Michael Douglas may have showed up at the Emmy Awards last night with a smile on his face, but more importantly for celeb gossip aficionados, he showed up without his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. The two have been having serious marital problems for months and even confirmed a separation a few weeks ago. At the time, they both indicated they still wanted to work on the marriage, and if his speech was any indication, he certainly means it.

While accepting the award for Best Actor in a Miniseries for his brilliant work in Behind The Candelabra, Douglas made several amusing innuendos, vehemently thanked his collaborative partner Matt Damon and finally touched on each of his family members including the estranged spouse, who he referred to as “my wife, Catherine”. On the surface, it might not seem like a very big deal, but it’s actually a very important symbol.

Following a separation, there are only two different things an ex-ish couple can do. They can either work on their relationship, or they can let bitterness push them toward divorce court. By making a point to thank Catherine during the speech, he’s at least letting her know he’s still in this. He still wants to work it out and still considers the two of them together. We have no way of knowing whether the small efforts like that will lead to a meaningful reconciliation, but at least it’s on the table.

Over the past few years, Douglas and Zeta-Jones have gone through quite a bit. In addition to working on their acting careers and raising their lovely children, he’s battled cancer, and she’s battled bipolar disorder. No doubt those concerns put a tremendous strain on the marriage and were key factors in pushing them apart, but with enough love in their hearts and efforts in their bellies, they still should be able to overcome the obstacles in their path.

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