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Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue Live Q&A Event

The couple shares their expertise about managing relationships

AARP The Magazine Presents: Strengthening Relationships Over Time

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Watch a replay of the event above.

                Barbara Harrison: Hello everyone. I’m Barbara Harrison, and on behalf of AARP, I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of a global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources and working for older adults and those caring for them. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll in a variety of ways. One that hasn’t been discussed much is its impact on our relationships, whether struggling with being away from loved ones for extended periods or cooped up with them under the same roof with the virus going on, it can cause extraordinary strains on all of us. Today, we’ll discuss how to manage relationships during a pandemic, a challenge you may have noticed is not that easy sometimes. Our guests are two couples who have each coauthored books and will share insights to help strengthen your relationships for the long haul.

            If you’ve participated in one of our Tele-Town Halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live yourselves. If you’d like to ask a question, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member, who will note your name and your question, and place you in a queue to ask that question live.

            So, hello again. If you’re just joining us, I’m Barbara Harrison. On behalf of AARP, I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with experts and taking your questions live. If you’re watching on Facebook or YouTube, you can place your question in the comments area.

            AARP is convening this Tele-Town Hall to help share information about the coronavirus. You should also be aware that the best source of health and medical information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC. It can be reached at cdc.gov/coronavirus. This event is being recorded, and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

            And now I’m excited to introduce our special guests. Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue are well known to many of us who got to know them through their very successful television careers. But maybe you don’t know yet that they are coauthors of the book What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life. Marlo, of course, is an award-winning actress, author and activist whose body of work continues to impact American entertainment and culture. Phil is an extraordinary writer, producer, journalist and media pioneer who revolutionized the talk show format. Who among us right now doesn’t know these two? Welcome, Marlo and Phil. We’re so happy to have you with us.

Marlo Thomas: Thank you, Barbara. Thanks.

Phil Donahue: Pleasure. Thank you, Barbara.

Barbara Harrison: We will have a lot of questions for you coming up, but also with us, let me introduce Julia L. Mayer and Barry J. Jacobs. They’re coauthors of the new book, Love and Meaning After 50: The 10 Challenges to Great Relationships and How to Overcome Them. Julia is a clinical psychologist who has been counseling individuals and couples for almost 30 years. Barry, also, nearly 30 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, family therapist and principal at Health Management Associates, a national health care consulting firm. It’s great to have you both with us, Julia and Barry.

Julia Mayer: Thank you.

Barry Jacobs: Our pleasure, Barbara.

Barbara Harrison: We’ll also be joined by AARP Senior Vice President Jean Setzfand, who will be our organizer and help facilitate your calls today. So we’re ready to get started.

          Marlo and Phil, let’s begin with you. We’re talking today, as you know, about strengthening connections during tough times. For your book, you talked with 40 couples of various backgrounds about what it takes to make their relationships last. After you’ve heard from them, you must have the secret. What is it?

Marlo Thomas: I think the biggest secret that we found is that these people really wanted it to work. They wanted it to last. As Kyra Sedgwick said, “There is no plan B when you go into a marriage.” And I think a lot of them went to marriage counseling. They went through all kinds of hoops to not look for the escape route. They all had tremendous challenges. Jamie Lee Curtis had a drug addiction; David Burtka, who’s married to Neil Patrick Harris, was an alcoholic; Jesse Jackson wandered outside of marriage and had a baby with another woman; Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon lost all their money to Bernie Madoff; and Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan were handed a lifelong diagnosis of Parkinson’s for Michael three years into their marriage.

            So all of these couples … and those aren’t the only challenges they faced; they faced lots of other challenges, too … but we found that unlike people who do get divorced and cannot stick together, they didn’t run away from it. They didn’t get scared. And we kind of thought after we talked to everybody … these people are brave. These aren’t people who are afraid to hold hands and just go through the fire together. And I think a ...

Phil Donahue: Who was it that said that it’s more complicated to get divorced than to tough it out?

Marlo Thomas: Right. Bob Woodward’s wife, Elsa Walsh, said, “I don’t understand this impulse for disruption. The kind of energy that people put into breaking up and going through everything it takes to separate your lives. If they took all that energy and put it back into their marriage, they’d have a much more satisfying life.” And I think also a lot of people feel that the person you marry is going to make you happy. Peter Hermann, who is married to Mariska Hargitay, said, “That is a recipe for disaster — that the other person is not going to make you happy. Where are you going to find happiness? Is it what you build together.” And we feel, too, that in our 40 years … we’ve been through all the ups and downs, through sick children and parents who were sick and dying, and ups and downs in our careers. What has kept us together is that we face the hard times together. And when one of us was down, the other one helped … pick us back up. And I think that’s it … when they say commitment, that’s what they mean. That you’re committed to it; you’re not going to look for the exit sign when things get tough.

Phil Donahue: And there is no such thing as a marriage that takes off and soars for a lifetime, and then lands softly ...

Marlo Thomas: (laughs)

Phil Donahue: … on a bunch of golden leaves. Everybody we talked to had a major, unexpected, you-can’t-make-this-up — there was no way for them to anticipate it — kind of a drama in their lives.

Marlo Thomas: Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt have three children [and] their firstborn had spina bifida. So they have lived an entire lifetime of keeping this child together and healthy, and keeping the family together throughout it. When you walk down that aisle and you say “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” they seem like kind of romantic words. But as life goes on, you are going to find richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and better and worse.

Phil Donahue: And some people fell in love with the wedding; you know — the preparation and the who sits here and there, and the white dress, and the rice. I mean, it’s pretty ...

Marlo Thomas: Yeah, and being … the star couple for the day. Kevin Bacon said, “People should not even think about a wedding. It is so insignificant." We got married in our parents’ living room with 35 people, just our family, which I think is a great way to get married. I don’t know if we answered your question, but we came away from this experience — we traveled all over the country and even to Toronto to get Elton John and David Furnish; we met each couple face-to-face like a double date for two and a half, three hours — feeling really energized by the love and commitment that we saw.

Phil Donahue: I was surprised at how candid everybody was. I mean, everybody.

Marlo Thomas: Yeah.

Phil Donahue: You know, they looked at us when we first walked in the apartment or wherever they lived … I remember they looked as if to say, no, where are you going with this? And so … whenever I mentioned our own marriage, that seemed to blow the door open and they couldn’t stop talking about theirs.

Marlo Thomas: And there were also career difficulties. Tony Shalhoub married Brooke Adams when she was a very big star. She was the star of Heidi Chronicles, he had a featured part; and she had many, many fine films – Terry Malick’s Days of Heaven — a lot of really great films. And he was sort of a feature player. Now, after Monk — several years of Monk — and The Band’s Visit on Broadway and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, he’s at the top of the A list and she’s having trouble getting work at her age — which I certainly know something about. So that was a complete shift in their lives.

Phil Donahue: I had that problem. I mean, I couldn’t get through an airport without people knocking me over to get to Marlo. You know, sooner or later ...

Marlo Thomas: That’s not real.

Phil Donahue: ... well, I’m telling you, sooner or later, somebody in the little queue would recognize me, and they’d say, “Oh, we like you, too, Regis...” (laughter)

Marlo Thomas: Actually, we’ve been very lucky because we’ve had very big careers, thank God. We worked really hard for them. And so, we’re both sort of equally known and that’s a big help. That’s a big help, but really, no, it really is. It’s very hard … I mean, Trudie Styler, who’s married to Sting, and Simone Smith, who’s married to LL Cool J, you know these are women who are dealing with sex symbols — very, very famous men — and people are often pushing them aside. Ray Romano’s wife, Anna, said the same thing. People push her aside to get to him. And that’s got to be very uncomfortable. Thankfully, we have not had that, but that is what people deal with in their marriages. And these celebrity marriages … you know, one of the interviewers said to us, well, you only interviewed famous people; they don’t have the same problems as regular people. And the truth is yes, they do. They have all the same problems. They may not have the same financial problems — and they’ve worked hard to get where they are — but they have all the other problems. They have health [issues] and they have loss of money, they have sick children, they have all the other things — jealousy, betrayals … As Ray Romano said, “You walk in your house and you close the door; you’re no longer a celebrity. You’re just a guy and a woman who are trying to make it work with all the issues that come up that break people apart.”

Barbara Harrison: Very good point. And that book has 40 stories like that in there. And I know that a lot of people would enjoy reading them. Do you want to show us your book? I know you’ve got it with you there.

Marlo Thomas: My husband has it here. There you go.

Barbara Harrison: That’s a big one, and a thick one.

Phil Donahue: Yeah, it’s a doorstop.

Marlo Thomas: It’s called What Makes a Marriage Last. It’s 600 pages. It was supposed to be ...

Phil Donahue: I’ve got to show you, I’m sorry, go ahead.

Marlo Thomas: It was supposed to be about 350 pages, because we had told our publisher at Harper’s that each story would be about 2,500 words. But the stories were so good and so rich that they turned out to be 5,000, 6,000 words, and we didn’t want to cut them down. And we tried to, but we kept saying, boy, if you cut that out, you don’t understand who they are. So we turned it in twice as long, and we kind of got under the covers and waited for them to scream. But our publisher … said, “No, no, it’s great. Let’s go with it this big.”

Phil Donahue: Was this our first interview?

Marlo Thomas: Yes. Our first interview was President and Rosalynn Carter. Phil loves this pic.

Barbara Harrison: Oh wow.

Marlo Thomas: They’re so adorable. She was 19, he was 21. One of the things that’s fun about the book is that everybody has their wedding picture. Now they’ve been married 74 years. Alan Alda’s married 60 years, Billy Crystal’s married 50 years, but we also have couples … in our book that were married 18 years. We wanted to get a lot of generations, and that was exciting. You know, we wanted to see, OK, if you’ve been married 60 years or 18 years; if you’re black, white, brown, Asian; if you’re a Christian, a Jew, a Baptist, a Muslim ...

Phil Donahue: Straight or gay.

Marlo Thomas: Yes, if you’re a same sex or opposite sex marriage … what are the differences in all of those marriages from each other? And the truth is that there’s no difference. Everybody wants the same thing. They want a safe place. They want somebody who’s got their back. They want somebody they can trust in the real sense of the word. For me, trust — yes, of course, it’s about a sexual commitment; yes, there’s that. But there’s also trust — I can trust Phil with my head. He is not going to bulldoze me. He’s not going to finesse me. He’s going to give me the honest-to-God truth. And that’s what I think is one of the big things that makes a marriage last — that you have the trust that this person is beneath you, underneath you, around you, above you, in front of you, behind you, that they’re with you. That’s huge to me.

Barbara Harrison: Trust is the most important thing. I agree with that. And Marlo and Phil, was there anything you learned through your conversations that you just loved and want to share with us today?

Marlo Thomas: I think that you should tell the James Carville story. It’s very practical, and it’s interesting to me. Tell them that.

Phil Donahue: James Carville has a [saying] when you find yourself going around and around on a silly unimportant issue ...

Marlo Thomas: ... but that’s driving you crazy and you’re going around and around about it ...

Phil Donahue: You can pull a make a real stop to this waste of time by saying, “Let’s kick that can down the road.” Now, you know, this, this very cliched, overworked euphemism, really, really made an impact on us, or me. I’ve already used it. Let’s kick that can down the road.

Marlo Thomas: Yeah.

Phil Donahue: And we both start laughing.

Marlo Thomas: Yeah, because some of these things are… you did, you said you would do it, but you didn’t do it, but you could, you didn’t put it there. But I said … you put it here, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — around, around and around. And finally he’ll say to me, “Oh, let’s just kick this can down the road.” And it’s become the  great stopper, because you know, you waste a lot of time with this stuff. The other thing that I found very helpful was Judith (inaudible), who’s written many, many children’s books and some adult books as well. They’re married 60 years; her husband’s a journalist. And she said, “No matter how hard you try, he’s never going to be you. And you’re never going to be him. So that’s a given. Now let’s try to accommodate this other person and let them be.” I mean, that’s who he is. Phil is a very laid-back guy, as you can tell from this conversation. And I’m a very talkative, assertive person. And we fought for years about that. I would say, “Oh, why aren’t you getting excited about this? Can’t you see what this means?” And he would say to me, “What are you getting so excited about? What is the big deal about this?” So it was really difficult. It took us years to not be mad at each other for the different way in which we approach problems. And after a while, I started to realize maybe the best thing isn’t to jump impulsively and make a call to solve this. Maybe it is better, as he’s suggesting, to lay back a little bit and talk it through. And there are oftentimes when he’ll say, “You know, maybe you’re right, let’s just get to the bottom line on this. Let’s make the call.” So we’ve started to — I shouldn’t say started; it happened about 20 years ago, I think — we started to find a way to negotiate our different approaches to problems, challenges … than fighting the fact that you never do this, you always do that. You know  … those are dirty words to us. You’re not allowed to say never and always ‘cause that’s not ever true, to say you never do that. Will you always do that? … We haven’t been to marriage counseling, but we’ve certainly marriage counseled our own way.

Phil Donahue: Sure could have used it.

Marlo Thomas: Yeah, we could have. Our first 10 years were really tough. We fought a lot, but we were in a power struggle and we’re both Type A personalities. We’re both bossy, we’re both used to running our own shows, and we got married in our 40s, so we came at this with a lot of power. We had a power struggle for a couple of years. And we fought our way through that, and I think it could have broken us up. It could have been what they call irreconcilable differences, but we loved each other enough, and we liked each other enough, that we, we fought our way through it, which was, I think, pretty good.

Barbara Harrison: Sounds pretty good to me. And I like that expression, “kick that can down the road.” I’m going to remember that one. Now with so many of us distanced from loved ones during this time, are there any suggestions from your relationship or from your book for creative ways or maybe just some little things that we can do to show someone we’re thinking of them?

Marlo Thomas: We’ve done a lot of Zoom calls with our family.

Phil Donahue: Yeah.

Marlo Thomas: We’ve got a Father’s Day Zoom going on, coming up on Sunday. Is that what you mean?

Barbara Harrison: Yeah, just kind of thinking of ways that might be unexpected to … the other person in your relationship. But that’s a good idea, if you can use the Zoom call. And there are lots of other things, but you don’t think gifts and that sort of thing are really necessary.

Marlo Thomas: We don’t go anywhere; we’d have to order it online. We haven’t been sending a lot of gifts. Actually [there are] a lot of people in this country who are hurting — they’re ill or they’ve lost loved ones, so I don’t take it lightly that what this pandemic has meant. In fact, we have several friends who are sick, and one of our friends died from it; a man that I had been in a couple of plays with, Mark Blum, a wonderful actor. So we have been touched by the pandemic — thankfully, not in our immediate family, but in our circle of friends. And I say that because I’m cognizant — we’re both cognizant — of what’s happening in the world. For us, this quarantine has been good for us. We’re usually so busy. We’ve never had three meals a day together, except when we go on vacation. And we have a housekeeper, and she hasn’t come in for two months. So we’ve made our meals together and we’ve had them together, and that’s unusual. Because usually we get up in the morning, whoever gets up to go somewhere has their breakfast; lunchtime, I’m usually eating sandwiches in the back of an Uber on my way to a meeting; and dinner we have together. But three meals a day and fixing them together, that’s been unusual. Do you want to add to that in any way? I’m sorry, I’m talking too much.

Phil Donahue: No, not really. I mean, I enjoy listening to your voice.

Barbara Harrison: You know, I think a lot of us have noticed that, too, about this pandemic. There have been some good things, and having more togetherness is certainly one of them. You know, among the many things the pandemic has highlighted, also, is how critical it is to stay connected to loved ones in difficult times. I wanted to let our listeners know that AARP has been working to help keep people connected in a variety of ways. AARP has fought to ensure that those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a way of staying in contact with loved ones on the outside. AARP created a free service called AARP Friendly Voices, so people who are isolated can get a call from one of our volunteers. The organization has also worked at the federal, state and local level to ensure that people have safe, secure and connected places to live throughout this crisis by fighting to prevent evictions and utility and broadband disconnections.

            Well, we have a lot of questions coming in already. So let’s get in some for you, Marlo and Phil. … I’d also like to introduce you to Jean Setzfand, who is helping to facilitate our calls. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks, Barbara, delighted to be here.

Barbara Harrison: And Jean, let’s take our first question now for Marlo and Phil. Who have you got?

Jean Setzfand: Our first call is coming from Colette from Florida.

Colette: Good afternoon, everyone. Can you hear me?

Barbara Harrison: Yes, we hear you.

Colette: OK, perfect. Marlo, Phil, good evening. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. I’ve been listening this whole time and I understand the things you recommend for when people are married, but as you look back on these 40 couples and your own marriage, is there a thread, is there a commonality, is there one thing that tells you, this is the right person to start this journey with?

Phil Donahue: I have to tell you, I had Renée Taylor and Joe Bologna on my TV program. I remember, they were sitting right next to each other, and a woman in the back row stood, and she said, "Renée, how did you know?" And Renée said, “You know, I thought about it. And then I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to do any better than this.” Of course the whole audience started laughing, and he took it well, he laughed. Obviously, I just took a little time not answering her question. Have you got a good ...

Marlo Thomas: To answer your question, almost everyone had a moment where they looked harder at this person and thought, yeah, I can trust them, or yes, this person will tell me the truth. A lot of them got married, as we did, in a cloud of lust. And that’s good and bad. I mean, it’s sure a good way to start. But you sometimes get so smoky-eyed from the cloud of lust that you may not see a bunch of problems. But I think each person, each couple talked about what it was the other one did that really made them look harder at them and think, oh, I can reveal this about myself. You know, Viola Davis, what did she say about the percentages?

Phil Donahue: It’s not 50/50. It’s 100/100. And there’s, you know ...

Marlo Thomas: She also said, “You’re not really married when you walk down the aisle. You’re really married when you’re sitting across the table from your spouse, and they do something that’s really disgusting to you — the way they chew, the way they lick their fingers, the way they slurped their soup, whatever it is. Or the way they talk on the phone, the way they behave. When you look at … that person and say, oh my God, this is going to drive me crazy. You look at that person and say, yeah, but I love him, I’m going to accommodate that. That’s when you’re really married.” And I think that word — accommodate — is just a huge word. It’s not about giving up, it’s not about compromising, and it’s sure not about changing somebody, because that really is a kiss of death. If you think you’re going to change somebody, which we tried to do for several years. I’m going to stop him from doing that. I’m going to stop her from taking too much luggage. I’m going to stop him from whatever it was. We had to come to the place where he’s who he is, I’m who I am, and we’ll talk about it, but we’re not going to try to change each other. That says death.

Phil Donahue: I interviewed Billy Graham on my TV program, and I asked him if he’d ever considered divorce. And he said, “Divorce? Never. Murder, yes.”

Marlo Thomas: He’s the comic relief.

Barbara Harrison: I think we’ve got a call coming in for you. Let’s go to Jean Setzfand. What have you got?

Jean Setzfand:We have Judy from New York.

Barbara Harrison: Judy from New York. What is your question?

Judy:  Hi, it’s a pleasure to be here, and I can’t believe this just fell into my lap, literally, at the most perfect time. Being happily married for 34 years, just by the skin of our teeth last week, this pandemic absolutely has been the test of 34 years. So when I listen to you sharing about making your meals together, it sounds like you didn’t say, and we almost killed each other. And I’m just wondering … sometimes, at least during the past 13 weeks, we’ve found that sometimes I don’t want to make my meal with him, and sometimes I don’t want him in the room with me, and sometimes he doesn’t want me in the room with him. And [I’m] looking for just some thoughts on moving forward — how to be OK with saying, I need some space?

Marlo Thomas: I think one of the things that we’re lucky about is that we have an apartment, but we each have our own workspace, so that we can go off to our different workspaces. I have a small study, he has a small study; and I can do my work, I can work on my computer, I can talk on the phone to my friends or my colleagues, and he can do the same in his space. So I think that, yes, having your own space is a very big thing. I think if we were on top of each other in a tiny little space, I don’t know how that would go. I do have a very close friend who’s a writer. He works from home and his wife works outside of the home. And so they’ve been quarantined all this time and that’s been difficult for them, because he has a workspace and she doesn’t. So they’re on top of each other, and that’s been difficult to make a sort of a traffic pattern where he can talk on the phone where he’s not interrupting her calls. So yeah, it’s got a lot to do with space, you’re absolutely right. We all need space away from each other. We’ve always had a lot of space from each other because we’ve always had careers that took us away. So that we’ve known how to do. We have not had three meals a day together, and that, I guess, became something that was fun or nice because we have more time for real conversation. I mean, Phil’s sort of telling me he was finding things out about me that he didn’t know before. What did you say? I was a what?

Phil Donahue: She’s a water bug. I mean, she’s got the computer going, she’s got the phone here, and opening the mail with whatever time is left. And I’ve never seen this all at once. I knew she was an A personality and that… if you put nine people in her office, she’ll give them all something to do. And she is a very talented person, and whatever she starts, she finishes. And so that has always impressed me, and I never had such a close-up look at this feature of her personality …

Marlo Thomas: Well, because I work a lot outside of the home. I’m at a studio, I’m at offices, I’m in meetings. And so he doesn’t see me all day long, doing what I do in one place. So that is different. And I have come to appreciate the fact that he’s a laid-back guy; he’s a thoughtful man. The interesting thing is that when I’m in my workspace, he’ll come in with the New York Times to read me an editorial piece that he thinks I would really like. And that’s something that we don’t do a lot of, because we’re not always at home together. But the idea is, he’s read it, he’s … found it thought-provoking, he wants to read it to me and see what I think about it — and kind of an excitement, like a kid, he wants to talk it over, this interesting editorial he’s just read. Or he’s angry about it and wants to know if I’m as pissed off as he is about it. So that’s a feature that we haven’t done a lot of, that having the time, even though we’re not in the same room, he’ll bring his interests into my workplace, workspace. So that’s another thing, that we’re having more of that kind of conversation.

           I feel kind of bad we’re monopolizing this day and you have these wonderful authors here. Have we taken up too much time?

Barbara Harrison: No, absolutely not. We’ve got time for both of you couples here, and we will get back to you shortly, but let’s do turn to Julia and Barry now. During this pandemic, when more of us are experiencing a sense of loss of varying degrees — of people, jobs, economic security, even our sense of safety and freedoms, how can we as partners cope with the coronavirus grief in a way that will strengthen a relationship? Julia, Barry, do you want to talk about that?

Barry Jacobs: Yes, grief is an emotion that is very difficult for a lot of folks, though it’s a very normal emotion — one that we all experience at various times in our lives. And what we talk about with our clients is the importance for couples to turn toward one another rather than turn one away from one another when grieving. There are folks that when they commiserate together, it really does strengthen their relationship. They support one another, and they’re kind of united in common feeling for the loss that they’re experiencing. And that really deepens their relationship. I’ll say, talking about our relationship — we’ve been married for 30 years, that we, too, have been through many adverse times in our lives, including the losses of our parents, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. And the fact that I could turn to Julia and she was so good with my mother and stepfather as they were declining from dementia and then when they died; I could rely on her in every way logistically, but even more importantly, emotionally. And that I think was a very important time in our marriage. We certainly see that with our own clients as well.

Julia Mayer: One of the things we sometimes see with our clients is when they don’t grieve together, what you see is irritability. They pick at each other, they get short-tempered. And when we’re working with a couple, we’ll often suggest to them that if their partner is irritable, that maybe he or she has some feelings that need to be shared that are painful or difficult to access, and hopefully they will sit down together and get past the irritability to the more complicated and painful feelings.

Barbara Harrison: Tell me, for those among us now that are watching or listening who happen to be single, widowed or divorced, and they’re feeling lonely and isolated in ways that they’d never experienced before, what advice do you have on ways to build a community, to find some new connections? Any ideas?

Julia Mayer: I have quite a few single clients and they’re still going on dating sites if they’re looking to meet that special person. And in a way it’s a little bit of a silver lining because they have to take quite a bit longer to actually meet in person because of the coronavirus, and it gives them an opportunity to communicate more and more deeply. And then when they finally meet, one of my clients told me, they put on their mask, they meet on a park bench and she sits on one side and he sits all the way on the other side, and they talk. So that’s one thing that people seem to be continuing to do. We also talk to single clients about if they are in a religious community, many of them are doing online video congregation meetings and services, and they could attend those. And I always think that if you’re lonely, go volunteer, go do something that feels meaningful, like deliver food to a food bank, and you will meet other people who are caring and concerned.

Barbara Harrison: That’s a very good idea. Now we’re at a time when more people than ever are caring for family members. Children are home and we have to care for older family members in new and different ways. Julia and Barry, how can people ensure that they are prioritizing relationships with their significant others while caring for other loved ones? Any ideas about that?

Barry Jacobs: Yes, I think it’s a very important question, Barbara, because as you say, … all of us have multiple family roles. We’re not just spouses; we are children, oftentimes with aging parents. We have our own children in many instances, and we have responsibilities to multiple people often at the same time, as well as our jobs. And so we all have to do this balancing act, and there can be a time where we spread ourselves so thin trying to please everybody that we don’t ever feel like we’re pleasing anybody, because we don’t — we’re not giving any one person enough of our time and attention. And I would say that maintaining the primary priority on the marital relationship with your partner is extremely important to keep going. And sometimes that means compartmentalizing your life a little bit, having time spent with a parent, but also having protected time with your spouse. We see that during the pandemic and our caregiving years, we had to very consciously make that decision to make sure that we were not allowing caregiving duties to take over all of our time, but that we were prioritizing our time together, away from our care of others.

Julia Mayer: One of the things that we sometimes suggest to couples that work with us is devise a schedule. Actually plan out together or as a family if you’re more than two, and leave time for yourself. Leave time specifically scheduled for the two of you together as partners and time for caregiving, and then schedule, continue to be revived depending on what the family needs are.

Barbara Harrison: Good advice. And you have a lot of good advice in your book that’s not out quite yet, but it’s a great way to take stock in your relationship. We have a lot of questions coming in, and we will be getting back to you with some that are coming from our viewers and listeners. But I’d like to mention that this topic that we’re talking about brings to the forefront the challenges that millions of family caregivers are facing right now, particularly those who have loved ones in nursing homes or other types of care facilities. Due to a lack of transparency and insufficient resources, people are having a hard time finding out if there are positive COVID cases in facilities where their family members are living. Making this situation even worse, many people aren’t even able to connect with loved ones through video chats or phone calls. I know that AARP is urging federal and state policymakers to take action to ensure that residents and staff have adequate testing and protections, and that family members are able to stay connected with, and get information about, their loved ones. You can learn more about this situation at aarp.org/nursinghomes.

            And now let’s take some more questions from our callers. Jean, what are our first questions for Julia and Barry?

Jean Setzfand: All right. We have a question coming in from Facebook, and this is coming from Julie. And she’s asking, “How are we supposed to navigate the job loss and marriage being stuck at home together all the time? I want him to get going, but we’re just stuck. Can you advise?”

Barry Jacobs: First off, these are very difficult circumstances, and it’s not a surprise if your partner is having trouble getting into gear, because I’m sure he or she needs a job. What I will say is that it’s probably a good idea to, number 1, lower your expectations for reporting to jump right into another plan, but 2, very gently you kind of broach the topic as something that the two of you need to sit down and come up with a specific plan that you’ll move forward on. So, at least, overall you feel like you’re making some progress. And then thirdly, I would say that, particularly in regards to the job loss and given our economy now, we have to all be patient, that this is going to be a trying time for many couples going through this. And they need to, again, turn toward one another and pull together rather than pull apart under these tough times.

Barbara Harrison: We know that this pandemic has resulted in many couples having more time at home together, an experience that may benefit and may also challenge any relationship. So let’s get to more of your questions for our couples. Let’s see if we have any questions waiting for us. But before that, I’d like to get both couples’ perspectives on a few other questions.

            It’s fair to say that we’re having conversations with our significant others that help us calibrate and help us get in touch with who we are and what we value. Between the pandemic and protests of a racial injustice, these media discussions are coming at a time of added stress. How do we manage these conversations when our beliefs, our values may differ? Julia and Barry, do you want to start with an answer to that one?

Julia Mayer: Sure. I’m working with a couple right now who are on absolutely opposite ends of the political spectrum, and even though they’ve been married for a couple of decades, they are pretty angry with each other and also hurt because they are feeling like their values are no longer aligned. And when I meet with them, what I need to get them to do is remember that 95 percent of their values are still aligned. They’ve known each other for years, they actually agree on most things, but they’re two separate people like Marlo and Phil were saying before, and they’re not going to be the same person, and they shouldn’t try to be. But it’s really important for them to respect that their perspectives come from their own life history and their own particular views, and then I talk to these couples about how they need to really take the time to listen to one another’s views and try to understand each other. They don’t have to agree. They have to be respectful. And they need to remember that they care about each other, even though they are not looking at things the same exact way.

Barbara Harrison: Let’s ask Phil and Marlo if they have any observations about that, people living together who may not be on the same political side, or on the same side on a whole lot of things. What do you say?

