. “They’re just not built the same way, and we can’t expect them to be built like us, they’re not,” Pompeo said. “You know that book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? I think that is the most accurate depiction that’s ever been published.”
Knowing each other’s limits and treating each other with respect is the glue that holds Pompeo and Ivery together — not only for their marriage, but also as parents. The pair raise three children together, Stella, 9, Sienna, 4, and Eli, 2. Their goal in parenting is to lead by example.
- For more on Pompeo, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
“With my son, I really want to pay attention to the way I raise him, and make sure that I’m not creating a situation of a fragile ego,” she said, noting that she wants to teach him how to embrace and express his emotions.
When it comes to her daughters, she hopes to teach them inclusivity.
“When my older daughter was little, she played with Barbies and I caught her playing wedding one day with my nanny at the time,” she said. “I’m furious that women are taught to aspire to get married when they grow up. It’s absurd. But I said, ‘If you’re going to play wedding, you’re going to get two female Barbies and two male Barbies, and you’re going to have gay weddings as well as hetero weddings. You’re not going to teach my kids that there’s one type of wedding.’ I solved that one early.”
For Father’s Day this year, she posted a message of gratitude to her partner, writing: “This man has been my rock… my soulmate …my protector and has given me the three greatest blessings in my life. I don’t know how I got so lucky but Wow am I grateful. I don’t take one minute with you or our beautiful babies for granted. Thank you for your love CI… you are my everything.”
In terms of the future of their marriage and their parenting, she told PEOPLE she’s taking it one day at a time.
“I try to live every day in the moment and present,” she said. A life “full of joy is all I hope for—healthy, and full of joy.”
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