Real Housewives of Potomac star Robyn Dixon is proving that when it comes to marriage, sometimes the second time’s the charm. She and Juan Dixon, her high school sweetheart and ex-husband, reportedly tied the knot for the second time in a secret wedding that is set to air on the show’s final episode of the season.
It’s been a long ride for Robyn and Juan, who began dating more than 20 years ago and first got married in 2005. They had two sons, Corey and Carter, before divorcing in 2012. Despite a seemingly happy marriage at first, their relationship was strained by financial issues and rumours of infidelity and they divorced in 2012.
The divorce raised eyebrows, though, due to the uniqueness of their living situation after splitting up. They continued living together and even sharing a bed, prompting questions from her cast mates and people watching the show about the true status of their relationship.
Because of the financial strife they were facing, their options were limited, and it made the most sense to continue living together. When she was introduced on the show, her family was in the midst of downsizing their home and making massive changes to their lifestyle. Despite being fairly transparent about their financial issues, the audience never got the whole story of what brought on their difficulties. Then, one episode shed some light on how they went from basking in the riches of Juan’s hefty salary as a college basketball coach and former NBA player, to owing more than $200,000 to the IRS.
In the emotional episode, Robyn and Juan had a reading with a medium. And through that conversation, it was revealed that a former friend of Robyn and Juan, who was a groomsman in their first wedding, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the couple before taking his own life. She opened up about this in an interview with Bravo, saying:
“The pain and hurt that I felt in 2012 was beyond any other hurt that I have ever felt. The loss of money really created huge problems for us,” she said. “On top of the devastation from the loss of money and the loss of a friendship, I experienced the shock of my life when that same friend took his own life in order to avoid the consequences of his actions. This truly was the most difficult time of my life. I experienced so many emotions – anger, hurt, shock, sadness, despair, confusion,” she continued.
Throughout the show, the audience sees how that experience altered Robyn’s trajectory. She had a very hard time trusting people. But the audience also got to see how that experience brought the couple closer. You really witness the thawing, so to speak, of the couple’s icy relationship. Despite living together and experiencing a fair deal of tension, even in the latest season leading up to their nuptials, their resilience as a couple is hard to deny.
Three years ago, Robyn described their relationship taking a turn for the better, saying they began having sex again and were doing it quite often. Later that season, Juan popped the question for the second time at a holiday party.
It took three years for the couple to secure a marriage license, and there were a few issues causing the holdup with the wedding. The first was the pandemic, which brought on an episode of mild depression in Robyn. During one season of the show, cameras captured Juan getting the kids dressed and ready for online school while Robyn slept the day away, unable to get out of bed. Juan threw his support behind her, encouraging her to seek out therapy, and slowly but surely her mental health began to improve.
The second reason behind the holdup, though, was Robyn’s demand for a prenup. In the time since their divorce, she began flipping homes to earn extra income. She also began a hat line called Embellished, the inventory for which was completely sold out after first being featured on the show. And lastly, she and her co-star Gizelle Bryant have started the Reasonably Shady podcast which earns the two some extra income. So despite a sizeable discrepancy between Juan and Robyn’s earnings for a majority of their time together, in recent years, she’s actually exceeded his income.
More important than just wanting to protect her assets was her wanting to protect her heart. She met with a lawyer to see if it was possible to have a prenup drafted up with an infidelity clause. Juan was initially frustrated and resistant to her request, insisting that he had changed, but he gradually opened up to the idea and agreed to sign it, which brought great relief to Robyn. She was finally expressing some excitement at being able to move ahead with the wedding planning, which, to this point had been at a standstill because her expectation of a prenup was not being met.
Even in the planning of her wedding, she had a laser focus on what she wanted and how she wanted the ceremony to be. Weddings are always a huge spectacle and storyline on the Real Housewives, but Robyn wanted none of that and she made that clear.
"I don't even know if I want a wedding. I don't know if I need one — like, a traditional wedding," she said in one episode. "I'm going to keep it super simple....It'll just be the four of us. We're not telling anyone."
"It's literally just the ceremony and that's it. We don't need no cake, no reception — nothing," she told her assistant. "The thought of an actual wedding and all the pomp and circumstance that come with it, that doesn't excite me. It just feels more special to do it privately, without worrying about everyone else and how they perceive it," she added in a confessional.
I’ve had a hard time liking Robyn this season, but seeing the growth she’s displayed when it comes to her independence and self-advocacy has given me something to admire. Her unwillingness to waver in her request for a prenup with an infidelity clause, coupled with her ability to get creative and establish new ways of making money is impressive – but also indicative of how women tend to advocate for themselves better the second time around.
Whether you’re marrying the same person or approaching a second relationship or marriage with someone new, it’s important for women to carry the lessons they learned the first time around to ensure they’re not missing key indicators that signal trouble ahead.
Despite the amount of changes made by both parties as they enter into this new (but familiar) chapter, research around the second marriage failure rate suggests they might have an uphill climb ahead. Granted, most of the data available is targeted towards new couples, but some of the findings, particularly as it pertains to science, could still indicate the challenges ahead for couples like Robyn and Juan.
Neuroscience data suggests the failure rate of second marriages can be attributed to responses we developed in childhood that become triggered in our everyday lives without our conscious awareness. Essentially, we don’t choose to respond the way that we do, we just find ourselves in reflexive, responsive states. Being hard-wired in this way means that unhealthy habits we exhibited in our past relationships are more likely to creep up time and time again, especially when we’re not working actively to curtail our hardwired responses.
When you consider the amount of bad habits that can be developed over the course of a long-term relationship like Juan and Robyn’s, it exacerbates the amount of work and unlearning that has to go into building a new environment for a relationship to thrive in.
Part of this work and unlearning can include therapy, which neither Robyn or Juan are new to. And while couples therapy can be a great tool, research suggests that if couples’ therapists aren’t helping us to actively address the science behind our behaviour, we’re missing a critical factor in what could be causing our demise.
Science aside, the convenience of staying together is also at the forefront of this love story. Consider the fact that during their financial duress, they stayed together rather than parting ways, despite being divorced. Splitting the cost of living and having two parents on hand to help with childrearing are two very comprehensive benefits of married life, amongst several others, most of which benefit the man in any given heterosexual relationship, which I wrote about in this article. The skeptic in me wonders how much of their togetherness is about actually wanting to be together and how much of it is about the comfort of being together.
I’m rooting for Juan and Robyn. But mostly, I’m rooting for Robyn. Sure, Juan has grown and evolved, but I wonder how much of that growth and evolution is because he had a woman like Robyn by his side. As much as Robyn is prioritizing her best interests, I wonder if her vision may be clouded by the fact that for most of her life, this has been her only reality. She doesn’t have much of a frame of reference for what else might be out there for her. But if her love for Juan is strong enough to keep any interest in other alternatives in her peripheral, then perhaps things really will be better this time around.