Marlo Thomas: I think what Julia said is key. She said if 90 percent of what they have together is aligned, then you have to give way for those differences. We interviewed James Carville and Mary Matalin. And as everybody knows, she is a staunch conservative, and he is a staunch liberal. He campaigned for Bill Clinton while she was campaigning for George Bush. I mean, there they were nose-to-nose with two completely different ideologies. They were a million miles apart on the Iraq War, a million miles apart on climate change, and we said to them, “How in God’s name are you married together with these huge differences?” And they said, “That’s just one set of differences, our political differences are one set, but we have children, we have family, we have barbecues, we have hiking, we have all kinds of things that are aligned. Our lives are not made up just of our political differences.” And I thought that was fascinating, and it’s really what Julia was just saying is that you can’t make anything, like political differences, the center of your marriage and your life. And she was saying that that’s not if 90 or 95 percent of your life is aligned and your values are aligned, then you have to allow for this other percentage that isn’t aligned. I mean, we’re both very liberal and we met that way. When I went on the Donahue Show, we were talking about the ERA and feminism and all the things that I believed in that he believed in. But we’re just lucky in that way. … And we were also raised Catholic. I went through Marymount, he went to Notre Dame, so we have a lot of values that are pretty solid inside of us that have helped a lot. I’ve always felt, even before this book — and maybe Julia and Barry probably have something more important, or maybe smarter to say on the topic, but I’ve always felt if you define what I consider the big words, like good and bad, fair and unfair, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, if you can define those words the same in your life, then I think you have a pretty good starting point at having a trust level. I don’t know … what Julia and Barry think about that.

Barbara Harrison: Do you want to respond to that?

Julia Mayer: Sure. I couldn’t have said it better. I absolutely agree. It is the main thematic values in your lives that need to be aligned — not everything, just the most important things.

Barry Jacobs: And I would add, and we’re focusing on political differences, but you know — Marlo, you pointed out before — there are temperamental differences, there are differences in emotional expression, there are differences in food preferences. We live with partners who are not the same as us and we have to make compromises. We have to … the word you used is accommodate. I think I can, I use the word often, accept. We have to accept that the other person is not going to be aligned with us in everything, and that we have to appreciate them for the differences that they have. We even prefer their … some of the ways they’re doing things and gravitate slowly over the years toward doing things more similar to them. I think actually what happens is that … the cliché is that couples become more alike, or partners become more like one another over time. But there will always be some differences that remain.

Barbara Harrison: Julia and Barry, we’ve had some people waiting on the phone to ask you some questions. Jean, who have you got?

Jean Setzfand: We have Judy from Kentucky.

Judy: Hello. My name is Judy, and I have a question. I know that I’m not the only one. I’m 73 and I lost my husband suddenly with no warning. He’s always been healthy. We met when I was 14 and he was 16. And although we were strict Catholic, we didn’t, we followed all the guidelines (inaudible) and we married, and we’ve been together 57 years. But we were so involved in each other that I don’t know what to do. There’s a lot of elderly people out there who have lost their spouses at the beginning of the pandemic, and what do you do? How do you handle that?

Barbara Harrison: Julia, Barry, do you want to try to help her with this?

Barry Jacobs: I would say, first of all, our condolences to you being in that situation. That’s an extremely difficult loss. I think that … losing a child or losing a spouse are the two most difficult things anybody can go through, and it sounds like you and your husband were very devoted to one another for a very long time. I think that grief is a long process. The normal course of bereavement, generally … it’s not a matter of weeks or months, it could really be a matter of a couple of years.

Julia Mayer: Or more.

Barry Jacobs: It could be more. I would look to your faith for support. I might look to do pastoral counseling. And if you’re finding that you’re unable to really function, that you are still sunk in grief and sunk in despair, it might be a good idea for you to talk with your primary care provider to see if he or she might have some specific help for you. We as Americans often underestimate the impact of a loss like this. Be good to yourself, continue to reach out to others, and, again, lean on those who you trust and lean on your faith to get that help for you.

Barbara Harrison: Sadly, we know that there are many out there who are suffering right now from these losses from this pandemic. Let’s move on and take more questions from our callers. Jean, who have you got?

Jean Setzfand: We have Doris from South Carolina.

Barbara Harrison: OK, go ahead.

Doris: Yes, I am so pleased to be with you tonight because it must’ve been in the mid-’60s that Phil was in Charleston, South Carolina, producing one his TV programs from Charleston, and I coordinated it here and I must’ve had calls and correspondence with just about every woman in South Carolina, or so it seemed. But this is such a surprise for me tonight because my husband and I had been married for 57 years. And so I can confirm that a lot of what he has written he has spoken, really works, because we use some of the basic things and the journey has not been without some sorrow and grief, but on the other hand, we see results that we were striving for and that were … our expectations. But they were not without work. And I just wanted to say hello to welcome him, to say thank you, but also if there is time, I have a couple of things that I would like to confirm about marriage.

Phil Donahue: Go right ahead.

Doris: OK, and one is to make sure you have a firm foundation, because if you truly have a normal, good marriage, you will have some factors to overcome, and so a little bit of work to do, but make sure there’s always room in your heart for gratitude. All you have to do is go to a marriage seminar, and when you hear the different stories, you should leave with a grateful heart knowing that yours isn’t quite like that, but there’s some things that you could do, and just never considered the word, we may get divorced if things don’t work out, we can always separate. Don’t consider that. That should not be part of a good marriage. And so, keep a thankful heart for what you have but don’t get slack on it, because you need to really more or less court each other, encouraged them reinforce what you had, and I mean, there’s just so many things, and if you seek help, and if one thing doesn’t work, don’t give up and say, well, that’s not for me. There are too many other sources available, and you will find one that will work for you. And I just feel excited knowing that you’re still encouraging people, because our two children … we had a tragic loss with our youngest one. He was killed in a Jeep accident shortly after college graduation, and our daughter is married to a retired Air Force pilot, and they are presently here in the area. And we have two grandchildren that, we just say, if you had the grandchildren first, I think that would end the population because you can’t see straight for them. Usually.

Barbara Harrison: It’s so great to have had you call in and share what’s going on in your life. And we appreciate your call. We’ve got other people standing by waiting. Jean, who have you got?

Jean Setzfand: We have Lynn from New York.

Barbara Harrison: Lynn from New York. Lynn, are you with us?

Lynn: Yes, I am. My husband and I have been together for 40 years. However, the pandemic has, with us being quarantined, this is the first time in 40 years that we are having difficulties dealing with our anger, our separate angers from all that’s going on. So I would appreciate any words that would be helpful.

Barbara Harrison: Julia, Barry?

Marlo Thomas: Julia and Barry know more about that than we do.

Barry Jacobs: I will say to you that when couples are having tiffs, sometimes the first question to ask is, what’s really going on? If they’re arguing about a bill, or they’re arguing about the way the house is being kept, for instance, is that really the issue at hand or is there something else fueling the anger? And certainly we live in a very stressful time, and I have seen with some of the couples I’m working with that it’s some of what’s going on externally, maybe things that are going on with other family members that is fueling some of the tension within the marriage. …Sometimes the person whom we take our frustrations out on is the person with whom we’re closest. And some of it is that we know that we can rely on that person, therefore, we can kind of vent at them, but we may be missing the point if we’re not also cognizant of other factors going on in our lives. So that would be my first question to you, is there anything else going on that might be getting in the way? The second thing is the issue that Marlo was talking about before, and the issue of space. If you’re quarantining together, is there a way of ensuring that you have we time, but also me time? And having enough space within the house to ensure individual time for each of you so that you’re not on each other’s nerves all day, all day long, but that you can be apart, you could be together, and when you’re together you’re bringing your best selves to the fore.

Julia Mayer: We found with some couples that one thing is they handle stress differently. One person may become a little more needy. I just want a hug. I want attention. I want comfort. And the other person handles stress by being isolative and wanting space. And so, I think you have to reflect on what’s going on in your couple in terms of between you, in terms of what you each need. And like Barry just said, when people bicker, often it’s because they have needs that are unmet, that are hard for them to express, maybe they don’t even know they have them. But I always say start with compassion, even when your partner is irritable with you, and forgiveness, and then try to look at what’s going on beneath the surface because all those years together have been good years, and this is an opportunity to really feel even closer during a difficult time, and it would be such a pity for this time to be one that you feel so disappointed about.

Marlo Thomas: We have gotten into the habit of coming into the other person’s space and saying, what’s going on? Tell me what’s happening. What are you feeling; is there something that I did? Why do I feel that you’re going through a difficult time right now? Why do I feel that you have some angst going on? We’ve been able to do that — not in our first years of marriage, but as the years have gone by. We’ve gotten into the habit of asking that question and asking it really gently, and even allowing the fact that that one of us could have done something. We really do want everything to be OK. We have a real desire for it to be OK. So we try to gently go to the other one and say, what’s happening? Tell me, what is it? Are you going through something that you can share with me? Because we have other people in our lives. We have children, we have brothers and sisters. We have all kinds of people that can bring angst into our lives. So we do take that time. People need space, but they also need each other to come into that space to help. I really feel for this woman. I feel the fact that she said, we’re both not handling anger well. The idea that one of them needs to come forward. I’m sure Barry and Julia have better advice than I do, but it seems that if one person will make that move to say, what’s happening? What is it? Or, you know what, I’ve been cranky. This is what’s going on with me. And a lot of times in our lives, Phil will say to me when we’ve been having a difficult time, he has said to me, look, I’m sorry. I’ve been really not with it. I’ve been not the best of myself, but I want you to know it’s not about you. I’m going through something. And then I back off, let him go through that, let him figure that out. But at least have the idea that I tried, or he’ll try with me, and I’ll say to him, this is something I just need to get past. I think somebody needs to make a move forward, either you try to help him, or you say, this is what I’m going through and break the ice that way, so that there’s not that long breach. I’m half Italian and half Lebanese, so I’m not good at breaches. I have to get in and figure out what it is. But anyway, I’m sure Julia and Barry have maybe more to say on this subject, but that’s how I feel. That somebody has to be Sadat. Somebody has to cross the desert and say something, either this is what I’m going through, or how can I help you with what you’re going through? But to break the impasse.

Barbara Harrison: I certainly agree with that. I’m sure that you do, too, Julia and Barry. Somebody’s got to break the impasse when there’s that kind of thing going on. We can be so stubborn sometimes in relationships and feeling like the victim, and then don’t want to be the one to wave the white flag to try to get back together again. Let’s take some more calls. Let’s talk to Jean. What have you got?

Jean Setzfand: We have Nadia from Texas.

Barbara Harrison: Nadia from Texas. What’s your question?

Nadia: Hello? Marlo, I’m Italian and Lebanese, too.

Barbara Harrison: Ah.

Nadia: Yes. And I met, I was honored to meet your father in 1981 at an event, and I was sitting with him at the same table. And we talked and he was smoking his cigar.

Marlo Thomas: Yes, that sounds like him.

Nadia: He was smoking that cigar and then he was talking, and he was the guest of honor. But the reason I was calling — I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this so much — is I’ve been through … I had a 30-year marriage, and I messed it up. And, anyway, communication wasn’t good, so I think that communication is important. And I’m strong like you, Marlo. I’m a very strong-willed woman, and I sometimes intimidate people. And I’m a doer, and it’s our nature. It’s our Lebanese nature. And I can’t help it. It’s me. And I was in a relationship and it was hard for him to take, and he wanted to change me and make me somebody else that I wasn’t. But long story short, it ended. I had to end the relationship and then coronavirus happened. So now I’ve been alone, for the first time in my life, but I’m doing great. I’m reading the Bible, and I’m getting closer and closer to the Lord. And it’s helping me heal inside. But what can I do to, I mean, what do you do? I can’t date right now, because I’m afraid to go out with anyone because of this virus. And so I’m really just by myself. And I have family. I can’t even go there because I don’t want to infect anyone, ‘cause I don’t know if I’m carrying it. So what do you do in this case, when you’re a person like me that’s strong? I’m a doer, I do things, I do a lot of things to occupy my time, but I just don’t know what to do.

Barbara Harrison: Maybe Julia, Barry, do you have any answers for her?

Julia Mayer: It’s very hard to go through a divorce, even one that you initiated. There’s grief, and I think you have to spend some time grieving that relationship. I know you said before that you messed it up, and I seriously believe it takes two people to mess up a relationship. You may have been the person who had a particular behavior to mess it up, but I think it’s a joint effort to be in a marriage, and when they fail, both people need to grieve the loss of something that was supposed to be special and sacred. So I think you have some grieving to do. And I think one of the ways you might grieve this is to reach out to people you care about — family, friends, people who are trusted in your life and share, take some time with them to share your feelings and your experiences, your regrets, what you’ve learned. Or you may want to talk to a professional if those conversations aren’t enough for you, but ultimately your goal is to come to peace with the past. If that relationship is really over, then you want to remember the good, you want to honor the relationship that you had for 30 years, and you and your partner, and if there were any other family members, you want to honor that relationship, the good, the bad. It was a major part of your life. You can’t leave it, you can’t ignore it. But you have to look for the good in it, and you have to leave the disappointments and the things that were upsetting behind so that you can be in the present, and you can start looking forward to figure out what your next steps will be.

Barbara Harrison: Let’s see if Jean has any more questions that she has waiting for the four of you. Jean?

Jean Setzfand: I have a question from Facebook and this one is for Marlo and Phil. Ellen is asking, “Is this the first project you’ve done together? If so, why did you decide to do this one together?”

Marlo Thomas: Why don’t you take that, honey?

Phil Donahue: I thought to do a project together with Marlo — I mean, you can see it here. She says talk, talk. And so I have to clear my throat, and she’ll do nine minutes. And I’ve come to understand this, that’s her nature, that’s who she is. And I guess the only thing that helped in even promoting my interest or agreement with this idea of a joint project was my feeling that this was different and that this had a chance to really make noise. And I spent my whole life with my own show, trying to think about issues and people who would make noise,  say something, but make me mad, sad, or glad. And our relationship now, through the virus and through the partnership that we’ve shared in this book, which turned out to be a doorstop.

Marlo Thomas: You’re holding up the book. (laughs)

Phil Donahue: You know, I learned a lot about her.

Marlo Thomas: We never wanted to work on a project together by design, because he’s laid-back but he’s stubborn and he’s bossy. And I’m not laid-back and I’m bossy. So I figured we’d kill each other. There’d be nothing left on the floor but an eyelash and some white hair. So we just decided, let’s not do that. When we first got married, everybody offered us to host the Emmys together and write books together, do a talk show together, all this stuff. And we both said, no, no, we should never do that. Let’s just make our marriage our private space, and we’ll do our work, not together. But when we got the idea to do the — actually I had the idea to do the book, and when I went to him and said, “Let’s do this, this could be fun, and it would be really interesting because people are already always asking about what makes our marriage work,” which I have no idea how it works. “And if we talked to a lot of people, it could be fun to find the secret sauce.” And he said, “OK, I’ll do it, but I’m not talking about our marriage,” ‘cause he’s super private. So I said, “OK, you don’t have to.” But once we went out there, we were both talking about our marriage. We were having a good time talking about our experiences and hearing other people’s experiences. So it was kind of, it was kind of like a double date. And it turned out to be something more fun that we thought it would be, and now we’re going to do a podcast based on the book. So we broke through a barrier that we had created 40 years ago, and now we’re kind of enjoying the fact that our two different personalities do work. Also, I have such respect for Phil. I was kind of intimidated because I thought he’s the master interviewer. He doesn’t like to be interviewed, as you can tell. He answers few of the questions, but he loves to ask questions, and he always asks the best questions. So, at first, I was a little bit intimidated that I shouldn’t be asking so many questions. He’s got the gold … but he made room for me and then he would come in and sort of clean up the whole thing and make it juicier at the end. ‘Cause he’s got the gift. He really does. He knows how, when to come in with the important question. So it was very, very interesting. But I don’t know if we answered the question. I went off on a tangent there, but ...

Barbara Harrison: I think you did answer the question. And, of course, we do know, Phil definitely knows how to ask questions. We all watched so many of his shows where he interviewed everyone in the world. We often hear about the importance of staying in a relationship through good times and bad. Julia and Barry, that’s good advice for many of us, but how can someone determine when it’s truly time to move on? Do you have an answer for that one?

Julia Mayer: I think it really depends, but hopefully it’s after a whole lot of effort to understand what went wrong, because usually when a marriage starts, as Marlo said, it’s romantic, it’s exciting. Those are the things that you want to keep in your marriage. And if they haven’t stayed, then something’s changed. But it could be that you’ve done everything that you can; you’ve gone to marriage counseling, you’ve read books, you’ve talked to people, or you’ve sat down together and tried to understand what each of you needs, and you’re just not seeing eye to eye. And if that’s the case, then you may decide to get divorced, but there are a lot of risks with the divorce: People who are isolated and lonely tend to have negative health outcomes; there are often financial strains when people get divorced; and it has a big impact on adult children, on friends and other family. So when people get divorced, we sometimes help them through the process by trying to help them sort of like how I answered the last question, leave the past behind, keep the good, respect what they have together, and hopefully wind up at least as friendly acquaintances, if not friends. Maybe their marriage didn’t work, but they know each other so well that maybe they can have a friendship. And that would be so much easier on the extended family and their friends, and it would be a lot happier for them and it would make it more likely for them to be able to actually move on to maybe another relationship.

Barry Jacobs: I would have to answer that the divorce rate among people over 50 has really increased greatly in the last 20 years. For folks over 50, it’s doubled; for folks over 65, it’s tripled. And so there are more people in midlife who are deciding to take a chance, maybe to find a better partner, or maybe they’ve just got so sick of the partner that they have that they don’t want any partner. And really, as Julia said, we understand when people are chronically unhappy that they need to leave a marriage, but it is something that has to be thought through very carefully because of all the ramifications it has. And the risk of further unhappiness, unfortunately. So we would hope that people would talk with an attorney or maybe talk with a therapist, or talk with some other counselor that could kind of help them consider everything that’s going on from every angle and make a really informed, prudent choice.

Barbara Harrison: Good advice. We’re going to take some more questions. Jean, you have some questioners waiting for us?

Jean Setzfand: We do. We have Connie from Oregon City.

Connie: Hi, I have a question for Marlo and Phil. When this coronavirus thing first started, we — my husband and I, we’ve been married for 45 years — thought, well, we can either go, oh my God, oh my God, this is horrible, or we can tell ourselves, we’ve got this. We were made for this. Let’s figure out how to have some fun and make life still enjoyable, even though the world’s rather sad right now. And I’m just curious in your own relationship and people that you interviewed, if you have tips because so much time has gone on that it’s getting more challenging to find lightheartedness, fun and humor in your day.

Marlo Thomas: When, of course, we were interviewing people for the book, we didn’t have a pandemic. But I know from our friends we’ve been doing Zoom nights with friends. We have cocktail parties by Zoom. We each bring our own drink, obviously, and we chat for an hour, an hour and a half, and have like a little Zoom cocktail party with usually six of us or eight of us. We have movie nights.

Phil Donahue: Marlo is very clever. I could watch evening cable news every night.

Marlo Thomas: All night, all night. A big difference between us. I can watch for an hour; I figure I’ve got it. He’s got to watch every single hour.

Phil Donahue: Well, this is the place where I used to make a living until I was fired because of my opposition to the Iraq War. So now I’m peeking in the window from the office where I was fired to see if they’re still talking about me.

Marlo Thomas: But the point is, he loves the news.

Phil Donahue: And they have, by the way.

Marlo Thomas: He loves the news, and I like entertainment. I like comedies. And so, I’ll make popcorn. I have to either do the dance of the seven veils or make popcorn, and he could smell that. And then I can get him to watch a movie with me,  which has been fun because I grew up in comedy. My dad, Danny Thomas, was  a comedian and so we always had comedy movies on Friday nights at our house.  I’ve been able to introduce him to the great Mel Brooks’ comedies like To Be, or Not to Be, or Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life, the Woody Allen stuff. There’s so many Marx brothers, there’s so many great comedies. So I’ve been able to pull him over to do that. So I think one of the things that is interesting about being stuck together is you do a little bit more of what the other one likes. So I’m watching a little bit more of the news shows and finding that there are a couple of these commentators, like I’ve really gotten into Chris Cuomo, and I think Brian Williams does a great job, so usually I like to watch one hour and pretty much in the hour you get the whole ballgame. And then you watch the next hour, and they’re talking about the same exact facts, but with a little bit of a twist, and Phil loves that. The other night he was watching C-SPAN, watching the vote of the Supreme Court, which I never watch, but I got into it, and I said to him, Wow, this is exciting to watch the Supreme Court vote. I would have never have thought that, but there they all were — you know, Ginsburg and Alito and Roberts and Sotomayor; I was really enjoying it. So I’ve gotten a little, because there’s so much time.

Phil Donahue: Audio, audio.

Marlo Thomas: Yeah, the audio. They have the audio, but they have the pictures of each judge, but it’s on C-SPAN. So it’s very live and it’s very (inaudible), and they have the lawyer, the prosecutor, the defenders, the judges. It was very interesting. So I’m watching a little more C-SPAN, he’s watching a few more movies. I think one of the things that does happen when you have all this time is that you start to maybe motivate a little bit over toward his side, and then he comes a little bit over to my side. Because there’s so much time, ordinarily you wouldn’t have all that kind of time to spend, and I wouldn’t want to spend more time watching C-SPAN. But since there is so much more time, we are getting a little bit more into what each other likes. Does that make sense, or am I just babbling here?

Barbara Harrison: Makes sense to me. And I think that Jean may have some more questions to ask you. Do we have some time for that Jean?

Jean Setzfand: We certainly do. Our next question is actually coming from Facebook. And the question is coming from Gabriella, asking, “We are two hardworking parents with four kids. Trying to get along can be a challenge in the same household. Any advice?

Barbara Harrison: Want to just take a look at that one, Julia, Barry?

Marlo Thomas: We don’t have little kids, so I’m sure they know better.

Julia Mayer: We haven’t had little kids for a very long time, either, but it is really, really challenging for families with the kids in the home, parents working. And when the kids are in school, and I hope your school has already let out, ‘cause that would be a relief, you’re helping them with their schoolwork or their meetings with their teachers. It’s crazy. And so I think the first thing you have to do is stop having a standard. You just have to get through your day and do your best. Four kids is — you know, you have a team, so you have to try to schedule. Like I said before, set up a schedule for everyone so that everyone gets some attention, and you get some time to yourself, which I’m sure you need, and you both get some work done. But it is unbelievably challenging right now.

Barry Jacobs: I think muddling through sometimes is good enough, and this is one of those times.

Barbara Harrison: Yes. It certainly is. We’re all kind of muddling through and finding that it’s not so bad, actually. There are some really good things about it. I like the fact that I can hear the birds. I don’t hear traffic out of my window all the time. And I, like you, am spending a lot more time with my significant other and family members as well. Jean, I want to give you a chance to give your people who are waiting an opportunity to ask questions.

Jean Setzfand: All right. We have a call from Shirley from Texas.

Barbara Harrison: Shirley from Texas. What’s your question?

Shirley: Hi, this is Shirley. I have, we’ve been married 38 years. How do you keep the sexual pleasure going? About four years ago, we kind of started to whittle it down to almost nothing.

Barbara Harrison: That’s a good question. And I know you deal with that in your book., so Julia and Barry. What do you say?

Julia Mayer: Here’s a picture of our book.

Barbara Harrison: Oh, there’s your book? Yes. I know that you do ask the questions about the sexual relationship. Do you have an answer for our caller from Texas?

Julia Mayer: Sure. It is not unusual what you’re describing that’s sometimes in many relationships, the sexual relationship sort of falls by the wayside. Sometimes it’s because of medical issues, with either partner that, for whatever reason, the person might be embarrassed to deal with them. They’re avoided; they think they’re going to be judged by the partner. There’s a million reasons why people just sort of let it trickle away. But it’s a really important part of your relationship. When it’s missing, it really does impact how intimate you feel and how close you feel to each other. So we recommend to couples that they go see a doctor and make sure that they can treat whatever medical issues might be there. And then beyond that, they can do some things to sort of reignite that spark. So here’s a couple of examples. Get a fancy recipe, a complicated recipe, and cook a fancy dinner together and have it under candlelight. Sit under a blanket together and watch a romantic movie. Give each other massages. Start gradually integrating more touch and more playfulness into the relationship that you have so that you get more and more comfortable, and you rebuild that intimate trust that may have dissipated a little bit. And then work your way toward more and more intimacy as both of you feel comfortable doing it.

Barry Jacobs: And I would just add to that, the other barrier to sexual relationship is sometimes people develop anxiety around performing. As Julia said, especially if they’ve had a medical issue or they’re not able to perform at the high standard they did when they were 25 years old and scrappy and healthy. So then people are afraid that if they don’t perform at a level, or they don’t please their partner the way they did at one time, that the disappointment will really be shaming to them. So they become avoidant of not only sex, but of any kind of touch that might lead to sex. And so that really drives a wedge in the intimacy with partners … they really need to sit down and talk about and find new ways of connecting physically. Because, as Julia says, it is so important as a way of nurturing the emotional part of the relationship to have that physical part, too.

Barbara Harrison: Marlo, Phil, did this issue come up at all with the 40 celebrity couples that you talked to?

Marlo Thomas: Ali Wentworth, who is married to George Stephanopoulos, just said that she felt that sex and having a lot of it was really important, and that if you weren’t having it, then something was wrong and you had to get to it. I mean, I don’t think anybody has the expertise and information that Julia and Barry have, but ...

Phil Donahue: Who did tushie to tushie?

Marlo Thomas: Judy Viorst her husband, Milton, sleep in a double bed, which is very small. I mean we have a king-size bed. A double bed is smaller than what you ever have in a hotel. And she said, they’ve always had it because they felt that if they slept tushie to tushie it was hard to be mad at each other. … We never asked anybody about their sex life. It just came out in the conversation, but we got the feeling as we left each couple, that there was a lot of romance there. They talked about candlelight and wine and being alone at night and snuggling and spooning and that kind of stuff. And I think when you spoon at night — which we do and hug each other — there is something in that that’s so intimate … just your toes touching, your bodies touching that is so personal, that you don’t with anybody else.

Phil Donahue: I’m starting to get a little warm now.

Marlo Thomas: We all talked about …  that the physicality, the body that you know so well that’s next to you, that when you’re doing that, when your tushies are touching, when you’re spooning at night and all that, that keeps the warm blood going, so that sexual activity isn’t such a leap across the desert to get to because you’re touching a lot. And I think that’s kind of what Julia and Barry were saying in a more clinical way, but most of these couples talked about the fact that none of them slept in separate beds. They talked about the fact that their parents had slept in, some of their parents had slept in separate beds or in a separate room for reasons like noise or snoring or whatever, but none of these couples did. So it was just interesting that these marriages lasted for all those reasons … touching and intimacy and talking to each other. I think it would be very hard to be intimate physically with somebody that you weren’t talking to a lot, that you weren’t able to get your feelings out.

Barbara Harrison: That’s a good point. And intimacy is important in any way, shape or form to keeping a relationship going. Marlo and Phil, Julia and Barry, before we close, can we share with our audience what is inspiring you during this trying time for our country? Could you each share what you feel?

Marlo Thomas: What’s inspiring me is the way people are marching for justice. We haven’t gone out at all because we’re in our 80s —  and you’re not supposed to go out, and we haven’t. We go to the park when we — we can see from our window the park — go out for like a walk or something. So we’ve been kind of isolated. But I’m very moved and excited by the fact that people are taking what’s going on in our country personally, and wanting to be a part of changing things.  … Even in these times when it’s kind of dangerous to be out, they’re going out with their masks and everything, but they want to change the world for a better, more just place. And that is so inspiring to me.

Phil Donahue: Here, here. I agree. I agree totally. I don’t know whether anybody truly understood the hidden prejudices that existed within our community of Americans. And this explosion of demonstrations aimed at people who may have been victimized over the years is exciting. I’m not sure everybody would use that word, but I am. I truly believe that we have crossed the Rubicon here, and that more and more people are able to now express what has bothered them. You know when Trump was first elected, I was very depressed. I felt that the patriots stayed home, and the people who were flag wavers were the ones who voted him in. I was angry at the people who didn’t vote. And now I see all of these demonstrations everywhere, and I’m saying to myself, these are people who haven’t voted much, and now they’re going to. So I see that as huge breakthrough for this nation, and for the future of our grandchildren. I think it’s going to be in a better world because of it.

Barbara Harrison: We certainly could use a better world, and I think as we look out at some of the things that have happened recently, we all can get behind that working toward a better place for us all to live. And I’d like to hear from Julia and Barry, what is inspiring them during this time?

Julia Mayer: Everything the two of you have just said, we absolutely agree with you. In addition, I want to say that I know I’m feeling extremely inspired by all of the medical staff, professionals, paraprofessionals, everyone who has been risking their lives to take care of COVID patients. And not just that community of amazing people, but the people who deliver groceries or who go out and do things that we need to have happen in our culture, just to keep going, who are risking their lives and who are taking chances on behalf of the rest of our communities. I just think those people … really need to be applauded.

