Their troubles—both real and exaggerated—were plastered all over the tabloids, Spelling's health seemed to be suffering from the stress and they had opened their home for Lifetime's True Tori, which every week featured another installment of sobbing, yelling, accusations and the continuation of a fight that only seemed to be taking them in circles.
It seemed highly unlikely that their then eight-year marriage was going to survive either their issues or the cameras. They didn't share their usual annual family holiday card in 2013 and, in 2014, going by what they'd seen on True Tori, people were shocked that McDermott made the cut.
But all the while, inevitably off-camera...
Tori and Dean were busy figuring it out.
"We didn't really have a Christmas card last year," Spelling told E! News in December 2014. "Dean was getting help for himself and that was really important for him to do and really important for our family during the holidays. This year, we're back together as a family and we're working on building that family dynamic back and making it stronger than it was before, so it was important to me that we mark this because it's a milestone year for us."
But those fights were so brutal, and the overall impression was that McDermott prostrating himself for the cameras couldn't be doing anything for his sense of self-respect, which had gone missing awhile back but eventually would need to be recovered if he was going to be there full-time for his wife and kids.
"I've come to the conclusion that for me, yes, it's too much. I just can't do it anymore...I'm done," McDermott told E! News, sure enough, as the second season of True Tori was winding down.
And so he was. Better yet, however, his wife was done too, even though, as McDermott told us, Spelling found the show "really helpful" and he admitted that being on camera in that way helped kickstart the conversations that needed having at the time.
After a most traumatic year lived purposely in the spotlight, Spelling and McDermott shut it down and went away—as much as was possible anyway—and that might have been the key to saving their marriage.
The parents of four went on to have a fairly quiet 2015—and as it turned out, no news was good news.
They went on to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this year, with Dean "proposing" to Tori in April while the whole family was in Paris before marking the actual date on May 7. They commemorated the milestone with matching tattoos, French phrases on their upper arms that translated to, "My whole heart. My whole life."
And now, less than two years since they starred in one of the most uncomfortable couple's shows in recent memory, their fifth child together is on the way.
Surprising, yes, when you think about the bad times—but not surprising at all when you consider Spelling's devotion to her children and what turned out to be her downright steely resolve to keep her family together. Two years ago, actually, there was a moment shown on camera when Spelling thought she might be pregnant, an indicator that life wasn't really all tears and hashing things out, even back then.
"I believe that women have the power and it was a choice and people can judge me and say, 'Well she stayed with him,'" Spelling explained to E! News this past March. "But I think it's more powerful to make the choice to try to heal the relationship and work on it and work through it if you truly love someone."
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"I love him. We have children together. I want to kind of repair this in a way that we can't repair, so why not start over and rebuild it, and that's what we did," Spelling said.
"We feel so blessed and excited to share the news that we are pregnant with our 5th!" Spelling shared on her website Wednesday. "Although it was unexpected we are thrilled to be adding a little bundle of pure love to our beautiful family."