March 24, 2023

Contributor, PEOPLE
Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann can credit Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for their marriage.
Hargitay has been starring as Detective Olivia Benson on the hit NBC series since 1999, and the pair met during season 3 when Hermann was brought on for a guest appearance as defense attorney Trevor Langan. The duo started dating shortly after filming wrapped when Hermann asked Hargitay to accompany him to church.
After dating for two years, Hargitay and Hermann tied the knot in 2004. Two years later, they welcomed son August Miklos Friedrich, then adopted daughter Amaya Josephine and son Andrew Nicolas in 2011.
“I think there is such beauty in the divine architecture of how this family was built,” Hargitay told PEOPLE in 2019.
From meeting on SVU to their long, supportive marriage, here’s a look at Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann’s relationship.
Hargitay first met Hermann when the actor was cast in a guest-starring role in season 3 of Law & Order: SVU.
Years later, Hargitay appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show, where she recalled that her first thought after seeing Hermann on set was, “Who is that Clark Gable, superman guy that I need to marry today?” When the pair were introduced, the actress admitted that she “was nervous,” so she tried making a joke to break the ice, but it didn’t really land.
Shortly after wrapping up his season 3 guest appearance, Hermann asked Hargitay to attend a church service with him. The actress later told PEOPLE that she knew right away Hermann was the man she was going to marry.
"We went to church together, and it was like getting hit with a lightning bolt," she said. "I just started sobbing. Peter thought I was crying because I was so moved by the service. No, it was because I was just overwhelmed, realizing he was the one."
After about two years of dating, Hargitay’s prediction came true when the couple tied the knot in Santa Barbara, California, in 2004.
“We got married and we knew that it was going to be good,” the actress later told PEOPLE in 2019. “We sort of knew that we found the right one.”
Hermann recalled deciding to get hitched after witnessing the warmth surrounding Hargitay on her 40th birthday.
“I actually saw Mariska with all of the people that she loved around her,” he told PEOPLE. “It was like seeing this person who was now in the soil… which was this abundance of people and this abundance of love and I thought, ‘I want to be part of that soil.’ ”
Less than two years after their wedding, Hargitay and Hermann welcomed son August Miklos Friedrich.
“Nobody wanted to be pregnant more than me,” Hargitay later told SELF magazine in 2007. “From the minute I found out, I was wearing full-on maternity pants. My stomach was totally flat, mind you, but I was just so excited.”
In August 2006, Hargitay won her first Emmy Award for her role in Law & Order: SVU. During her acceptance speech, she thanked Hermann and their new baby.
"When I named my son August, I had no idea that the month would end like this!" she joked onstage. "Thank you so much … to my husband, who gave me the greatest gift in the world."
In April 2011, the couple expanded their family when they adopted a baby girl, Amaya Josephine.
"I'm deliriously happy," Hargitay told PEOPLE. "From the minute she was born, she was just surprisingly alert and so full of love."
She added that they were "considering both international and domestic adoption" and were "thrilled that this is the way our prayers were answered." She continued, "We talked a lot about mixed-race adoptions, and we are very excited that we are now a multi-racial family. We're just so happy she's here."
The couple's son, August, was also excited to have a new sibling in the house. "He is over the moon," Hargitay said at the time. "He calls her his baby because he says the whole thing was his idea. He always talks about how he's going to protect her. He's going to be a great big brother."
The Hargitay-Hermann brood became a family of five when the couple adopted son Andrew Nicolas in October 2011, just four months after welcoming Amaya.
"We never in a million years thought it would happen this quickly, but something inside of us knew that this was right, and we said, 'Yes, yes, yes!' " Hargitay said. "We knew this was our guy. Everything about it felt right. It felt divinely right."
While having two babies in the house can be chaotic, the SVU star said Amaya and Andrew bonded right away. "They'll lie in the crib together, and she'll hold his hand and put her arm around him," she said. "She's already so protective of him."
Hargitay brought her family along when she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November 2013. She then praised them during her emotional speech.
“Thank you … to August and to Amaya and to Andrew,” she said. “I know one day you will grow into an understanding of how brightly the three of you shine into me and daddy’s life. And to Peter, you’re too good to be true.”
The day after Halloween in 2015, Hargitay shared a picture of her entire family — who has since become known for crushing the group costume game — out trick-or-treating in costume.
The crew rocked head-to-toe outfits inspired by the movie Inside Out. Hargitay, dressed as the character Joy, added themed hashtags to the caption, writing, “#SquadGoals #SadnessFearJoyDisgustAnger #EmotionalFamily #FamiliesThatHalloweenTogetherStayTogether #MyJOYfulHearts.”
