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Over the weekend, Denzel Washington was the recipient of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. And while there was plenty he could have brought up in his acceptance speech, a great deal of his time was spent celebrating his wife, Pauletta, whom he referred to as the “most important person in my life.”

“40 years,” he said of their relationship. “40 years of sacrifice. 40 years of forgiveness. She taught me about faith, spirituality, love, real love, unwavering love, in spite of myself.”

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“I would not be alive without Pauletta Washington,” the Oscar winner added. “I wouldn’t survive.”

He lauded her talents, including the fact that she’s a great singer, and at one point, asked the audience to give his leading lady a standing ovation, which they did.

This isn’t the first time Denzel has used his platform to show love to his wife. When asked last year what the key was to them making it 35 years as a married partnership, he said it’s all because of her.

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“There’s too many things!” he said. “What pops into my head: security, food, a beautiful home. The difference between a house and a home, it’s a big difference. You can buy a house, but that doesn’t make it a home – and not to say a man can’t make a home a home, but my wife has made our house a home, and raised these beautiful kids and protected them and sacrificed for them, she did the heavy-lifting.”

His adoration of her has also rubbed off on their son, star John David Washington, who has always been loud and proud about how much his mother has done for their family, including his iconic father.

SEE ALSO: Denzel Washington Leads Efforts To Restore August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Home

“She was on Broadway working. She paid for the first date. She paid the bill, paid the cab ride,” he said of his mom. “Classically trained pianist, went to Julliard. She’s a great artist in her own right and I learned a lot from her.”

Denzel and Pauletta married in 1983 after meeting on the set of the television film, Wilma. They went on to have four children in John David, Katia and twins Olivia and Malcolm. They renewed their vows in 1995 in South Africa.

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Denzel’s AFI Lifetime Achievement Award Speech Was An Ode To His Wife: “I Would Not Be Alive Without Pauletta Washington”  was originally published on