When Marlo Thomas first met Phil Donahue, she was very comfortable with her life as a single woman and had no desire to be married. However, she eventually fell in love with him. The pair has been together for almost to half a century and has endured challenging experiences that have helped to strengthen their connection.

The pair revealed some personal details about their relationship in the book “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets,” which was written by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue. Thomas disclosed in her book that when she was younger, she had absolutely no interest in getting married or in the concept of marriage in general.

The reason for this was that she didn’t believe there would be enough space for her in a married relationship. She was so opposed to it that whenever the topic was brought up in conversation, she always had a sarcastic retort ready.

Some of the things that Thomas would remark include that marriage is analogous to living with your jailer and being required to satisfy them. Her second reaction to the establishment was just as caustic, and it consisted of the following statement:

“Marriage is like to putting a vacuum cleaner to your ear; but, instead of sucking out all of your energy and ambition, it takes them in.”


According to what is said in their book, Donahue had previously met Thomas, and the second time they got together was in the year 1977 in the city of Chicago. At the time of the encounter, the host of the television program was a single parent who was responsible for parenting four sons by themselves.

His fifth kid, a girl, was raised by his ex-wife. She was his daughter. When he met Thomas, the host of “The Phil Donahue Show” was getting accustomed to attending social occasions with a lady who was not his wife. Thomas was the first person he had ever dated who was not his wife.

The next evening, he and Thomas went out on a dinner date, and they continued dating for a total of three years until being married in 1980. The wedding reception for the couple was a cozy affair with just thirty-five close friends and family members in attendance.

When Thomas’s sister got married, his family couldn’t believe their eyes. Gloria was one of the people with whom she had an unspoken agreement, and as a result, she was ecstatic for her when she got back from her honeymoon.

A wedding shower was thrown for Donahue’s bride by Gloria, along with another guest. The two also created some humorous posters in which they included all of the terrible things that Marlo had said about marriage. These posters were set up in various places about the room.

Thomas was taken aback when he saw the notes put together, and he concluded that it was “no surprise” that she had no interest in getting married. Donahue’s mother, on the other hand, seemed to be the most taken aback by the news of her daughter’s engagement and continued questioning her daughter about it during the ceremony.

“How did you get her to cooperate with you?”

On the other side, Thomas’s mother’s father was overjoyed that she had met a decent guy and was beginning her life together. When Donahue and Thomas were flying to Greece, Thomas had to get up to use the restroom, and the passenger seated directly in front of them spotted the engagement ring that the bride was wearing.

The lady questioned whether or not Thomas was who she claimed to be and inquired about the actress’s marital status. The unfamiliar person queried the actress, who immediately flushed and affirmed that the day of her wedding had occurred the day before,

“Why? I am really disappointed. Why would you get married?”

Thomas was taken aback by the question, and she began to worry whether she’d made a mistake by answering it. Women on the aircraft, including the passenger sitting next to her, looked to her to be an independent role model. The actress was concerned that she had failed to meet the expectations of the ladies.

Nevertheless, after her husband had returned to their seat, she was able to conquer her anxieties. In the book that they wrote together, Thomas said that throughout their ten year marriage, they had both happy moments and difficult times.

The fact that the pair faced each obstacle jointly, however, helped them to develop solutions that suited both of them, which in turn deepened their relationship and drew them closer together. During the time when they were getting married, Donahue was recording his program in Chicago, and his wife was working as an actress.

It was explained to her by one of Thomas’s aunts that what she and Donahue were doing was not a marriage since they did not always reside in the same place. This was one of the reasons why. On the other hand, the actress came to the realization that each individual had their own conception of what marriage included.

In an interview with the AARP in 2012, Thomas was questioned about the skills she gained from her own mother and how she used those teachings while raising her stepchildren. The famous actress said that she had come to the conclusion that she would not attempt to fulfill the role of conventional “mother” to her husband’s children since they already had one.

Instead, she decided to take on the role of their buddy due to the fact that she and her siblings had a similar relationship with Thomas’ mother while they were growing up. The famous actress expressed her gratitude that she always had someone she could debate with, chat to, and fool about with.

Therefore, she used the exact same strategy to her husband’s offspring and proceeded to form bonds with them. According to the actress, the relationships that she established with the children many years ago are much stronger now.

The celebrity openly said in 2012 on her own YouTube channel that being a stepmother was a role that no one ever wanted to have since it was always portrayed in a negative light in children’s tales. The actor said that she was hesitant to take on the part when it became necessary.

Instead, she made the decision to be a nice stepmother and put in the effort to get acquainted with her stepsons. Donahue noted in their book how his wife held chats with the lads and got to know them as individuals as opposed to just as a group.


Donahue and his wife celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in the year 2020. Donahue made this observation in the course of an interview with Closer Weekly. He said that people tended to concentrate on divorced couples, which prevented long-lasting partnerships from receiving the attention they deserved.

Together, he and his wife came to the realization that “trust” was the key to a successful marriage. Thomas emphasized that it was not only a question of believing that one spouse would not betray the other, but also trusting that what was important to one partner was important to the other, and he added:

“Trust may be earned when you become aware that the other person will always have your back.”

Wanting each other was another piece of advice that Donahue provided for keeping a marriage together over the long haul. When Thomas took a step back and reflected on her life, she admitted that there was no one other than the television star whom she would have been satisfied to marry.

The actress said that her spouse was there for her “in every manner conceivable” to show their support. In the year 2022, the couple’s marriage was going strong, and since they had uncovered the factors that contributed to the longevity of partnerships, it seemed as if their partnership would be unbreakable.

By Elen

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