Barry Jacobs: And I agree with everything that’s been said. I just want to add that those folks who are working in behavioral health treatment, who are the counselors, who are the psychiatrists, the (inaudible) social workers, licensed professional counselors, these folks have done yeoman’s work thus far, and the expectation is in the months ahead there going to be many more Americans who unfortunately are going to have more emotional problems because of everything that we’ve been going through. And our behavioral health workforce is inspiring me and will continue to inspire me. I think for some time to come, because of how they’re helping support Americans get through this.

Barbara Harrison: We discovered a lot of new heroes in our country. And I think we want to celebrate them going forward. And we thank the four of you for joining us to have this very interesting discussion. Good luck with both of your books, and, having seen both of them, I’m looking forward to having a chance to sit down. And since I’m quarantined, I’ll be able to sit down and maybe read front to back of both books.

            We thank all of you, AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion today. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources and fighting for older adults and those caring for them. All of the resources referenced, including a recording of today’s Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus.

            We hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s conversation and learned something that can help you strengthen your relationships over time. Please be sure to tune in Thursday, July 9th, at 1 p.m. ET for our next Tele-Town Hall. But before you go, please enjoy a few moments with Marlo and Phil, with these delightful videos. They are wonderful to look at. Again, to our guests, thank you so much for being with us. I’ve enjoyed this, and I’m sure all those listening and watching have absolutely enjoyed it as well. I’m Barbara Harrison, goodnight to all of you.

VIDEO CLIPS

Phil Donahue: You are really fascinating.

Marlo Thomas: No, but you are wonderful. I said it when we were off the air, and I want to say you are loving and generous, and you like women, and it’s a pleasure. And whoever’s the woman in your life is very lucky.

Phil Donahue: Well thank you, very much.

Phil Donahue: The secret of good communication, screaming helps. At least you get to know whether the person you’re screaming at is listening. And, you know, then go in the other room and count to 10.

Marlo Thomas: Through the years you learn that everything is not that big a deal, and this isn’t going to break us up no matter what. So you get used to saying, okay, let let’s just talk it out.

Phil Donahue: And a little humor certainly in a marriage goes a long way.

Marlo Thomas: The book is called What Makes a Marriage Last. We were thinking that we were putting together a book that would have a lot of tips about how to have a great marriage, but the more we got into it, we realized it’s what is it that makes it last.

Phil Donahue: We interviewed Sting.

Marlo Thomas: and Trudie.

Phil Donahue: And Trudie.

Marlo Thomas: Elton and David.

Phil Donahue: We interviewed ...

Marlo Thomas: Rob Reiner and Michele, and Ron Howard and Cheryl. Mehmet Oz and Lisa, and Sanjay Gupta and Rebecca, and Alan Alda and Arlene Alda.

Phil Donahue: Underneath all of these interviews, these people really cared. They wanted it to last. If there’s any common theme to the chats that we had, it’s you have to want to have a long marriage.

Marlo Thomas: You see what they did when they were confronted with the loss of a loved one, infidelity, losing their money. What makes a marriage last is what you do when you’re confronted with the really big stuff?

Marlo Thomas: I was so intimidated working with him because I mean, he’s like the greatest interviewer in the world. When we had the Elton John interview, we got word that we’d only have a half hour. Well, I went into complete panic mode because we had, you know, this many questions and all kinds of ideas and so while I’m figuring that out and trying to come with the questions, he’s turned on the TV and is watching a ballgame.

Phil Donahue: Every day of my show life, I was just accustomed to one guest usually per hour and me. It was a high wire act for me, every day, and I’d run out in the audience with my wireless mic, you didn’t know what was going to happen?

Marlo Thomas: He’d say I never prepared a question. I just went with it. You know, I’m not Phil Donahue. I just can’t go with it. I have to be a little bit prepared.

Phil Donahue: You have to take it pretty seriously at the beginning. And if you don’t, I think many couples are doomed.

Marlo Thomas: I didn’t get married until I was 40, which, if you don’t get married till you’re 40, you have a lot of relationships. And I was always looking for an exit. So I think for me, marriage is about making the commitment that there is no exit. And that makes it better, somehow richer.

Phil Donahue: This is our chance to remind you to subscribe ...

Marlo Thomas: ... to AARP YouTube Channel and watch it.

Marlo Thomas: Obviously, we don’t know each other, which is why our marriage is so great because we’re still learning about each other. Who are you, anyway?

Marlo Thomas: Hi, I’m Marlo Thomas.

Phil Donahue: I’m Phil Donahue.

Marlo Thomas: We’ve been married 40 years ...

Phil Donahue: ... and we’re going to find out how well we know each other.

Marlo Thomas: Uh-oh.

Producer: Marlo, what was your first job?

Marlo Thomas: In the theater.

Phil Donahue: No, schoolteacher. Your first job.

Marlo Thomas: My first job was in the theater.

Phil Donahue: She’s going to be embarrassed.

Marlo Thomas: What’d you say? Oh, no, I never taught.

Phil Donahue: You never had a classroom?

Marlo Thomas: No, I did student teaching, but I didn’t get paid.

Phil Donahue: Well, oh ...

Marlo Thomas: It wasn’t a job. It was to get my degree.

Producer: Phil, what is your idea of a romantic date?

Marlo Thomas: Phil’s idea of a romantic date? Aha.

Phil Donahue: That’s easy, that would be I’m going bowling.

Marlo Thomas: Oh, no, come on, you’ve got to answer the question. What do you think I would say that you would say?

Marlo Thomas: I think staying home; staying home and being together and ordering takeout and being by ourselves.

Phil Donahue: Sitting on a park bench and expressing how I feel without being interrupted by, you know ...

Marlo Thomas: (laugh) OK, well that’s, all right, do you want to know what I said? I said staying home.

Phil Donahue: Oh, isn’t that nice?

Marlo Thomas: That is what you would think.

Phil Donahue: Probably is now that you mention it.

Producer: Marlo, what are you most likely to argue about?

Phil Donahue: Her clothing.

Marlo Thomas: His watching football and me wanting to go to the theater? ... What is it? Oh, we don’t argue about my clothing. Oh, well, if I wear something low cut, yeah, that’s true.

Phil Donahue: Too much boobies.

Producer: Phil, what is your favorite episode of That Girl?

Marlo Thomas: I don’t even know that he’s watched That Girl.

Phil Donahue: The episode where she got her finger stuck in a bowling ball.

Marlo Thomas: It was my toe, but that’s OK.

Phil Donahue: Oh, toe.

Marlo Thomas: And my answer was, he didn’t watch That Girl.

Marlo Thomas: I know what his favorite Donahue’s show is … when I was on it. We met on his Donahue Show.

Marlo Thomas: Whoever the woman in your life is, is very lucky.

Phil Donahue: Well, thank you, very much.

Producer: Phil, what is your favorite episode of The Phil Donahue Show?

Phil Donahue: Oh, that’s a toughie. The show where my guest was Marlo Thomas.

Marlo Thomas: You win. The one where you first met me. You got one.

Producer: Last question, Marlo. What is your favorite song?

Phil Donahue: Marlo’s favorite song. Oh, dear.

Marlo Thomas: My favorite song is ...

Phil Donahue: Oh, I’d love to ask her now, ‘cause I know when she says it, I’m going to say, oh yeah.

Marlo Thomas: "Something in the way she walks. dah, dah, dah-dah dah. That, and “It Move Me." And Elton John singing. "Don’t Go Breaking My Heart."

Phil Donahue: Now this, this is why I know her. I mean intimately.

Marlo Thomas: I can’t wait. What is this? "Blue Danube”? (laugh) What? Is that a song?

Phil Donahue: I don’t know. Yes.

Producer: You hummed it earlier.

Phil Donahue: (hums the waltz)

Marlo Thomas. Oh, that’s from Austria. Oh, that’s so funny.

Marlo Thomas: Well, we’ve certainly proven that we, we don’t communicate. Well, this is why our marriage has lasted because we, we are still learning about each other. We’re not bored. We don’t know anything.

Phil Donahue: “Blue Danube” … You could live another 200 years, and you would never come up with that answer.

Marlo Thomas: Well, that’s right.

Phil Donahue: This is our chance to remind you to subscribe ...

Marlo Thomas: ... to AARP YouTube Channel, and watch it.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

Barbara Harrison:  Hello everyone. I’m Barbara Harrison, and on behalf of AARP, I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of a global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources and working for older adults and those caring for them. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll in a variety of ways. One that hasn’t been discussed much is its impact on our relationships, whether struggling with being away from loved ones for extended periods or cooped up with them under the same roof with the virus going on, it can cause extraordinary strains on all of us. Today, we’ll discuss how to manage relationships during a pandemic, a challenge you may have noticed is not that easy sometimes. Our guests are two couples who have each coauthored books and will share insights to help strengthen your relationships for the long haul.

[00:01:04] If you’ve participated in one of our Tele-Town Halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live yourselves. If you’d like to ask a question, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member, who will note your name and your question, and place you in a queue to ask that question live.

[00:01:27] So, hello again. If you’re just joining us, I’m Barbara Harrison. On behalf of AARP, I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with experts and taking your questions live. If you’re watching on Facebook or YouTube, you can place your question in the comments area.

[00:01:53] AARP is convening this Tele-Town Hall to help share information about the coronavirus. You should also be aware that the best source of health and medical information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC. It can be reached at cdc.gov/coronavirus. This event is being recorded, and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

[00:02:22] And now I’m excited to introduce our special guests. Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue are well known to many of us who got to know them through their very successful television careers. But maybe you don’t know yet that they are coauthors of the book What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life. Marlo, of course, is an award-winning actress, author and activist whose body of work continues to impact American entertainment and culture. Phil is an extraordinary writer, producer, journalist and media pioneer who revolutionized the talk show format. Who among us right now doesn’t know these two? Welcome, Marlo and Phil. We’re so happy to have you with us.

[00:03:07]Marlo Thomas:  Thank you, Barbara. Thanks.

[00:03:08]Phil Donahue:  Pleasure. Thank you, Barbara.

[00:03:10]Barbara Harrison:  We will have a lot of questions for you coming up, but also with us, let me introduce Julia L. Mayer and Barry J. Jacobs. They’re coauthors of the new book, Love and Meaning After 50: The 10 Challenges to Great Relationships and How to Overcome Them. Julia is a clinical psychologist who has been counseling individuals and couples for almost 30 years. Barry, also, nearly 30 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, family therapist and principal at Health Management Associates, a national health care consulting firm. It’s great to have you both with us, Julia and Barry.

[00:03:48]Julia Mayer:  Thank you.

[00:03:49]Barry Jacobs:  Our pleasure, Barbara.

[00:03:51]Barbara Harrison:  We’ll also be joined by AARP Senior Vice President Jean Setzfand, who will be our organizer and help facilitate your calls today. So we’re ready to get started.

[00:04:01] Marlo and Phil, let’s begin with you. We’re talking today, as you know, about strengthening connections during tough times. For your book, you talked with 40 couples of various backgrounds about what it takes to make their relationships last. After you’ve heard from them, you must have the secret. What is it?

[00:04:22]Marlo Thomas:  I think the biggest secret that we found is that these people really wanted it to work. They wanted it to last. As Kyra Sedgwick said, “There is no plan B when you go into a marriage.” And I think a lot of them went to marriage counseling. They went through all kinds of hoops to not look for the escape route. They all had tremendous challenges. Jamie Lee Curtis had a drug addiction; David Burtka, who’s married to Neil Patrick Harris, was an alcoholic; Jesse Jackson wandered outside of marriage and had a baby with another woman; Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon lost all their money to Bernie Madoff; and Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan were handed a lifelong diagnosis of Parkinson’s for Michael three years into their marriage.

[00:05:15] So all of these couples … and those aren’t the only challenges they faced; they faced lots of other challenges, too … but we found that unlike people who do get divorced and cannot stick together, they didn’t run away from it. They didn’t get scared. And we kind of thought after we talked to everybody … these people are brave. These aren’t people who are afraid to hold hands and just go through the fire together. And I think a ...

[00:05:42]Phil Donahue:  Who was it that said that it’s more complicated to get divorced than to tough it out?

[00:05:49]Marlo Thomas:  Right. Bob Woodward’s wife, Elsa Walsh, said, “I don’t understand this impulse for disruption. The kind of energy that people put into breaking up and going through everything it takes to separate your lives. If they took all that energy and put it back into their marriage, they’d have a much more satisfying life.” And I think also a lot of people feel that the person you marry is going to make you happy. Peter Hermann, who is married to Mariska Hargitay, said, “That is a recipe for disaster — that the other person is not going to make you happy. Where are you going to find happiness? Is it what you build together.” And we feel, too, that in our 40 years … we’ve been through all the ups and downs, through sick children and parents who were sick and dying, and ups and downs in our careers. What has kept us together is that we face the hard times together. And when one of us was down, the other one helped … pick us back up. And I think that’s it … when they say commitment, that’s what they mean. That you’re committed to it; you’re not going to look for the exit sign when things get tough.

[00:07:06]Phil Donahue:  And there is no such thing as a marriage that takes off and soars for a lifetime, and then lands softly ...

[00:07:16]Marlo Thomas:  [laughs]

[00:07:17]Phil Donahue:  … on a bunch of golden leaves. Everybody we talked to had a major, unexpected, you-can’t-make-this-up — there was no way for them to anticipate it — kind of a drama in their lives.

[00:07:37]Marlo Thomas:  Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt have three children [and] their firstborn had spina bifida. So they have lived an entire lifetime of keeping this child together and healthy, and keeping the family together throughout it. When you walk down that aisle and you say “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” they seem like kind of romantic words. But as life goes on, you are going to find richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and better and worse.

[00:08:10]Phil Donahue:  And some people fell in love with the wedding; you know — the preparation and the who sits here and there, and the white dress, and the rice. I mean, it’s pretty ...

[00:08:24]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah, and being … the star couple for the day. Kevin Bacon said, “People should not even think about a wedding. It is so insignificant." We got married in our parents’ living room with 35 people, just our family, which I think is a great way to get married. I don’t know if we answered your question, but we came away from this experience — we traveled all over the country and even to Toronto to get Elton John and David Furnish; we met each couple face-to-face like a double date for two and a half, three hours — feeling really energized by the love and commitment that we saw.

[00:09:03]Phil Donahue:  I was surprised at how candid everybody was. I mean, everybody.

[00:09:08]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah.

[00:09:10]Phil Donahue:  You know, they looked at us when we first walked in the apartment or wherever they lived … I remember they looked as if to say, no, where are you going with this? And so … whenever I mentioned our own marriage, that seemed to blow the door open and they couldn’t stop talking about theirs.

[00:09:31]Marlo Thomas:  And there were also career difficulties. Tony Shalhoub married Brooke Adams when she was a very big star. She was the star of Heidi Chronicles, he had a featured part; and she had many, many fine films – Terry Malick’s Days of Heaven — a lot of really great films. And he was sort of a feature player. Now, after Monk — several years of Monk — and The Band’s Visit on Broadway and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, he’s at the top of the A list and she’s having trouble getting work at her age — which I certainly know something about. So that was a complete shift in their lives.

[00:10:08]Phil Donahue:  I had that problem. I mean, I couldn’t get through an airport without people knocking me over to get to Marlo. You know, sooner or later ...

[00:10:20]Marlo Thomas:  That’s not real.

[00:10:21]Phil Donahue:  ... well, I’m telling you, sooner or later, somebody in the little queue would recognize me, and they’d say, “Oh, we like you, too, Regis...” [laughter]

[00:10:35]Marlo Thomas:  Actually, we’ve been very lucky because we’ve had very big careers, thank God. We worked really hard for them. And so, we’re both sort of equally known and that’s a big help. That’s a big help, but really, no, it really is. It’s very hard … I mean, Trudie Styler, who’s married to Sting, and Simone Smith, who’s married to LL Cool J, you know these are women who are dealing with sex symbols — very, very famous men — and people are often pushing them aside. Ray Romano’s wife, Anna, said the same thing. People push her aside to get to him. And that’s got to be very uncomfortable. Thankfully, we have not had that, but that is what people deal with in their marriages. And these celebrity marriages … you know, one of the interviewers said to us, well, you only interviewed famous people; they don’t have the same problems as regular people. And the truth is yes, they do. They have all the same problems. They may not have the same financial problems — and they’ve worked hard to get where they are — but they have all the other problems. They have health [issues] and they have loss of money, they have sick children, they have all the other things — jealousy, betrayals … As Ray Romano said, “You walk in your house and you close the door; you’re no longer a celebrity. You’re just a guy and a woman who are trying to make it work with all the issues that come up that break people apart.”

[00:12:10]Barbara Harrison:  Very good point. And that book has 40 stories like that in there. And I know that a lot of people would enjoy reading them. Do you want to show us your book? I know you’ve got it with you there.

[00:12:21]Marlo Thomas:  My husband has it here. There you go.

[00:12:25]Barbara Harrison:  That’s a big one, and a thick one.

[00:12:27]Phil Donahue:  Yeah, it’s a doorstop.

[00:12:28]Marlo Thomas:  It’s called What Makes a Marriage Last. It’s 600 pages. It was supposed to be ...

[00:12:32]Phil Donahue:  I’ve got to show you, I’m sorry, go ahead.

[00:12:34]Marlo Thomas:  It was supposed to be about 350 pages, because we had told our publisher at Harper’s that each story would be about 2,500 words. But the stories were so good and so rich that they turned out to be 5,000, 6,000 words, and we didn’t want to cut them down. And we tried to, but we kept saying, boy, if you cut that out, you don’t understand who they are. So we turned it in twice as long, and we kind of got under the covers and waited for them to scream. But our publisher … said, “No, no, it’s great. Let’s go with it this big.”

[00:13:10]Phil Donahue:  Was this our first interview?

[00:13:12]Marlo Thomas:  Yes. Our first interview was President and Rosalynn Carter. Phil loves this pic.

[00:13:18]Barbara Harrison:  Oh wow.

[00:13:19]Marlo Thomas:  They’re so adorable. She was 19, he was 21. One of the things that’s fun about the book is that everybody has their wedding picture. Now they’ve been married 74 years. Alan Alda’s married 60 years, Billy Crystal’s married 50 years, but we also have couples … in our book that were married 18 years. We wanted to get a lot of generations, and that was exciting. You know, we wanted to see, OK, if you’ve been married 60 years or 18 years; if you’re black, white, brown, Asian; if you’re a Christian, a Jew, a Baptist, a Muslim ...

[00:13:59]Phil Donahue:  Straight or gay.

[00:14:01]Marlo Thomas:  Yes, if you’re a same sex or opposite sex marriage … what are the differences in all of those marriages from each other? And the truth is that there’s no difference. Everybody wants the same thing. They want a safe place. They want somebody who’s got their back. They want somebody they can trust in the real sense of the word. For me, trust — yes, of course, it’s about a sexual commitment; yes, there’s that. But there’s also trust — I can trust Phil with my head. He is not going to bulldoze me. He’s not going to finesse me. He’s going to give me the honest-to-God truth. And that’s what I think is one of the big things that makes a marriage last — that you have the trust that this person is beneath you, underneath you, around you, above you, in front of you, behind you, that they’re with you. That’s huge to me.

[00:14:59]Barbara Harrison:  Trust is the most important thing. I agree with that. And Marlo and Phil, was there anything you learned through your conversations that you just loved and want to share with us today?

[00:15:11]Marlo Thomas:  I think that you should tell the James Carville story. It’s very practical, and it’s interesting to me. Tell them that.

[00:15:21]Phil Donahue:  James Carville has a [saying] when you find yourself going around and around on a silly unimportant issue ...

[00:15:31]Marlo Thomas:  ... but that’s driving you crazy and you’re going around and around about it ...

[00:15:35]Phil Donahue:  You can pull a make a real stop to this waste of time by saying, “Let’s kick that can down the road.” Now, you know, this, this very cliched, overworked euphemism, really, really made an impact on us, or me. I’ve already used it. Let’s kick that can down the road.

[00:16:01]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah.

[00:16:01]Phil Donahue:  And we both start laughing.

[00:16:01]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah, because some of these things are… you did, you said you would do it, but you didn’t do it, but you could, you didn’t put it there. But I said … you put it here, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — around, around and around. And finally he’ll say to me, “Oh, let’s just kick this can down the road.” And it’s become the great stopper, because you know, you waste a lot of time with this stuff. The other thing that I found very helpful was Judith [inaudible], who’s written many, many children’s books and some adult books as well. They’re married 60 years; her husband’s a journalist. And she said, “No matter how hard you try, he’s never going to be you. And you’re never going to be him. So that’s a given. Now let’s try to accommodate this other person and let them be.” I mean, that’s who he is. Phil is a very laid-back guy, as you can tell from this conversation. And I’m a very talkative, assertive person. And we fought for years about that. I would say, “Oh, why aren’t you getting excited about this? Can’t you see what this means?” And he would say to me, “What are you getting so excited about? What is the big deal about this?” So it was really difficult. It took us years to not be mad at each other for the different way in which we approach problems. And after a while, I started to realize maybe the best thing isn’t to jump impulsively and make a call to solve this. Maybe it is better, as he’s suggesting, to lay back a little bit and talk it through. And there are oftentimes when he’ll say, “You know, maybe you’re right, let’s just get to the bottom line on this. Let’s make the call.” So we’ve started to — I shouldn’t say started; it happened about 20 years ago, I think — we started to find a way to negotiate our different approaches to problems, challenges … than fighting the fact that you never do this, you always do that. You know … those are dirty words to us. You’re not allowed to say never and always ‘cause that’s not ever true, to say you never do that. Will you always do that? … We haven’t been to marriage counseling, but we’ve certainly marriage counseled our own way.

[00:18:23]Phil Donahue:  Sure could have used it.

[00:18:25]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah, we could have. Our first 10 years were really tough. We fought a lot, but we were in a power struggle and we’re both Type A personalities. We’re both bossy, we’re both used to running our own shows, and we got married in our 40s, so we came at this with a lot of power. We had a power struggle for a couple of years. And we fought our way through that, and I think it could have broken us up. It could have been what they call irreconcilable differences, but we loved each other enough, and we liked each other enough, that we, we fought our way through it, which was, I think, pretty good.

[00:19:05]Barbara Harrison:  Sounds pretty good to me. And I like that expression, “kick that can down the road.” I’m going to remember that one. Now with so many of us distanced from loved ones during this time, are there any suggestions from your relationship or from your book for creative ways or maybe just some little things that we can do to show someone we’re thinking of them?

[00:19:28]Marlo Thomas:  We’ve done a lot of Zoom calls with our family.

[00:19:32]Phil Donahue:  Yeah.

[00:19:33]Marlo Thomas:  We’ve got a Father’s Day Zoom going on, coming up on Sunday. Is that what you mean?

[00:19:38]Barbara Harrison:  Yeah, just kind of thinking of ways that might be unexpected to … the other person in your relationship. But that’s a good idea, if you can use the Zoom call. And there are lots of other things, but you don’t think gifts and that sort of thing are really necessary.

[00:19:55]Marlo Thomas:  We don’t go anywhere; we’d have to order it online. We haven’t been sending a lot of gifts. Actually [there are] a lot of people in this country who are hurting — they’re ill or they’ve lost loved ones, so I don’t take it lightly that what this pandemic has meant. In fact, we have several friends who are sick, and one of our friends died from it; a man that I had been in a couple of plays with, Mark Blum, a wonderful actor. So we have been touched by the pandemic — thankfully, not in our immediate family, but in our circle of friends. And I say that because I’m cognizant — we’re both cognizant — of what’s happening in the world. For us, this quarantine has been good for us. We’re usually so busy. We’ve never had three meals a day together, except when we go on vacation. And we have a housekeeper, and she hasn’t come in for two months. So we’ve made our meals together and we’ve had them together, and that’s unusual. Because usually we get up in the morning, whoever gets up to go somewhere has their breakfast; lunchtime, I’m usually eating sandwiches in the back of an Uber on my way to a meeting; and dinner we have together. But three meals a day and fixing them together, that’s been unusual. Do you want to add to that in any way? I’m sorry, I’m talking too much.

[00:21:27]Phil Donahue:  No, not really. I mean, I enjoy listening to your voice.

[00:21:32]Barbara Harrison:  You know, I think a lot of us have noticed that, too, about this pandemic. There have been some good things, and having more togetherness is certainly one of them. You know, among the many things the pandemic has highlighted, also, is how critical it is to stay connected to loved ones in difficult times. I wanted to let our listeners know that AARP has been working to help keep people connected in a variety of ways. AARP has fought to ensure that those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a way of staying in contact with loved ones on the outside. AARP created a free service called AARP Friendly Voices, so people who are isolated can get a call from one of our volunteers. The organization has also worked at the federal, state and local level to ensure that people have safe, secure and connected places to live throughout this crisis by fighting to prevent evictions and utility and broadband disconnections.

[00:22:32] Well, we have a lot of questions coming in already. So let’s get in some for you, Marlo and Phil. … I’d also like to introduce you to Jean Setzfand, who is helping to facilitate our calls. Welcome, Jean.

[00:23:03]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks, Barbara, delighted to be here.

[00:23:05]Barbara Harrison:  And Jean, let’s take our first question now for Marlo and Phil. Who have you got?

[00:23:11]Jean Setzfand:  Our first call is coming from Colette from Florida.

[00:23:16]Colette:  Good afternoon, everyone. Can you hear me?

[00:23:22]Barbara Harrison:  Yes, we hear you.

[00:23:24]Colette:  OK, perfect. Marlo, Phil, good evening. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. I’ve been listening this whole time and I understand the things you recommend for when people are married, but as you look back on these 40 couples and your own marriage, is there a thread, is there a commonality, is there one thing that tells you, this is the right person to start this journey with?

[00:23:57]Phil Donahue:  I have to tell you, I had Renée Taylor and Joe Bologna on my TV program. I remember, they were sitting right next to each other, and a woman in the back row stood, and she said, "Renée, how did you know?" And Renée said, “You know, I thought about it. And then I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to do any better than this.” Of course the whole audience started laughing, and he took it well, he laughed. Obviously, I just took a little time not answering her question. Have you got a good ...

[00:24:45]Marlo Thomas:  To answer your question, almost everyone had a moment where they looked harder at this person and thought, yeah, I can trust them, or yes, this person will tell me the truth. A lot of them got married, as we did, in a cloud of lust. And that’s good and bad. I mean, it’s sure a good way to start. But you sometimes get so smoky-eyed from the cloud of lust that you may not see a bunch of problems. But I think each person, each couple talked about what it was the other one did that really made them look harder at them and think, oh, I can reveal this about myself. You know, Viola Davis, what did she say about the percentages?

[00:25:42]Phil Donahue:  It’s not 50/50. It’s 100/100. And there’s, you know ...

[00:25:49]Marlo Thomas:  She also said, “You’re not really married when you walk down the aisle. You’re really married when you’re sitting across the table from your spouse, and they do something that’s really disgusting to you — the way they chew, the way they lick their fingers, the way they slurped their soup, whatever it is. Or the way they talk on the phone, the way they behave. When you look at … that person and say, oh my God, this is going to drive me crazy. You look at that person and say, yeah, but I love him, I’m going to accommodate that. That’s when you’re really married.” And I think that word — accommodate — is just a huge word. It’s not about giving up, it’s not about compromising, and it’s sure not about changing somebody, because that really is a kiss of death. If you think you’re going to change somebody, which we tried to do for several years. I’m going to stop him from doing that. I’m going to stop her from taking too much luggage. I’m going to stop him from whatever it was. We had to come to the place where he’s who he is, I’m who I am, and we’ll talk about it, but we’re not going to try to change each other. That says death.

[00:27:02]Phil Donahue:  I interviewed Billy Graham on my TV program, and I asked him if he’d ever considered divorce. And he said, “Divorce? Never. Murder, yes.”

[00:27:18]Marlo Thomas:  He’s the comic relief.

[00:27:21]Barbara Harrison:  I think we’ve got a call coming in for you. Let’s go to Jean Setzfand. What have you got?

[00:27:29] Jean Setzfand: We have Judy from New York.

[00:27:31]Barbara Harrison:  Judy from New York. What is your question?

[00:27:35]Judy:  Hi, it’s a pleasure to be here, and I can’t believe this just fell into my lap, literally, at the most perfect time. Being happily married for 34 years, just by the skin of our teeth last week, this pandemic absolutely has been the test of 34 years. So when I listen to you sharing about making your meals together, it sounds like you didn’t say, and we almost killed each other. And I’m just wondering … sometimes, at least during the past 13 weeks, we’ve found that sometimes I don’t want to make my meal with him, and sometimes I don’t want him in the room with me, and sometimes he doesn’t want me in the room with him. And [I’m] looking for just some thoughts on moving forward — how to be OK with saying, I need some space?

