March 31, 2009
How young is too young to tie the knot? Dr. Phil works with three young couples in unhealthy relationships rocked by betrayals, domestic violence and infidelity. Will three days in The Dr. Phil House set them straight on the path toward healthy and loving partnerships?
Tara, 22, says her common-law marriage is full of hatred. She says her partner, Matt, calls her terrible names, doesn’t help her with housework or their three children, and has even threatened to kill her. Matt, 26, says Tara likes to fight and goes into attack mode over little things like an empty toilet paper roll.
Monica, 20, says she can’t take another day in her marriage and has filed for divorce for the second time. She says her husband, Cadum, is lazy, has cheated on her and acts like a teenager rather than a husband and father. Cadum, 22, says his wife is controlling, and he has to lie to stay out of trouble.
Jenna, 21, says every day with her fiancé, Ed, is hell. She’s called off the wedding at least fourteen times because of their constant out-of-control fighting. Ed, 21, says Jenna beats him, yet he’s the one who gets arrested.
Dr. Phil offers to put these couples up in The Dr. Phil House for an intensive three-day relationship overhaul. Can these young couples get their relationships back on track for the sake of their children? Get caught up on what you missed in Part 1.
Part 2 Summary:
After moving into The Dr. Phil House, the couples notice their photos and comments they’ve made about their partners featured on a giant board. Looking at their dysfunction in black and white, the couples note similarities in their gripes about their spouses. Monica and Tara find common ground because both say their husbands have threatened to kill them.
Dr. Phil mixes up the couples and asks them to sit down with new partners to gain a different perspective. After talking about their relationship problems, the men are asked to predict whether the other pairs will stay together or split, based on what they’ve heard from the women.
Looking at the comment board, Matt predicts divorce for Monica and Cadum, citing a lack of trust from Monica because of Cadum’s infidelity. Cadum claims he’s never cheated, despite a sticky situation with his ex-girlfriend, but Monica argues that her husband crossed a line with the other woman before finally pushing her away. Cadum smiles and explains that he was drunk when it happened and admits he was doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. His smile angers Monica, and as their argument heats up, she breaks down into tears. Matt also notes Cadum’s lack of interest in being a good father, which launches another fight between the couple.
Jenna gets in Cadum’s face, angrily defending Monica and accusing him of being a poor father and husband.
Cadum predicts divorce for Jenna and Ed, citing infidelity on Ed’s part, including getting caught in bed with another woman. Ed attempts to explain his version of what really happened, but Jenna loses her temper and screams at her fiancé about his indiscretions, which she says are always related to his drinking.
Ed predicts divorce for Tara and Matt, noting Matt’s threats to kill his wife and observing a lack of love between them. Matt agrees with Ed’s prediction, but downplays the threat on Tara’s life, saying he wasn’t serious. Tara also agrees with the divorce prediction, saying they never resolve their fights, and she will never forget his threat to kill her.
The men and women separate and move to different areas of The House to share and commiserate with each other’s stories. Later, Matt and Tara sit together outside and both express a desire to fix their broken relationship for their children.
Then, Dr. Phil arrives and sits down with the group, explaining that they are all creating a toxic legacy for their kids. He predicts that if their relationships don’t improve, they could be at risk of having their children taken from them. Jenna explains that she and Ed don’t fight around their kids, but Ed disagrees. Dr. Phil shows a video of their explosive fight in The House and tells Jenna her behavior is unacceptable. He also admonishes her for yelling at another woman’s husband.
Dr. Phil turns to Monica and asks why she would allow Jenna to speak to her husband that way. Monica says Cadum deserves it and then accuses her husband of being a liar. When Dr. Phil addresses their fights that have escalated to the point where police have been called, the couple argues about incidents of physical violence, Cadum trapping Monica in their house, and Cadum threatening suicide.
Dr. Phil questions why Ed and Jenna haven’t set a wedding date. He asks Jenna why she would want to marry Ed when she claims he’s an alcoholic. After hearing Ed confess that he drinks 12 beers a day, Dr. Phil tells him point blank: “You’re an alcoholic.” Jenna grows tearful, relieved that someone else acknowledges what she believes to be true. Dr. Phil questions Jenna about her out-of-control anger, calling her a bully. When he tries to uncover why she’s so mad, Jenna breaks down in tears.
