WHEN Mark Wright posted his adoring tributes to wife Michelle Keegan for her 33rd birthday earlier this month, fans couldn’t help but comment on how cute the couple were.
“Most gorgeous couple ever!”, “So gorgeous…" and “So perfect together and so well suited" were just some of the comments that flooded the Essex lad’s Instagram page.
But this picture perfect couple – who’ve survived months apart, life in different time-zones and meddling exes – weren’t always the dream-duo we see today.
Turn back time to 2010 and Mark Wright, 33, was the Essex Lothario – and TOWIE’s main star – who’d unashamedly go through women quicker than he could click his fingers.
Michelle, on the other hand, was the chip-loving, no-nonsense actress from Manchester whose star was rising as she continued to win over critics as Coronation Street’s Tina McIntyre.
The pair were polar opposites.
While he was juggling furious rows with Lauren Goodger, messages from Sam Faiers and keeping a keen eye on Lucy Mecklenburgh, Michelle was being voted one of Corrie’s ‘best actresses of all time’ and rapidly climbing FHM’s notorious 100 Sexiest Women ranking.
And like most 20-something men, Mark joined the long queue of admirers wanting to date her but he wasn’t the sort of character to give up until he got what he wanted.
After 11 years of dating Lauren Goodger – and a brief engagement which ended when she accused him of cheating – Mark gained an unshakeable reputation of being one of Essex’s most notorious playboys.
He was good looking, had cheesy chat-up lines and a knack for getting women such as Sam Faiers and Lucy Mecklenburgh wrapped around his little finger.
But this, unsurprisingly, didn’t appeal to TOWIE fan Michelle who’d watched his every move played out on ITV2.
Writing in her column with Now magazine she said: “I love TOWIE! It's one of those shows you don't want to watch, but just can't help turning on.
“I don't know how Lauren can take Mark back so easily, though – it's so cringe!
“I wouldn't' be able to get back with someone who'd slept with lots of girls I knew, but that's just me.”
He wasn’t deterred though.
“He chased her for TWO years and she made him do that,” a source close to the pair tells Fabulous.
“He was used to getting any girl he wanted in Essex but Michelle was always the girl he’d speak about in interviews – she was his ultimate crush.”
And Mark doesn’t deny it.
“I just thought she was smoking hot. I'm going to make that girl my girlfriend,” he said of when they first met.
He was in awe of her 10 years ago – like a prize jewel he could never get and now he’s got her, he never, ever wants to let her go
So, behind the scenes Mark was always DMing her, begging her to go out on a date with him but she wasn’t going to be the beck-and-call girl he was used to.
“She’d always say she was busy or ignore him but never shut down the conversation,” our source adds.
“She kept him on his toes and she still does and he loves it!
“Perhaps that’s how she’s ‘tamed’ him – he was in awe of her 10 years ago – like a prize jewel he could never get and now he’s got her, he never, ever wants to let her go. He still looks at her and thinks ‘Wow!’”
“His friends and family are the same. When they first met, she was this huge actress and he was nowhere near as big as he is now. He still can’t believe his luck.”
“In the past I have lived like a lot of young boys – meeting a lot of people and having a fun time, but the moment I met Michelle I was a completely different man,” Mark says.
A normal Northern-lass
As well as her stunning looks, Mark was ultimately struck by how down-to-earth she was, despite being so well-known.
“Michelle had everything all the girls in Essex were desperate for – fame, money, looks – yet on the weekend she wasn’t spending hours in the salon before going out,” our source reveals.
“She was spending time with her family and best mates down the pub eating chips and Mark loved that – she wasn’t trying to be something else.”
Even though Mark and Michelle are now often seen heading to the gym together and enjoy working out – Michelle hasn’t always been so keen.
“I eat rather a lot of chips – and hot dogs and burgers,” the actress admitted in 2014 when talking about a trip to Orlando.
“You don’t have to go mad on fast food – there are lots of healthy options. I just happen to like chips.”
But that also made Mark fall for her faster.
“Mark likes that she is completely natural and ‘normal’,” our source says.
“She eats chips and Chinese takeaway and doesn’t tend to wear make up unless she is going out or working and she is totally down to earth. She’s completely different to any Essex girl he’s met.
“He loves that classic, natural beauty that Michelle has, rather than someone showing it all off in a tight LBD. She also doesn’t have the jealous, paranoid streak which many of his exes did – especially Lauren – and lets him do what he wants.”
Friends and lovers
Ultimately, it’s their unbreakable friendship and trust which makes them work as a couple.
“They have a really strong friendship which makes their relationship so special,” the pal adds.
"I'd spoken to Michelle at events and we got on so well,” Mark said in the past.
“We had a laugh without being a couple, without telling each other we fancied each other.
"I was just friends with her at first and we kept bumping into each other over the space of two or three months and we just got on really well."
Ultimately it was a chance meeting in 2012, while on separate holidays in Dubai that set the spark alive. It was rumoured they spent New Year's Eve together, seeing in 2013 with a kiss before getting engaged that September.
“They still have a lot in common, like their fitness, their love of animals and are both very career driven – they also love to have a good time,” our source adds.
For Mark, life with Michelle is his dream come true.
“I’ve got now, for the first time in my life, what I’ve always wanted and what every boy dreams of – affection in a relationship, love, best friend, a girl I fancy… everything rolled into one,” he said to The Mirror after they got engaged.
She’s the boss
In the past, and as we all saw on TOWIE, Mark was the sort of lad who was used to calling the shots. But with Michelle, our source says the dynamic shifted.
“She definitely wears the trousers,” our source says, “but he doesn’t back down easily either. He will put her in her place – their marriage is very equal.”
The pair are currently building a fitness business empire together which could propel them into multi-millionaire status, adding to their already enviable bank accounts.
“Mark has a business brain and Michelle is his biggest cheerleader – she supports him in whatever he wants, emotionally and financially,” our source says.
On May 22 Mark and Michelle set up the company called Mysa Active at the same time that Mark opened another company called Train Wright.
Both companies were registered as "physical well-being activities", with Mysa Active labelled as the "retail sale of clothing in specialised stores."
The new businesses are a likely way for the couple to cash in on Mark's very successful online workouts he is posting from their Essex home during lockdown.
Mark is estimated to be worth about £9.1 million, while Michelle is thought to be worth about £2.7 million thanks to acting roles on shows such as, Coronation Street and Brassic.
“They know they have this perfect partnership that can work in business as well as at home.
“They managed to get through his time in America and her time in South Africa and it was a big test. It made them stronger and spending time in lockdown has made them even closer too.”
After being married for five years, the pair are often bombarded with questions about when they’ll have kids and sparked rumours when they purchased their £1.3million Essex home, which has plans for a playroom.
And our source says, we could hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet soon.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have them this year or next,” they say.
“Her schedule is very quiet now and due to lockdown they have spent so much time together but in the same breath, they like to travel and party lifestyle and it’s a lot to give up.”
Speaking to The Sun last year Mark said, “With kids, I used to want three or four. But now, I'm 31, we're not having kids any time before 32. I think we could have two or three. Twins would be great because you're getting two out of the way at once!
“Triplets would be even better! And if we have quadruplets we'd be laughing because we'd have them all in one go!”
In other news – celebs including Michelle & Sam Faiers have snapped up this sun lounger in lockdown and here’s where to buy it
Also, see inside Mark and Michelle's lockdown lovenest.
And finally, check out Mark Wright's fat burning workouts.
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