[00:28:32]Marlo Thomas:  I think one of the things that we’re lucky about is that we have an apartment, but we each have our own workspace, so that we can go off to our different workspaces. I have a small study, he has a small study; and I can do my work, I can work on my computer, I can talk on the phone to my friends or my colleagues, and he can do the same in his space. So I think that, yes, having your own space is a very big thing. I think if we were on top of each other in a tiny little space, I don’t know how that would go. I do have a very close friend who’s a writer. He works from home and his wife works outside of the home. And so they’ve been quarantined all this time and that’s been difficult for them, because he has a workspace and she doesn’t. So they’re on top of each other, and that’s been difficult to make a sort of a traffic pattern where he can talk on the phone where he’s not interrupting her calls. So yeah, it’s got a lot to do with space, you’re absolutely right. We all need space away from each other. We’ve always had a lot of space from each other because we’ve always had careers that took us away. So that we’ve known how to do. We have not had three meals a day together, and that, I guess, became something that was fun or nice because we have more time for real conversation. I mean, Phil’s sort of telling me he was finding things out about me that he didn’t know before. What did you say? I was a what?

[00:30:07]Phil Donahue:  She’s a water bug. I mean, she’s got the computer going, she’s got the phone here, and opening the mail with whatever time is left. And I’ve never seen this all at once. I knew she was an A personality and that… if you put nine people in her office, she’ll give them all something to do. And she is a very talented person, and whatever she starts, she finishes. And so that has always impressed me, and I never had such a close-up look at this feature of her personality …

[00:30:56]Marlo Thomas:  Well, because I work a lot outside of the home. I’m at a studio, I’m at offices, I’m in meetings. And so he doesn’t see me all day long, doing what I do in one place. So that is different. And I have come to appreciate the fact that he’s a laid-back guy; he’s a thoughtful man. The interesting thing is that when I’m in my workspace, he’ll come in with the New York Times to read me an editorial piece that he thinks I would really like. And that’s something that we don’t do a lot of, because we’re not always at home together. But the idea is, he’s read it, he’s … found it thought-provoking, he wants to read it to me and see what I think about it — and kind of an excitement, like a kid, he wants to talk it over, this interesting editorial he’s just read. Or he’s angry about it and wants to know if I’m as pissed off as he is about it. So that’s a feature that we haven’t done a lot of, that having the time, even though we’re not in the same room, he’ll bring his interests into my workplace, workspace. So that’s another thing, that we’re having more of that kind of conversation.

[00:32:28] I feel kind of bad we’re monopolizing this day and you have these wonderful authors here. Have we taken up too much time?

[00:32:36]Barbara Harrison:  No, absolutely not. We’ve got time for both of you couples here, and we will get back to you shortly, but let’s do turn to Julia and Barry now. During this pandemic, when more of us are experiencing a sense of loss of varying degrees — of people, jobs, economic security, even our sense of safety and freedoms, how can we as partners cope with the coronavirus grief in a way that will strengthen a relationship? Julia, Barry, do you want to talk about that?

[00:33:08]Barry Jacobs:  Yes, grief is an emotion that is very difficult for a lot of folks, though it’s a very normal emotion — one that we all experience at various times in our lives. And what we talk about with our clients is the importance for couples to turn toward one another rather than turn one away from one another when grieving. There are folks that when they commiserate together, it really does strengthen their relationship. They support one another, and they’re kind of united in common feeling for the loss that they’re experiencing. And that really deepens their relationship. I’ll say, talking about our relationship — we’ve been married for 30 years, that we, too, have been through many adverse times in our lives, including the losses of our parents, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. And the fact that I could turn to Julia and she was so good with my mother and stepfather as they were declining from dementia and then when they died; I could rely on her in every way logistically, but even more importantly, emotionally. And that I think was a very important time in our marriage. We certainly see that with our own clients as well.

[00:34:27]Julia Mayer:  One of the things we sometimes see with our clients is when they don’t grieve together, what you see is irritability. They pick at each other, they get short-tempered. And when we’re working with a couple, we’ll often suggest to them that if their partner is irritable, that maybe he or she has some feelings that need to be shared that are painful or difficult to access, and hopefully they will sit down together and get past the irritability to the more complicated and painful feelings.

[00:35:02]Barbara Harrison:  Tell me, for those among us now that are watching or listening who happen to be single, widowed or divorced, and they’re feeling lonely and isolated in ways that they’d never experienced before, what advice do you have on ways to build a community, to find some new connections? Any ideas?

[00:35:23]Julia Mayer:  I have quite a few single clients and they’re still going on dating sites if they’re looking to meet that special person. And in a way it’s a little bit of a silver lining because they have to take quite a bit longer to actually meet in person because of the coronavirus, and it gives them an opportunity to communicate more and more deeply. And then when they finally meet, one of my clients told me, they put on their mask, they meet on a park bench and she sits on one side and he sits all the way on the other side, and they talk. So that’s one thing that people seem to be continuing to do. We also talk to single clients about if they are in a religious community, many of them are doing online video congregation meetings and services, and they could attend those. And I always think that if you’re lonely, go volunteer, go do something that feels meaningful, like deliver food to a food bank, and you will meet other people who are caring and concerned.

[00:36:32]Barbara Harrison:  That’s a very good idea. Now we’re at a time when more people than ever are caring for family members. Children are home and we have to care for older family members in new and different ways. Julia and Barry, how can people ensure that they are prioritizing relationships with their significant others while caring for other loved ones? Any ideas about that?

[00:36:56]Barry Jacobs:  Yes, I think it’s a very important question, Barbara, because as you say, … all of us have multiple family roles. We’re not just spouses; we are children, oftentimes with aging parents. We have our own children in many instances, and we have responsibilities to multiple people often at the same time, as well as our jobs. And so we all have to do this balancing act, and there can be a time where we spread ourselves so thin trying to please everybody that we don’t ever feel like we’re pleasing anybody, because we don’t — we’re not giving any one person enough of our time and attention. And I would say that maintaining the primary priority on the marital relationship with your partner is extremely important to keep going. And sometimes that means compartmentalizing your life a little bit, having time spent with a parent, but also having protected time with your spouse. We see that during the pandemic and our caregiving years, we had to very consciously make that decision to make sure that we were not allowing caregiving duties to take over all of our time, but that we were prioritizing our time together, away from our care of others.

[00:38:13]Julia Mayer:  One of the things that we sometimes suggest to couples that work with us is devise a schedule. Actually plan out together or as a family if you’re more than two, and leave time for yourself. Leave time specifically scheduled for the two of you together as partners and time for caregiving, and then schedule, continue to be revived depending on what the family needs are.

[00:38:43]Barbara Harrison:  Good advice. And you have a lot of good advice in your book that’s not out quite yet, but it’s a great way to take stock in your relationship. We have a lot of questions coming in, and we will be getting back to you with some that are coming from our viewers and listeners. But I’d like to mention that this topic that we’re talking about brings to the forefront the challenges that millions of family caregivers are facing right now, particularly those who have loved ones in nursing homes or other types of care facilities. Due to a lack of transparency and insufficient resources, people are having a hard time finding out if there are positive COVID cases in facilities where their family members are living. Making this situation even worse, many people aren’t even able to connect with loved ones through video chats or phone calls. I know that AARP is urging federal and state policymakers to take action to ensure that residents and staff have adequate testing and protections, and that family members are able to stay connected with, and get information about, their loved ones. You can learn more about this situation at aarp.org/nursinghomes.

[00:39:54] And now let’s take some more questions from our callers. Jean, what are our first questions for Julia and Barry?

[00:40:10]Jean Setzfand:  All right. We have a question coming in from Facebook, and this is coming from Julie. And she’s asking, “How are we supposed to navigate the job loss and marriage being stuck at home together all the time? I want him to get going, but we’re just stuck. Can you advise?”

[00:40:30]Barry Jacobs:  First off, these are very difficult circumstances, and it’s not a surprise if your partner is having trouble getting into gear, because I’m sure he or she needs a job. What I will say is that it’s probably a good idea to, number 1, lower your expectations for reporting to jump right into another plan, but 2, very gently you kind of broach the topic as something that the two of you need to sit down and come up with a specific plan that you’ll move forward on. So, at least, overall you feel like you’re making some progress. And then thirdly, I would say that, particularly in regards to the job loss and given our economy now, we have to all be patient, that this is going to be a trying time for many couples going through this. And they need to, again, turn toward one another and pull together rather than pull apart under these tough times.

[00:41:33]Barbara Harrison:  We know that this pandemic has resulted in many couples having more time at home together, an experience that may benefit and may also challenge any relationship. So let’s get to more of your questions for our couples. Let’s see if we have any questions waiting for us. But before that, I’d like to get both couples’ perspectives on a few other questions.

[00:42:10] It’s fair to say that we’re having conversations with our significant others that help us calibrate and help us get in touch with who we are and what we value. Between the pandemic and protests of a racial injustice, these media discussions are coming at a time of added stress. How do we manage these conversations when our beliefs, our values may differ? Julia and Barry, do you want to start with an answer to that one?

[00:42:37]Julia Mayer:  Sure. I’m working with a couple right now who are on absolutely opposite ends of the political spectrum, and even though they’ve been married for a couple of decades, they are pretty angry with each other and also hurt because they are feeling like their values are no longer aligned. And when I meet with them, what I need to get them to do is remember that 95 percent of their values are still aligned. They’ve known each other for years, they actually agree on most things, but they’re two separate people like Marlo and Phil were saying before, and they’re not going to be the same person, and they shouldn’t try to be. But it’s really important for them to respect that their perspectives come from their own life history and their own particular views, and then I talk to these couples about how they need to really take the time to listen to one another’s views and try to understand each other. They don’t have to agree. They have to be respectful. And they need to remember that they care about each other, even though they are not looking at things the same exact way.

[00:43:50]Barbara Harrison:  Let’s ask Phil and Marlo if they have any observations about that, people living together who may not be on the same political side, or on the same side on a whole lot of things. What do you say?

[00:44:03]Marlo Thomas:  I think what Julia said is key. She said if 90 percent of what they have together is aligned, then you have to give way for those differences. We interviewed James Carville and Mary Matalin. And as everybody knows, she is a staunch conservative, and he is a staunch liberal. He campaigned for Bill Clinton while she was campaigning for George Bush. I mean, there they were nose-to-nose with two completely different ideologies. They were a million miles apart on the Iraq War, a million miles apart on climate change, and we said to them, “How in God’s name are you married together with these huge differences?” And they said, “That’s just one set of differences, our political differences are one set, but we have children, we have family, we have barbecues, we have hiking, we have all kinds of things that are aligned. Our lives are not made up just of our political differences.” And I thought that was fascinating, and it’s really what Julia was just saying is that you can’t make anything, like political differences, the center of your marriage and your life. And she was saying that that’s not if 90 or 95 percent of your life is aligned and your values are aligned, then you have to allow for this other percentage that isn’t aligned. I mean, we’re both very liberal and we met that way. When I went on the Donahue Show, we were talking about the ERA and feminism and all the things that I believed in that he believed in. But we’re just lucky in that way. … And we were also raised Catholic. I went through Marymount, he went to Notre Dame, so we have a lot of values that are pretty solid inside of us that have helped a lot. I’ve always felt, even before this book — and maybe Julia and Barry probably have something more important, or maybe smarter to say on the topic, but I’ve always felt if you define what I consider the big words, like good and bad, fair and unfair, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, if you can define those words the same in your life, then I think you have a pretty good starting point at having a trust level. I don’t know … what Julia and Barry think about that.

[00:46:49]Barbara Harrison:  Do you want to respond to that?

[00:46:52]Julia Mayer:  Sure. I couldn’t have said it better. I absolutely agree. It is the main thematic values in your lives that need to be aligned — not everything, just the most important things.

[00:47:06]Barry Jacobs:  And I would add, and we’re focusing on political differences, but you know — Marlo, you pointed out before — there are temperamental differences, there are differences in emotional expression, there are differences in food preferences. We live with partners who are not the same as us and we have to make compromises. We have to … the word you used is accommodate. I think I can, I use the word often, accept. We have to accept that the other person is not going to be aligned with us in everything, and that we have to appreciate them for the differences that they have. We even prefer their … some of the ways they’re doing things and gravitate slowly over the years toward doing things more similar to them. I think actually what happens is that … the cliché is that couples become more alike, or partners become more like one another over time. But there will always be some differences that remain.

[00:48:00]Barbara Harrison:  Julia and Barry, we’ve had some people waiting on the phone to ask you some questions. Jean, who have you got?

[00:48:09]Jean Setzfand:  We have Judy from Kentucky.

[00:48:12]Judy:  Hello. My name is Judy, and I have a question. I know that I’m not the only one. I’m 73 and I lost my husband suddenly with no warning. He’s always been healthy. We met when I was 14 and he was 16. And although we were strict Catholic, we didn’t, we followed all the guidelines [inaudible] and we married, and we’ve been together 57 years. But we were so involved in each other that I don’t know what to do. There’s a lot of elderly people out there who have lost their spouses at the beginning of the pandemic, and what do you do? How do you handle that?

[00:49:10]Barbara Harrison:  Julia, Barry, do you want to try to help her with this?

[00:49:15]Barry Jacobs:  I would say, first of all, our condolences to you being in that situation. That’s an extremely difficult loss. I think that … losing a child or losing a spouse are the two most difficult things anybody can go through, and it sounds like you and your husband were very devoted to one another for a very long time. I think that grief is a long process. The normal course of bereavement, generally … it’s not a matter of weeks or months, it could really be a matter of a couple of years.

[00:49:51]Julia Mayer:  Or more.

[00:49:52]Barry Jacobs:  It could be more. I would look to your faith for support. I might look to do pastoral counseling. And if you’re finding that you’re unable to really function, that you are still sunk in grief and sunk in despair, it might be a good idea for you to talk with your primary care provider to see if he or she might have some specific help for you. We as Americans often underestimate the impact of a loss like this. Be good to yourself, continue to reach out to others, and, again, lean on those who you trust and lean on your faith to get that help for you.

[00:50:37]Barbara Harrison:  Sadly, we know that there are many out there who are suffering right now from these losses from this pandemic. Let’s move on and take more questions from our callers. Jean, who have you got?

[00:50:51]Jean Setzfand:  We have Doris from South Carolina.

[00:50:54]Barbara Harrison:  OK, go ahead.

[00:50:57]Doris:  Yes, I am so pleased to be with you tonight because it must’ve been in the mid-’60s that Phil was in Charleston, South Carolina, producing one his TV programs from Charleston, and I coordinated it here and I must’ve had calls and correspondence with just about every woman in South Carolina, or so it seemed. But this is such a surprise for me tonight because my husband and I had been married for 57 years. And so I can confirm that a lot of what he has written he has spoken, really works, because we use some of the basic things and the journey has not been without some sorrow and grief, but on the other hand, we see results that we were striving for and that were … our expectations. But they were not without work. And I just wanted to say hello to welcome him, to say thank you, but also if there is time, I have a couple of things that I would like to confirm about marriage.

[00:52:28]Phil Donahue:  Go right ahead.

[00:52:29]Doris:  OK, and one is to make sure you have a firm foundation, because if you truly have a normal, good marriage, you will have some factors to overcome, and so a little bit of work to do, but make sure there’s always room in your heart for gratitude. All you have to do is go to a marriage seminar, and when you hear the different stories, you should leave with a grateful heart knowing that yours isn’t quite like that, but there’s some things that you could do, and just never considered the word, we may get divorced if things don’t work out, we can always separate. Don’t consider that. That should not be part of a good marriage. And so, keep a thankful heart for what you have but don’t get slack on it, because you need to really more or less court each other, encouraged them reinforce what you had, and I mean, there’s just so many things, and if you seek help, and if one thing doesn’t work, don’t give up and say, well, that’s not for me. There are too many other sources available, and you will find one that will work for you. And I just feel excited knowing that you’re still encouraging people, because our two children … we had a tragic loss with our youngest one. He was killed in a Jeep accident shortly after college graduation, and our daughter is married to a retired Air Force pilot, and they are presently here in the area. And we have two grandchildren that, we just say, if you had the grandchildren first, I think that would end the population because you can’t see straight for them. Usually.

[00:54:39]Barbara Harrison:  It’s so great to have had you call in and share what’s going on in your life. And we appreciate your call. We’ve got other people standing by waiting. Jean, who have you got?

[00:54:55]Jean Setzfand:  We have Lynn from New York.

[00:55:01]Barbara Harrison:  Lynn from New York. Lynn, are you with us?

[00:55:09]Lynn:  Yes, I am. My husband and I have been together for 40 years. However, the pandemic has, with us being quarantined, this is the first time in 40 years that we are having difficulties dealing with our anger, our separate angers from all that’s going on. So I would appreciate any words that would be helpful.

[00:55:36]Barbara Harrison:  Julia, Barry?

[00:55:38]Marlo Thomas:  Julia and Barry know more about that than we do.

[00:55:46]Barry Jacobs:  I will say to you that when couples are having tiffs, sometimes the first question to ask is, what’s really going on? If they’re arguing about a bill, or they’re arguing about the way the house is being kept, for instance, is that really the issue at hand or is there something else fueling the anger? And certainly we live in a very stressful time, and I have seen with some of the couples I’m working with that it’s some of what’s going on externally, maybe things that are going on with other family members that is fueling some of the tension within the marriage. …Sometimes the person whom we take our frustrations out on is the person with whom we’re closest. And some of it is that we know that we can rely on that person, therefore, we can kind of vent at them, but we may be missing the point if we’re not also cognizant of other factors going on in our lives. So that would be my first question to you, is there anything else going on that might be getting in the way? The second thing is the issue that Marlo was talking about before, and the issue of space. If you’re quarantining together, is there a way of ensuring that you have we time, but also me time? And having enough space within the house to ensure individual time for each of you so that you’re not on each other’s nerves all day, all day long, but that you can be apart, you could be together, and when you’re together you’re bringing your best selves to the fore.

[00:57:26]Julia Mayer:  We found with some couples that one thing is they handle stress differently. One person may become a little more needy. I just want a hug. I want attention. I want comfort. And the other person handles stress by being isolative and wanting space. And so, I think you have to reflect on what’s going on in your couple in terms of between you, in terms of what you each need. And like Barry just said, when people bicker, often it’s because they have needs that are unmet, that are hard for them to express, maybe they don’t even know they have them. But I always say start with compassion, even when your partner is irritable with you, and forgiveness, and then try to look at what’s going on beneath the surface because all those years together have been good years, and this is an opportunity to really feel even closer during a difficult time, and it would be such a pity for this time to be one that you feel so disappointed about.

[00:58:30]Marlo Thomas:  We have gotten into the habit of coming into the other person’s space and saying, what’s going on? Tell me what’s happening. What are you feeling; is there something that I did? Why do I feel that you’re going through a difficult time right now? Why do I feel that you have some angst going on? We’ve been able to do that — not in our first years of marriage, but as the years have gone by. We’ve gotten into the habit of asking that question and asking it really gently, and even allowing the fact that that one of us could have done something. We really do want everything to be OK. We have a real desire for it to be OK. So we try to gently go to the other one and say, what’s happening? Tell me, what is it? Are you going through something that you can share with me? Because we have other people in our lives. We have children, we have brothers and sisters. We have all kinds of people that can bring angst into our lives. So we do take that time. People need space, but they also need each other to come into that space to help. I really feel for this woman. I feel the fact that she said, we’re both not handling anger well. The idea that one of them needs to come forward. I’m sure Barry and Julia have better advice than I do, but it seems that if one person will make that move to say, what’s happening? What is it? Or, you know what, I’ve been cranky. This is what’s going on with me. And a lot of times in our lives, Phil will say to me when we’ve been having a difficult time, he has said to me, look, I’m sorry. I’ve been really not with it. I’ve been not the best of myself, but I want you to know it’s not about you. I’m going through something. And then I back off, let him go through that, let him figure that out. But at least have the idea that I tried, or he’ll try with me, and I’ll say to him, this is something I just need to get past. I think somebody needs to make a move forward, either you try to help him, or you say, this is what I’m going through and break the ice that way, so that there’s not that long breach. I’m half Italian and half Lebanese, so I’m not good at breaches. I have to get in and figure out what it is. But anyway, I’m sure Julia and Barry have maybe more to say on this subject, but that’s how I feel. That somebody has to be Sadat. Somebody has to cross the desert and say something, either this is what I’m going through, or how can I help you with what you’re going through? But to break the impasse.

[01:01:55]Barbara Harrison:  I certainly agree with that. I’m sure that you do, too, Julia and Barry. Somebody’s got to break the impasse when there’s that kind of thing going on. We can be so stubborn sometimes in relationships and feeling like the victim, and then don’t want to be the one to wave the white flag to try to get back together again. Let’s take some more calls. Let’s talk to Jean. What have you got?

[01:02:19]Jean Setzfand:  We have Nadia from Texas.

[01:02:21]Barbara Harrison:  Nadia from Texas. What’s your question?

[01:02:25]Nadia:  Hello? Marlo, I’m Italian and Lebanese, too.

[01:02:32]Barbara Harrison:  Ah.

[01:02:34]Nadia:  Yes. And I met, I was honored to meet your father in 1981 at an event, and I was sitting with him at the same table. And we talked and he was smoking his cigar.

[01:02:48]Marlo Thomas:  Yes, that sounds like him.

[01:02:51]Nadia:  He was smoking that cigar and then he was talking, and he was the guest of honor. But the reason I was calling — I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this so much — is I’ve been through … I had a 30-year marriage, and I messed it up. And, anyway, communication wasn’t good, so I think that communication is important. And I’m strong like you, Marlo. I’m a very strong-willed woman, and I sometimes intimidate people. And I’m a doer, and it’s our nature. It’s our Lebanese nature. And I can’t help it. It’s me. And I was in a relationship and it was hard for him to take, and he wanted to change me and make me somebody else that I wasn’t. But long story short, it ended. I had to end the relationship and then coronavirus happened. So now I’ve been alone, for the first time in my life, but I’m doing great. I’m reading the Bible, and I’m getting closer and closer to the Lord. And it’s helping me heal inside. But what can I do to, I mean, what do you do? I can’t date right now, because I’m afraid to go out with anyone because of this virus. And so I’m really just by myself. And I have family. I can’t even go there because I don’t want to infect anyone, ‘cause I don’t know if I’m carrying it. So what do you do in this case, when you’re a person like me that’s strong? I’m a doer, I do things, I do a lot of things to occupy my time, but I just don’t know what to do.

[01:05:03]Barbara Harrison:  Maybe Julia, Barry, do you have any answers for her?

[01:05:10]Julia Mayer:  It’s very hard to go through a divorce, even one that you initiated. There’s grief, and I think you have to spend some time grieving that relationship. I know you said before that you messed it up, and I seriously believe it takes two people to mess up a relationship. You may have been the person who had a particular behavior to mess it up, but I think it’s a joint effort to be in a marriage, and when they fail, both people need to grieve the loss of something that was supposed to be special and sacred. So I think you have some grieving to do. And I think one of the ways you might grieve this is to reach out to people you care about — family, friends, people who are trusted in your life and share, take some time with them to share your feelings and your experiences, your regrets, what you’ve learned. Or you may want to talk to a professional if those conversations aren’t enough for you, but ultimately your goal is to come to peace with the past. If that relationship is really over, then you want to remember the good, you want to honor the relationship that you had for 30 years, and you and your partner, and if there were any other family members, you want to honor that relationship, the good, the bad. It was a major part of your life. You can’t leave it, you can’t ignore it. But you have to look for the good in it, and you have to leave the disappointments and the things that were upsetting behind so that you can be in the present, and you can start looking forward to figure out what your next steps will be.

[01:06:56]Barbara Harrison:  Let’s see if Jean has any more questions that she has waiting for the four of you. Jean?

[01:07:04]Jean Setzfand:  I have a question from Facebook and this one is for Marlo and Phil. Ellen is asking, “Is this the first project you’ve done together? If so, why did you decide to do this one together?”

[01:07:16]Marlo Thomas:  Why don’t you take that, honey?

[01:07:17]Phil Donahue:  I thought to do a project together with Marlo — I mean, you can see it here. She says talk, talk. And so I have to clear my throat, and she’ll do nine minutes. And I’ve come to understand this, that’s her nature, that’s who she is. And I guess the only thing that helped in even promoting my interest or agreement with this idea of a joint project was my feeling that this was different and that this had a chance to really make noise. And I spent my whole life with my own show, trying to think about issues and people who would make noise, say something, but make me mad, sad, or glad. And our relationship now, through the virus and through the partnership that we’ve shared in this book, which turned out to be a doorstop.

[01:08:47]Marlo Thomas:  You’re holding up the book. [laughs]

[01:08:53]Phil Donahue:  You know, I learned a lot about her.

[01:08:58]Marlo Thomas:  We never wanted to work on a project together by design, because he’s laid-back but he’s stubborn and he’s bossy. And I’m not laid-back and I’m bossy. So I figured we’d kill each other. There’d be nothing left on the floor but an eyelash and some white hair. So we just decided, let’s not do that. When we first got married, everybody offered us to host the Emmys together and write books together, do a talk show together, all this stuff. And we both said, no, no, we should never do that. Let’s just make our marriage our private space, and we’ll do our work, not together. But when we got the idea to do the — actually I had the idea to do the book, and when I went to him and said, “Let’s do this, this could be fun, and it would be really interesting because people are already always asking about what makes our marriage work,” which I have no idea how it works. “And if we talked to a lot of people, it could be fun to find the secret sauce.” And he said, “OK, I’ll do it, but I’m not talking about our marriage,” ‘cause he’s super private. So I said, “OK, you don’t have to.” But once we went out there, we were both talking about our marriage. We were having a good time talking about our experiences and hearing other people’s experiences. So it was kind of, it was kind of like a double date. And it turned out to be something more fun that we thought it would be, and now we’re going to do a podcast based on the book. So we broke through a barrier that we had created 40 years ago, and now we’re kind of enjoying the fact that our two different personalities do work. Also, I have such respect for Phil. I was kind of intimidated because I thought he’s the master interviewer. He doesn’t like to be interviewed, as you can tell. He answers few of the questions, but he loves to ask questions, and he always asks the best questions. So, at first, I was a little bit intimidated that I shouldn’t be asking so many questions. He’s got the gold … but he made room for me and then he would come in and sort of clean up the whole thing and make it juicier at the end. ‘Cause he’s got the gift. He really does. He knows how, when to come in with the important question. So it was very, very interesting. But I don’t know if we answered the question. I went off on a tangent there, but ...

[01:11:32]Barbara Harrison:  I think you did answer the question. And, of course, we do know, Phil definitely knows how to ask questions. We all watched so many of his shows where he interviewed everyone in the world. We often hear about the importance of staying in a relationship through good times and bad. Julia and Barry, that’s good advice for many of us, but how can someone determine when it’s truly time to move on? Do you have an answer for that one?

[01:11:58]Julia Mayer:  I think it really depends, but hopefully it’s after a whole lot of effort to understand what went wrong, because usually when a marriage starts, as Marlo said, it’s romantic, it’s exciting. Those are the things that you want to keep in your marriage. And if they haven’t stayed, then something’s changed. But it could be that you’ve done everything that you can; you’ve gone to marriage counseling, you’ve read books, you’ve talked to people, or you’ve sat down together and tried to understand what each of you needs, and you’re just not seeing eye to eye. And if that’s the case, then you may decide to get divorced, but there are a lot of risks with the divorce: People who are isolated and lonely tend to have negative health outcomes; there are often financial strains when people get divorced; and it has a big impact on adult children, on friends and other family. So when people get divorced, we sometimes help them through the process by trying to help them sort of like how I answered the last question, leave the past behind, keep the good, respect what they have together, and hopefully wind up at least as friendly acquaintances, if not friends. Maybe their marriage didn’t work, but they know each other so well that maybe they can have a friendship. And that would be so much easier on the extended family and their friends, and it would be a lot happier for them and it would make it more likely for them to be able to actually move on to maybe another relationship.

[01:13:39]Barry Jacobs:  I would have to answer that the divorce rate among people over 50 has really increased greatly in the last 20 years. For folks over 50, it’s doubled; for folks over 65, it’s tripled. And so there are more people in midlife who are deciding to take a chance, maybe to find a better partner, or maybe they’ve just got so sick of the partner that they have that they don’t want any partner. And really, as Julia said, we understand when people are chronically unhappy that they need to leave a marriage, but it is something that has to be thought through very carefully because of all the ramifications it has. And the risk of further unhappiness, unfortunately. So we would hope that people would talk with an attorney or maybe talk with a therapist, or talk with some other counselor that could kind of help them consider everything that’s going on from every angle and make a really informed, prudent choice.

[01:14:41]Barbara Harrison:  Good advice. We’re going to take some more questions. Jean, you have some questioners waiting for us?

