Marriage can surprise even the most pessimistic among us. It is frequently perceived as a difficult and even impossible path. In their book “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets,” Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, a long-married couple of about 40 years, divulge intimate secrets of their surviving union. However, Marlo Thomas wasn’t always willing to go down that route.

Marlo openly shares in her book her previous misgivings about marriage, likening it to a vacuum cleaner and stating, “You stick it to your ear, and it sucks out all your energy and ambition.” She had a negative opinion of marriage and little desire to get married.

When Marlo Thomas and well-known television personality Phil Donahue—whose first marriage ended in divorce—cross paths, the plot takes a different course. The moment they met, Marlo’s perspective on marriage changed. Up until that point, she had compared marriage to a type of captivity in which one had to please the other all the time.

Initially known as “The Phil Donahue Show,” Phil Donahue gained prominence with his innovative chat program before rebranding it as “Donahue.” Over the course of its 29-year run, the program introduced audience engagement in a unique way. The show’s guest, Marlo Thomas, had a big impact on how the host and, ultimately, her own life turned out.

In 1977, Phil moved his four children with him to Chicago, where the couple first met, according to their book. His fifth child lived with her mother and his ex-wife. Following three years of courtship, Marlo and Phil were married in 1980 in a small ceremony with only 35 guests.

Friends and family were taken aback by Marlo’s unexpected change of heart regarding marriage, and their book includes a hilarious story from her bridal shower. Throughout the celebration, visitors heard remarks made by the soon-to-be bride that disclosed her prior opinions towards marriage. Specifically, Marlo’s mother was unable to contain her shock and kept asking Phil, “How did you get her to do this?”

In the book, Marlo openly discusses her personal uncertainties and worries. After all her life condemning the institution, she wondered if being married had made her a hypocrite. Even total strangers were taken aback by her decision to be married, one fellow traveler on the plane to Greece for their honeymoon expressing displeasure at her decision to give up her independent streak.

Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue have successfully sustained their marriage despite the initial doubts, overcoming the typical ups and downs they talk about in their book. They see these difficulties as worthwhile educational opportunities that have improved their bond over time.

The couple spent time apart even in their early years of marriage, as Phil traveled for his acting profession while filming his show in Chicago. Their narrative demonstrates the variety of definitions of marriage and the significance of mutual trust.

In retrospect, Marlo notes that she raised Phil’s kids more like friends by modeling her own mother’s parenting style. She felt more connected to them than she had at the start of their marriage as a result of this strategy.

Phil and Marlo credit their strong faith in one another and the tight bond Marlo forged with his kids for the duration of their marriage. They stress the value of developing mutual trust and constantly looking out for one another.

They have been married for more than 40 years and are always making new memories together. Their tale serves as a reminder that in order for a marriage to stay healthy, it is frequently necessary for spouses to alternately stand by one another in times of need. Their unwavering love is an encouragement to us all, demonstrating the beauty of a happy and long-lasting relationship.