What Makes a Marriage Last: A Love Story for the Ages

Marriage can be a beautiful journey filled with love, companionship, and growth. It’s a union that requires effort and commitment from both partners. But what happens when someone who’s never really been interested in marriage finds themselves walking down the aisle?


Meet Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, a long-married couple who have defied the odds and shared their secrets in their book, “What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets.” In this captivating read, Marlo opens up about her initial skepticism towards marriage and how her perspective completely changed when she met Phil.


In her own humorous way, Marlo used to compare marriage to a vacuum cleaner, believing it would suck out all her energy and ambition. She saw it as a prison, a shackle that would hold her back. But all that changed when she met the charming Phil Donahue.

Phil, already a famous television personality with his show “Donahue,” was completely transformed when Marlo appeared as a guest on his show. Their connection was undeniable, and their friendship soon blossomed into something more. Little did they know that they were embarking on a lifelong journey together.


Their love story began in Chicago in 1977, where Phil introduced Marlo to his four children from a previous marriage. Instantly, Marlo became a part of their lives, forming a bond that would last a lifetime. After three years of dating, they tied the knot in an intimate ceremony with 35 guests.

Of course, Marlo’s change of heart surprised her friends and family. At her bridal shower, guests playfully reminded her of her former aversion to marriage. Even her own mother couldn’t believe that Marlo had made the leap. But love has a way of changing hearts and minds.


As they embarked on their honeymoon in Greece, there were those who expressed their doubts. A stranger even confronted Marlo, questioning her decision to give up her independence. It was a moment of uncertainty for Marlo, wondering if she had disappointed those who saw her as a symbol of independence.

But Marlo and Phil didn’t let these doubts deter them. They were determined to make their marriage work. And work it did, despite the ups and downs they faced along the way. They saw these challenges as learning experiences that only strengthened their bond.


Throughout their marriage, they spent time apart due to their respective careers. Phil’s show kept him in Chicago, while Marlo traveled for acting. Many believed that their separation invalidated their union, but they proved them wrong. Their love transcended distance and they found ways to stay connected.

Marlo shares that being a stepmother to Phil’s children was a unique experience. She didn’t try to replace their biological mother, but rather became a supportive friend. Over time, her relationship with them grew stronger, and she cherishes the connection they share today.


What’s the secret behind their lasting marriage? Phil and Marlo attribute it to their unwavering faith in each other and their commitment to their family. Trust plays a pivotal role in their relationship, knowing that they always have each other’s back. They’ve created a beautiful life together and continue to make new memories, even after over 40 years of marriage.


Marlo and Phil’s love story is a testament to the power of commitment and finding a partner who truly supports and complements you. Their journey reminds us that a fulfilling relationship is worth striving for, and that love knows no bounds.

Let their story inspire you to nurture and cherish your own relationships, for love is a beautiful union that only grows stronger with time.