Real (Not Sugar-Coated) Secrets to a Happy Marriage
Dr. Phil, Relationship Guru
Not that he would admit it, but on the day we meet for an interview, the usually indefatigable Dr. Phil McGraw has finally run himself ragged. He's had a whirlwind of TV guest spots, including filling in as host on Larry King Live. That's come on top of the demands of his daytime talk show, which took him to flood-ravaged New Orleans, where he counseled traumatized rescue workers and literally provided a shoulder to cry on. Now he's treating himself to a little R & R by attending tennis matches at the U.S. Open, in New York City, but he just can't seem to unwind. What's a big, tough-talking self-help guru to do? He calls his wife, Robin.
"Phillip said he was feeling a little blue after seeing all the suffering in New Orleans," Robin tells me later. "He asked if I would fly out to be with him." Robin was on the first flight out of Los Angeles. When she shows up, Dr. Phil claims the visit was her idea.
He can be forgiven his little white lie. The private Dr. Phil is a man who feels comfortable asking for love and support when he's feeling needy -- and he knows that his wife will be able to give them. As he explains in his new book, Love Smart: Find the One You Want -- Fix the One You've Got, such trust is one of the essentials of a healthy union, both for dating couples as well as the long married. Returning in part to the subject matter of his 2000 best seller, Relationship Rescue, and to his roots as clinical psychologist Phillip C. McGraw, PhD, he has distilled two decades of counseling experience from his private practice in Texas into a no-nonsense guide to finding the right person, creating a true connection, and sustaining love and respect over the long, difficult road that is marriage. Given the country's perennially high divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent, it's advice both singles and marrieds are presumably hungry for.
When he isn't busy with his talk show, now in its fourth season, Dr. Phil, 55, loves spending quiet time with Robin, 52, at their palatial Los Angeles home, as well as getting together for golf or tennis with sons Jay, 26, also an author (The Ultimate Weight Solution for Teens), and Jordan, 19, a freshman at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. Dr. Phil recently spoke about the importance of establishing a respectful relationship right off the bat, how early problems presage later conflicts, and how to mend a marriage that has gone astray.