Erin, the mother from the Dr. Phil Family, participated in a live chat on DrPhil.com to discuss her marriage to Marty, her daughters, Alexandra and Katherine, and her affair. Below is a transcript from the chat.
Erin: Hi everyone, I'm looking forward to answering your questions. Let's get started!
momtam: Hi Erin. I have been watching the story of your family since the beginning. There are so many different issues going on. There are times I am angry with you and times I have so much empathy for you because you are in a tough spot. What is the best thing that has come out of all of Dr. Phil's help so far?
Erin: Learning to take care of myself, so that I can take care of my family and my husband in a healthier way.
kcabnella: Erin - OMG - I am 34, husband 32 - married 3 years, currently separated - we are identical clones of you two....his anger, your wanting some independence....everything! Do I work to save my marriage? I do love him...or do I run?
Erin: Dear K, I would definitely think about getting some marriage counseling because men are actually â€¦ I think men are actually, hmmmâ€¦ I think men need women LOL and we need to take care of them a little bit and when we don't do that I think they feel neglected and act out in different ways. I've been really selfish in our marriage in that I have not taken care of my marriage and husband the way that I should. After doing the exercise Dr. Phil had me do, I realized that a lot of what Marty does is to get my attention.
jb101565: Are you staying with your husband?
Erin: Yes, Marty and I are staying together, and we're working very hard to overcome some of our trust issues and to communicate better and be more emotionally open with each other.
momisme2: Erin, I saw a clip today that showed you standing up against Tony, continuing to try and fight for what's best for Leilah. Since I have the opportunity, I wanted to personally THANK YOU for that. :)
Erin: Thanks momsime2! And I hope that you tune in next week to see what happens!!
I love my daughters very much. I've come to the realization that I've got to let them fall on their own. I have to stop rescuing them all the time, or they'll never really figure it out. They'll always see me and Marty as the backup plan. Marty and I have really become a united force with our daughters so they are no longer able to manipulate us against each other. They find that very frustrating! They're doing their stuff â€¦ and Katherine is working in school and doing well. And Alexandra comes and sees her children several times a week!
momtam: How has Marty changed since the show that aired today, March 29th? I see so much anger in him.
Erin: That was taped a few weeks ago, and actually Marty has really been working hard on his anger, and he can catch himself now and say what he's really feeling, instead of all the posturing and bluffing.
boxinit: Did you commit adultery?
Erin: Yes, I did and I am very sorry for that. I hurt a lot of people. I gave in to my depravity and ended up hurting my family in a terrible way. And I am really ashamed of my selfish mistake.
emblady2010: Erin, why don't you and Marty just go away for a couple weeks and get away from everything?
Erin: OH we would love to do that. But the last time we tried to take a vacation, some bad things happened. Marty and I would love to go see the Grand Canyon because we've never been there, and we love exploring new places and doing things together. We try to take weekend trips just to get away!
marietoon: Really, how should Marty deal with all your anger?
Erin: Marty shouldn't have to deal with my anger. My anger affects him in a negative way. It really just makes his life miserable. We are learning to say "you hurt my feelings" instead of being so angry with each other all the time.
nickykw: Erin, DO NOT let outside forces come between you and Marty. Life is too short to allow your children to use either of you as a wedge, good for both of you, I will be in both of your corners, you go Erin & Marty! ! !
Erin: Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate that so much. It's really tough and it's hard for us, and we're working really hard. We really do have a private life too â€¦
schieftc: How do the grandchildren react to all this drama? There seems to be a lot of focus on the adults' feelings and I don't see much in regard to the kids' feelings.
Erin: Thankfully, we all seem to have the wherewithal to not fight and fuss in front of the children. It's not always perfect, but Marty and I do NOT argue in front of the children, we take it outside, we sit in the car or our bedroom, but we do not argue in front of our grandchildren â€¦ or our children, because if they see it, they use it as a tool to attempt to manipulate us!
lostinab: I have never been in one of these chats, are you getting mine? Please let me know, if not I will stop.
Erin: Yes I'm getting your commentsâ€¦ I'm sorry I missed your question, can you resend.