Part 3 Summary:
Dr. Phil digs deeper into why Jenna is so angry and tells her it’s not about her fiancé, Ed. Reviewing her attitude of “Get them before they get me,” Dr. Phil asks, “They got you in the eight grade, didn’t they?” Jenna weeps, remembering when she was raped by three men. She explains that she’s always pushed men away from her, including Ed, and that traumatic childhood event is the source of her own violent behavior. She says she doesn’t want to hurt Ed anymore.
Dr. Phil turns to Ed and asks if he agrees that he has a drinking problem. Ed says he realizes he is an alcoholic because he can drink 25 beers and not feel drunk. Dr. Phil tells him that this is a problem he will need help with, but he’s not going to force him. Ed agrees that he has a problem and needs help.
Tara tells Dr. Phil that she’s tired of fighting with Matt, that they only have about three days a month when they’re not at each other’s throats. She illustrates what a typical day is like living with Matt’s anger and says she thinks he resents her for staying home with their children while he has to go to work. Matt disagrees, saying he’s not sure why he’s angry, but admits his behavior is sometimes unreasonable. Dr. Phil tells them that if their kids had the power of words, they would tell them to shut up. Tara says their oldest does say that, and she often acts out when they fight, to get the attention on herself and away from each other. Dr. Phil tells them it’s time to hold themselves to a higher standard and decide not to fight with each other.
Dr. Phil tells the group that, whether they stay together or not, they still have work to do individually, to prevent getting into another unhealthy relationship. When Tara asks if he thinks any of them have a chance, Dr. Phil says he’s unsure because they’re all right-fighters, and it takes forgiveness to start over.
After Dr. Phil leaves, Tara and Matt, and Ed and Jenna vow to improve their relationships. Monica and Cadum however, start bickering immediately. Monica tells Cadum that all their problems are his fault, and he should’ve just given her a divorce. Cadum takes off his wedding ring, hands it to her and leaves the room. Monica throws his ring in the garbage. She finds Cadum in a bedroom and tells him that if he cares and wants to work on their problems, he needs to dig the ring out of the trash. She explains that doing so would be symbolic gesture because she knows he will hate it.
Tara and Jenna talk with Monica on the patio, encouraging her to stay, to at least work on herself. Monica gets defensive and argues that there is nothing wrong with her. Cadum joins them to talk to his wife, and the other women encourage Monica to let him talk, but her anger and accusations send Cadum away, saying, “Whatever. Let’s pack our bags.”
Cadum packs while Matt and Ed try to convince him to stay. He expresses his frustrations with Monica’s stubbornness, growing emotional over the prospect of a divorce. He says Monica is the only family he has, and that he knows he’s not perfect. Later, he goes in search of the ring. Although he says Monica’s challenge is the perfect example of her acting like his mother and treating him like a child, he’s trying to be the bigger man. He digs through the kitchen trash can with Jenna’s help. Cadum finds Monica to tell her he found his ring. When she asks him why, he says, “Because I love you.” He tells her they should stay at The House because they both have faults they can work on, but Monica insists that her faults are all because of him. Eventually, she relents and agrees to stay.
Later, the couples participate in a dyad exercise called Stop, Start and Continue. Facing their partners, each person takes a turn to express what they wish their partner would stop doing, what they wish their partner would start doing and what they wish their partner would continue to do. Without looking away, each person has to listen to their partner without interrupting.
Tears spill over Jenna’s eyes when she hears Ed tell her to continue being a good mother, and later she explains that it’s the first time he’s ever called her a good mother. Jenna looks forward to using the dyad at home when they have trouble communicating. Ed notes that it was the closest they’d been to each other without screaming.
After their dyad, Monica says she’s bothered by Cadum’s wish for her to start helping him, saying that she does everything for him already.
Tara is visibly touched when Matt expresses an interest in being friends again. She reflects that it was difficult for her to maintain eye contact with Matt and not react when she disagreed with his statements.
