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Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue Reveal Their Secret to 40 Years of Happy Marriage

After 40 years of marriage, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue started to wonder if there was a “secret sauce” for staying together. Obviously they had it, but it wasn’t until the couple decided to interview 40 other long-lasting pairs that they got a better glimpse of what it really is that keeps relationships strong.

In What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us the Secrets to a Happy Life ($18.59, Amazon), Thomas and Donahue “broke an ironclad rule of our marriage — for the first time, ever — and decided to work on a project together.” No pressure there!

The famous couples they chatted with span a wide range, including Ray and Anna Romano, Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, Elton John and David Furnish, Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest, Chip and Joanna Caines, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Dr. Mehmet and Lisa Oz, and more than 30 other familiar couples who have stood the test of time.

For Thomas and Donahue, the conversations helped them to recall almost-forgotten moments of their own relationship that made their connection grow.

“Over the decades, Phil and I have lived the sweeping landscape of marriage, and sometimes that landscape has had its valleys,” Thomas writes. They detail some of those “valleys” in the book, like when Thomas moved in with Donahue and his four rowdy sons (he also has a daughter, who was living with his ex-wife). One hilariously relatable moment came when they discovered the trees in their front yard had been covered in toilet paper thanks to one of the boy’s wild antics. Donahue writes that it caused him to have a particularly big “spazz” — but Thomas didn’t walk away.

“Each obstacle we faced as a couple not only helped us find the solution to the challenge, but also strengthened the bond that had brought us together,” Thomas writes.

They write together in the book’s epilogue, “Our biggest lesson is: there is no one secret to a lasting marriage. So keep looking for them. Because the longer you look, the more you’ll discover reasons to stay in it.” Makes a lot of sense if you ask us!

You can grab a copy of the book, What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us the Secrets to a Happy Life ($18.59, Amazon), for more of the couples’ insights and stories from their famous friends.

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