May 03, 2004
After meeting the six couples in Dr. Phil’s “Relationship Rescue Retreat,” the audience asks Dr. Phil their questions.
Q: You say, “You get what you deserve.” How do you figure out what you deserve?
A: That’s up to you. If you believe that you are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, then you will command that in others in the way you conduct yourself and engage yourself with them. If you believe that you are entitled to peace and harmony in your life, you will create that. If you believe that you don’t deserve that, if you believe that’s for other people, if you grew up in some kind of dog patch hellhole where everybody yelled and screamed and fought, and that’s all you’ve ever known, and you just think that that’s what you’re worth, then that’s what you’ll get.
Q: You’ve said that men and women have different views about taking out the trash. Why is it important to women that men take out the trash?
A: It’s interesting that you ask that because I have actually researched that specific question. And what I have found is that men categorize things differently than women do. If you gave men categories to put things under, things like taking out the trash and putting gas in the car, men would put those under the category of a “duty” — it’s just a duty that they have to do. When you ask women to sort out the same pile, they all put those things under the category of “love.” So, I asked the women about it and their answers were universally the same. They said, “He takes the trash out because it is an unpleasant task, and he does it because he loves me and wants to save me from doing that.” That’s why women say one of the sexiest things men can do is bathe the kids at night or fix dinner. It’s a gift to her to make her life better, so that’s a gift of love.
Q: What’s going on with marriage? If people are looking at this series and saying, “Oh, that’s us,” should they go out and get therapy or just call it quits?
A: Well, I think that the whole idea of what we try and do here is raise awareness in people’s minds at home, because we didn’t used to have this kind of content on TV before. Nobody used to talk about this before in a meaningful way. I hope what came across as one of the messages here is that you’re each 100 percent responsible for your relationship. I’m trying to kind of shake people out of it so they say, “You know, he’s right, I’m picking on my children’s mother!” If you change what you do, you elicit different things. So if you’ve got both people working on it, you can make some change. I’m trying to really rattle people.
Q: How can I get over my need to be right, and my need for my husband to not be right?
A: Just quit doing it. Honestly, just quit. I told these people, “You have to make a decision: Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” And being right is a real lonely place to be. You may think you’re right, but you may be arguing absolutely to the destruction of your marriage. People who need to be right are insecure. They really do believe that if they get validation from people, then that means they’re in control. And if they’re in control, they can make things happen the way they want them to happen. But that’s an illusion, it’s a myth; you can’t do that. It’s like, “If I control things tightly enough, then I get to stay. Nothing bad will happen.” It’s like grabbing the soap in the shower, the harder you squeeze it, the more elusive it becomes. You cannot make people do what you want them to do all the time. That turns a marriage from an adult/adult relationship into a parent/child one, and children ultimately rebel. And if you create your marriage in a parent/child relationship, the spouse that is in the child role will eventually break away and rebel. It’s a struggle for control.