[01:14:54]Jean Setzfand:  We do. We have Connie from Oregon City.

[01:14:59]Connie:  Hi, I have a question for Marlo and Phil. When this coronavirus thing first started, we — my husband and I, we’ve been married for 45 years — thought, well, we can either go, oh my God, oh my God, this is horrible, or we can tell ourselves, we’ve got this. We were made for this. Let’s figure out how to have some fun and make life still enjoyable, even though the world’s rather sad right now. And I’m just curious in your own relationship and people that you interviewed, if you have tips because so much time has gone on that it’s getting more challenging to find lightheartedness, fun and humor in your day.

[01:15:42]Marlo Thomas:  When, of course, we were interviewing people for the book, we didn’t have a pandemic. But I know from our friends we’ve been doing Zoom nights with friends. We have cocktail parties by Zoom. We each bring our own drink, obviously, and we chat for an hour, an hour and a half, and have like a little Zoom cocktail party with usually six of us or eight of us. We have movie nights.

[01:16:08]Phil Donahue:  Marlo is very clever. I could watch evening cable news every night.

[01:16:20]Marlo Thomas:  All night, all night. A big difference between us. I can watch for an hour; I figure I’ve got it. He’s got to watch every single hour.

[01:16:28]Phil Donahue:  Well, this is the place where I used to make a living until I was fired because of my opposition to the Iraq War. So now I’m peeking in the window from the office where I was fired to see if they’re still talking about me.

[01:16:50]Marlo Thomas:  But the point is, he loves the news.

[01:16:54]Phil Donahue:  And they have, by the way.

[01:16:54]Marlo Thomas:  He loves the news, and I like entertainment. I like comedies. And so, I’ll make popcorn. I have to either do the dance of the seven veils or make popcorn, and he could smell that. And then I can get him to watch a movie with me, which has been fun because I grew up in comedy. My dad, Danny Thomas, was a comedian and so we always had comedy movies on Friday nights at our house. I’ve been able to introduce him to the great Mel Brooks’ comedies like To Be, or Not to Be, or Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life, the Woody Allen stuff. There’s so many Marx brothers, there’s so many great comedies. So I’ve been able to pull him over to do that. So I think one of the things that is interesting about being stuck together is you do a little bit more of what the other one likes. So I’m watching a little bit more of the news shows and finding that there are a couple of these commentators, like I’ve really gotten into Chris Cuomo, and I think Brian Williams does a great job, so usually I like to watch one hour and pretty much in the hour you get the whole ballgame. And then you watch the next hour, and they’re talking about the same exact facts, but with a little bit of a twist, and Phil loves that. The other night he was watching C-SPAN, watching the vote of the Supreme Court, which I never watch, but I got into it, and I said to him, Wow, this is exciting to watch the Supreme Court vote. I would have never have thought that, but there they all were — you know, Ginsburg and Alito and Roberts and Sotomayor; I was really enjoying it. So I’ve gotten a little, because there’s so much time.

[01:18:40]Phil Donahue:  Audio, audio.

[01:18:40]Marlo Thomas:  Yeah, the audio. They have the audio, but they have the pictures of each judge, but it’s on C-SPAN. So it’s very live and it’s very [inaudible], and they have the lawyer, the prosecutor, the defenders, the judges. It was very interesting. So I’m watching a little more C-SPAN, he’s watching a few more movies. I think one of the things that does happen when you have all this time is that you start to maybe motivate a little bit over toward his side, and then he comes a little bit over to my side. Because there’s so much time, ordinarily you wouldn’t have all that kind of time to spend, and I wouldn’t want to spend more time watching C-SPAN. But since there is so much more time, we are getting a little bit more into what each other likes. Does that make sense, or am I just babbling here?

[01:19:29]Barbara Harrison:  Makes sense to me. And I think that Jean may have some more questions to ask you. Do we have some time for that Jean?

[01:19:37]Jean Setzfand:  We certainly do. Our next question is actually coming from Facebook. And the question is coming from Gabriella, asking, “We are two hardworking parents with four kids. Trying to get along can be a challenge in the same household. Any advice?

[01:19:58]Barbara Harrison:  Want to just take a look at that one, Julia, Barry?

[01:20:02]Marlo Thomas:  We don’t have little kids, so I’m sure they know better.

[01:20:05]Julia Mayer:  We haven’t had little kids for a very long time, either, but it is really, really challenging for families with the kids in the home, parents working. And when the kids are in school, and I hope your school has already let out, ‘cause that would be a relief, you’re helping them with their schoolwork or their meetings with their teachers. It’s crazy. And so I think the first thing you have to do is stop having a standard. You just have to get through your day and do your best. Four kids is — you know, you have a team, so you have to try to schedule. Like I said before, set up a schedule for everyone so that everyone gets some attention, and you get some time to yourself, which I’m sure you need, and you both get some work done. But it is unbelievably challenging right now.

[01:20:55]Barry Jacobs:  I think muddling through sometimes is good enough, and this is one of those times.

[01:21:01]Barbara Harrison:  Yes. It certainly is. We’re all kind of muddling through and finding that it’s not so bad, actually. There are some really good things about it. I like the fact that I can hear the birds. I don’t hear traffic out of my window all the time. And I, like you, am spending a lot more time with my significant other and family members as well. Jean, I want to give you a chance to give your people who are waiting an opportunity to ask questions.

[01:21:29]Jean Setzfand:  All right. We have a call from Shirley from Texas.

[01:21:34]Barbara Harrison:  Shirley from Texas. What’s your question?

[01:21:37]Shirley:  Hi, this is Shirley. I have, we’ve been married 38 years. How do you keep the sexual pleasure going? About four years ago, we kind of started to whittle it down to almost nothing.

[01:21:53]Barbara Harrison:  That’s a good question. And I know you deal with that in your book., so Julia and Barry. What do you say?

[01:22:01]Julia Mayer:  Here’s a picture of our book.

[01:22:03]Barbara Harrison:  Oh, there’s your book? Yes. I know that you do ask the questions about the sexual relationship. Do you have an answer for our caller from Texas?

[01:22:17]Julia Mayer:  Sure. It is not unusual what you’re describing that’s sometimes in many relationships, the sexual relationship sort of falls by the wayside. Sometimes it’s because of medical issues, with either partner that, for whatever reason, the person might be embarrassed to deal with them. They’re avoided; they think they’re going to be judged by the partner. There’s a million reasons why people just sort of let it trickle away. But it’s a really important part of your relationship. When it’s missing, it really does impact how intimate you feel and how close you feel to each other. So we recommend to couples that they go see a doctor and make sure that they can treat whatever medical issues might be there. And then beyond that, they can do some things to sort of reignite that spark. So here’s a couple of examples. Get a fancy recipe, a complicated recipe, and cook a fancy dinner together and have it under candlelight. Sit under a blanket together and watch a romantic movie. Give each other massages. Start gradually integrating more touch and more playfulness into the relationship that you have so that you get more and more comfortable, and you rebuild that intimate trust that may have dissipated a little bit. And then work your way toward more and more intimacy as both of you feel comfortable doing it.

[01:23:49]Barry Jacobs:  And I would just add to that, the other barrier to sexual relationship is sometimes people develop anxiety around performing. As Julia said, especially if they’ve had a medical issue or they’re not able to perform at the high standard they did when they were 25 years old and scrappy and healthy. So then people are afraid that if they don’t perform at a level, or they don’t please their partner the way they did at one time, that the disappointment will really be shaming to them. So they become avoidant of not only sex, but of any kind of touch that might lead to sex. And so that really drives a wedge in the intimacy with partners … they really need to sit down and talk about and find new ways of connecting physically. Because, as Julia says, it is so important as a way of nurturing the emotional part of the relationship to have that physical part, too.

[01:24:49]Barbara Harrison:  Marlo, Phil, did this issue come up at all with the 40 celebrity couples that you talked to?

[01:25:00]Marlo Thomas:  Ali Wentworth, who is married to George Stephanopoulos, just said that she felt that sex and having a lot of it was really important, and that if you weren’t having it, then something was wrong and you had to get to it. I mean, I don’t think anybody has the expertise and information that Julia and Barry have, but ...

[01:25:25]Phil Donahue:  Who did tushie to tushie?

[01:25:26]Marlo Thomas:  Judy Viorst her husband, Milton, sleep in a double bed, which is very small. I mean we have a king-size bed. A double bed is smaller than what you ever have in a hotel. And she said, they’ve always had it because they felt that if they slept tushie to tushie it was hard to be mad at each other. … We never asked anybody about their sex life. It just came out in the conversation, but we got the feeling as we left each couple, that there was a lot of romance there. They talked about candlelight and wine and being alone at night and snuggling and spooning and that kind of stuff. And I think when you spoon at night — which we do and hug each other — there is something in that that’s so intimate … just your toes touching, your bodies touching that is so personal, that you don’t with anybody else.

[01:26:41]Phil Donahue:  I’m starting to get a little warm now.

[01:26:45]Marlo Thomas:  We all talked about … that the physicality, the body that you know so well that’s next to you, that when you’re doing that, when your tushies are touching, when you’re spooning at night and all that, that keeps the warm blood going, so that sexual activity isn’t such a leap across the desert to get to because you’re touching a lot. And I think that’s kind of what Julia and Barry were saying in a more clinical way, but most of these couples talked about the fact that none of them slept in separate beds. They talked about the fact that their parents had slept in, some of their parents had slept in separate beds or in a separate room for reasons like noise or snoring or whatever, but none of these couples did. So it was just interesting that these marriages lasted for all those reasons … touching and intimacy and talking to each other. I think it would be very hard to be intimate physically with somebody that you weren’t talking to a lot, that you weren’t able to get your feelings out.

[01:28:06]Barbara Harrison:  That’s a good point. And intimacy is important in any way, shape or form to keeping a relationship going. Marlo and Phil, Julia and Barry, before we close, can we share with our audience what is inspiring you during this trying time for our country? Could you each share what you feel?

[01:28:29]Marlo Thomas:  What’s inspiring me is the way people are marching for justice. We haven’t gone out at all because we’re in our 80s — and you’re not supposed to go out, and we haven’t. We go to the park when we — we can see from our window the park — go out for like a walk or something. So we’ve been kind of isolated. But I’m very moved and excited by the fact that people are taking what’s going on in our country personally, and wanting to be a part of changing things. … Even in these times when it’s kind of dangerous to be out, they’re going out with their masks and everything, but they want to change the world for a better, more just place. And that is so inspiring to me.

[01:29:37]Phil Donahue:  Here, here. I agree. I agree totally. I don’t know whether anybody truly understood the hidden prejudices that existed within our community of Americans. And this explosion of demonstrations aimed at people who may have been victimized over the years is exciting. I’m not sure everybody would use that word, but I am. I truly believe that we have crossed the Rubicon here, and that more and more people are able to now express what has bothered them. You know when Trump was first elected, I was very depressed. I felt that the patriots stayed home, and the people who were flag wavers were the ones who voted him in. I was angry at the people who didn’t vote. And now I see all of these demonstrations everywhere, and I’m saying to myself, these are people who haven’t voted much, and now they’re going to. So I see that as huge breakthrough for this nation, and for the future of our grandchildren. I think it’s going to be in a better world because of it.

[01:31:43]Barbara Harrison:  We certainly could use a better world, and I think as we look out at some of the things that have happened recently, we all can get behind that working toward a better place for us all to live. And I’d like to hear from Julia and Barry, what is inspiring them during this time?

[01:32:01]Julia Mayer:  Everything the two of you have just said, we absolutely agree with you. In addition, I want to say that I know I’m feeling extremely inspired by all of the medical staff, professionals, paraprofessionals, everyone who has been risking their lives to take care of COVID patients. And not just that community of amazing people, but the people who deliver groceries or who go out and do things that we need to have happen in our culture, just to keep going, who are risking their lives and who are taking chances on behalf of the rest of our communities. I just think those people … really need to be applauded.

[01:32:45]Barry Jacobs:  And I agree with everything that’s been said. I just want to add that those folks who are working in behavioral health treatment, who are the counselors, who are the psychiatrists, the [inaudible] social workers, licensed professional counselors, these folks have done yeoman’s work thus far, and the expectation is in the months ahead there going to be many more Americans who unfortunately are going to have more emotional problems because of everything that we’ve been going through. And our behavioral health workforce is inspiring me and will continue to inspire me. I think for some time to come, because of how they’re helping support Americans get through this.

[01:33:29]Barbara Harrison:  We discovered a lot of new heroes in our country. And I think we want to celebrate them going forward. And we thank the four of you for joining us to have this very interesting discussion. Good luck with both of your books, and, having seen both of them, I’m looking forward to having a chance to sit down. And since I’m quarantined, I’ll be able to sit down and maybe read front to back of both books.

[01:33:56] We thank all of you, AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion today. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources and fighting for older adults and those caring for them. All of the resources referenced, including a recording of today’s Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus.

[01:34:39] We hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s conversation and learned something that can help you strengthen your relationships over time. Please be sure to tune in Thursday, July 9th, at 1 p.m. ET for our next Tele-Town Hall. But before you go, please enjoy a few moments with Marlo and Phil, with these delightful videos. They are wonderful to look at. Again, to our guests, thank you so much for being with us. I’ve enjoyed this, and I’m sure all those listening and watching have absolutely enjoyed it as well. I’m Barbara Harrison, goodnight to all of you.

[01:35:15] VIDEO CLIPS

[01:35:17]Phil Donahue:  You are really fascinating.

[01:35:19]Marlo Thomas:  No, but you are wonderful. I said it when we were off the air, and I want to say you are loving and generous, and you like women, and it’s a pleasure. And whoever’s the woman in your life is very lucky.

[01:35:27]Phil Donahue:  Well thank you, very much.

[01:35:36] The secret of good communication, screaming helps. At least you get to know whether the person you’re screaming at is listening. And, you know, then go in the other room and count to 10.

[01:35:53]Marlo Thomas:  Through the years you learn that everything is not that big a deal, and this isn’t going to break us up no matter what. So you get used to saying, okay, let let’s just talk it out.

[01:36:06]Phil Donahue:  And a little humor certainly in a marriage goes a long way.

[01:36:18]Marlo Thomas:  The book is called What Makes a Marriage Last. We were thinking that we were putting together a book that would have a lot of tips about how to have a great marriage, but the more we got into it, we realized it’s what is it that makes it last.

[01:36:35]Phil Donahue:  We interviewed Sting.

[01:36:37]Marlo Thomas:  and Trudie.

[01:36:38]Phil Donahue:  And Trudie.

[01:36:40]Marlo Thomas:  Elton and David.

[01:36:41]Phil Donahue:  We interviewed ...

[01:36:43]Marlo Thomas:  Rob Reiner and Michele, and Ron Howard and Cheryl. Mehmet Oz and Lisa, and Sanjay Gupta and Rebecca, and Alan Alda and Arlene Alda.

[01:36:56]Phil Donahue:  Underneath all of these interviews, these people really cared. They wanted it to last. If there’s any common theme to the chats that we had, it’s you have to want to have a long marriage.

[01:37:13]Marlo Thomas:  You see what they did when they were confronted with the loss of a loved one, infidelity, losing their money. What makes a marriage last is what you do when you’re confronted with the really big stuff?

[01:37:32] I was so intimidated working with him because I mean, he’s like the greatest interviewer in the world. When we had the Elton John interview, we got word that we’d only have a half hour. Well, I went into complete panic mode because we had, you know, this many questions and all kinds of ideas and so while I’m figuring that out and trying to come with the questions, he’s turned on the TV and is watching a ballgame.

[01:37:54]Phil Donahue:  Every day of my show life, I was just accustomed to one guest usually per hour and me. It was a high wire act for me, every day, and I’d run out in the audience with my wireless mic, you didn’t know what was going to happen?

[01:38:14]Marlo Thomas:  He’d say I never prepared a question. I just went with it. You know, I’m not Phil Donahue. I just can’t go with it. I have to be a little bit prepared.

[01:38:29]Phil Donahue:  You have to take it pretty seriously at the beginning. And if you don’t, I think many couples are doomed.

[01:38:37]Marlo Thomas:  I didn’t get married until I was 40, which, if you don’t get married till you’re 40, you have a lot of relationships. And I was always looking for an exit. So I think for me, marriage is about making the commitment that there is no exit. And that makes it better, somehow richer.

[01:38:59]Phil Donahue:  This is our chance to remind you to subscribe ...

[01:39:03]Marlo Thomas:  ... to AARP YouTube Channel and watch it.

[01:39:09] Obviously, we don’t know each other, which is why our marriage is so great because we’re still learning about each other. Who are you, anyway?

[01:39:17] Hi, I’m Marlo Thomas.

[01:39:23]Phil Donahue:  I’m Phil Donahue.

[01:39:24]Marlo Thomas:  We’ve been married 40 years ...

[01:39:26]Phil Donahue:  ... and we’re going to find out how well we know each other.

[01:39:30]Marlo Thomas:  Uh-oh.

[01:39:31]Producer:  Marlo, what was your first job?

[01:39:34]Marlo Thomas:  In the theater.

[01:39:35]Phil Donahue:  No, schoolteacher. Your first job.

[01:39:39]Marlo Thomas:  My first job was in the theater.

[01:39:40]Phil Donahue:  She’s going to be embarrassed.

[01:39:42]Marlo Thomas:  What’d you say? Oh, no, I never taught.

[01:39:46]Phil Donahue:  You never had a classroom?

[01:39:48]Marlo Thomas:  No, I did student teaching, but I didn’t get paid.

[01:39:50]Phil Donahue:  Well, oh ...

[01:39:51]Marlo Thomas:  It wasn’t a job. It was to get my degree.

[01:39:55]Producer:  Phil, what is your idea of a romantic date?

[01:39:59]Marlo Thomas:  Phil’s idea of a romantic date? Aha.

[01:40:03]Phil Donahue:  That’s easy, that would be I’m going bowling.

[01:40:07]Marlo Thomas:  Oh, no, come on, you’ve got to answer the question. What do you think I would say that you would say?

[01:40:13] I think staying home; staying home and being together and ordering takeout and being by ourselves.

[01:40:23]Phil Donahue:  Sitting on a park bench and expressing how I feel without being interrupted by, you know ...

[01:40:30]Marlo Thomas:  [laugh] OK, well that’s, all right, do you want to know what I said? I said staying home.

[01:40:36]Phil Donahue:  Oh, isn’t that nice?

[01:40:37]Marlo Thomas:  That is what you would think.

[01:40:39]Phil Donahue:  Probably is now that you mention it.

[01:40:42]Producer:  Marlo, what are you most likely to argue about?

[01:40:46]Phil Donahue:  Her clothing.

[01:40:48]Marlo Thomas:  His watching football and me wanting to go to the theater? ... What is it? Oh, we don’t argue about my clothing. Oh, well, if I wear something low cut, yeah, that’s true.

[01:41:00]Phil Donahue:  Too much boobies.

[01:41:03]Producer:  Phil, what is your favorite episode of That Girl?

[01:41:08]Marlo Thomas:  I don’t even know that he’s watched That Girl.

[01:41:10]Phil Donahue:  The episode where she got her finger stuck in a bowling ball.

[01:41:15]Marlo Thomas:  It was my toe, but that’s OK.

[01:41:17]Phil Donahue:  Oh, toe.

[01:41:18]Marlo Thomas:  And my answer was, he didn’t watch That Girl.

[01:41:23] I know what his favorite Donahue’s show is … when I was on it. We met on his Donahue Show.

[01:41:31] Whoever the woman in your life is, is very lucky.

[01:41:34]Phil Donahue:  Well, thank you, very much.

[01:41:35]Producer:  Phil, what is your favorite episode of The Phil Donahue Show?

[01:41:38]Phil Donahue:  Oh, that’s a toughie. The show where my guest was Marlo Thomas.

[01:41:46]Marlo Thomas:  You win. The one where you first met me. You got one.

[01:41:51]Producer:  Last question, Marlo. What is your favorite song?

[01:41:55]Phil Donahue:  Marlo’s favorite song. Oh, dear.

[01:41:59]Marlo Thomas:  My favorite song is ...

[01:42:01]Phil Donahue:  Oh, I’d love to ask her now, ‘cause I know when she says it, I’m going to say, oh yeah.

[01:42:06]Marlo Thomas:  "Something in the way she walks. dah, dah, dah-dah dah. That, and “It Move Me." And Elton John singing. "Don’t Go Breaking My Heart."

[01:42:14]Phil Donahue:  Now this, this is why I know her. I mean intimately.

[01:42:22]Marlo Thomas:  I can’t wait. What is this? "Blue Danube”? [laugh] What? Is that a song?

[01:42:30]Phil Donahue:  I don’t know. Yes.

[01:42:33]Producer:  You hummed it earlier.

[01:42:34]Phil Donahue:  [hums the waltz]

[01:42:36] Marlo Thomas. Oh, that’s from Austria. Oh, that’s so funny.

[01:42:44]Marlo Thomas:  Well, we’ve certainly proven that we, we don’t communicate. Well, this is why our marriage has lasted because we, we are still learning about each other. We’re not bored. We don’t know anything.

[01:42:58]Phil Donahue:  “Blue Danube” … You could live another 200 years, and you would never come up with that answer.

[01:43:04]Marlo Thomas:  Well, that’s right.

[01:43:06]Phil Donahue:  This is our chance to remind you to subscribe ...

[01:43:10]Marlo Thomas:  ... to AARP YouTube Channel, and watch it.

[01:43:14] END OF TRANSCRIPT

[01:43:17]

Teleasamblea sobre el coronavirus: cómo manejar las relaciones durante una pandemia

Participan:

Marlo Thomas y Phil Donahue: coautores del libro “Lo que hace que un matrimonio dure: 40 parejas celebradas comparten con nosotros los secretos de una vida feliz”. Facebook.com/MarloThomas]

Julia Mayer, Psy.D. y Barry Jacobs, Psy.D.: psicólogos, coautores del libro “Amor y significado después de 50: los 10 desafíos para las grandes relaciones, y cómo superarlos”. @JuliaLMayer23, @drbarryjjacobs

Jean Setzfand: moderadora, vicepresidenta sénior, AARP

 

Barbara Harrison: moderadora, periodista galardonada con un Emmy, @NBCBarbara

 

Barbara Harrison: Hola a todos. Soy Barbara Harrison Y en nombre de AARP, quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus.

AARP, una organización de membresía sin fines de lucro y no partidista ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los estadounidenses mayores por más de 60 años. Ante la pandemia mundial de coronavirus, AARP proporciona información y recursos y trabaja para adultos mayores y aquellos que los cuidan. La pandemia de coronavirus ha afectado de varias maneras, una de las cuales no se ha discutido mucho es su impacto en nuestras relaciones, tanto estar lejos de sus seres queridos durante períodos prolongados como encerrados bajo el mismo techo, con el virus dando vueltas, puede causar tensiones extraordinarias en todos nosotros.

Hoy, discutiremos cómo manejar las relaciones durante una pandemia, un desafío que pueden haber notado que a veces no es tan fácil. Nuestros invitados son dos parejas que tienen libros en coautoría y compartiremos ideas para ayudar a fortalecer sus relaciones a largo plazo. Si ya has participado en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas, sabes que esto es similar a un programa de radio y tienen la oportunidad de hacer preguntas en vivo. Si deseas hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3 en tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará tu nombre y tu pregunta, y te colocará en una lista para hacer esa pregunta en vivo.

Hola de nuevo, si recién te estás uniendo, soy Barbara Harrison. En nombre de AARP, quiero darte la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el impacto de la pandemia mundial de coronavirus. Hablaremos con expertos y responderemos sus preguntas en vivo. Para hacer una pregunta, nuevamente, presiona * 3. Si estás viendo desde Facebook o YouTube, puedes hacer tu pregunta en el área de comentarios.

AARP está convocando esta teleasamblea para ayudar a compartir información sobre el coronavirus. También debes tener en cuenta que la mejor fuente de información médica y de salud son los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades, los CDC. Pueden visitar cdc.gov/coronavirus. Este evento está siendo grabado. Y podrán acceder a la grabación en aarp.org/coronavirus 24 horas después de finalizar.

Y ahora me entusiasma presentarles a nuestros invitados especiales, Marlo Thomas y Phil Donahue son bien conocidos por muchos de nosotros que los conocimos a través de sus exitosas carreras televisivas. Pero tal vez aún no sepas que son coautores del libro, Lo que hace que un matrimonio dure: 40 parejas celebradas comparten con nosotros los secretos de una vida feliz. Marlo, por supuesto, es una galardonada actriz, autora y activista cuyo cuerpo de trabajo continúa impactando el entretenimiento y la cultura estadounidense.

Phil es un extraordinario escritor, productor, periodista y pionero de los medios que revolucionó el formato del programa de entrevistas. ¿Quién de nosotros no conoce a estos dos? Bienvenidos, Marlo y Phil, estamos muy felices de tenerlos con nosotros.

Marlo Thomas: Gracias, Barbara. Gracias.

Phil Donahue: Un placer. Gracias Barbara.

Barbara Harrison: Tenemos muchas preguntas para ustedes, pero también nos acompañan, permítanme presentarles a, la Dra. Julia L. Mayer y al Dr. Barry J. Jacobs. Son coautores del nuevo libro Amor y significado después de los 50: Los 10 desafíos para las grandes relaciones, y cómo superarlos.

Julia es una psicóloga clínica que ha asesorado a individuos y parejas durante casi 30 años, Barry también tiene casi 30 años de experiencia como psicólogo clínico, terapeuta familiar y director en Health Management Associates, una firma nacional de consultoría de atención médica. Es genial que nos acompañen, Julia y Barry.

Julia L. Mayer: Gracias.

Barry J. Jacobs: Un placer, Barbara.

Barbara Harrison: También nos acompañará la vicepresidenta sénior de AARP, Jean Setzfand, quien será nuestra organizadora y ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas hoy. Así que estamos listos para comenzar. Marlo y Phil, comencemos con ustedes. Estamos hablando hoy, como saben, sobre fortalecer las conexiones en tiempos difíciles. Para su libro, hablaron con 40 parejas de diferentes antecedentes sobre lo que se necesita para que sus relaciones duren. Bueno, después de escucharlo de ellos, deben tener el secreto, ¿cuál es?

Marlo Thomas: Creo que el mayor secreto que encontramos es que estas personas realmente querían que funcionara. Querían que durara. Como dijo Kyra Sedgwick, "No hay un plan B cuando te casas". Y creo que muchos de ellos fueron a terapia de pareja, pasaron por todo tipo de ideas para no buscar la ruta de escape. Ya sabes, todos tuvieron enormes desafíos.

Jamie Lee Curtis era adicta a las drogas. David Burtka, que está casado con Neil Patrick Harris, era alcohólico, Jesse Jackson se alejó del matrimonio y tuvo un bebé con otra mujer. Kyra Sedgwick y Kevin Bacon perdieron todo su dinero por Bernie Madoff, y Michael J. Fox y Tracy Pollan recibieron un diagnóstico de por vida de Parkinson para Michael, tres años después de su matrimonio.

Entonces, todas estas parejas, y esos no son los únicos desafíos que enfrentaron, también enfrentaron muchos otros desafíos. Pero descubrimos que, a diferencia de las personas que se divorcian y no pueden mantenerse unidas, es que no huyeron, no se asustaron. Y pensamos, después de hablar con todos y dijimos, pensamos, ya sabes, "Estas personas son valientes. Estas no son personas que tienen miedo de tomarse de las manos y simplemente atravesar el fuego juntas". Y creo que...

Phil Donahue: ¿Quién fue el que dijo que es más complicado...

Marlo Thomas: Oh, sí.

Phil Donahue: divorciarse que resolverlo?

Marlo Thomas: Claro. La esposa de Bob Woodward, Elsa Walsh, dijo: "No entiendo este impulso de interrupción, el tipo de energía que la gente pone en separarse y pasar por todo lo que se necesita para separar sus vidas". Tomaron toda esa energía y la volvieron a poner en su matrimonio, una vida mucho más satisfactoria. Y creo que mucha gente siente que la persona con la que te casas te hará feliz. Y Peter Hermann, quien está casado con Mariska Hargitay, dijo: "Esa es una receta para el desastre, que la otra persona te hará feliz". ¿Dónde vas a encontrar la felicidad? Está en lo que construyen juntos. Y también sentimos que en nuestros 40 años eso es lo que... Y hemos pasado por todos los altibajos, por niños enfermos y padres que estaban enfermos y moribundos, y altibajos en nuestras carreras.

Lo que nos mantuvo juntos es que enfrentamos los tiempos difíciles juntos, y que cuando uno de nosotros estaba deprimido, el otro lo ayudó a levantarse. Y creo que eso es todo. Ese es el... Cuando hablan de compromiso, a eso se refieren. Deberíamos estar comprometidos con eso. No buscar la señal de salida cuando las cosas se ponen difíciles.

Phil Donahue: Y no existe tal cosa como un matrimonio que despega y vuela sin turbulencia por toda la vida, y luego aterriza suavemente, ya sabes, un montón de hojas doradas.

