Patrick Dempsey Left a Hit TV Show to Save His Marriage, and He Never Looked Back
For 11 seasons, he was one of the most famous doctors in the world, but in 2015, he left his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd behind and broke the hearts of thousands of viewers. What people didn’t know at the time was that Patrick had made this decision out of love. His work took up a huge part of his life, and the only way to get back his wife, Jillian Fink, was to sort out his priorities and put his family first. Patrick and Jillian patched things up, called off their split, and, 23 years later, are still together.
In 1994, Patrick Dempsey made an appointment at a Los Angeles beauty salon called Delux. The salon’s stylist and owner, Jillian Fink, thought it had to be a joke, as one of the employees was a bit of a prankster. “All the people he had written in were names of celebrities famous in the ’80s, like Molly Ringwald,” Fink recounted.
The actor was 28 years old at the time and had already achieved a certain amount of popularity, due to his roles in Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy, among other titles.
When the actor opened the door, the stylist couldn’t believe it. “I was shocked. But at the same time, I was happy because he was so cute,” Jillian admitted years later. The situation was complex, to say the least, as she was in a relationship, and he was ending his first marriage to Rocky Parker, an actress 26 years his senior.
Dempsey could have gone that one time and never come back, but he continued to visit the salon for a long time. By his own admission, “It took another three years of occasional haircuts and harmless banter.” But he felt a certain connection as many years later he said that “she was always flirting,” which Jillian claimed was a lie.
In 1997, after Patrick’s divorce, one of his friends told the actor that Jillian had separated, so he decided to call her. The first date seemed as if taken out of a romcom — the actor cooked pasta for her at his house. Their love was so dizzying and overwhelming that within three months they were living together, and two years later, in 1999, they got married.
The couple had an intimate ceremony on a farm in Maine, which belonged to the actor’s family. “He saw her and started crying,” shared Kristen Mason, the bride’s sister and business partner.
After they tied the knot, both of their careers took off. Jillian, who had sold her Delux salon in 1998, began making her own cosmetics. She took a major leap forward when she created a lipstick for the filming of Charlie’s Angels in 2000, motivated by her friend Drew Barrymore.
As for Patrick, who had been going through a slump in terms of work and popularity for a few years, he rebounded in 2000 with the role of detective Mark Kincaid in Scream 3, a film from the popular horror franchise.
With both of their careers flourishing, she in the cosmetics industry and he in the film industry, they decided to enlarge their family. In 2002, they welcomed Talula, their eldest daughter, and in 2007, their twins Sullivan and Darby. Patrick spoke about his role as a father a few years ago, “I’m constantly amazed by their insight and their observations. It’s fascinating and fun to come up with answers to their questions.”
Despite their strong bond, the couple started experiencing some issues over the years. Dempsey seemed to have no time to devote to his family. In 2004, the actor started racing cars professionally and, in parallel, continued with his acting career, being one of the main stars of Grey’s Anatomy.
In 2015, Dempsey was in Daytona Beach for a 24-hour race when Jillian filed for divorce. At the time, their oldest daughter was 12, and their twins were about to turn 8. “It is with careful consideration and mutual respect that we have decided to end our marriage,” the couple’s official statement read.
In the months following the announcement, despite the rumors, they attended couples counseling to try to pick up the pieces of their relationship. “Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve. We wanted to be role models for our kids like, okay, if you have differences, you can work them out.” In 2016, they called off the divorce and got back together.
The actor had to make a radical decision to win his wife back. In 2015, he left his role as Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, which left thousands of fans heartbroken. In addition, he stopped racing cars and only kept his position as owner of the racing team.
Thanks to therapy, Dempsey understood that his family should be a priority and that quality time with his wife and children was very important. “I became frustrated with the lack of quality of experience in my life. I wanted to get to that deeper level and not just skirt the surface.”
They finally reconciled but never stopped working on their relationship. “You’ve got to communicate, stay open, and not get lazy,” said the actor, who decided to open his heart and speak about what keeps his marriage strong. He even stressed the importance of going on dates, despite the difficulty of raising three children.
Since then, Jillian and Patrick dedicate romantic posts to each other now and then, either for their birthdays or for their anniversary. A very beautiful one was shared in August 2018, when they took a photo kissing each other in the same place where they got married — the message read, “This spot 19 years ago, today.”
There’s a phrase that goes, “insist, persist, resist, and never desist,” and this couple stands by it. Believing that relationships are perfect all the time is a mistake. Fame and money can make us think that celebrities live in rosy worlds, but this is not the case, and the story of the Dempsey-Fink family proves it.
We are passionate about celebrity love stories, and we believe you probably feel the same way. For this reason, we recommend you to check out the article about the unusual love story of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and the one about Hugh Jackman and his wife, who is 13 years older than him.