The marital manual was literally written by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue.
The long-married pair shares personal details of their marriage in their book, What Makes a Marriage Las: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets.
Marlo most intriguingly discloses that, despite having been married to Phil for more than 40 years, she grew up with little interest in being married.
In the book, the celebrity shared her formerly pessimistic viewpoint on the institution: “Marriage is like a vacuum cleaner: you stick it to your ear, and it sucks out all your energy and ambition.”
Thomas expresses her sentiments often, comparing marriage to being a prisoner that one must appease. Until she met Donahue, that is.
After Phil Donahue’s first marriage ended in divorce, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue both met one another, and now they are lifelong friends.
Phil Donahue rose to fame in the public eye with his show, “The Phil Donahue Show,” which was later rebranded as just “Donahue.” The program featured audience participation for the first time and ran for 29 years. Marlo Thomas was one of the guests on his show who completely altered the course of his life.
According to the book, the pair first met in Chicago in 1977, and Phil brought four youngsters with him. A daughter, his fifth kid, resided somewhere else with his ex-wife and her mother.
Prior to getting married in 1980 in front of a small wedding party of 35 guests, Marlo and Phil dated for three years.
Unsurprisingly, the actress’s change of heart startled Marlo’s friends and family. In the couple’s book, a comical incident is told about Marlo’s bridal shower, where guests hung comments from the future bride that revealed her former opinions on marriage.
According to the novel, Marlo’s mom was more surprised than anyone, asking Donahue “How did you get her to do this?” throughout the couple’s wedding.
Even complete strangers reportedly expressed disbelief, among other feelings, at the celebrity social activist’s choice to settle down. On the flight the couple flew to their honeymoon in Greece, a passenger expressed dissatisfaction to Marlo while Phil was in the restroom, apparently upset that she had given up her former independent streak.
In the book, Thomas is forthright and admits that a seed of uncertainty was planted during this exchange. Was she now a hypocrite for getting married if she had spent so much of her life criticizing marriage? Had she disappointed those who looked up to her as the epitome of independence?
Donahue and Thomas make their marriage work to this day, despite the typical ups-and-sowns they refer to in the book when covering their lengthy marriage. They cite these issues as learning experiences that helped them to strengthen their bond.
Even early in their marriage, the couple spent time apart while Phil taped his show in Chicago and Marlo traveled for her own acting career.
When Thomas’ aunt remarked that the couple’s union was invalid because they weren’t completely cohabitating, Thomas was better able to see how different people define marriage.Thomas and Donahue were able to maintain their marriage despite their separation. Importantly, Marlo also gained children when she married.
Thomas reminisced on what it was like to assist Phil in raising his children in a 2012 interview with AARP, saying she went into it knowing that they already had a traditional mother and that would not be her role.
Instead, Marlo says that in attempt to emulate her own mother’s parenting, she started to treat Phil’s kids more like friends. She goes on to claim that she feels closer to them now than she did when the marriage first began.
Donahue notes that Thomas did in fact spend as much time as she could in the talk getting to know his sons and trying to comprehend the boys in the book.
Phil and Marlo think their lengthy marriage is due to their faith in one another, in addition to her close relationship with his children. Marlo clarifies, “You build trust when you realize that this person always has your back.”
They still have more memories to create after having been married for more than 40 years.
Phil continues by saying that for a marriage to endure, both partners must want it to. Marlo agrees with him and adds that she would never want to be anything other than wedded to her boyfriend. According to her, Donohue has helped her in “every way possible.”
Marriage is a beautiful union that is made much more beautiful when two individuals genuinely commit to it.
We can all learn a lot from and be inspired by this duo. We should all aspire to be in a relationship that is as fulfilling as theirs!