My Favorite Mistake

Newsweek, December 12, 2011 | Go to article overview

My Favorite Mistake


Dr. Phil on the snip-snip he really regrets.

When Robin and I were first married, four years in, she gets pregnant with Jay. I wasn't really ready to have kids yet. At that age I was a young lion, a doctor with a new practice. I wasn't focused on family. I thought it would have been better if we waited. But she's pregnant--what do you do? You get happy about it. But I told her I really would like to have just the one. We negotiated and she said yes.

I think the reason she said yes is because she was so excited about being pregnant, she didn't look beyond. Shortly thereafter, while she was pregnant, I was doing work in another city with a good friend of mine. He said, "The office closes at 5--why don't you come in and we'll do your vasectomy?" He didn't have a nurse there, so I actually assisted him by handing him the instruments. (It's painful when they kind of pull on it.) He put me in the car with an ice pack, and I drove myself to the airport and flew home. That vasectomy was the biggest mistake I ever made. I was 29.

Robin never said a word about it. Six years later, we're in a big ballroom, at a life-skills-training thing, with 300 people in attendance, and I'm the leader. Out of this hum, I hear her say to someone else: "The biggest regret in my life is that I agreed to have only one child." I thought, I am supposed to hear this. I always thought in our marriage, if we disagreed I would say, "How important is this to you on a scale from 1 to 10?" On this she would have said 10. …

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