September 25, 2008
Are you in a rollercoaster relationship that is on again, off again, on again? Perhaps you divorced too soon and are now contemplating a recommitment to that same person? Dr. Phil’s guests, Ty and Wendy, divorced after 11 years of marriage but are considering getting married again. Dr. Phil implores his guests to do the necessary work to fix what was broken in their relationship before they head down the aisle a second time. Here are five steps to create a healthy “I do, take two:”
1. Make a list of every conflict, and compare notes.
“It’s kind of like premarital counseling, except even more important because you had one bite at the apple and you blew it, so now you’ve got to really get your ducks in a row going in,” Dr. Phil says. Discuss each item and what you can do to fix it. Talk about where you stand on money, jobs, sex, parenting, expectations, religion, in-laws and all the issues that you should’ve discussed the first time around. “You need to talk about it, and you need to do it for two reasons: One, so you’ve got a plan and an agreement that you both are comfortable with, and two, because you need the exercise of being partners on something. You need the process of problem-solving those things instead of constantly fighting and bickering. I want you to do this in smooth water,” Dr. Phil says.
2. Set up an environment programmed for a phenomenal family.
“One of the elements to having a phenomenal family is figuring out the role for everybody in the family, especially the kids,” Dr. Phil says. “Kids need to have a role in the family that they recognize such that they can say at night when they go to bed, ‘If I wasn’t here it would not be OK. I have an important job in the family.'” Dr. Phil explains that his role growing up was being the entertainer. Because he played football, the family’s entertainment was going to his games. “So I was the entertainment for the family, and I felt good about that. I felt like I actually had something to contribute,” he says.
3. Embrace the formula for success in a relationship.
Dr. Phil explains his formula for success: “The quality of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it meets the needs of the two people involved. That means you have two jobs. You have to figure out what your needs are, and you have to teach them to [your partner]. And if you talk about those needs, and you recognize what’s important, that’s what true intimacy is. Intimacy is not just physicality; it’s when you truly let someone else into your personal reality with the safety and security of knowing they won’t abuse it,” Dr. Phil says.
4. Learn forgiveness.
“You have to forgive everything that has happened so far. There’s no point in going back into this if you can’t do that,” Dr. Phil tells his guests. “When you say you forgive him, that doesn’t mean that everything he’s done is OK. It just means, ‘I’m going to let you and me be free of that so we can start again.’ If you can’t do that, there’s not point in getting back in with somebody whom you resent.”
5. Make a commitment to stability.
“You don’t play at this. If you get back in, you get back in for good. These children do not need a revolving door family. They don’t need to wonder, ‘Well, is he going to be here this week or gone this week? Is he going to be here for Christmas and not be here for my birthday?’ They need stability,” Dr. Phil says.