Marlo Thomas: Sí.

Phil Donahue: Todos con los que hablamos tuvieron algo grande e inesperado, no se puede inventar esto, no hay forma de anticiparlo, un tipo de drama en sus vidas.

Marlo Thomas: Quiero decir, Judy Woodruff y Al Hunt, que tienen tres hijos, su primogénito tenía espina bífida. Así que han vivido toda una vida manteniendo a este niño unido y saludable y manteniendo a la familia unida durante todo el proceso. Cuando caminas por ese pasillo y dices, para bien o para mal, en la riqueza o pobreza y en la salud o la enfermedad, parecen solo palabras románticas. Pero a medida que avanza la vida, encontrarán riqueza y pobreza, enfermedades y salud, y mejores y peores.

Phil Donahue: Y algunas personas se enamoran de la boda. Ya sabes, la preparación, y quién se sienta aquí y allá, y el vestido blanco, y la emoción. Es decir, es bonito...

Marlo Thomas: Sí, y ser la pareja estrella del día. Aunque Kevin Bacon dijo: "La gente ni siquiera debería pensar en la boda. Es tan insignificante. Nosotros nos casamos en la sala de estar de nuestros padres con 35 personas, solo nuestra familia", lo cual creo que es una excelente manera de casarse. Pero no sé si respondimos tu pregunta. Pero salimos de esta experiencia, viajamos por todo el país e incluso a Toronto para buscar a Elton John y David Furnish. Nos encontramos con cada pareja cara a cara como una cita doble durante dos horas y media, tres horas, y salimos sintiéndonos realmente animados por el amor y el compromiso que vimos.

Phil Donahue: Me sorprendió lo sincero que fue todo el mundo.

Phil Donahue: Quiero decir, todos.

 

Marlo Thomas: Sí.

Phil Donahue: Sabes, nos miraban cuando entramos por primera vez en el apartamento o donde sea que vivían, recuerdo que nos miraban como diciendo: "¿Ahora a dónde van con esto?" Y así, ya sabes, cada vez que mencionaba nuestro propio matrimonio por un minuto, parecía abrir la puerta y no podían dejar de hablar del suyo.

Marlo Thomas: Y también hubo dificultades profesionales. Sabes, Tony Shalhoub se casó con Brooke Adams cuando ella era una gran estrella. Ella era la estrella de Heidi Chronicles, él tenía una parte destacada. Y ella tenía muchas, muchas buenas películas, Days of Heaven de Terry Malick, muchas películas realmente geniales. Y él era una especie de actor secundario. Ahora, después de Monk, varios años de Monk y The Band's Visit en Broadway, y The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, él está en la cima de la lista, y ella está teniendo problemas para conseguir trabajo a su edad, de lo que sin duda sé algo. Así que fue un cambio completo en su vida.

Phil Donahue: Yo tuve ese problema. Quiero decir, no podría pasar por un aeropuerto sin que la gente me tumbara para llegar a Marlo.

Phil Donahue: Sabes, tarde o temprano...

Marlo Thomas: Eso no es cierto.

Phil Donahue: Te digo que, tarde o temprano, alguien en una pequeña cola me reconocería, y diría: "Oh, tú también nos gustas, Regis". Así que siento... Sentimiento de famoso, te digo.

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, en realidad, hemos tenido mucha suerte porque hemos tenido carreras muy buenas, gracias a Dios. Trabajamos muy duro para tenerlas. Y entonces ambos somos igualmente conocidos y eso es de gran ayuda.

Phil Donahue: ¿En serio?

Marlo Thomas: Esa es una gran ayuda. En verdad. Es muy duro. Quiero decir, Trudie Styler que está casada con Sting y Simone Smith que está casada con LL Cool J, ya sabes, estas son mujeres que se enfrentan a símbolos sexuales, hombres muy, muy famosos, y la gente a menudo las hace a un lado.

La esposa de Ray Romano, Anna, dijo lo mismo. La gente la deja de lado para llegar a él. Y es un... Eso debe ser muy incómodo. Afortunadamente, no hemos pasado eso, pero eso es lo que las personas enfrentan en sus matrimonios. Y estos matrimonios de celebridades, ya sabes, uno de los entrevistadores nos dijo: "Bueno, solo entrevistaron a personas famosas, no tienen los mismos problemas que las personas normales". Y la verdad es que sí los tienen. Tienen todos los mismos problemas.

Es posible que no tengan los mismos problemas financieros y hayan trabajado duro para llegar a donde están, pero tienen todos los demás problemas. Tienen salud y tienen pérdida de dinero, tienen hijos enfermos. Tienen todas las otras cosas, celos, traiciones. Sabemos cuando... Como dijo Ray Romano: "Entras en tu casa y cierras la puerta, ya no eres una celebridad. Solo son un hombre y una mujer que están tratando de hacer que funcione con todos los problemas que surgen, que separan a las personas".

Barbara Harrison: Muy buen punto. Y ese libro tiene 40 historias como esa. Y sé que a mucha gente le encantaría leerlo. ¿Quieren mostrarnos su libro? Sé que lo tienen consigo allí.

Marlo Thomas: Mi esposo lo tiene aquí. Ahí tienes.

Barbara Harrison: Es grande y grueso.

Phil Donahue: Sí, es un tope de puerta.

Marlo Thomas: Se llama What Makes a Marriage Last (Lo que hace que un matrimonio dure). Son 600 páginas. Se suponía que debía...

Phil Donahue: Tengo que mostrarte. Lo siento.

Marlo Thomas: Se suponía que tendría unas 350 páginas porque le habíamos dicho a nuestro editor en Harper's que cada historia tendría unas 2,500 palabras. Pero las historias eran tan buenas y tan ricas que resultaron ser 5,000, 6,000 palabras. Y no queríamos reducirlo, y lo intentamos, pero lo mantuvimos. Bueno, si cortamos, no entiendes quiénes son, así que lo entregamos el doble de largo y nos metimos debajo de las cubiertas y necesitamos ponerlos en la pantalla, pero nuestra editora, Judith Kerr, dijo: "No, no, es genial. Vamos con este grande".

Phil Donahue: ¿Fue esta nuestra primera entrevista?

Marlo Thomas: Sí, nuestra primera entrevista fue con el presidente y Rosalynn Carter.

Phil Donahue: Mira esto.

Marlo Thomas: Phil ama esta foto.

Barbara Harrison: ¡Oh, guau!

Marlo Thomas: Son tan adorables. Ella tenía 19 años, él tenía 21 años. Una de las cosas divertidas del libro es que todos tienen su foto de la boda. Ahora llevan casados 74 años. Alan Alda lleva casado 60 años, Billy Crystal lleva casado 50 años, pero también tenemos parejas en nuestro libro que estuvieron casados 18 años. Queríamos tener muchas generaciones, y eso fue emocionante. Sabes, queríamos ver, bueno, si has estado casado 60 años o 18 años, si eres negro, blanco, marrón, asiático, si eres cristiano, judío, bautista, musulmán.

Phil Donahue: Heterosexual u homosexual.

Marlo Thomas: Sí, si es un matrimonio del mismo sexo o del sexo opuesto, ¿cuáles son las diferencias entre todos esos matrimonios? Y la verdad es que no hay diferencia. Todos quieren lo mismo. Quieren un lugar seguro, quieren a alguien que los respalde, quieren a alguien en quien puedan confiar, en el verdadero sentido de la palabra. Para mí, confianza, sí, por supuesto, se trata de un compromiso sexual. Sí, está eso. Pero también hay confianza, puedo confiar en Phil con mi cabeza. No me va a demoler. No me va a poner fin. Me va a decir la honesta verdad de Dios. Y eso es lo que creo que es una de las grandes cosas que hace que un matrimonio dure es que tienes la confianza de que esta persona está detrás de ti, debajo de ti, a tu alrededor, encima de ti, delante de ti, detrás de ti, que están contigo. Eso es enorme para mi.

Barbara Harrison: La confianza es lo más importante, estoy de acuerdo con eso. Y, Marlo y Phil, ¿aprendieron algo de sus conversaciones que les haya encantado y que quieran compartir con nosotros hoy?

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, creo que deberías contar la historia de James Carville. Es muy práctica y me interesa. Cuéntales esa.

Phil Donahue: James Carville tiene un... Cuando te encuentras dándole vueltas y vueltas a un asunto tonto sin importancia...

Marlo Thomas: Pero eso te está volviendo loco y estás dando vueltas y vueltas al respecto.

Phil Donahue: Puedes detenerte y ponerle fin a esta pérdida de tiempo diciendo: "Vamos a patear la lata por el camino". Ahora, ya sabes, este eufemismo muy cliché y sobrecargado realmente tuvo un impacto en nosotros o en mí. Ya lo he usado. Pateemos esa lata, y luego ambos comenzamos a reír.

Marlo Thomas: Sí, porque algunas de estas cosas son: "Dijiste que lo harías, pero no lo hiciste, pero no pudiste, no lo pusiste allí, pero yo dije, lo pusiste aquí", ya sabes, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, vueltas y vueltas y vueltas. Y finalmente, él me dice: "Oh, vamos a patear esta lata por el camino". Y se ha convertido en un gran tapón, ya sabes, porque, pierdes mucho tiempo con estas cosas.

La otra cosa que encontré muy útil fue Judith Viorst, quien ha escrito muchos libros para niños y algunos libros para adultos también. Ella dijo, ya sabes... Están casados hace 60 años, su esposo es periodista. Y ella dijo: "No importa cuánto lo intentes, él nunca será tú y tú nunca serás él". Entonces eso es un hecho. Ahora intentemos acomodar a esta otra persona y dejar que sea como es. Quiero decir, eso es lo que nosotros... Phil es un tipo muy relajado, como puedes ver en su conversación, y yo soy una persona muy comunicativa y asertiva. Y peleamos durante años por eso. Yo diría: "Bueno, ¿por qué no te emociona esto? ¿No puedes ver lo que esto significa?" Y él me decía: "¿Por qué te emocionas tanto? ¿Cuál es el problema?" Así que fue realmente difícil.

Nos llevó años no estar enojados el uno con el otro por la forma diferente en que abordamos los problemas. Y después de un tiempo, comencé a darme cuenta de que tal vez lo mejor no es saltar impulsivamente e intentar resolver esto. Tal vez sea mejor, como él sugiere, retirarse un poco y hablarlo. Y a menudo dice: "Sabes, quizás tengas razón, vamos a llegar al fondo de esto. Tomemos una decisión". Así que comenzamos a... No debería decir que comenzó, sucedió hace unos 20 años, creo que comenzamos a encontrar una manera de negociar nuestros diferentes enfoques a problemas, desafíos que luchar contra el "¡Nunca hiciste esto! Bueno, siempre haces eso". Sabes, lo hemos hecho. Esas son malas palabras para nosotros. No se debería permitir decir nunca y siempre porque eso nunca es cierto, ya sabes, decir: "Nunca haces eso. Bueno, siempre haces eso", ¿sabes? Así que hemos... No hemos asistido a consejería matrimonial, pero ciertamente el matrimonio nos aconsejó a nuestra manera.

Phil Donahue: Claro, podríamos haberlo usado.

Marlo Thomas: Sí, podríamos haberlo hecho. Nuestros primeros diez años fueron realmente duros. Peleábamos mucho, pero estábamos en una lucha de poder. Y los dos tenemos personalidades tipo A, somos mandones, los dos estamos acostumbrados a dirigir nuestros propios espectáculos y nos casamos a los 40 años. Así que llegamos a esto con mucho poder y tuvimos una lucha de poder durante un par de años. Y nos abrimos paso a través de eso. Creo que podría habernos separado. Podría haber sido lo que llaman diferencias irreconciliables. Pero nos amábamos lo suficiente y nos apreciamos lo suficiente como para abrirnos paso a través de eso, lo cual, creo, fue bastante bueno.

Barbara Harrison: A mí me parece bastante bien. Y me gusta esa expresión, patea la lata por el camino. Voy a recordar eso. Ahora, con tantos de nosotros distanciados de nuestros seres queridos durante este tiempo, ¿hay alguna sugerencia de su relación o de su libro sobre formas creativas o quizás solo algunas pequeñas cosas que podemos hacer para mostrarle a alguien que estamos pensando en ellos?

Marlo Thomas: Oh, hemos hecho muchas llamadas de Zoom con nuestra familia.

Phil Donahue: Sí.

Marlo Thomas: Tenemos un Zoom del Día del Padre para el domingo. ¿Es eso a lo que te refieres?

Barbara Harrison: Sí, solo estoy pensando en formas que podrían ser inesperadas para la otra persona en tu relación. Pero esa es una buena idea si puedes hacer una llamada Zoom y hay muchas otras cosas, pero ¿no creen que los regalos y ese tipo de cosas son realmente necesarios?

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, no vamos a ningún lado. Tendríamos que pedirlo en línea. No hemos estado enviando muchos regalos. En realidad, muchas personas en este país que están sufriendo, que están enfermas o han perdido seres queridos, por lo que no tomo a la ligera lo que ha significado esta pandemia. De hecho, tenemos varios amigos que están enfermos, y uno de nuestros amigos murió por eso, un hombre con el que yo había estado en un par de obras de teatro, Mark Blum, un actor maravilloso. Así que la pandemia nos afectó, afortunadamente, no en nuestra familia inmediata sino en nuestro círculo de amigos. Y digo esto porque soy consciente, ambos somos conscientes de lo que está sucediendo en el mundo. Para nosotros, esta cuarentena ha sido buena para nosotros.

Por lo general, estábamos muy ocupados. Nunca hemos tenido tres comidas al día juntos, excepto cuando nos vamos de vacaciones. Y tenemos un ama de llaves, y ella no ha venido en dos meses, así que hemos preparado nuestras comidas juntos y las hemos comido juntos. Y eso es inusual porque generalmente nos levantamos por la mañana, quien se levanta para ir a algún lugar, desayuna. A la hora del almuerzo, generalmente me encuentro comiendo un sándwich en la parte trasera de un Uber camino a una reunión, y la cena la comemos juntos, pero tres comidas al día, hacerlas juntos, ha sido inusual. ¿Quieres agregar algo? Lo siento, estoy hablando demasiado como siempre.

Phil Donahue: No, en absoluto. Barb, cariño, disfruto escuchando tu voz.

Barbara Harrison: Sabes, creo que muchos de nosotros también nos hemos dado cuenta de eso en la pandemia. Ha habido algunas cosas buenas y tener más unión es sin duda una de ellas. Ya saben, entre las muchas cosas que la pandemia ha destacado también se encuentra la importancia de mantenerse conectado con los seres queridos en tiempos difíciles.

Quería que nuestros oyentes supieran que AARP ha estado trabajando para ayudar a mantener a las personas conectadas de varias maneras. AARP ha luchado para garantizar que las personas en hogares de ancianos y centros de vida asistida tengan una forma de mantenerse en contacto con sus seres queridos en el exterior. AARP creó un servicio gratuito llamado La Voz Amiga de AARP, o AARP Friendly Voices para que las personas aisladas puedan recibir una llamada de uno de nuestros voluntarios.

La organización también ha trabajado a nivel federal, estatal y local para garantizar que las personas tengan lugares seguros y conectados donde vivir durante esta crisis, luchando para evitar los desalojos y las desconexiones de servicios públicos y de banda ancha.

Ya tenemos muchas preguntas, así que vamos a hacerle algunas a Marlo y Phil. Pero primero, antes de hacer eso, les recuerdo a todos, que si tienen una pregunta, deben presionar * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con el personal de AARP y compartir esa pregunta. Y si estás viendo, puedes compartir un comentario en Facebook o YouTube.

También me gustaría presentarles a Jean Setzfand que está ayudando a facilitar las llamadas. Bienvenida Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Gracias, Barbara, encantada de estar aquí.

Barbara Harrison: Y, Jean, tomemos nuestra primera pregunta ahora para Marlo y Phil, ¿a quién tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra primera llamada proviene de Colette desde Florida.

Barbara Harrison: Vamos...

Colette: Buenas tardes. Buenas tardes a todos. ¿Pueden escucharme?

Barbara Harrison: Sí, te escuchamos.

Colette: Ok, perfecto. Marlo y Phil, buenas tardes. Es un placer hablar con ustedes. He estado escuchando todo este tiempo y entiendo, las cosas que recomiendan para las personas casadas. Pero al mirar hacia atrás en estas 40 parejas y su propio matrimonio, ¿hay un hilo, hay algo en común, hay algo que le diga que esta es la persona adecuada para comenzar este viaje?

Phil Donahue: Sabes, tengo que decírtelo. Tenía a Renée Taylor y Joe Bologna en mi programa de televisión, recuerdo que estaban sentados uno al lado del otro, y una mujer en la fila de atrás se puso de pie y dijo: "Renée, ¿cómo lo supiste?" Renée dijo: "Sabes, pensé en él y luego llegué a la conclusión de que no voy a conseguir nada mejor que esto". Bueno, por supuesto, toda la audiencia se echó a reír. Y lo tomó bien, se rió. Obviamente, me tomé mucho tiempo para no responder a su pregunta, ¿Tienes una buena...?

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, para responder a tu pregunta, casi todos tuvieron un momento en el que miraron más a esta persona y pensaron: "Sí, puedo confiar en ellos o sí, esta persona me dirá la verdad ", y muchos de ellos se casaron como lo hicimos en una nube de lujuria. Y eso es bueno y malo. Quiero decir, es una buena forma de empezar.

Pero a veces se te nubla la vista por la nube de lujuria y quizás no veas muchos problemas. Pero creo que cada pareja habló sobre qué hizo la otra persona que realmente los hizo mirarla más detenidamente y pensar: "Oh, puedo revelar esto sobre mí". Sabes, Viola Davis, ¿qué dijo ella sobre los porcentajes?

Phil Donahue: No es 50-50. Son 100-100. Y hay, ya sabes...

Marlo Thomas: Ella también dijo, en realidad no estás casado cuando caminas hacia el altar. Estás realmente casado cuando estás sentado al otro lado de la mesa de tu cónyuge y hace algo que es realmente desagradable para ti, la forma en que mastican, la forma en que se lamen los dedos, sorben su sopa, lo que sea, la forma en que hablan por teléfono, la forma en que se comportan, cuando miras a esa persona y le dices: "Dios mío, esto me volverá loco", miras a esa persona y dices: "Sí, pero la amo. Voy a acomodar eso ". Ahí es cuando realmente estás casado.

Y creo que la palabra acomodar es una palabra enorme. No se trata de rendirse, no se trata de ceder. Y no se trata de cambiar a alguien porque ese es realmente el beso de la muerte. Si crees que vas a cambiar a alguien, que nosotros lo intentamos hacer durante varios años, voy a evitar que él haga eso, voy a evitar que ella lleve demasiado equipaje, voy a evitar que él haga lo que sea, teníamos que venir al lugar donde él es quien es, yo soy quien soy, y hablaremos de eso, pero no vamos a tratar de cambiarnos el uno al otro. Eso es la muerte.

Phil Donahue: Entrevisté a Billy Graham en mi programa de televisión. Y le pregunté si alguna vez había considerado el divorcio. Y él dijo: "¿Divorcio? Nunca. Asesinato, sí".

Marlo Thomas: Es un alivio cómico.

Barbara Harrison: Creo que estamos recibiendo una llamada para ustedes. Vamos con Jean Setzfand. ¿Qué tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Muy bien, Barbara. Tenemos a Judy de Nueva York.

Barbara Harrison: Judy de Nueva York, ¿cuál es tu pregunta?

Judy: Hola. Es un placer estar aquí. Y no puedo creer que esto haya caído literalmente en mi regazo en el momento más perfecto. He estado felizmente casada por 34 años, solo por un pelo, la semana pasada. Esta pandemia ha sido absolutamente la prueba de 34 años. Entonces, cuando los escucho compartir sobre preparar comidas juntos, parece que, no lo han dicho, y casi nos matamos. Y me pregunto, ya saben, a veces al menos durante las últimas 13 semanas, descubrimos que, a veces no quiero preparar mi comida con él y a veces no lo quiero en la habitación conmigo, y a veces él no me quiere en la habitación con él. Y buscando algunas ideas para seguir adelante, me siento bien al decir que necesito algo de espacio.

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, creo que una de las cosas de las que tenemos suerte es que tenemos un apartamento, pero cada uno tiene su propio espacio de trabajo para que podamos ir a nuestros diferentes espacios de trabajo. Yo tengo un pequeño estudio, él tiene un pequeño estudio, y puedo hacer mi trabajo, puedo trabajar en mi computadora, puedo hablar por teléfono con mis amigos o mis colegas, y él puede hacer lo mismo en su espacio. Así que creo que sí, tener tu propio espacio es algo muy importante. Creo que si estuviéramos uno encima del otro en un pequeño espacio, no sé cómo sería eso.

Y tengo un amigo muy cercano que es escritor, él trabaja desde su casa y su esposa trabaja fuera de la casa. Y han estado en cuarentena todo este tiempo. Y eso ha sido difícil para ellos porque él tiene un espacio de trabajo y ella no. Entonces están uno encima del otro. Y ha sido difícil, ya saben, hacer una especie de patrón de tráfico donde él pueda hablar por teléfono, sin interrumpir las llamadas de ella. Entonces sí, tiene mucho que ver con el espacio. Estás absolutamente en lo correcto.

Todos necesitamos espacio separado el uno del otro. Siempre hemos tomado mucho espacio el uno del otro porque siempre hemos tenido carreras que nos separaban. Eso hemos sabido cómo hacerlo. No hemos tenido tres comidas al día juntos y eso, supongo, se convirtió en algo divertido o agradable porque tenemos más tiempo para una conversación real. Quiero decir, Phil comenzó a decirme que estaba descubriendo cosas sobre mí que no sabía antes. ¿Qué fue lo que dijiste? ¿Que yo era un qué?

Phil Donahue: Ella es una chinche de agua. Quiero decir que... Tiene la computadora encendida, tiene el teléfono aquí y abre el correo o el tiempo que le queda. Y nunca he visto todo esto a la vez. Sabía que era una personalidad A y que, sabes, si pones a nueve personas en su oficina, ella les dará a todos algo que hacer. Y ella es una persona muy talentosa. Y todo lo que ella comienza, lo termina. Y eso siempre me ha impresionado y nunca tuve un vistazo tan de cerca a esta característica de su personalidad desde el comienzo de nuestro matrimonio.

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, porque generalmente .. Porque trabajo mucho fuera de casa. Sabes, estoy en un estudio, estoy en oficinas, estoy en reuniones, y entonces él no me ve en todo el día, sabes, haciendo, sabes, lo que hago en un solo lugar, así que eso es diferente. Y he llegado a apreciar el hecho de que él es un tipo relajado. Es un hombre reflexivo.

Lo interesante es que cuando estoy en mi espacio de trabajo, él viene con el Times, The New York Times para leerme una pieza editorial que cree que realmente me gustaría. Y eso es algo que no hacemos mucho porque no siempre estamos en casa juntos. Pero la idea es que lo ha leído. Lo encontró estimulante, quiere leerlo para mí y ver lo que pienso al respecto y es una especie de emoción, como un niño que quiere, ya sabes, hablar sobre esta interesante pieza editorial que acaba de leer o lo hace enojar y quiere saber si estoy tan enojada como él por eso.

Así que esa es una característica que no hemos hecho mucho que al tener tiempo, aunque no estamos en la misma habitación, él traerá su interés a mi espacio de trabajo. Así que eso es otra cosa, que estamos teniendo más de ese tipo de conversación. Sabes, me siento un poco mal porque estamos monopolizando este día y tienes estos maravillosos autores aquí. ¿Hemos usado demasiado tiempo?

 

Barbara Harrison: No, absolutamente no. Tenemos tiempo para ambas parejas y volveremos con ustedes en breve. Pero volvamos a Julia y Barry ahora.

Durante esta pandemia, cuando la mayoría de nosotros experimentamos una sensación en varios grados de pérdida de personas, empleos, seguridad económica, incluso nuestro sentido de seguridad y libertades, ¿cómo podemos nosotros, como socios, hacer frente al dolor del coronavirus de una manera que fortalezca la relación? Julia, Barry, ¿quieren hablar de eso?

Barry J. Jacobs: Claro. Sí, quiero decir, el dolor es una emoción que es muy difícil para mucha gente, aunque es una emoción muy normal, una experiencia que todos experimentamos varias veces en nuestras vidas. Y, ya sabes, de lo que hablamos con nuestros clientes es de la importancia de que las parejas recurran el uno al otro en lugar de alejarse de uno otro cuando están sufriendo.

Hay personas que cuando se compadecen juntas, realmente fortalecen su relación, se apoyan mutuamente. Y están unidas en un sentimiento común por la pérdida que están experimentando, y eso realmente profundiza su relación.

Yo diría, hablando de nuestra relación... Sabes, hemos estado casados por 30 años es que, nosotros dos hemos pasado por muchos momentos adversos en nuestras vidas incluidas las pérdidas de nuestros padres, a veces en circunstancias muy difíciles, y el hecho de que podía recurrir a Julie y ella fue tan buena con mi madre y mi padrastro, mientras decaían por demencia. Y luego, cuando murieron, pude confiar en ella en todos los sentidos, logísticamente, pero aún más importante, emocionalmente, y eso, ya sabes, creo que fue un momento muy importante en nuestro matrimonio. Ciertamente vemos eso en nuestros propios clientes también.

Julia L. Mayer: Sí, y una de las cosas que a veces vemos con nuestros clientes es que cuando no lloran juntos, lo que ves es irritabilidad. Buscan pelear, se ponen de mal genio. Y cuando trabajamos con una pareja, a menudo les sugerimos que si su pareja está irritable, tal vez él o ella tenga algunos sentimientos que deben compartirse que sean dolorosos o difícil de acceder. Y con suerte, se sentarán juntos y superarán esa irritabilidad pasando a sentimientos más complicados y dolorosos.

Barbara Harrison: Bueno, díganme, para aquellos de nosotros que ahora estamos mirando o escuchando, y estamos solteros, viudos, divorciados y que se sienten solos y aislados de una manera que nunca antes habían experimentado, ¿qué consejo tienen sobre maneras de construir una comunidad para encontrar nuevas conexiones? ¿Alguna idea?

Julia L. Mayer: Tengo bastantes clientes solteros y todavía están en sitios de citas, si buscan conocer a esa persona especial. Y, en cierto modo, es positivo porque tienen que tardar un poco más en encontrarse en persona debido al coronavirus. Y les da la oportunidad de comunicarse cada vez más profundamente. Y luego, ya sabes, cuando finalmente se encuentran, uno de mis clientes me dijo que se pusieron la máscara, se encontraron en un banco del parque y ella se sienta a un lado y él se sienta bien del otro lado, y hablan.

Así que esa es una cosa que la gente parece seguir haciendo. También hablamos con clientes solteros acerca de participar en su... Si están en una comunidad religiosa, muchos de ellos están haciendo reuniones de servicios y congregaciones en video en línea, y podrían asistir a ellos. Y siempre pienso que si estás solo, hazte voluntario, ve a hacer algo que parezca significativo, como entregar comida a un banco de alimentos y conocerás a otras personas que se preocupan y se ocupan.

Barbara Harrison: Esa es una muy buena idea. Ahora estamos en un momento en que más personas que nunca están cuidando a miembros de la familia, los niños están en casa y tenemos que cuidar a los miembros mayores de la familia de formas nuevas y diferentes. Julia y Barry, ¿cómo pueden las personas asegurarse de que priorizan las relaciones con sus seres queridos mientras cuidan a otros seres queridos? ¿Alguna idea sobre eso?

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí, creo que es una pregunta muy importante, Barbara, porque como tú dices, muchas personas tienen, ya sabes, todos tenemos múltiples roles familiares. No somos solo cónyuges, somos hijos, a menudo, con padres ancianos, tenemos nuestros propios hijos, en muchos casos. Y a menudo tenemos responsabilidades con varias personas al mismo tiempo, así como con nuestros trabajos y, por lo tanto, todos tenemos que hacer este acto de equilibrio. Y puede haber un momento en que nos partimos tanto, tratando de complacer a todos, que sentimos que no estamos complaciendo a nadie porque no le estamos dando suficiente tiempo y atención a ninguna persona.

Y diría que mantener la prioridad principal en la relación matrimonial, ya sabes, con tu pareja es extremadamente importante para seguir adelante. Y a veces eso significa compartimentar un poco tu vida o pasar tiempo con tus padres, pero también asegurarse de tener un tiempo aparte para tu cónyuge. Vemos eso durante la pandemia. En nuestros años de cuidado, tuvimos que tomar muy conscientemente esa decisión para asegurarnos de que no permitiéramos que los deberes de cuidado ocuparan todo nuestro tiempo, sino que estábamos priorizando nuestro tiempo juntos lejos de otros.

