They’ve been wed for 42 blissful years and insist on never spending more than a few nights apart. But there’s one thing Dr. Phil McGraw and his wife, Robin, know they can’t do together. “Ask us how many times we’ve played doubles on the tennis court,” Robin jokes in the new issue of Us Weekly. “One time! It was our first and last.” As Dr. Phil explains, “We’re too competitive.”
But it’s only in sports that the parents of two face conflict. “I always tell people that the formula for a good relationship is that it’s based on a solid friendship,” says the host of the syndicated ratings juggernaut Dr. Phil. “We’re really good friends.” The self-help guru, 68, and his entrepreneur wife, 64, share more about their rules for a happy marriage.
What do you think you bond over the most?
RM: At this point, our family [sons Jordan, 32, and Jay, 39, and his wife Erica, plus their children, Avery, 8, and London, 7] would probably be number one, then our relationship. We spend a lot of time together, but we have our own interests separately.
DPM: We go to work together every day because Robin’s been at every show. Robin is, in my opinion, a very critical part of the Dr. Phil team and the brand because most of my viewers are women. She’s a great balancing force for me.
What about at home?
DPM: We play a lot of pinball. We have a pinball machine, and we go out there at night when we should be in bed and play pinball.
RM: We always agree to play one or two games, but we’re both competitive and end up playing maybe 10 or 15. It’s ridiculous, but it’s so fun!
How do you connect when you’re apart?
DPM: When we do have to be apart, we never go for more than two or three days. If I have to go to New York to tape something and I’m up at 6 a.m. and it’s 3 a.m. in L.A., she’ll FaceTime me before she goes to sleep. I’m like, “What are you doing?” She doesn’t like to go to bed when I’m not here.
Robin, does he ever “Dr. Phil” you?
DPM: Oh, hell no!
RM: No, you don’t do that. I covered that before he was ever “Dr. Phil.” He was in school studying and he asked me one night to be his patient so he could practice a personality test. I sat down in the little apartment we lived in and he started asking me these questions and, man, I was in a ball in the chair at one point. I think I might have even said, “Don’t ‘Dr. Phil’ me anymore!”
How do you get past tough times?
DPM: All couples fight and have disagreements, but we don’t have big blowups because we deal with things when they arise. We don’t let it build up for a week, two weeks, three weeks. We’ve never been separated — and the “D” word has never been spoken in this house.
RM: We really did agree from the start that we weren’t going to fight, and so we just don’t. The older we get, the more we truly believe life is just too short. We’re just happy and proud of what we have.
For more on the McGraws’ marriage — including the dates they make for themselves — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.