What Makes a Marriage Last: Insights from Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas

Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas, two iconic figures in the entertainment industry, have opened up about their remarkable love story in their book, “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets.” This heartfelt account not only shares their own experiences but also features insights from other couples who have stood the test of time.

Phil and Marlo

Marlo Thomas, known for her independence and strong beliefs, admits that she was once skeptical about marriage. She saw it as a potential drain on energy and ambition, like living with a demanding jailer. However, everything changed when she met Phil Donahue. Despite her initial reservations, their bond has remained unbreakable for over 40 years.

Phil Donahue rose to fame with his groundbreaking TV show, “The Phil Donahue Show,” later renamed “Donahue.” Spanning an impressive 29 years, his show revolutionized television by involving the audience. It was during one of these episodes that Marlo Thomas appeared as a guest, and their meeting proved to be life-changing for both of them.

Their paths first crossed in Chicago in 1977. At the time, Phil was already a father to four boys, while his daughter lived with his ex-wife and her mother. After dating for three years, Phil and Marlo tied the knot in 1980 in an intimate ceremony surrounded by 35 close friends and family members.

Marlo’s decision to get married surprised those who knew about her previous views on marriage. As a playful reminder, her friends displayed quotes at her bridal shower that reflected her past skepticism. Even Marlo’s mother and strangers on their honeymoon plane expressed surprise and disappointment that she, a symbol of independence, had decided to settle down.

In their book, Marlo confesses that these reactions made her question her choice and fear that she had become a hypocrite. She worried that she had let down her fans who admired her independent spirit. However, despite these challenges, Phil and Marlo worked hard to make their marriage a success, facing the ups and downs together that ultimately reinforced their bond.

During the early years of their marriage, their careers often kept them apart. Phil’s show was taped in Chicago, while Marlo traveled for her acting career. However, they proved that physical distance doesn’t have to hinder a marriage. Marlo, influenced by her own mother’s approach, became not just a stepmother but also a friend and confidante to Phil’s children, respecting their relationship with their traditional mother.

Trust serves as the foundation of their enduring union. Marlo beautifully expresses, “You build trust when you realize that this person always has your back.” After being married for over four decades, they still cherish the idea of creating even more memories together.

Both Phil and Marlo emphasize the necessity of both partners genuinely desiring a lasting marriage. Marlo wholeheartedly agrees, stating that she wouldn’t have it any other way than being with Phil. His unwavering support has played a significant role in her life.

The love story of Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue is undeniably inspiring. Their journey serves as a shining example of a successful and committed relationship. May we all strive to cultivate a love as enduring and fulfilling as theirs!


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