"Oprah's a very supportive woman. She's very mothering," Oz tells PEOPLE

By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
Updated April 30, 2015 11:00 PM
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Credit: MediaPunch/Rex USA

Dr. Mehmet Oz has his wife Lisa to thank for helping him weather the storm that gathered when 10 physicians demanded his dismissal from Columbia University last week.

And some encouragement from Oprah Winfrey didn’t hurt, either.

“Oprah’s a very supportive woman. She’s very mothering,” he told PEOPLE while celebrating the HealthCorps Annual Gala in New York City on Wednesday night.

Oprah, who has lived through her own share of controversies, told Oz not to take the criticism too personally.

“She said, ‘You’re not unique, it’s part of the experience of life,’ ” says Oz, 54.

In addition to defending himself through an op-ed and challenging his critics on air, the talk-show host responded to the crisis by getting support from his wife of 30 years.

“She’s the best, she rubs my head. She gives me ideas. She calms me down, because you know the perspective around a lot of these things is important,” he said. “You’ve got to realize that you’re gonna have good times, you’re gonna have bad times, and that’s just life. And so, it’s more about how you take your rudder, your ship through those troubled waters.

“Some of the people walking by on the street here have a diagnosis of cancer. You’d never know it, but that’s a much bigger deal than a couple bad headlines. And you know what’s really, really good, you need someone to pull you back and say, ‘It’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems.’ It is what it is.”

For Oz, Lisa is that person, and he says there’s a secret behind their supportive partnership: renewing the relationship regularly.

“Every seven years you have to reinvent the relationship – this is true not just for marriage, it’s true for work and other friendships – but especially in a marriage,” he said.

“I’ve been married to four women,” he joked. “It’s 30 years [of marriage] this year, but it’s really four different women. They all have the same social security number.”

“You have to get past issues,” he added. “Life changes.”