Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves: Inside Their Relationship

Their romantic and sometimes "roughin' it" road to a Christmas engagement

Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty

Four years ago, Matthew McConaughey‘s relationship with Brazilian model Camila Alves was revealed to PEOPLE in a 2007 cover story.

“She likes roughing it,” a source said at the time. “She doesn’t complain when they go hiking for 10 days without clean clothes or a shower.”

On Christmas Day, McConaughey’s longtime love – and mother of his two children, Levi, 3, and Vida, who turns 2 in January – became his fiancé.

“just asked camila to marry me,” the actor, 42, wrote on his WhoSay account. “merry Christmas.”

Their road to engagement took nearly five years – the couple met in 2006 – but now that the question has been popped, PEOPLE takes a look at their show-stopping, not to mention sexy, romance.

‘The Right Woman’

When he was crowned PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2005, McConaughey said he’d get married one day – when “I’m with the right woman and it’s the right time.”

A year later, he was facing engagement rumors.

“Everyone is convinced he’ll be with her for a long time, if not forever,” a source close to the actor told PEOPLE in October 2007 about the actor’s relationship with the down-to-earth beauty, now 28.

A month before, they had moved into a $1.1 million modular home in Malibu. They already had mystery matching rings.

The couple continued to step out together. “They were laughing the entire time,” said an onlooker who glimpsed McConaughey and Alves at a Japanese restaurant in November 2007. “What a great couple.”

Baby on the Way

Their relationship quickly went from sexy to serious: In early 2008, McConaughey told his fans that he was starting a family with Alves.

That summer, they welcomed their first son, Levi.

“He’s a man – he’s my man – and we’re a family,” Alves gushed months later. “He’s the best dad he can be – 100 percent hands-on.” McConaughey called his leading lady “the love of my life.”

However, marriage wasn’t on McConaughey’s mind. “It’s just not something I plan on doing right now, and that I feel like I need to do right now,” he told reporters in April 2009 while promoting his romantic comedy, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. “It’s not an institution I’m against at all. I’m actually for it, believe in it and have seen it actually be very, very healthy for many relationships.”

Kissing and Telling

The couple rung in the New Year with a new baby in 2010: daughter Vida.

And with an acting career and a family life to balance, the actor was taking his romance with Alves to new heights.

“We went up to 3,000 feet and I had on hiking shoes and I was all set up and ready to go,” he said in February 2011 about a trip with his ladylove to French Polynesia. “[Alves] was wearing Havaianas sandals and a white skirt. I came down to the bottom of that hill afterward and had blood on me, [all] muddy and that girl didn’t have a speck of dust on her.”

The bachelor-turned-family man told PEOPLE in March 2011 that he was learning Portuguese, Alves’s native language that she grew up speaking in Brazil.

And perhaps his favorite word in Portuguese sheds some light on the romance between him and his now-fiancé. “Beijos,” is his favorite expression, he said, which translates to “kisses” in English.

Related Articles