Julia L. Mayer: Una de las cosas que a veces sugerimos a las parejas que trabajan con nosotros es diseñar un horario, planear juntos o en familia si son más de dos, y dejar tiempo para ustedes mismos. tiempo específicamente programado para ustedes dos como socios, y luego tiempo para el cuidado y los horarios continuarán siendo revisados dependiendo de las necesidades de la familia.

Barbara Harrison: Buen consejo. Y tienen muchos buenos consejos en su libro que aún no ha salido, pero es una excelente manera de balancear la relación. Tenemos muchas preguntas entrantes y volveremos con ustedes con algunas de nuestra audiencia. Pero me gustaría mencionar que este tema del que estamos hablando pone en primer plano los desafíos que enfrentan millones de cuidadores familiares en este momento, particularmente aquellos que tienen seres queridos en hogares de ancianos u otros tipos de centros de atención.

Debido a la falta de transparencia y recursos insuficientes, las personas están teniendo dificultades para descubrir si hay casos positivos de COVID en las instalaciones donde viven sus familiares, lo que empeora la situación. Muchas personas ni siquiera pueden conectarse con sus seres queridos a través de chats de video o llamadas telefónicas. Sé que AARP está instando a los legisladores estatales y federales a tomar medidas para garantizar que los residentes y el personal tengan pruebas y protecciones adecuadas y que los miembros de la familia puedan mantenerse conectados y obtener información sobre sus seres queridos. Puede obtener más información sobre esta situación en aarp.org/nursinghomes.

Y ahora respondamos algunas preguntas más de nuestros oyentes. Les recuerdo, para hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3. Si nos estás mirando, puedes colocar el comentario en Facebook o YouTube. Entonces, Jean, ¿cuáles son nuestras primeras preguntas para Julia y Barry?

Jean Setzfand: Muy bien, tenemos una pregunta que viene de Facebook, y esta viene de Julia o Julie, lo siento. Y ella pregunta: "¿Cómo se supone que debemos manejar la pérdida de un trabajo y el matrimonio, estando atrapados juntos en casa todo el tiempo? Quiero que se pongan en marcha, pero estamos atascados. ¿Pueden aconsejarme?"

Barry J. Jacobs: Bueno, en primer lugar, estas son circunstancias muy difíciles y no es una sorpresa si tu pareja está teniendo problemas para ponerse en marcha porque estoy seguro que él o ella está en estado de shock. Lo que diré es que, probablemente sea una buena idea, número uno, reducir tus expectativas, ya sabes, o si quieres saltar directamente a otro plan, hazlo muy gentilmente, aborden el tema. Los dos necesitan sentarse y elaborar un plan específico en el que avanzar, de modo que al menos ambos sientan que están progresando.

Y en tercer lugar, diría que particularmente en lo que respecta a la pérdida de trabajo y dada nuestra economía ahora, todos debemos ser pacientes. Este será un momento difícil para muchas parejas que pasan por esto y necesitan, una vez más, volverse uno hacia el otro y unirse en lugar de separarse en estos tiempos difíciles.

Barbara Harrison: Bueno, sabemos que esta pandemia ha resultado en que muchas parejas tengan más tiempo en casa juntas y sientan que puede beneficiar y también desafiar cualquier relación. Así que veamos más de sus preguntas para nuestras parejas, Marlo Thomas y Phil Donahue, junto con la Dra. Julia Mayer y el Dr. Barry Jacobs. Como recordatorio, presiona * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP para compartir tu pregunta. Entonces, veamos si tenemos alguna pregunta esperándonos.

Pero antes de eso, me gustaría conocer las perspectivas de ambas parejas sobre otras preguntas. Podemos decir que estamos teniendo conversaciones con nuestros seres queridos que nos ayudan a calibrar y nos ayudan a ponernos en contacto con quiénes somos y qué valoramos. Entre la pandemia y las protestas por la injusticia racial, estas discusiones serias están llegando en un momento de mayor estrés. ¿Cómo manejamos estas conversaciones cuando nuestras creencias o valores pueden diferir? Julia y Barry, ¿quieren comenzar respondiendo?

Julia L. Mayer: Claro. Ahora mismo estoy trabajando con una pareja que está en extremos absolutamente opuestos del espectro político. Y a pesar de que han estado casados durante un par de décadas, están bastante enojados el uno con el otro y también sufren porque sienten que sus valores ya no están alineados. Y cuando me reúno con ellos, lo que hago es que recuerden que, no sé, el 95% de sus valores todavía son los mismos. Se conocen desde hace años. De hecho, están de acuerdo en la mayoría de las cosas. Pero son dos personas separadas, como Marlo y Phil decían antes, y no van a ser la misma persona, y no deberían tratar de serlo.

Pero es realmente importante para ellos respetar que sus perspectivas provienen de su propia historia de vida y sus propios puntos de vista particulares. Y luego hablo con estas parejas sobre cómo necesitan realmente tomarse el tiempo para escuchar las opiniones del otro y tratar de entenderse. No tienen que estar de acuerdo, deben ser respetuosos y luego deben recordar que el otro les importa a pesar de que no están mirando las cosas de la misma manera.

Barbara Harrison: Preguntémosle a Phil y a Marlo si tienen alguna observación sobre las personas que viven juntas y que pueden no estar del mismo lado político o del mismo lado en muchas cosas. ¿Qué dicen?

Marlo Thomas: Creo que lo que dijo Julie es clave. Ella dijo que si el 90% de lo que tienen juntos está alineado, entonces tienes que dar lugar a esas diferencias. Entrevistamos a James Carville y Mary Matalin. Y como todos saben, ella es una conservadora acérrima y él es un liberal acérrimo. Él hizo campaña por Bill Clinton, mientras ella hacía campaña por George Bush. Quiero decir, allí estaban cara a cara con dos ideologías completamente diferentes. Estaban a un millón de millas de distancia con la guerra de Irak, a un millón de millas de distancia en el cambio climático. Y les dijimos: "¿Cómo, en nombre de Dios, están casados con estas grandes diferencias?" Y dijeron: "Ese es solo un conjunto de diferencias. Nuestras diferencias políticas son un conjunto, pero tenemos hijos, tenemos familia, tenemos barbacoas, tenemos caminatas, tenemos todo tipo de cosas que están alineadas.

Entonces, nuestras vidas no están compuestas solo por nuestras diferencias políticas". Y pensé que eso era fascinante. Y en realidad, lo que Julie acaba de decir es que no puedes hacer que nada, como las diferencias políticas, sea el centro de tu matrimonio y tu vida. Y ella decía que, ya sabes, si el 90 o el 95% de sus vidas están alineadas y sus valores están alineados, entonces tienes que permitir este otro porcentaje que no está alineado. Quiero decir, los dos somos muy liberales. Y nos conocimos de esa manera.

Cuando asistí a The Donahue Show, estábamos hablando de la ERA, el feminismo y todas las cosas en las que yo creía y en las que él creía. Pero somos afortunados en ese sentido. No tenemos... Y también fuimos criados católicos. Fui a Marymount, él fue a Notre Dame, por lo que tenemos muchos valores que están bastante sólidos dentro de nosotros que nos han ayudado mucho.

Siempre he sentido, incluso antes de este libro, y tal vez Julia y Barry probablemente tengan algo más importante o quizás más inteligente que decir sobre el tema, pero siempre he sentido que, si defines, lo que considero palabras grandes, como comportamiento bueno y malo, justo e injusto, aceptable e inaceptable, si puedes definir esas palabras de la misma manera en tu vida, entonces creo que tienes un buen punto de partida y un nivel de confianza. Eso es un poco... No sé qué piensan Julia y Barry sobre eso.

Barbara Harrison: ¿Quieren responder a eso, Julia o Barry?

Julia L. Mayer: Claro, Marlo. No podría haberlo dicho mejor. Estoy absolutamente de acuerdo. Son los principales valores temáticos en sus vidas los que deben alinearse, no todos, solo las cosas más importantes.

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí, y agregaría algo. Nos estamos enfocando en las diferencias políticas pero, Marlo, dijiste antes, hay diferencias de temperamento, hay diferencias en la expresión emocional, hay diferencias en las preferencias alimentarias, vivimos con personas, con parejas que no son iguales a nosotros, y tenemos que hacer compromisos, tenemos que... La palabra que usaron fue acomodar, creo. Yo a menudo uso la palabra aceptar.

Tenemos que aceptar que la otra persona no estará alineada con nosotros en todo y que debemos apreciarla por las diferencias que tenemos. Tal vez preferir algunas de sus formas de hacer las cosas y gravitar lentamente a lo largo de los años hacia hacer cosas más similares a ellos. Creo que eso es lo que sucede, ya sabes, el cliché es que las parejas se parecen más a... Las parejas se vuelven más parecidos con el tiempo. Pero siempre permanecerán algunas diferencias.

Barbara Harrison: Julia y Barry, hemos tenido algunas personas esperando al teléfono para hacerles algunas preguntas. Vayamos a Jean y hablemos con ella. Jean, ¿a quién tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Muy bien, tenemos a Judy de Kentucky.

Judy: Hola, mi nombre es Judy. Y tengo una pregunta. Sé que no soy la única. Tengo 73 años y perdí a mi esposo de repente, sin previo aviso. Él siempre ha estado sano. Nos conocimos cuando yo tenía 14 años y él tenía 16. Y aunque éramos estrictamente católicos, no... Seguimos todas las pautas por fe y luego nos casamos y llevamos juntos 57 años. Estábamos tan involucrados el uno en el otro que no sé qué hacer. Hay muchas personas mayores que perdieron a sus cónyuges al comienzo de la pandemia. ¿Y qué haces? ¿Cómo manejas eso?

Barbara Harrison: Julia, Barry, ¿quieren intentar ayudarla con esto?

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí, Jean, en primer lugar, te ofrecemos nuestras condolencias. Esa es una pérdida extremadamente difícil. Sabes, creo que solo hay... Sabes, perder a un hijo o perder a un cónyuge son las dos cosas más difíciles por las que cualquiera puede pasar. Y parece que tú y tu esposo estuvieron muy dedicados el uno al otro durante mucho tiempo. Creo que el dolor es un proceso largo. Ya sabes, el curso normal del duelo, en general, no es cuestión de semanas o meses, realmente podría ser cuestión de un par de años.

Julia L. Mayer: O más.

Barry J. Jacobs: Yo buscaría... Podría ser más. Buscaría obtener apoyo en tu fe. Podrías buscar asesoramiento pastoral. Y si descubres que no puedes funcionar realmente, que estás tan hundida en el dolor y hundida en la desesperación, podría ser una buena idea que hables con tu proveedor de atención primaria para ver si él o ella podría ayudarte de alguna manera específica. Pero, ya sabes, creo que hay...

Nosotros, como estadounidenses, a menudo subestimamos el impacto de una pérdida como esta y ya sabes, sé bueno contigo misma, continúa comunicándote con los demás. Y nuevamente, apóyate en quienes confías, y apóyate en tu fe si eso te ayuda.

Barbara Harrison: Lamentablemente, sabemos que hay muchos que están sufriendo en este momento por las pérdidas en esta pandemia. Sigamos y respondamos más preguntas de nuestros oyentes. Jean, ¿a quién tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Tenemos a Doris de Carolina del Sur.

Barbara Harrison: De acuerdo, Doris.

Doris: Hola.

Barbara Harrison: Hola.

Doris: Estoy muy contenta de estar con ustedes esta noche porque debe haber sido a mediados de los 60 que Phil estaba en Charleston, Carolina del Sur, produciendo uno de sus programas de televisión de Charleston, y lo coordiné aquí. Y debo haber recibido llamadas en correspondencia con casi todas las mujeres de Carolina del Sur, o algo así, y esta es una sorpresa para mí esta noche porque mi esposo y yo llevamos casados 57 años. Así que puedo confirmar que mucho de lo que él ha escrito, lo que ha dicho, realmente funciona porque usamos algunas de las cosas básicas y el viaje no ha estado exento de tristeza y dolor. Pero, por otro lado, vemos los resultados por los que nos esforzamos y que son dignos de nuestras expectativas, pero no llegan sin el trabajo. Y solo quería saludarlo para darle la bienvenida, para agradecerle. Pero también si hay tiempo, tengo un par de cosas que me gustaría confirmar sobre el matrimonio.

Barbara Harrison: De acuerdo.

Phil Donahue: Adelante.

Doris: Bien, y una es asegurarte de tener una base sólida porque si realmente tienes un matrimonio normal y bueno, tendrás que superar algunos factores y un poco de trabajo por hacer. Pero asegúrate de que siempre haya espacio en tu corazón para la gratitud. Simplemente ve a un taller de matrimonio y cuando escuches las diferentes historias, te deberías ir con un corazón agradecido sabiendo que las opciones son muy parecidas, pero hay algunas cosas que puedes hacer, y nunca consideres la palabra "Podemos divorciarnos si las cosas no funcionan, ya sabes, siempre podemos separarnos". No lo consideres. Eso no debería ser parte de un buen matrimonio. Y así que mantén el corazón agradecido por lo que tienes, pero no te aflojes porque deberían agruparse alentarse, reforzar lo que tienen. Y quiero decir, hay tantas cosas. Y si buscan ayuda, y una cosa no funciona, no te rindas y digas: "Bueno, eso no es para mí".

Hay muchas otras fuentes disponibles, y encontrarás una que funcionará para ti. Y me emociona saber que todavía están alentando a la gente porque nuestros dos hijos, sufrimos una pérdida trágica con el más pequeño. Murió en un accidente de jeep poco después de graduarse de la universidad y nuestra hija está casada con un piloto retirado de la Fuerza Aérea, y actualmente están, ya sabes, aquí en el área. Y tenemos dos nietos que, nosotros decimos que si tuvieras los nietos primero, creo que eso acabaría con la población porque no puedes ver claramente por ellos por lo general.

Barbara Harrison: Bueno, es genial que hayas llamado y compartido lo que está sucediendo en tu vida. Y apreciamos tu llamada. Tenemos a otras personas esperando y sé que Jean tiene algunas guardadas ahora. Jean, ¿a quién tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Tenemos a Lynn de Nueva York.

Barbara Harrison: Bien, Lynn, de Nueva York. Lynn, ¿estás con nosotros?

Lynn: Sí, aquí estoy. Mi esposo y yo hemos estado juntos por 40 años. Sin embargo, la pandemia ha... Con nosotros en cuarentena, esta es la primera vez en 40 años que tenemos dificultades para lidiar con nuestra ira, nuestra ira separada de todo lo que está sucediendo. Por lo tanto, agradeceríamos cualquier palabra que sea útil.

Barbara Harrison: ¿Julia, Barry?

Marlo Thomas: Creo que Julia y Barry saben más sobre eso que nosotros.

Barry J. Jacobs: Bueno, te diré que a veces cuando las parejas tienen dificultades a veces la primera pregunta que hacen es: "¿Qué está pasando realmente?" Si están discutiendo acerca de un proyecto de ley o están discutiendo sobre la forma en que se ha mantenido la casa, por ejemplo, ¿es ese realmente el problema en cuestión o hay algo más que alimente la ira? Y, ya sabes, ciertamente vivimos en un momento muy estresante.

Y he visto con algunas de las parejas con las que estoy trabajando que es algo de lo que está sucediendo externamente, tal vez cosas que están sucediendo con otros miembros de la familia que están alimentando parte de la tensión dentro del matrimonio. Sabes, el tipo de cosas tristes es que a veces la persona con la que expresamos nuestras frustraciones es la persona con la que somos más cercanos y parte de eso es simplemente que sabemos que podemos confiar en esa persona, por lo tanto, podemos desahogarnos con ella. Pero podríamos estar perdiendo el norte si no somos conscientes de otros factores que suceden en nuestras vidas. Entonces esa sería mi primera pregunta para ti, ¿hay algo más que pueda estar interfiriendo?

Lo segundo es el tema del que hablaba antes Marlo respecto al tema del espacio. Si están en cuarentena juntos, ¿hay alguna manera de asegurarse de que tengan tiempo para los dos, pero también para uno, y tener suficiente espacio dentro de la casa para garantizar un tiempo individual para cada uno de ustedes para que no estén uno encima del otro todo el día? Pero que podrían estar separados y podrían estar juntos, y cuando están juntos, traer lo mejor de sí mismos al juego.

Julia L. Mayer: Encontramos algunas parejas que manejan el estrés de manera diferente. Una persona puede volverse un poco más necesitada. Solo quiero un abrazo, quiero atención, quiero consuelo. Y la otra persona maneja el estrés aislándose y queriendo espacio. Entonces, creo que tienes que reflexionar sobre lo que está sucediendo en tu pareja en términos de... Entre ustedes en términos de lo que cada uno necesita.

Y como acaba de decir Barry, cuando las personas discuten, a menudo es porque tienen necesidades no satisfechas, que les es difícil expresar, tal vez ni siquiera saben que las tienen. Pero siempre digo, comienza con la compasión, incluso cuando tu pareja está irritable contigo, y con el perdón, y luego trata de ver lo que sucede debajo de la superficie porque todos esos años juntos han sido buenos años. Y esta es una oportunidad para sentir, incluso vacilar durante un momento difícil, y sería una lástima que esta vez sea algo de lo que se sientan tan decepcionados.

Marlo Thomas: Sabes, nos hemos acostumbrado a entrar en el espacio del otro y decir: "¿Qué está pasando? Dime qué está pasando. ¿Qué sientes? ¿Hice algo? ¿Por qué siento que estás pasando por un momento difícil? ¿Por qué siento que tienes algo de angustia?"

Hemos podido hacer eso, quiero decir, no en nuestros primeros años de matrimonio, pero a medida que pasaron los años, nos hemos acostumbrado a hacer esa pregunta y formularla con mucha suavidad e incluso dando lugar a la posibilidad de que uno de nosotros podría haber hecho algo. Realmente queremos que todo esté bien. Tenemos un verdadero deseo de que todo esté bien, así que tratamos de acercarnos suavemente al otro y decir: "¿Qué está pasando? Dime qué sucede. ¿Estás pasando por algo que puedas compartir conmigo?"

Como tenemos otras personas en nuestras vidas, tenemos hijos, tenemos hermanos y hermanas, tenemos todo tipo de personas que pueden provocar angustia en nuestras vidas. Entonces nos tomamos ese tiempo. Ya sabes, las personas necesitan espacio, pero también se necesitan mutuamente, para entrar en ese espacio y ayudar. Y creo que, sabes, realmente entiendo a esta mujer. Entiendo el hecho de que ella dijo: "Ninguno manejaba bien la ira". Ya sabes, la idea de que uno de ellos debe acercarse, estoy seguro de que Barry y Julia tienen mejores consejos que yo. Pero parece que si una persona toma la iniciativa de decir: "¿Qué está pasando? ¿Qué sucede?" O, "he estado de mal humor, esto es lo que me está sucediendo".

Y muchas veces, en nuestras vidas, Phil me dice cuando hemos estado pasando por un momento difícil. Él me ha dicho: "Mira, lo siento, realmente no he estado bien. No he sido mi mejor versión, pero quiero que sepas que no se trata de ti. Estoy pasando por algo". Y luego retrocedo. Lo dejo pasar por eso, lo dejo resolver eso. Pero al menos sé que lo intenté o él lo intentará conmigo y le digo: "Esto solo es algo que necesito superar". Creo que alguien debe tomar la iniciativa. O tratas de ayudarlo o dices: "Esto es por lo que estoy pasando", y rompes el hielo de esa manera para que no haya una brecha tan grande. Soy mitad italiana y mitad libanesa, así que no soy buena con los espacios. Tengo que entrar y descubrir qué sucede.

Pero de todos modos, estoy segura de que Julia y Barry tienen algo más que decir sobre este tema, pero así es como siento, que alguien tiene que ceder, alguien tiene que cruzar el desierto y decir algo, o bien, "Esto es lo que me pasa" o "¿cómo puedo ayudarte con lo que estás pasando para salir del callejón sin salida?"

Barbara Harrison: Bueno, ciertamente estoy de acuerdo con eso. Estoy segura de que ustedes también, Julia y Barry. Alguien tiene que romper el hielo cuando ocurren ese tipo de cosas. Podemos ser tan tercos a veces en las relaciones y sentirnos como la víctima y luego no queremos ser los que agiten la bandera blanca para tratar de volver a estar juntos. Tomemos algunas llamadas más. Hablemos con Jean. ¿Qué tienes?

Jean Setzfand: Tenemos a Nadia de Texas.

Barbara Harrison: Nadia de Texas. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

Nadia: Hola. Bueno, Marlo, yo también soy italiana y libanesa.

Barbara Harrison: ¡Oh!

Nadia: Sí. Y conocí... Tuve el honor de conocer a tu padre en 1981 en un evento y estaba sentada con él en la misma mesa. Y hablamos y él estaba fumando su cigarro.

Marlo Thomas: Sí. Eso suena a él.

Nadia: Sí, estaba fumando un cigarro y estaba hablando, y era el invitado de honor. Pero la razón por la que llamo, he querido hablarte hace mucho sobre esto. Pero la razón por la que llamo también es... He pasado... Tuve un matrimonio por 30 años y lo arruiné. Y... De todos modos, la comunicación no era buena, así que creo que... La comunicación es importante. Y soy fuerte como tú, Marlo. Soy una mujer muy decidida y a veces intimido a la gente. Y soy una hacedora, y es nuestra naturaleza. Es nuestra naturaleza libanesa. Y no puedo evitarlo, así soy. Y yo estaba en una relación y fue difícil para él. Y él quería cambiarme y convertirme en una persona que yo no era. Pero de todos modos, en pocas palabras, se terminó. Tuve que terminar la relación y luego ocurrió el coronavirus. Así que ahora he estado sola, por primera vez en mi vida, pero estoy muy bien.

Estoy leyendo la Biblia, y me estoy acercando más y más al Señor... Y me está ayudando a sanar por dentro. Pero, ¿qué puedo hacer para...? Quiero decir, ¿qué hace uno? No puedo salir en citas ahora porque tengo miedo de salir con alguien debido a este virus. Y entonces estoy realmente... sola. Y tengo familia, ni siquiera puedo ir allí porque no quiero infectar a nadie porque no sé si lo tengo. Entonces, ¿qué haces en este caso cuando eres una persona como yo, tan fuerte? Y soy una hacedora, hago cosas. Hago muchas cosas para ocupar mi tiempo, pero no sé qué hacer... ya sabes, para lidiar con todo esto.

Marlo Thomas: Tal vez, Julia, Barry, ¿tienen alguna respuesta para ella?

Julia L. Mayer: Bueno, es muy difícil pasar por un divorcio, incluso uno que iniciaste tú. Estás de luto. Y creo que tienes que pasar un tiempo haciendo el duelo de esa relación. Sé que dijiste antes que lo arruinaste. Y creo seriamente que se necesitan dos personas para arruinar una relación. Es posible que hayas sido la persona que tuvo un comportamiento particular para estropearla. Pero creo que es un esfuerzo conjunto estar en un matrimonio y cuando fracasan, ambas personas deben lamentarse por la pérdida de algo que se suponía que era especial y sagrado. Así que creo que tienes un duelo que hacer. Y creo que una de las formas en que puedes hacer el duelo es comunicarte con personas que te importan, familiares, amigos, personas de confianza en tu vida y compartir.

Tómate un tiempo con ellos para compartir tus sentimientos y tus experiencias, tus arrepentimientos, lo que has aprendido. Y luego podrías hablar con un profesional si esas conversaciones no son suficientes para ti. Pero a fin de cuentas, tu objetivo es hacer las paces con el pasado. Si esa relación realmente ha terminado, entonces debes recordar lo bueno. Honra la relación que tuvieron durante 30 años, y tú y tu pareja, y si hay algún otro miembro de la familia, honren esa relación, lo bueno, lo malo, fue una parte importante de tu vida. No puedes dejarlo, no puedes ignorarlo, pero tienes que buscar lo bueno y debes dejar las decepciones y las cosas que te molestaron de lado para que puedas estar en el presente y puedas comenzar a descubrir cuáles serán tus próximos pasos.

Barbara Harrison: Veamos si Jean tiene más preguntas esperando para ustedes cuatro. ¿Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Claro. Tengo una pregunta de Facebook. Y es para Marlo y Phil. Ellen pregunta: "¿Es este el primer proyecto que han hecho juntos? Si es así, ¿por qué decidieron hacer este juntos?"

Marlo Thomas: ¿Por qué no respondes esa, cariño?

Phil Donahue: Bueno, pensé en hacer un proyecto junto con Marlo, quiero decir, puedes verlo aquí. Ya sabes, ella dice habla, habla, y mientras me aclararé la garganta, ella hará nueve minutos. Y he llegado a entender eso. Esa es su naturaleza. Ella es así. Y supongo que lo único que ayudó, que incluso promovió mi interés o acuerdo con esta idea de un proyecto conjunto fue mi sensación de que esto era diferente y que tenía la oportunidad de alborotar. Y pasé toda mi vida con mi propio programa... Tratando de pensar en los problemas y las personas que se harían escuchar. Ya sabes, di algo, pero hazme enojar, entristecer o alegrar. Y, ya sabes... Nuestra relación ahora a través del virus y a través de la asociación que hemos compartido en este libro que resultó ser un tope de puerta, es...

Marlo Thomas: Estás sosteniendo el libro.

Phil Donahue: Y sí, aprendí mucho sobre ella.

Marlo Thomas: Creo que nunca quisimos trabajar juntos en un proyecto porque, ya sabes, él es tranquilo, pero es terco y mandón. Y yo no soy tranquila y soy mandona. Entonces pensé que nos mataríamos. No quedaría nada en el piso excepto una pestaña y algo de cabello blanco. Así que decidimos no hacer eso. Cuando nos casamos, todos nos ofrecieron organizar juntos los Emmy, y escribir libros juntos, hacer un programa de entrevistas juntos, todo eso. Y ambos dijimos: "No, no, nunca debemos hacer eso". Hagamos de nuestro matrimonio nuestro espacio privado y haremos nuestro trabajo por separado.

Pero cuando tuvimos la idea de hacer... Tuve la idea de escribir el libro. Y cuando fui y le dije: "Hagámoslo. Esto podría ser divertido. Y será realmente interesante porque la gente siempre pregunta sobre qué hace que nuestro matrimonio funcione", lo cual no tengo idea de cómo funciona. "Y si hablamos con mucha gente, podría ser divertido encontrar la salsa secreta". Y él dijo: "Está bien, lo haré. Pero no hablaré de nuestro matrimonio porque es súper privado". Entonces dije: "Está bien, no tienes que hacerlo".

Pero una vez que salimos, ambos estábamos hablando de nuestro matrimonio, nos lo estábamos pasando bien hablando de nuestras experiencias y escuchando las experiencias de otras personas. Así que fue divertido, fue como una cita doble. Y resultó ser algo más divertido de lo que pensábamos que sería y ahora haremos un podcast basado en el libro. Así que rompimos una barrera que habíamos creado hace 40 años y ahora estamos disfrutando el hecho de que nuestras dos personalidades diferentes funcionan.

Además, tengo mucho respeto por Phil. Estaba un poco intimidada porque pensé que él era un entrevistador experto. No le gusta ser entrevistado, como verán, responde pocas de las preguntas, pero le encanta hacer preguntas. Y él siempre hace las mejores preguntas. Entonces, al principio, me sentí un poco intimidada, sentí que no debería hacer tantas preguntas porque él tiene el oro. Pero me hizo espacio. Y luego él aparecería para limpiar todo y hacerlo más jugoso al final, porque él tiene el don. Él realmente lo tiene. Él sabe cuándo hacer la pregunta importante. Entonces fue interesante. Fue muy, muy interesante. No sé si respondimos la pregunta, me fui por una tangente, pero...

Barbara Harrison: Creo que respondieron la pregunta. Y, por supuesto, sabemos que Phil definitivamente sabe cómo hacer preguntas. Todos vimos muchos de sus programas donde entrevistó a todos en el mundo. Bueno, a menudo escuchamos sobre la importancia de permanecer en una relación durante los buenos y malos momentos. Julia y Barry, ese es un buen consejo para muchos de nosotros, pero ¿cómo puede alguien determinar cuándo es realmente el momento de seguir adelante? ¿Tienen una respuesta para esa?

Julia L. Mayer: Bueno, creo que realmente depende. Pero espero que sea después de mucho esfuerzo entender qué salió mal porque, por lo general, cuando comienza un matrimonio, como dijo Marlo, es romántico, es emocionante. Esas son las cosas que querrás mantener en tu matrimonio y si no se han quedado, entonces algo ha cambiado. Pero puede ser que hayan hecho todo lo posible. Han ido a terapia de pareja, han leído libros, han hablado con personas, y se han sentado juntos y han tratado de entender lo que cada uno necesita, y simplemente no están de acuerdo. Y si ese es el caso, entonces pueden decidir divorciarse... Pero existen muchos riesgos con el divorcio.

