Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas have captured their enduring love story in their book “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets.” In this heartfelt account, they not only share their own experiences but also offer insights from other couples.
Marlo Thomas, known for her independence, admits that in her younger years, she was skeptical about marriage. She viewed it as a 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 29 years, it revolutionized television by involving the audience. Marlo Thomas appeared as a guest on his show, and their meeting proved to be life-changing for both of them.
Their paths first crossed in Chicago in 1977. 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 attended by 35 close friends and family members.
Marlo’s decision to get married surprised those who were aware of her previous views on marriage. A humorous anecdote in the book recalls her friends playfully displaying 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.
Marlo confesses in the book 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. Their book delves into the ups and downs they faced, ultimately reinforcing 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. Despite the physical distance, Marlo’s aunt helped her understand that marriage can take on different forms for different people.
Marlo and Phil proved that distance doesn’t have to hinder a marriage. Notably, Marlo not only gained a loving husband but also embraced her new role as a stepmother to Phil’s children. Rather than trying to replace their traditional mother, Marlo became a friend and confidante to the children, influenced by her own mother’s approach.
In a 2012 interview with AARP, Marlo Thomas emphasized the strong bond she shares with Phil’s children. She believes that her relationship with them has deepened over time. Phil also highlights Marlo’s efforts to communicate with and understand his sons in the book.
Trust serves as the foundation of their enduring union. Marlo eloquently states, “You build trust when you realize that this person always has your back.” Despite being married for over four decades, they cherish the idea of creating even more memories together.
Phil emphasizes the necessity of both partners truly desiring a lasting marriage. Marlo wholeheartedly agrees, asserting 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!