At the season 2 premiere of Hermann’s show Younger, the couple looked cozy as they walked the red carpet together and posed for pictures.
"I am here with my beautiful wife," Hermann said, adding that he and Hargitay had enjoyed a "fantastic" holiday vacation with their three kids. "I think they're at that age where everything kind of feels like a milestone," he said. "It's great."
In January 2016, Hermann joined Twitter and revealed that Hargitay was the one who pushed him to make an account. “Thank you @mariska for finally getting me to do this!” he tweeted.
“Me and my Twitter guide!” he added in a follow-up tweet, along with a sweet selfie of himself and his wife.
As the popularity of Younger hit its fever pitch in September 2017, Hermann started getting recognized just as often as his wife, thanks to his leading role on the show.
“I was just in Italy, and we were walking with my whole family, and people stopped Mariska to tell her how much they love SVU,” Hermann told PEOPLE. “And then after this group came over, and I get ready to take their camera, and they said, ‘Are you Peter? Are you on Younger?’ It was so great!”
In February 2018, Hermann — who plays book publisher Charles Brooks on Younger — published his first children’s picture book, If the S in Moose Comes Loose.
His wife congratulated him in an Instagram post, sharing a picture of the smiling new author holding up his book.
"As the wordsmith himself puts it, this book is a 'Madcap spelling romp'… who says that? Only my brilliant husband," Hargitay wrote in the caption. "My brilliant AUTHOR husband, whom I'm so 'ridiculously excited + very proud' of."
Hermann shared with PEOPLE that he was nervous about showing the creation to his kids. “The first time that I actually read them the complete book, I think they could tell that I was hoping they would really like it,” he said. “They were like, ‘Dude, Dad, chill.’ ”
In a March 2018 cover story for PEOPLE, Hargitay revealed that she’d become a better parent thanks to her husband and three kids. “They taught me to really listen,” she said. “My husband is my North Star, and my kids are my teachers …. Together we’re just this whole, happy, joyful, chaotic, crazy unit. I’ve never known anything that was more right.”
The Emmy-winner also credited her dynamic with Hermann for making it all come together. "Peter and I, we're so different that it's been amazing how we complement each other," she explained. "He knows everything I don't."
Hargitay and Hermann graced the cover of PEOPLE in June 2019 and revealed that the secret to their enduring relationship is laughter.
"I never thought I would have this much laughter in my life," Hermann said. "Not just actual laughter, but also the way that Mariska is just the embodiment of laughter — of joy."
"It's the way we find our way back to each other," he continued. "It's this fantastically, wonderfully ridiculous way that we can swing back and forth any number of times in any given day. But fundamentally we know we have the same destination. We know where we're headed, and it's good. And we know we'll get there together."
The couple also got candid about their decision to adopt.
“Having lost my mom at a young age, I then grew up with my stepmom, and I have half siblings, and so I know that families can be built in all sorts of different ways, that there isn’t just one way to create a family and that it isn’t just about biology,” Hargitay said.
In August 2020, Hargitay posted a black-and-white photo of the pair hugging and laughing to celebrate their anniversary.
"Thank you for all your beautiful wishes for our 16th wedding anniversary," she wrote in the caption. "In this time of so much uncertainty this sure feels good."
On the night of Law & Order: SVU’s season 22 premiere, Hermann showed support for his wife’s career on Twitter.
"Here's looking at you @mariska!" he wrote alongside a picture of Hargitay smiling through a window frame. "Congrats on tonight's premiere of Season 22—TWENTY-TWO!!!!—of @nbcsvu. You're the enduring backbone, determined heart and bright, shining spirit who makes it all possible. I love you, I'm so proud of you…. and your smile just slays me. #SVU."
Almost one year later, Hermann celebrated Hargitay again, this time for 500 episodes of Law & Order: SVU.
“You astonish me,” he wrote on Twitter above a beach selfie of the pair. “We met in episode 54. Best 447 episodes of my life. Congratulations, you beautiful life force. I love you. #SVU.”
During an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show, Hargitay reflected on her lasting relationship with Hermann.
"He's so funny and so different than anyone I've ever met," she said. "We had such a sort of beautiful getting to know each other and learning how to see each other and beautiful courtship. And here we are, 17 years married, 19 years in and still learning about each other every day."
In August 2022, the long-time couple celebrated another big milestone: their 18th anniversary. Hargitay honored the feat on Instagram, posting two black-and-white photos, including a throwback shot of the couple at their wedding.
"Eighteen years. Grateful. In love. Together," she captioned the post.
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