Marlo Thomas, 84, and Phil Donahue, 86, revealed the key to their 40-year marriage in the book “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life,” which will be published in 2020.
The pair discussed their marriage success and gave advice from other long-term partners. The pair is understandably proud of their combined achievement, and they are undeniably experts on the subject.
The actress and talk show host contacted other celebrity couples who had been married for a long period for the book to find out what worked for them.
“We began to wonder if there really is a secret sauce to a successful marriage,” the couple stated. And that’s when we decided to break an unbreakable rule in our marriage and work on a project for the first time.”
The book features long-lasting famous couples such as Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Chip and Joanna Gaines, and Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, as well as their tales and advice.
“As different as these couples’ stories are, they share a common plotline: that of two people joining hands and stepping up to the most difficult, invigorating, inspiring, infuriating, thrilling, terrifying, delightful, and heavenly job on earth — making a marriage last,” Thomas and Donahue said in a joint statement.
Communication was also one of Thomas and Donahue’s secrets to a long-lasting partnership. There was also the simple notion that nothing could separate them.
“Through the years, you learn that nothing is that big a deal, and this isn’t going to break us up no matter what,” Thomas explained, “so you get used to saying, Ok, let’s just talk it out.”
Donahue stated that humor is essential for a successful marriage. “What is the key to effective communication?” “It helps to scream,” he joked. “At the very least, you’ll know if the person you’re screaming at is paying attention.” Then exit the room and count to ten.”
The couple initially met when Thomas went on Donahue’s talk program in 1977. Thomas claimed on the show that she thought him to be “loving” and “generous,” and that “whoever is the woman in your life is very lucky.”
They fell in love at first sight and married in 1980. Thomas married for the first time at the age of 40, and she became the stepmother to Donahue’s five children from his first marriage.
During their research for the book, Donahue observed that “if there’s any common theme to the [interviews] we had, it’s that you have to want to have a long marriage.”
Thomas added that long-lasting couples demonstrated their strength by dealing with what could have been breaking points in their relationships, such as the deaths of loved ones, infidelity, and financial loss, among other things.
“What makes a marriage last is what you do when you’re confronted with the really big stuff,” she said.
Another piece of advice that the two provided was to ensure your partner’s trust and support. It may sound simple, but it is not in practice.
“In a marriage, you have to know that person has your back. “This is the safest place I can be; he is going to be my everything — my life cushion,” Thomas said.
Ensuring long-lasting success in marriage is certainly a challenge, but Thomas and Donahue certainly pulled it off. It’s important to remember though that long-lasting marriages require sacrifices and plenty of hard work.