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Marlo Thomas Shares 6 Tips for a Long-Lasting Marriage

These six tips will instantly make your marriage stronger.


This month, Golden Globe Award–winning actress Marlo Thomas and husband, talk-show host Phil Donahue, are celebrating their 40th anniversary. To mark the milestone, they co-wrote the book What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life. Marlo and Phil went on double dates with more than a dozen celebrity couples, and they explain how each couple does it all, from resolving fights to demonstrating kindness and respect in their marriage. Says Marlo, “We learned a lot about ourselves — and our marriage too!”

1. Slash Stress with a Good Laugh

“Comedy brings me such joy,” Marlo says with a smile. “I grew up on comedy, and going to comedy clubs was always a practice in our family. I have two dear friends who love it as well, and we often go out for a great night of laughter or we’ll cue a show up on YouTube. For me, laughter is like chicken soup. It’s good for your health!”

2. See the Beauty All Around You

“I work out four times a week, because I know activity is so important to staying healthy,” Marlo explains. “In addition to riding my bike or doing the elliptical, I love to take walks with Phil in Central Park. Hearing the birds, dogs barking and seeing flowers blooming and clouds floating by is so refreshing. It makes you feel so good. There’s so much beauty and tranquility around us — and tapping into that really adds to our well-being!”

3. Know Your Truth

“Many, many years ago, when the rumors about our marriage crumbling were circulating, Phil gave me the wonderful advice to never complain and never explain,” Marlo shares. “I always wanted to try to explain things if someone misjudged me or our marriage. But he’d tell me that’s just ‘chasing your tail.’ He helped me learn to focus on nurturing the relationships and opinions that matter most to you — those of your family and friends who know you — and to not worry about those you can’t change. And when I did, it was so freeing!”

4. Create a Positive Circle of Friends

“I’m affected by people and their energy — good or bad,” Marlo admits. “Happiness is contagious, and so is unhappiness, so I choose to wear and project happiness — and I’m so fortunate to have a group of friends who are joyful, happy people! They are quite funny too, and are great for keeping spirits high. We regularly call each other to share a funny story, send jokes via text and make an effort to brighten each other’s days.”

5. Linger on Your Beautiful Memories

“There’s nothing like a beautiful memory to make you feel better about life,” Marlo says with a smile. “When I was little, I loved waking up to the smell of my mother’s spaghetti sauce. She’d start it early in the morning so the flavors could marinate and be just right for dinner. Mom passed in 2000, but making it with Phil during quarantine reminds me of all the memories around our table. During such a scary time, recalling those things is so good for the soul!”

6. Enjoy the Silence

“I have a busy brain, and to calm it from thinking a million things at once, I meditate for 20 minutes every morning,” Marlo explains. “I’m more productive during the day if I meditate in the morning, and it settles me down if I happen to come in contact with a person or situation that clouds my mind with bad energy. Meditation helps me not take those emotions on and get my head together to take on whatever comes my way that day.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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