Okay, so technically, the marriage was annulled. And apparently, it's not that big of a secret anymore. You may be thinking, "But I just saw Dr. Phil and Robin on television, and he and Robin looked very happy!" Well, of course they are. That's because Robin is Dr. Phil's second wife!
Yes, I'm serious.
I don't know if they ever sang "Sha-la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la, la-tee-dah" but back in high school Dr. Phil was the quintessential jock and has a cute little brown-eyed cheerleader on his arm. The book Dr. Phil: Self-Help Guru and TV Superstar by Mary Main is quoted as saying:
Phil dated Debbie Higgins, the most popular girl in school. Higgins, the head cheerleader...was friendly to everyone, not jut the cool kids. Debbie won every election she entered, including homecoming queen. Phil and Debbie were together so much that some of their teachers called them "Mr. and Mrs. McGraw." Once in a while, Debbie and Phil would argue and break up for a while. None of the other guys dared to ask Debbie out during those times. They knew they would have to face an angry Phil if they did.
Woah, why all the anger? The book also states that Dr. Phil is the child of an alcoholic. His father Joe made a lot of progress throughout Dr. Phil's high school years, but by then the damage was done. When Joe moved his psychology practice to western Texas, Phil stayed in Kansas to finish high school -- and no doubt, be close to Debbie!
Debbie went off to study social work at Southwest Missouri State, while Dr. Phil entered the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. The two maintained a long-distance relationship, and Dr. Phil went so far as to give the cute little cheerleader a promise ring after high school. The couple both left their respective institutions for higher learning -- he due to a sports in jury, and she due to financial reasons -- and Dr Phil asked Debbie to come with him to Lubbock, Texas. As a sign of things to come, that same day a deadly tornado ripped through the town. Despite the ominous warning, the naïve couple married six months later.
Unhappily Ever After
Life in Kansas was no basket of peaches for Dr. Phil and Debbie. The two communicated less and less. All the time he invested into his health spa business left poor Debbie feeling sad and withdrawn, and more like a Prada accessory on the arm of the self-proclaimed guru than a life partner. While he dove into his family's health care industry, she was stuck, staying at home with only the dreaded domestic chores to keep her company.
As business grew, so did the size of Dr. Phil's house, his toys (including a sports car and an airplane), and his ego. The enjoyment Debbie got out of the lifestyle was not enough to sustain her part of the marriage. An independent thinker, she reportedly felt shut out and emotionally distanced when she said or did something that went against Dr. Phil. When the health spa folded, so did the marriage of this young couple.
Goodbye, Debbie...Hello, Robin!
Could the marriage have survived? Relationships are hard enough without long-distance families and trying to run a business on top of it. It almost seems like Dr. Phil's marriage was doomed from the start. It wasn't long after the annulment that he met Robin, his current wife. After four years of steady dating, the two married and moved into a modest, two-bedroom apartment. Both children of alcoholics, each avoided drinking and was committed to creating a healthy family together.
Anyone who watches Dr. Phil on television can confirm that creating a healthy family is exactly what this couple has done. One of my favorite parts of the show is when the credits are rolling at the end. Not because it's over and I no longer have to listen to his advice! It's because often, you'll see Dr. Phil and Robin walking backstage, hand in hand, together as a happily married couple. It's quite obvious Robin is one woman who is completely behind her husband and supports him one hundred percent.
First marriages might last a short while, or a lifetime. Dr. Phil is proof that it takes two people to make a success out of marriage. It seems the mistakes made in his first marriage were not soon forgotten, and perhaps he used them as a learning tool to improve his second attempt at being a husband.
Aunt Mollie on January 01, 2012:
What an insight you have provided about this man. Aunt Mollie very much enjoyed this article.
Tammy from North Carolina on December 31, 2011:
Scandalous.. I love Dr. Phil. I never knew that before!
Sheila Varga Szabo from Southern California on December 31, 2011:
Interesting indeed. Many of us think love is great when we're young, and head for the chapel, thinking that's the solution. Then, one morning you wake up and realize you're living like roommates in the house, like a partnership, rather than a relationship (relationship meaning you have common goals and path in life, and are following them together). That story actually gives me hope. I'm always happy to see Dr. Phil get along so well with his wife. I wish that for everyone (even though sometimes a divorce has to happen to achieve it).
Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on December 31, 2011:
Interesting hub. I remember seeing he was married previously but it was a situation similar to Tom Hanks' first marriage. They cared about each other and felt it was the right thing to do even though they were forging separate paths. I don't think a failed marriage makes him a failure in his work but someone who is clued in to the experiences of heartache and heartbreak before true love. Good job.
sabrani44 on December 31, 2011:
Good hub, a very interesting read. Dr. Phil looks pretty happy with his second wife.
juiwei2000 on December 31, 2011:
dashingscorpio from Chicago on December 31, 2011:
Very interesting article. Not many people would have been patient as Robin to date someone for 4 years prior to marriage. I think the first marriage failed for a lot of reasons including and not the least is teenage love rarely lasts forever. Very few people find their soulmate before learning (who they are). We generally don't know who we are, what we want, or what we need in a mate for several years. The best relationships are between two people who share the same goals for the relationship.