Part 4 Summary:
As the last day in The House approaches, the couples sit down to talk out and resolve a problem. Matt and Tara discuss their different opinions about Matt’s involvement with the housework and their kids. Tara feels that she takes care of everything, and Matt disagrees. Their discussion quickly turns into an angry confrontation. Tara cries when Matt says their relationship changed after their twins were born. Tara explains that being alone with newborns and a toddler at the age of 20 exhausted her and her mother’s passing took an additional toll. Matt believes he stepped up to fulfill his responsibility by working harder to support the family. Unable to accept their different views, Matt leaves, angrily slamming the door behind him. He goes for a walk to calm down.
Dr. Phil intervenes with all the couples and stresses the importance of starting over. He tells Tara and Matt that they must make time for fun in their lives as well, that if they put their problems aside for a little time alone together, they will begin to see each other in a different light. Tara explains she has a hard time finding a babysitter, because she can’t trust many people to care for her kids, but Dr. Phil doesn’t buy her excuse. He points out that she acts much older than her 22 years, and that it’s clear to him that Matt does care, noting his chewed-up fingernails.
Dr. Phil tells Ed that he stopped maturing when he began drinking at 13, and it’s time for him to grow up. Although Ed thinks he can quit drinking on his own, Dr. Phil is doubtful and offers to find treatment for him if quitting proves to be too difficult. He notes that in order to be successful, Ed has to change everything, including his lifestyle and his friends. Jenna says she’s hopeful Ed will change, but she’s also scared he will relapse.
Dr. Phil tells the whole group that major life events in childhood can arrest development, which is what happened to all of them except Monica. He believes her sense of right and wrong continue to develop normally and that her control issues come from other problems. He points out that Monica and Cadum’s mother/child relationship will never work, and when Monica previously threw Cadum’s ring in the trash, it made her look like a vindictive bully. Dr. Phil encourages her to stop controlling her husband and let him prove whether or not he can be faithful. If he can’t, she should divorce him. He tells Cadum that he needs to get a job because the role of the man in the family is to provide, protect, lead and teach, and every day he doesn’t work, he is being negligent with his child.
Then, the group gets an emergency visit from a police officer. Detective Roger Cobian sits down with the couples and explains that part of his job involves removing children from violent homes. Dr. Phil notes that the couples have had a combined total of 12 police visits, and Detective Cobian says he’s shocked that they haven’t lost their children yet. He pointedly looks to Jenna and says she could’ve been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, spousal abuse, child endangerment and child abuse. Even if she’s never laid a finger on her child, fighting in front of children is considered abuse. Detective Cobian explains how difficult it can be to get children back after they’ve been removed from the home, and shares another common outcome of children raised in violent households: they often become missing children, runaways, young teens in abusive relationships, pregnant and homeless. Jenna cries, realizing the risks she’s been taking. Dr. Phil implores the couples to remember this moment the next time they feel an imminent blowup and to think about their children.
Next, Dr. Phil leads the couples into another room, where framed photos of their beautiful children are set out on a table. The couples grow emotional, looking at their precious little ones. Dr. Phil has a poignant moment with each couple, reminding them of what’s most important. Matt and Jenna vow to change for their kids and tearfully embrace each other. Ed says he’d rather hold his baby than hold a beer. Jenna says she’s going to let her pain go and change their future. Cadum vows to grow up and be a man. Monica says she’s going to learn to forgive.
Dr. Phil gives them some time with their partners and their family photos. When he returns, he introduces his wife, Robin, who stresses how important it is for their beautiful children to have a happy and intact family. She believes they can all work out their problems and be happy families.
As the couples pack up their belongings and prepare to leave The Dr. Phil House, they express their optimism about the future of their relationships. Matt says he thinks he’s found his friend again in Tara. Monica says she’s learned that their problems are not all Cadum’s fault, and she has ownership in them as well. Ed feels like a weight has been lifted and says the lines of communication with his fiancée have been opened again. Jenna thanks Dr. Phil for showing her how to be the person she wants to be.