Yes we do because we realize that our parenting contributed to who they are as adults and we recognize some of our mistakes. Hopefully, through better guidance and influence â€" which is all we can do right now â€" that they will learn some things and hopefully grow up a little more.
ryerson: What type of situation do you hope you and your family are going to be in 5 years from now?
Erin: I can barely think that far ahead right now! I just want to get through not having a crisis and be able to live life. So at this very moment in time, I really can't â€¦ I mean, I hope my daughters have graduated from college and that Alexandra is married to a wonderful man and raising her children, and Marty and I are ready to retireâ€¦ But like Dr. Phil said, I want to stop all this crisis management and live our lives in harmony.
marietoon: Okay, it has been six years since you started receiving guidance, why won't it take with you?
Erin: I'm a really slow learnerâ€¦. Lol. I was never good at aerobics, I was always falling â€¦. I am, I'm a really slow learner and I'm really stubborn. I'm sure you didn't notice that. I think I'm always right. Seriously, it's a very complicated situation, especially doing it in front of America. But I also appreciate what people write on the message boardsâ€¦ because I do read them. But even if I don'[t agree with what people are saying, there's always a little truth that I can take out from the comments.
lilblonde320: I believe everybody loves their children & makes stupid/dumb/selfish mistakes that we regret in the long run & don't care about the consequences @ the time of the mistake.
Erin: I agree, and it's usually about the moment.
I think as we get older, we realize the seriousness of ill-conceived, selfish behavior.
terriishere: On the last episode, you said in front of your daughters that you had an affair. Do you think that is something you should be discussing in front of them? It seems like they are copying your behavior in a way.
Erin: The affair occurred with a family friend that we've known for a long time. So they had an idea that something was going on. I did not discuss it with them other than to say that it was the wrong thing to do. I use it as a tool for what not to do.
And the family friend was not married and does not have any children.
marika50: I really hope Alexandra does not stay with Tony! I think he is bad news - do you agree?
Erin: Of course I agree! Very much, 100 percent. But I think the more I say that, the more she's going to run towards him.
jtownmomof4: Erin, I'm not sure what size town you live in, but is it hard to face the people in your town? Do you ever feel like they are talking about you and your family?
Erin: I KNOW the people in my town talk about me and my family. We actually live in a fairly large town, but our community is rather small and people have their opinions. Our church has been VERY supportive of our family.
boxinit: Can you describe the "typical" day in the life of Erin? I also hope someday soon you can just enjoy being a "grandparent!"
Erin: I would LOVE to enjoy just being a grandma, and I still do it â€¦ to the point of contention with Alexandra. My grandma name is "Mimi" and yes, I do confess to spoiling my grandchildren. A typical day â€¦ I get up and Marty brings me a cup of coffee every morning. Leilah comes in and jumps in the bed!! Then, we get up and do our morning routine, and I workout for an hour when Alexandra comes over. Laundry, dishes â€¦ taking care of the animals. We have lots of animals, like a small farm. It's a "mom" day! Leilah helps me feed the animals, Nathan and I ride bikes, and we pull Leilah and the kids help in the vegetable garden. We all have dinner together every night, and then it's getting the kids to bed.
Marty and I try to spend at least an hour together â€¦ just us, whether it's reading or just hanging out.
litcit: Did you contact Dr. Phil this time, or did they contact you to see what was up?
Erin: Actually, Robin and I were talking. We were Twittering actually, and I was letting her know about some stuff going on, and Phil had the producers give me a call. I thought people might see us a complete failure, but we came back because I'm desperate to get my family and Marty and I on the right track. And I know that Dr. Phil can provide extraordinary services for our family.
kcabnella: Have you and Marty ever separated?
Florida does not have a legal separation. And no, we've never really spent a large amount of time apart.
paarms: I know things will get better, and know that you are helping a lot of us out here!
Erin: That would be one of the factors that I thought about when disclosing such personal and private things about our lives. And I do hope that people can learn what not to do, and that hopefully you can use the tools that Dr. Phil is putting out there for us to enhance the qualities of your own lives. Something good has to come from all this!!
I'm sorry I wasn't able to get to everyone's questions. I do respond to the comments on my blog, and I do read the message board and appreciate everyone's comments â€" even the ones that are not the most flattering. â€¦ And I think all women are princesses and should be treated as such!