Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue shared their moment of love at first sight, or at least genuine connection, in front of millions of viewers in 1977. The actress, author, feminist and tireless philanthropist had predetermined that she would “never marry,” but fate can contradict those “never” pledges in life. Marlo Thomas had met the love of her life, and so had the talk show single dad raising four sons.

Even by the late 70s, Phil Donahue was “woke” in the modern vernacular, and Marlo Thomas took notice. “You're loving and generous and you like women,” gushed Thomas of the host with no prompting whatsoever.

“It wasn't long before all the feminists showed up on the Donahue show” Phil agrees, and he didn't fight the trend at all “because they were great guests.”

One of the other comments that Marlo Thomas tacked on was how lucky the woman in Phil Donahue’s life was. Well, only weeks after her onstage visit, she became the woman in his life and settled into their commitment and home life in Winnetka, Illinois.

In honor of their 40th anniversary on May 21, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue are gifting the world with inspiration from 40 very well-known couples who have rolled through decades of marriage without unraveling, and each story echoes with unique personality and lessons for keeping forgiveness and laughter.

What Makes a Marriage Last” was the work in focus for May 3’s Sunday Morning,” but the famous collaborators and their courageous love are thriving and surviving, even under quarantine.

Marlo Thomas could never find the right man

It’s impossible to even fathom how Margaret Julia “Marlo” Thomas couldn’t have her choice of any man on the planet, especially since she captivated hearts and spirits as Ann Marie on “That Girl” in the 1960s.

For the first time on television, and certainly in the realm of prime time TV Shows, Marlo Thomas, portrayed a woman who wasn't interested in marriage. “She wanted to discover who she could be in the world,” and her fearless attitude captivated everyone watching. Women wanted to be her and men wanted to know her.

Marlo Thomas became an ambassador for inclusion and self-acceptance through her many television and Book projects.

The star not only has a Peabody Award, four Emmys, and a Golden Globe. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. She remains a constant ambassador for her father's living legacy, the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and now advocates for its ongoing programs and patients along with her siblings.

Jane Pauley playfully teased how Marlo was known for dating two men at a time in her single days, and the forthright showbiz veteran had her explanation ready. “I could never find the man who was exciting to my brain and exciting to my hormones.”

“There was always the really smart guy,” like any number of world leaders, “and the guy with the curl in his forehead,” Marlo Thomas contended.

The “Sunday Morning” host just happens to notice that Phil Donahue has just such a turn of the hair. It probably wasn’t by happenstance. Marlo has been her husband’s stylist through being sheltered-in-place.

Every couple’s journey means something to Marlo Thomas

There are no easy, instant answers to success in marriage, and Marlo Thomas pointed to several examples of faithful sticktoitiveness through the ups, downs, long in-betweens, and other battles that are sure to happen.

“There's sick kids, bad mother-in-law's, losing all your money, unfaithfulness, and all kinds of addictions-- everything imaginable that can happen in marriage” is conveyed through the pages of the latest book, Marlo Thomas describes.

Many hopefuls in this age of instant celebrity think that futures are set from just one viral post on social media. Such possibilities were never part of the plan for Billy Crystal and his wife, Janice, who met when Billy was 17. The comic who would become a megastar and a returning host of the Oscars didn't have a driver's license, much less a car, but he didn't let go of the love of his life, despite only making money as a substitute teacher for years.

Arlene Alda held onto hope for her husband, Alan, for years before his acting was appreciated. He drove a cab four years before ever dreaming of becoming “Hawkeye” on M*A*S*H. Chip and Joanna Gaines spent their time feuding early on, as Marlo Thomas details, and finally, Chip realized that it was his wife's passion that pulled him to her.

The pair have extended their building and home décor empire considerably, along with their family. “These women never gave up on their husbands,” reiterates Thomas, and resisted every temptation of telling them to “get a real job.”

From cheese and crackers to spaghetti sauce for Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue

In her own words, Marlo Thomas describes how conversations over “crackers and cheese” quickly got down to deeper issues with the couples profiled in the new pages of “What Makes a Marriage Last.” In her own life with Phil Donahue, there is still fun and commitment in their days “in the bunker” as she describes of self quarantined life.

Both partners post daily adventures from the mundane to the marvelous on social media, and Phil Donahue is swiftly advancing as Marlo's sous chef in making spaghetti sauce from scratch.

As involved as the recipe is, it's nothing compared to the challenge of creating a marriage that lasts.

“Marriage is the cushion of life,” the co-author insists. “It will get you up and over the humps in life.” Every time another climb is conquered, “those threads come together and that braid of love, steel, and trust can’t be broken.”

Marlo Thomas has taught many people lessons in self-acceptance, individualism, and endless human potential through pages, television, and film. Her years with Phil Donahue have made her an all the more gracious and loving student in love and life together, too.