"My Son Picked the Wrong Fiancée"

August 7, 2013
Gayle says her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Hannah, is manipulative, immoral and disrespectful — but she’s never even met her! Gayle's son, Ryan, says his parents will never accept Hannah because they hold out hope that he will reunite with his ex-fiancée and mother of his daughter. See what happens when Gayle and Hannah meet, and mother and son come face to face for the first time in three years on Dr. Phil's stage! Can this family find a common ground from which to build an amicable relationship?




More than 16 million kids in the United States are at risk for hunger each day. Fortunately, you can help. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank. And, help Dr. Phil raise enough money for 10 million meals. Donate today!


Ryan and HannahGayle and Gary

Estranged from Their Son

"Ryan’s girlfriend, Hannah, whom he calls his fiancée, is immoral, disrespectful and manipulative," says Gayle. "Their relationship is based on sin. Hannah is the cause of all of our problems. If she would just go away, that would solve everything."

"My mom hates Hannah with a passion. She’s never even met her, and I don’t even think she wants to," says Ryan.

"Ryan chose to give me an ultimatum, that if I didn’t accept Hannah, then he wanted nothing to do with me," Gayle says, adding that he made this statement a week after he and Hannah started dating. "As long as I have nothing to do with her, he’ll have nothing to do with me. That was his choice, not mine."

Ryan says that it's been about three years since he's spoken to his mom and a year and a half since he's talked to his dad. "My mom called me and said, ‘Come get all your stuff. It’s in the garage.’ My mom was throwing out all my trophies, my photo albums from when I was a kid, my first haircut — I just couldn’t believe it," he recalls.

Ryan says that no matter what he does, he feels like his ex-fiancée, the mother of his daughter, will always be his parents’ favorite. "My parents definitely chose my ex over me," he says. "Last year, my parents did spend Christmas vacation with my ex and her boyfriend, and it hurt me bad, because I didn’t even get a phone call."

"If Ryan’s ex is good enough to sleep with, she should be good enough to marry," says Gary, Ryan's dad. "We still maintain a real good relationship with my granddaughter’s mom. We have her come over for birthdays, for Christmas, for Thanksgiving. We also have had her at our vacation place up in North Carolina."

"Since we met Ryan’s ex, we’ve grown to love her," says Gayle."When Ryan broke up with his ex, it broke my heart."

"I want to scream all the time and tell them, ‘I’m your son. What are you doing wasting your time with my ex, when you should be with me?’" Ryan says. "If my parents don’t accept Hannah as my fiancée, I think they definitely need to be out of my life."

Gayle explains why she hasn’t met Hannah. “Why does he have to take his friend’s leftovers?”

Dr. Phil asks Gary to weigh in. “How do you feel about Hannah? Do you know her?"

“I have met her. I have met her family. I don’t have a problem either way,” he says. “The problem, I guess, that I really have is how [Ryan] treats his mother. He was never raised that way.” He adds that he used to be close to his son and misses their relationship. “Until [Hannah] came along, our family was very close.”

“Did you stand up for your wife?” Dr. Phil asks. “Because your family wasn’t big on her.”

“They were until we married,” Gayle says.

Gary admits that he didn’t stand up for Gayle. “If I had it to do all over again, yes, I would have,” he says.

The Meeting

Hannah, 21, a full-time student earning her bachelor's degree, shares her thoughts on the situation. "Gayle tries to dictate who Ryan dates," she says. "Gayle acts like a major bully."

Hannah agrees with Ryan that Gayle and Gary still hold out hope that Ryan will reunite with his ex-fiancée. "They worship his ex and they think that she’s God," Hannah says.

Hannah says in an effort to win acceptance from Gayle and Gary, she's sent Christmas cards and gifts, and birthday invitations, but Gayle ignores her gestures. "I get the nastiest looks from Ryan’s parents. They treat me as if I’m trash and I should not be around," she says. "I feel I deserve respect from Ryan’s parents. I am his fiancée, and I’m here to stay."


What does Gayle have to say to her future daughter-in-law?

Gayle defends her behavior. “This whole situation has been turned around to make me look like the bad person.”


“Is it possible that you misjudged her?”



Could Hannah be Influencing Ryan's Behavior?

Gayle says Ryan is too harsh with his 7-year-old daughter. "Ryan’s relationship with his daughter is worse because of Hannah. She said, ‘I just want to spend time with my dad when Hannah’s not there.’ So, we said, ‘Tell your dad.’ She said, ‘I can’t. I’ll get in trouble.’ How does Hannah look herself in the mirror when she knows what she’s done?" Gayle asks. "Ryan treats his daughter like a slave, instead of a 7-year-old. When she got in trouble at home, her dad made her scrub her own bathroom, make her own bed, make their bed and scrub their toilet."

"Since we made her clean the bathroom when she got in trouble, she actually enjoys it," Hannah says.

Gayle claims that Ryan also humiliated his daughter in public. "She used to play soccer, and something she did made him angry, so he grabbed onto her ponytail and tossed the water from his bottle on her back," she recalls. "
One time, she had got in trouble at school, so Ryan forced his daughter to run laps in front of all the other children at cheerleading."

"It’s not like Ryan snatched her and spanked her. All he did was poor water on her to wake her up, because she was being lazy during a soccer game," Hannah explains. "Ryan has made his daughter run for discipline, but it’s for exercise, and he’s doing it for her own good."

"Rather than spanking her, I try to make her exercise," Ryan admits.

"If worse comes to worse, I might have to call DCS," Gayle says.


“To discipline your child publicly is wrong.”


Is Gayle willing to make any effort to be at peace with Hannah? And, Dr. Phil shares what he believes is behind Gayle's behavior.


A Challenge for the Women

Dr. Phil challenges the women. “I want the two of you to take a trip for one thousand miles, and I will pledge $10 a mile. That’s $10,000 to take this trip,” he says. The women can keep the money or donate it to charity. “I truly think if you two were locked up in a car for 1,000 miles, you just might get to know each other.”

Hannah accepts.

Gayle says no. “Can I take my husband?” she asks, wiping away tears. “Because if I can’t, I can’t go.”

Dr. Phil agrees that Gary can go.

“Fine,” Gayle says, shaking her head.