When Marlo Thomas met her husband, Phil Donahue, in 1977, she didn’t think anything of it. “I kissed a lot of frogs, so I wasn’t even looking,” she hilariously tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “I went on Phil’s television show, and that is how we met. I fell in love.”
The couple dated for two years and got married in May 1980. Marlo credits their near 40-year marriage to having good communication. “In the beginning, we argued hot and heavy because we were in more of a power struggle,” she said. “As years went by, we settled into debating or arguing in a better, calmer way.”
It wasn’t long before Marlo, 82, and Phil, 84, found out what makes each other tick. The actress says the key is to “listen to what somebody doesn’t say.”
“It’s hard for men to express themselves — especially a guy raised in the ’40s and ’50s,” she explains. “I was always offering my husband advice and after about 10 years, he finally said to me, ‘I don’t want you to tell me what to do, I just want you to listen.’”
It was a gamechanger for Marlo. But once she sat down with her hubby and they talked through their problems, they felt like they were the only two in the world. “I am proud of my marriage,” the LOL star gushes. “I married a really decent, good man.”
Plus, Phil feels the same way. He says the key to a long marriage is simple. “You have to want [it,]” he tells Closer, and now the pair are set to release their new book, What Makes a Marriage Last, in May 2020. While looking back on her life, Marlo says there’s no one she would have married other than Phil. He supports her in every way possible.
“A lot of people don’t have a good partner. They marry someone who puts them down or is abusive in some way or isn’t really invested in making their dreams come true,” she explains. “I feel that no matter what cockeyed idea I get in my head, my husband will always say, ‘You ought to do that! You will be great at that.’ I am very grateful for that blessing.”
For more on Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!