Las personas aisladas y solitarias tienden a tener consecuencias perjudiciales para la salud. A menudo hay tensiones financieras cuando las personas se divorcian. Y tiene un gran impacto en los hijos adultos, en los amigos y en otras familias. Entonces, cuando las personas se divorcian, a veces los ayudamos con el proceso... Tratando de ayudarlos, como respondí la última pregunta, a dejar el pasado atrás, quedarse con lo bueno, respetar lo que tienen juntos y, con suerte, terminar al menos como conocidos amistosos, si no amigos. Tal vez su matrimonio no funcionó, pero se conocen tan bien que tal vez podrían tener una amistad, y eso sería mucho más fácil para la familia extendida y sus amigos. Y sería mucho más alegre para ellos, y habría más posibilidades de que pudieran avanzar a otra relación.

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí, me gustaría agregar a eso, la tasa de divorcios entre las personas mayores de 50 años realmente ha aumentado mucho en los últimos 20 años más o menos. Para las personas mayores de 50 años, se duplicó, para las personas mayores de 65 años, se triplicó. Y así, hay más personas en la mediana edad que han decidido arriesgarse, tal vez a encontrar una mejor pareja o tal vez se han cansado tanto de la pareja que tienen o no quieren una pareja. Y realmente, como dijo Julia, sabemos que cuando las personas son crónicamente infelices necesitan dejar el matrimonio.

Pero realmente es algo que debe pensarse con mucho cuidado debido a todas las ramificaciones que tiene y el riesgo de una mayor infelicidad, desafortunadamente. Por lo tanto, esperamos que las personas hablen con un abogado, y tal vez hablen con un terapeuta, o con algún otro consejero que pueda ayudarlos a considerar todo lo que está sucediendo desde todos los ángulos y a tomar una decisión realmente informada y prudente.

Barbara Harrison: Buen consejo. Vamos a tomar algunas preguntas más.

Un recordatorio para los oyentes, pueden hacer su pregunta presionando * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono. Jean, ¿tienes algunos interrogadores esperándonos?

Jean Setzfand: Así es. Tenemos a Connie de la ciudad de Oregón.

Barbara Harrison: De acuerdo. Connie, ¿qué tienes...?

Connie: Hola, tengo una pregunta para Marlo y Phil.

Barbara Harrison: De acuerdo.

Connie: Cuando se iniciaron estas cosas del coronavirus, mi esposo y yo llevamos casados 45 años, y pensamos: "Bueno, podemos decir, oh, Dios mío. Oh, Dios mío. Esto es horrible. O podemos decirnos a nosotros mismos que podemos con esto. Fuimos creados para esto. Descubramos cómo divertirnos, cómo hacer que la vida aún sea agradable, aunque el mundo está bastante mal en este momento". Y tengo curiosidad por su propia relación y las personas que entrevistaron si tienen consejos porque ha pasado tanto tiempo que se está volviendo más desafiante encontrar alegría, diversión y humor en el día.

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, creo que lo que hemos escuchado de los amigos. Por supuesto, cuando entrevistamos a personas para los libros, no tuvimos una pandemia. Pero sé por nuestros amigos, hemos estado haciendo noches de Zoom con amigos. Tenemos fiestas de cócteles por Zoom. Obviamente, cada uno trae su propia bebida y charlamos durante una hora, hora y media y hacemos como una pequeña fiesta de cóctel por Zoom con generalmente seis u ocho amigos. Tenemos noches de cine.

Phil Donahue: Sí, Marlo es muy inteligente. Yo podría ver noticias por cable todas las noches.

Marlo Thomas: Toda la noche, toda la noche. Gran diferencia entre ellos. Puedo mirar durante una hora, y creo que entiendo. Él tiene que verlos a todos.

Phil Donahue: Bueno, este es el lugar donde solía ganarme la vida hasta que me despidieron debido a mi oposición a la Guerra de Irak. Así que ahora estoy mirando por la ventana de la oficina donde me despidieron para ver si todavía están hablando de mí. Y...

Marlo Thomas: Pero el punto es que él ama esas noticias.

Phil Donahue: Y no son, por cierto...

Marlo Thomas: A él le encantan las noticias y a mí me gusta el entretenimiento. Me gustan las comedias. Y entonces hago palomitas de maíz, tengo que hacer la Danza de los Siete Velos o hacer palomitas de maíz, él puede oler eso. Y luego puedo lograr que vea una película conmigo y ha sido divertido porque, crecí en la comedia. Mi padre, Danny Thomas, era un comediante, por lo que siempre veíamos películas de comedia los viernes por la noche en nuestra casa. Así que he podido presentarle las grandes comedias de Mel Brooks como To Be or Not to Be o Albert Brooks Defending Your Life, las cosas de Woody Allen. Hay tantos, los Hermanos Marx, hay tantas grandes comedias. Así que he podido atraerlo a hacer eso. Así que creo que una de las cosas interesantes de estar juntos es que haces un poco más de lo que le gusta al otro.

Así que estoy viendo un poco más de los programas de noticias y descubro que hay un par de estos comentaristas, me atrapa mucho Chris Cuomo y creo que Brian Williams hace un gran trabajo. Por lo general, me gusta mirar durante una hora, y más o menos en la hora, entiendes la idea. Y luego ves la próxima hora y están hablando de los mismos hechos exactos con un pequeño cambio de foco. Y a Phil le encanta eso. La otra noche él estaba viendo C-SPAN, viendo el voto de la Corte Suprema, que yo nunca había visto. Pero me metí en eso y dije: "Guau, es emocionante ver el voto de la Corte Suprema". Nunca hubiera pensado eso, pero allí estaban todos, Ginsburg y Alito, y Roberts y Sotomayor, realmente lo estaba disfrutando. Así que me he vuelto un poco... Porque tengo tanto tiempo.

Phil Donahue: Audio. Audio.

Marlo Thomas: Sí, es un audio... Tienen el audio, pero tienen las imágenes de cada juez, pero está en C-SPAN. Así que es muy vivo y muy vacío, puedes escuchar al abogado, los fiscales, los defensores, los jueces. Estuvo muy interesante. Así que yo estoy viendo un poco más de C-SPAN, él está viendo algunas películas más.

Así que creo que una de las cosas que sucede cuando tienes todo este tiempo es que comienzas a motivarte un poco hacia su lado y luego él se acerca un poco a mí, porque hay mucho tiempo. Por lo general, no tendrías todo ese tiempo para usar y no me gustaría pasar más tiempo viendo C-SPAN, pero dado que hay mucho más tiempo, nos estamos dedicando un poco más a los gustos del otro. ¿Tiene sentido o solo estoy balbuceando?

Barbara Harrison: Tiene sentido para mí. Y creo que Jean puede tener más preguntas que hacerles. ¿Tenemos tiempo para eso, Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Claro que sí. Nuestra siguiente pregunta en realidad proviene de Facebook. Y la pregunta viene de Gabriella. Y Gabriella pregunta: "Somos dos padres muy trabajadores con cuatro hijos, tratar de llevarse bien puede ser un desafío en el mismo hogar. ¿Algún consejo?"

Barbara Harrison: ¿Quieren echarle un vistazo a esa, Julia, Barry?

Marlo Thomas: Sí, porque no tenemos niños pequeños, así que estoy segura de que saben más.

Julia L. Mayer: Bueno, hace tiempo que no tenemos niños pequeños tampoco. Pero es realmente muy difícil para las familias con los niños en el hogar, los padres que trabajan. Y cuando los niños están en la escuela, y espero que su escuela ya haya abierto porque eso sería un alivio. Los estás ayudando con su trabajo escolar o sus reuniones con sus maestros, es una locura. Y creo que lo primero que debes hacer es dejar de tener un estándar. Solo tienes que sobrellevar el día y dar lo mejor de ti. Cuatro niños es, ya sabes, tienes un equipo.

Por lo tanto, deben tratar de programar, como dije antes, establecer un horario para todos para que todos reciban un poco de atención y ustedes tengan algo de tiempo para ustedes, que estoy segura que lo necesitan. Y ambos pueden trabajar, pero en este momento es increíblemente desafiante.

 

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí. Creo que salir del paso a veces es suficiente, y este es uno de esos momentos.

Barbara Harrison: Sí, ciertamente lo es. Todos estamos confundidos y descubrimos que en realidad no es tan malo. Hay algunas cosas realmente buenas al respecto. Me gusta el hecho de que puedo escuchar los pájaros, no escucho el tráfico por mi ventana todo el tiempo, y como tú, también pasamos mucho más tiempo con mi pareja y miembros de la familia. Jean, quiero darle la oportunidad a tu gente que está esperando la oportunidad de hacer preguntas si hay más.

Jean Setzfand: Muy bien. Tenemos una llamada de Shirley, de Texas.

Barbara Harrison: Shirley, de Texas. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

Shirley: Hola, soy Shirley. Tengo... Hemos estado casados por 38 años. ¿Cómo se mantiene el placer sexual? Hace unos cuatro años, comenzamos a reducirnos a casi nada.

Barbara Harrison: Bueno, esa es una buena pregunta. Y sé que lidian con eso en su libro. Entonces, Julia y Barry, ¿qué dicen?

Julia L. Mayer: Aquí hay una foto de nuestro libro.

Barbara Harrison: Oh, ahí está su libro. Si. Sé que responden preguntas sobre la relación sexual. ¿Tienen una respuesta para nuestra oyente de Texas?

Julia L. Mayer: Claro. No es inusual lo que estás describiendo, que a veces en muchas relaciones la relación sexual se queda en el camino. A veces es debido a problemas médicos de alguno de la pareja que, por cualquier razón, la persona podría estar avergonzada de tratarlos. Son evasivos, creen que van a ser juzgados por su pareja, tienen un millón de razones por las cuales las personas simplemente dejan que se filtre. Pero es una parte muy importante de su relación; cuando falta, realmente impacta cuán íntimos se sienten y cuán cerca se sienten el uno del otro. Por lo tanto, recomendamos a las parejas que vayan al médico y se aseguren de que puedan tratar cualquier problema médico que pueda haber.

Y luego, más allá de eso, pueden hacer algunas cosas para reavivar esa chispa. Aquí hay un par de ejemplos. Busquen una receta elegante, una receta complicada, cocinen una cena elegante juntos y coman a la luz de las velas. Sentarse juntos bajo una manta y mirar una película romántica, darse masajes.

Comiencen gradualmente integrando más contacto y más diversión en la relación que tienen para sentirse más y más cómodos y reconstruir esa confianza íntima que puede haberse disipado un poco y luego avancen hacia una intimidad cada vez mayor a medida que ambos se sientan cómodos haciéndolo.

Barry J. Jacobs: Sí, solo agregaría que la otra barrera para las relaciones sexuales es que a veces las personas desarrollan ansiedad con respecto al desempeño. Como dijo Julia, especialmente si han tenido un problema médico o no pueden desempeñarse con el alto nivel que lo hacían cuando tenían 25 años y estaban sanos y vigorosos, entonces, ya sabes, y la gente teme que si no lo cumplen, no complacerán a su pareja como lo hicieron una vez, esa decepción realmente los avergonzará y los hará que eviten no solo el sexo, sino también cualquier tipo de contacto que pueda conducir al sexo. Y, por lo tanto, realmente crea una brecha en la intimidad de la pareja que realmente necesitan sentarse y hablarlo y encontrar nuevas formas de conectarse físicamente porque, como dice Julia, es muy importante. Es una forma de nutrir la parte emocional de la relación tener esa parte física también.

Barbara Harrison: Marlo y Phil, ¿surgió este problema con las 40 parejas de celebridades con las que hablaron?

Marlo Thomas: Hablaron sobre... Ali Wentworth, quien está casada con George Stephanopoulos, solo dijo que sentía que el sexo y tener mucho sexo era realmente importante y que si no lo tenías, entonces algo estaba mal y tenías que, ya sabes, ponerte a trabajar. Quiero decir, no creo que nadie tenga la experiencia y la información que tienen Julia y Barry, pero...

Phil Donahue: ¿Quién hablaba del cola con cola?

Marlo Thomas: Oh, tenemos a Judith Viorst y su esposo Milton que duermen en una cama doble, que es muy pequeña. Quiero decir, tenemos una cama king size. Quiero decir, una cama doble es más pequeña que la que tienes en un hotel. Y ella dijo que siempre la han tenido porque sentían que si dormían cola con cola, era difícil enojarse el uno con el otro. Tengo esa sensación de verdad.

Nunca le preguntamos a nadie sobre su vida sexual. Simplemente salió en la conversación. Pero, cuando dejamos a cada pareja, tuvimos la sensación de que había mucho romance allí y hablaban sobre la luz de las velas y el vino, y estar solos por la noche, acurrucarse y cucharear, y ese tipo de cosas. Pero creo, ya sabes, cuando haces cuchara por la noche, lo cual nosotros hacemos, y nos abrazamos, hay algo en eso. Eso es tan íntimo, solo el contacto de los dedos de los pies, su cuerpo se toca, es tan personal que no lo haces con nadie más. Eso es...

Phil Donahue: Parece que está subiendo la temperatura un poco ahora.

Marlo Thomas: Quiero decir, ya sabes, hablamos, todos hablamos de eso. Pero que la fisicalidad, ya sabes, el cuerpo que conoces tan bien que está al lado tuyo, ya sabes... Cuando haces eso, cuando sus colas se tocan, cuando te acurrucas por la noche y todo eso, eso mantiene la sangre caliente, para que esa actividad sexual no sea un gran salto en el desierto porque se están tocando mucho.

Y creo que eso es lo que Julia y Barry decían de una manera más clínica, pero la mayoría de estas parejas hablaron sobre el hecho de que, ya sabes, ninguno de ellos dormía en camas separadas, hablaron sobre el hecho de que sus padres habían dormido, algunos de sus padres habían dormido en camas separadas o en una habitación separada por razones como el ruido o los ronquidos o lo que sea, pero ninguna de estas parejas lo hacía. Así que fue interesante que estos matrimonios duraran por todas esas razones, ya sabes, que tocarse, intimar y hablarse. Creo que sería muy difícil tener intimidad física con alguien con quien no estabas hablando mucho, que no pudiste expresar tus sentimientos.

Barbara Harrison: Oh, ese es un buen punto. Y la intimidad es importante, creo, en cualquiera de sus formas para mantener una relación. Marlo y Phil, Julia y Barry, antes de que terminemos, ¿pueden compartir con nuestra audiencia lo que los inspira durante este momento difícil para nuestro país? ¿Podrían compartir lo que sienten?

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, lo que me inspira es la forma en que las personas marchan por la justicia. Quiero decir, realmente no hemos salido en absoluto porque estamos en nuestros 80 años y se supone que no debemos salir, y no lo hemos hecho. Vamos al parque. Podemos ver desde nuestra ventana el parque, y salimos a caminar o algo así. Así que hemos estado algo aislados. Pero estoy muy conmovida y emocionada por el hecho de que las personas se están tomando lo que está sucediendo en nuestro país personalmente y quieren ser parte del cambio. Y yo solo...

Estoy emocionada por eso porque eso me inspira que incluso en estos tiempos en que es peligroso salir, están saliendo con sus máscaras y todo. Pero quieren cambiar el mundo por un lugar mejor y más justo, y eso es muy inspirador para mí.

Phil Donahue: Claro, estoy de acuerdo. Estoy totalmente de acuerdo. Sabes, no sé si alguien realmente entendió los prejuicios ocultos que existían dentro de nuestra comunidad en Estados Unidos. Y esta explosión... De manifestaciones dirigidas a personas que pueden haber sido víctimas... A lo largo de los años es, creo, emocionante. No sé si todos usarían esa palabra, pero realmente creo que hemos cruzado el Rubicón aquí. Y que cada vez más personas son capaces de expresar lo que les ha molestado.

Sabes, cuando Trump fue elegido por primera vez... quiero decir, estaba muy deprimido. Sentí que, ya sabes, los Patriots se quedaron en casa... Y las personas que ondeaban la bandera fueron quienes lo votaron. Y estaba enojado con las personas que no votaron. Y ahora veo todas estas manifestaciones en todas partes y me digo a mí mismo... "Estas son personas que no han votado mucho, y ahora lo harán". Así que veo eso como un gran avance para esta nación y para el futuro de nuestros nietos. Creo que será un mundo mejor por eso.

Barbara Harrison: Ciertamente nos vendría bien un mundo mejor. Y creo que al observar algunas de las cosas que han sucedido recientemente, todos podemos respaldar eso de trabajar por un lugar mejor en el que todos podamos vivir. Y me gustaría saber de Julia y Barry, lo que los inspira durante este tiempo.

Julia L. Mayer: Bueno, todo lo que ustedes dos acaban de decir, estamos absolutamente de acuerdo con ustedes. Además, quiero decir que sé que me siento extremadamente inspirada por todo el personal médico, los profesionales, los profesionales avanzados, todos los que han estado arriesgando sus vidas para cuidar a los pacientes con COVID. Y no solo esa comunidad de personas increíbles, sino las personas que entregan comestibles o que salen y hacen las cosas que necesitamos que sucedan en nuestra cultura solo para seguir adelante, que arriesgan sus vidas y que se arriesgan en nombre del resto de nuestras comunidades. Solo creo que esas personas realmente necesitan ser aplaudidas.

Barry J. Jacobs: Y estoy de acuerdo con todo lo que se ha dicho. Solo quiero agregar que esas personas que trabajan tratando la salud del comportamiento, que son los consejeros, los psiquiatras, psicólogos, trabajadores sociales, consejeros profesionales con licencia, estas personas han hecho el trabajo de Yeoman hasta ahora y la expectativa es en los meses que siguen, habrá muchos más estadounidenses que desafortunadamente tendrán más problemas emocionales debido a todo lo que hemos estado pasando. Y nuestra fuerza laboral de salud del comportamiento me está inspirando y continuará inspirándome, creo, por algún tiempo debido a cómo están ayudando a las personas en el país a superar esto.

Barbara Harrison: Descubrimos muchos héroes nuevos en nuestro país y creo que queremos celebrarlos en el futuro. Y les agradecemos a los cuatro por unirse a nosotros para tener esta discusión muy interesante. Buena suerte con ambos libros. Y después de haberlos visto a ambos, espero tener la oportunidad de sentarme. Y como estoy en cuarentena, podré sentarme y tal vez leer los dos libros de principio a fin.

Les agradecemos a todos ustedes, los socios de AARP, voluntarios y oyentes, por participar en esta discusión hoy. AARP, una organización de membresía sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los estadounidenses mayores durante más de 60 años. Ante esta crisis, proporcionamos información y recursos y luchamos por los adultos mayores y aquellos que los cuidan. Todos los recursos a los que se hizo referencia, incluida una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas de hoy, se podrán encontrar en aarp.org/coronavirus el 19 de junio. De nuevo, esa dirección web es aarp.org/coronavirus.

Esperamos que hayas disfrutado la conversación de hoy y hayas aprendido algo que pueda ayudarte a fortalecer tus relaciones con el tiempo. Asegúrate de sintonizar el jueves 9 de julio, el jueves 9 de julio a la 1:00 p.m., hora del este, para nuestra próxima teleasamblea. Pero antes de irte, disfruta de unos momentos con Marlo y Phil con estos deliciosos videos. Son maravillosos de ver.

Nuevamente, a nuestros invitados, muchas gracias por estar con nosotros. He disfrutado esto y estoy segura de que todos los que escuchan y miran también lo han disfrutado. Soy Barbara Harrison, buenas noches a todos.

Phil Donahue: Eres realmente fascinante.

Phil Donahue: Quiero decir, eres...

 

Marlo Thomas: No, pero tú eres maravilloso. Lo dije cuando estábamos fuera del aire. Quiero decir que eres cariñoso y generoso, y que te gustan las mujeres, y es un placer. Y quien sea la mujer en tu vida es muy afortunada.

Phil Donahue: Bueno, muchas gracias.

Phil Donahue: El secreto de la buena comunicación, gritar ayuda. Al menos puedes saber si la persona a la que le estás gritando está escuchando. Y, ya sabes, luego ve a la otra habitación y cuenta hasta 10.

Marlo Thomas: A través de los años, aprendes que no todo es un gran problema y esto no nos va a romper, pase lo que pase. Así que te acostumbras a decir: "Está bien, hablemos".

Phil Donahue: Y un poco de humor ciertamente en un matrimonio es muy útil.

[SOBRE ESCRIBIR UN LIBRO SOBRE EL MATRIMONIO JUNTOS]

Marlo Thomas: El libro se llama What Makes a Marriage Last (Lo que hace que un matrimonio dure). Pensábamos que estábamos armando un libro que tendría muchos consejos sobre cómo tener un buen matrimonio. Pero cuanto más nos involucramos, nos damos cuenta de qué es lo que hace que dure.

Phil Donahue: Entrevistamos a Sting...

Marlo Thomas: Y Trudie.

Phil Donahue: Y Trudie.

Marlo Thomas: Elton y David.

Phil Donahue: Entrevistamos...

Marlo Thomas: Rob Reiner y Michele, y Ron Howard y Cheryl, Mehmet Öz y Lisa, y Sanjay Gupta y Rebecca, y Alan Alda, Arlene Alda.

Phil Donahue: Detrás de todas estas entrevistas, a estas personas realmente les importa. Querían que durara. Si hay algún tema común en las charlas que tuvimos, si tienes que querer tener un largo matrimonio...

Marlo Thomas: Ves lo que hicieron cuando se enfrentaron con la pérdida de un ser querido, la infidelidad, la pérdida de su dinero. Lo que hace que un matrimonio dure es lo que haces cuando te enfrentas a cosas realmente grandes.

[SOBRE TRABAJAR JUNTOS PROFESIONALMENTE]

Marlo Thomas: Me intimidada trabajar con él porque, quiero decir, es como el mejor entrevistador del mundo. Cuando tuvimos la entrevista de Elton John, nos enteramos que solo tendríamos media hora. Bueno, entré en pánico porque tenemos muchas preguntas y todo tipo de ideas. Y entonces, mientras estoy procesando eso y tratando de pensar preguntas, él enciende la televisión y ve un juego de futbol.

Phil Donahue: Todos los días de mi vida en el show, estaba acostumbrado a un invitado por lo general durante una hora y yo. Fue un acto muy importante para mí. Todos los días me acercaba al público con mi micrófono inalámbrico. No sabías lo que iba a pasar.

 

Marlo Thomas: Él decía: "No sé. Nunca preparé una pregunta. Simplemente seguí la corriente". Sabes, no soy Phil Donahue. Simplemente no puedo seguir la corriente. Tengo que estar un poco preparada.

[SOBRE COMPROMETERSE A SEGUIR CASADOS]

Phil Donahue: Tienes que tomarlo muy en serio al principio. Y si no lo haces, creo que muchas parejas están condenadas.

 

Marlo Thomas: No me casé hasta los 40 años, lo cual, si no te casas hasta los 40, tienes muchas relaciones. Y siempre estaba buscando una salida. Así que creo que para mí el matrimonio consiste en comprometerse a que no hay salida. Y eso lo hace mejor, de alguna manera más rico.

 

Phil Donahue: Esta es nuestra oportunidad para recordarles que se suscriban...

Marlo Thomas: Al canal de YouTube de AARP y lo vean. Obviamente, no nos conocemos, por eso nuestro matrimonio es tan bueno porque todavía estamos aprendiendo el uno del otro.

¿Quién eres tú? [WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY? CON MARLO THOMAS Y PHIL DONAHUE]

Marlo Thomas: Hola, soy Marlo Thomas.

Phil Donahue: Soy Phil Donahue.

Marlo Thomas: Llevamos casados ​​40 años.

Phil Donahue: Y descubriremos qué tan bien nos conocemos.

Marlo Thomas: ¡Uh-oh!

Mujer: Marlo, ¿cuál fue tu primer trabajo?

Marlo Thomas: En el teatro.

Phil Donahue: No, maestra de escuela. Tu primer trabajo.

Marlo Thomas: Mi primer trabajo fue en el teatro.

Phil Donahue: Ella va a estar avergonzada.

Marlo Thomas: ¿Qué dijiste? [PROFESORA]

Marlo Thomas: Oh, no. Yo nunca enseñé.

Phil Donahue: ¿Nunca has tenido un salón de clases?

Marlo Thomas: No, hice prácticas estudiantiles, pero no me pagaron.

Phil Donahue: Bueno ... ¡Oh!

Marlo Thomas: No fue un trabajo. Era para obtener mi título.

Mujer: Phil, ¿Cuál es tu idea de una cita romántica?

Marlo Thomas: La idea de Phil de una cita romántica... Ah-ha.

Phil Donahue: Eso es fácil. Eso sería ir a los bolos.

Marlo Thomas: Oh, no, vamos. Tienes que responder la pregunta. ¿Qué crees que yo diría que dirías? Creo que quedarnos en casa. Quedarnos en casa y estar juntos, y ordenar comida para llevar, y estar solos.

Phil Donahue: Sentarnos en un banco del parque y expresar cómo me siento sin ser interrumpido, ¿sabes?

Marlo Thomas: Bueno, bueno, eso es... Quieres saber lo que dije. Dije quedarnos en casa.

Phil Donahue: Oh, ¿no es lindo?

Marlo Thomas: Pero eso es lo que pensarías.

Phil Donahue: Probablemente sí, ahora que lo menciona.

Mujer: Marlo, ¿Por qué es más probable que discutan?

Phil Donahue: ¿Su ropa?

Marlo Thomas: Él, viendo fútbol y yo, queriendo ir al teatro. ¿Qué es?

Marlo Thomas: Oh, no discutimos sobre mi ropa. Oh bien. Si llevo algo escotado, sí, es verdad.

Phil Donahue: Demasiado pecho.

Mujer: Phil, ¿Cuál es tu episodio favorito de That Girl?

Marlo Thomas: Ni siquiera sé que ha visto That Girl.

Phil Donahue: El episodio en el que a ella se le atascó su dedo en una bola de boliche.

 

Marlo Thomas: Fue mi dedo del pie, pero está bien.

Phil Donahue: Oh, dedo del pie.

Marlo Thomas: Y mi respuesta fue que él no vio That Girl. Sé cuál es su Donahue Show favorito, cuando estaba en él. Nos conocimos en su Donahue Show. Quien sea la mujer en tu vida es muy afortunada.

Phil Donahue: Bueno, muchas gracias.

Mujer: Phil, ¿cuál es tu episodio favorito de The Phil Donahue Show?

Phil Donahue: Oh, esa es difícil. El show donde mi invitada fue Marlo Thomas. [EN EL QUE ME CONOCISTE POR PRIMERA VEZ]

 

Marlo Thomas: ¡Sí, tú ganas! En el que me conociste por primera vez. Le acertaste.

Mujer: Última pregunta, Marlo, ¿Cuál es tu canción favorita?

Phil Donahue: La canción favorita de Marlo. ¡Oh cielos!

Marlo Thomas: Mi canción favorita es...

Phil Donahue: Oh, quisiera preguntarle ahora porque sé que cuando ella lo diga, voy a decir: "Oh, sí".

Marlo Thomas: Something in the Way She walks.

Phil Donahue: Moves.

Marlo Thomas: Y me conmueve. Y Elton John cantando Don't Go Breaking My Heart.

Phil Donahue: Por eso la conozco, quiero decir, íntimamente. [BLUE DANUBE]

Marlo Thomas: No puedo esperar. ¿Que es esto?

Marlo Thomas: ¿Qué? No lo sé. ¿Es esa una canción? [risas]

Phil Donahue: No lo sé. Sí.

Mujer: La tarareaste antes. [tararea el Danubio Azul]

Marlo Thomas: Oh, eso es de Austria. Oh, eso es muy gracioso. Bueno, ciertamente hemos demostrado que... [risas] No nos comunicamos. Bueno, es por eso que nuestros matrimonios duraron porque todavía estamos aprendiendo cosas del otro, no estamos aburridos. No sabemos nada.

Phil Donahue: El Danubio Azul; podrías vivir otros 200 años y nunca se te ocurriría eso.

Marlo Thomas: No, eso es cierto.

Phil Donahue: Esta es nuestra oportunidad para recordarles que se suscriban...

Marlo Thomas: ...al canal de YouTube de AARP y lo vean.

The pandemic has resulted in many couples spending more time at home together. This experience can benefit or challenge any relationship. This live Q&A video event featured two couples who shared their expertise about managing relationships during the COVID-19 outbreak while navigating a loss of routine, increased stress, anxiety and health concerns. 

Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue are coauthors of the book What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life. Marlo is an award-winning actress, author and activist whose body of work continues to impact American entertainment and culture. Phil is a writer, producer, journalist and media pioneer who revolutionized the talk-show format. 

Julia L. Mayer, Psy.D., and Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., are co-authors of the new book Love and Meaning: The 10 Challenges to Great Relationship—and How to Overcome Them. Dr. Mayer is a clinical psychologist who has been counseling individuals and couples for almost 30 years. Dr. Jacobs has nearly 30 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, family therapist, and principal at Health Management Associates, a national healthcare consulting firm.

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