Mary and Jesse say their marriage is a war zone — but is it worth saving? Dr. Phil sends psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy to their home for a deeper look at the conflict. Can they help this couple reestablish a peaceful union?

A Toxic Relationship


“I feel like a prisoner in my own home. It’s just become a nightmare.” 

“My wife says I’m controlling. I say I’m containing the beast.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy makes a house call.

During his home visit, Dr. Sophy asks the couple to face each other and explain the five things they will no longer live with.

Mary tells her husband, “I will not put up with being belittled. I will not put up with being called names and disrespected. I will not put up with the mistreatment of me and the children.”

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Jesse begins laughing, and Dr. Sophy tells him he's being disrespectful and provoking.

When it’s Jesse’s turn, he tells his wife, “I won’t put up with discussing the job. I won’t put up with your disrespect. I’m not going to put up with you calling me retard, ass*, all of this stuff in front of my children. I’m not going to put up with you lying to everybody about who I am when you know darn well I’m a good, decent guy. You need help, and you need to get yourself together before being with me. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

Mary and Jesse both take responsibility for the demise of their relationship. Dr. Sophy has them shake hands as a promise that they will work hard to fix their marriage. “You’ve got to grow up; both of you,” he tells them.

Cutting Through the Chaos

Mary and Jesse join the discussion onstage. Dr. Phil tells them that by responding in anger to each other and resorting to name-calling and being mean, they are giving their power away. 

Dr. Phil challenges Jesse’s definition of a good father. And, did Mary mislead Jesse about who she was initially?

During the house call with Dr. Sophy, Mary says the joy of becoming pregnant the first time quickly faded when Jesse pressured her to have an abortion. After she became pregnant again, she says Jesse refused to support her. She tells Dr. Sophy that Jesse became angry when he learned they were having a daughter and left her. She says she cried herself to sleep every night. “I was so alone. I think I just kept having these kids because I wanted that love,” she says.

Mary says she and Jesse got married after their second child, even though their relationship was still filled with turmoil and chaos.

Dr. Sophy says, “Hear how crazy that sounds: ‘Let’s solidify this craziness and make it forever.’ Why would you want to do that?”

“I wanted so bad for him to just want to be with me, and settle down and be a family,” she says. Mary admits that she doesn’t value herself and says tearfully, “I feel like if I didn’t have my kids, I don’t think there would even be any purpose for me here. I’m trying to find that out. I don’t think I’ve ever had a purpose.”

Children Caught in the Middle

Back onstage, Jesse says, “The problem with this is she was a booty call,” he says.

“Did you get her pregnant three times?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Yeah, I did.”

“Are you a slow learner?” he asks. Dr. Phil points out that Jesse acts like he wants his wife gone, but then makes her a prisoner when he finds out she had an affair.

Dr. Phil explains that Dr. Sophy is the medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and is a mandated reporter. He asks Dr. Sophy, “If this was a case that was brought in before you, and this was going on with these children, would this be a matter of concern?”

“Huge concern for those children, their emotional and physical safety,” Dr. Sophy says.

When Mary begins talking, Dr. Phil interrupts her. “You need to stop talking for a minute and let what he just said sink into your brains.” He tells the couple they need to change what they’re doing, or they could be at risk of losing their children.

During the house call, when Dr. Sophy asks about the physical violence in their relationship, Jesse vehemently denies ever punching Mary, but says she stabbed him in the leg with a knife. Mary admits that she did throw a knife at her husband.

Dr. Sophy explains that they have to change their behavior because their children will pick up the tab. “Your boy is going to abuse women. Your girls are going to take crap from guys. They’re not going to see value in women. They’re not going to know how to respect a man. [Your] marriage isn’t there for them — How would you expect them not to divorce?”

“I didn’t think that far ahead,” Jesse admits.

“It’s why I wrote to the show,” Mary says. “I don’t want my daughters to marry abusers, and I don’t want them to be abusers.” 

A Dysfunctional Legacy?

Jesse says Mary’s affair left him questioning whether his children are really his. And, what happened in his childhood that left him scarred?

Mary shares with Dr. Sophy the horrific event in her childhood that haunts her. How does that affect her decision making?

Dr. Phil explains that there are certain positions in society that are mandated by law to report abuse and neglect when they see it. “I’m one of those people. I’m a mandated reporter. If I see abuse and neglect, and I feel in good conscience that there’s not a plan in place that changes that, than I’m required to report that.” He offers the couple professional help to change their home life for the sake of their children. They accept.