Denise Van Outen tells Closer how she and Lee Mead keep the spark alive and reveals she’s feeling broody
Her marriage to Lee Mead has been plagued by rumours of splits and bust-ups since they tied the knot three years ago.
But actress and singer Denise Van Outen, 37, reveals that she and Lee – who celebrated their third wedding anniversary last month – couldn’t be happier and are even planning on having a brother or sister for their two-year-old daughter, Betsy.
“Lee and I are closer than ever and our marriage definitely isn’t in crisis”
“Lee and I are closer than ever and our marriage definitely isn’t in crisis,” says Denise.
“Any rumours about us splitting up are rubbish. We’re like any other couple and bicker over stupid things. Sometimes, if we’re out, people might pick up on it and say: ‘They’re not getting on.’ We might have a silly disagreement and then it’s forgotten about – which is what a marriage is.
“My parents have been married for 40-odd years and they bicker about silly things, but they’re still together.
“When I first got together with Lee, I was asked if we’d get married and when you get married, you’re asked when you’re going to have your first baby. Then, as soon as you have your first baby, you’re asked about the second one and after you’ve been together about three years, there are rumours your marriage is on the rocks! Lee and I are committed to our relationship and our family the same as we have always been.”
Denise – who’s a toned size 10 and last month cycled 289 miles through India for charity – adds: “And Lee is always complimenting my figure, which is nice.”
The couple met on TV talent show Any Dream Will Do in 2007, which Lee won and Denise judged. They married in April 2009 and Betsy was born the following May.
Denise admits Betsy’s arrival put a strain on their relationship and affected their sex life – but they’re now happily back on track.
“Having a newborn, coupled with no sleep, definitely affected that side of things,” says Denise, who’s just written a book, Adventures In Parenthood, which focuses on her and Lee’s experience of raising a family.
“There was a while when we weren’t active, but our love life has recovered since having Betsy and we’re fine in that department now. We’ve even talked about having another baby now Betsy’s at nursery, but we’re in no real rush.
We’re still enjoying her and one another and we try to set aside time for date nights.”
Denise also reveals how, last month, Lee whisked her off to a London restaurant for a romantic meal to celebrate their anniversary. She smiles: “He’s so thoughtful and really goes out of his way to look after me – even little things like bringing me a cup of tea in bed.
“The most romantic thing he’s ever done was when he proposed. We were at home and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was completely unexpected, but he’d been a real traditionalist and asked my dad beforehand. I was gobsmacked, but I said yes immediately as I knew he was The One.
“The most romantic thing I’ve done for him was when he did an acting course in New York for three months and I flew over there every weekend to see him.
“Marriage has definitely changed me. I feel more secure and I don’t have that anxiousness. I always used to think, ‘Am I ever going to meet the right person?’ I don’t have that worry any more and it makes everything more enjoyable. I can enjoy my work more and I can enjoy Betsy and have a nice time with her and not worry.”
Before meeting Lee, Denise was engaged to Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay, 41, but they split in 2001 and she went on to have a string of unsuccessful relationships. She says: “I don’t speak to my exes because my life has moved on.”
And Denise – who provides the voiceover for The Only Way Is Essex – reveals that while she and Lee are very close, they also value their independence.
'We’re not needy – some couples do everything together, but we like to have our own space – it’s important to us'
“I’ve just got back from a five-day break in Dubai with friends including Lydia from TOWIE,” says Denise, who showed of her curves in a bright green bikini on the beach outside the luxury five-star Grosvenor House Hotel, where she stayed.
“We went to the Sundance Festival, drank cocktails and danced to Fat Boy Slim until 2am! Lee is about to go to New York for a week to see friends, but we’re not needy – some couples do everything together, but we like to have our own space – it’s important to us.
“I have to say, I do still love to party, but I’m not good at doing the nursery run with a hangover! If I’m really in the party mood, I love to go to an ’80s club in Chelsea called Maggie’s and I like a bit of karaoke as well!”
Denise is currently fronting a new Mars campaign to get the nation behind the England football team for Euro 2012.
She laughs: “I have tried to do a keepy-uppy in a pair of high heels and Lee especially loves it when I wear a footie shirt with a pair of heels!”
Away from football, she keeps fit by power-walking and cycling. She says: “I work hard at looking good and cycling’s my favourite form of exercise since I trained for my charity bike ride last month. My shape has changed since having Betsy – my feet have grown a whole size. I’m a size 6 and I used to be a 5 – as if I needed an excuse to buy more shoes!”