Dr. Phil talks to two couples whose explosive, daily fights in front of their children — and caught on tape — are destroying their marriages. What are they really fighting about? And, can they learn how to fight fairly and save their relationships? This program contains strong language. Viewer discretion advised.
On the Brink of Divorce?
Heather and Chris say their six-year marriage is on the brink of divorce because of their constant heated arguments, which they admit happen almost daily, in front of their two young children, ages 5 and 2. Heather, a stay-at-home mom, says Chris is so controlling that he constantly accuses her of cheating on him, checks her phone records to see whom she’s calling and won’t let her handle their finances. “Control is a very big issue in our relationship,” she says. “Sometimes, Chris makes me so angry that I want to go into the kitchen and get a butcher knife and cut his tongue out, so I don’t have to hear him talk to me anymore.” She continues, “We’re like pit bulls in a dog fight, going for the jugular.”
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Chris says Heather is only with him for the money and has gotten violent with him during their disagreements. He says she has kicked him in the privates, slapped him in the face and thrown a tape measure at his head — all in front of the kids. “She’s a master manipulator,” he says. “When she’s angry or wants something her way, she does whatever she needs to get it.”
Heather admits that their fights have gotten out of control — and she fears the impact it will have on their children. “There is a lot of cursing that is exchanged between us, in front of our children,” she says.
Chris says Heather pushes him to the limit, and he’s already filed the divorce papers. “I refuse to be talked to like a dog,” he says.
“Right now, I am one foot out the door,” Heather says. “I feel like I either have to protect my children or fix this relationship.”
See home video of the couple’s heated arguments — recorded by Heather. And, Dr. Phil quizzes the couple. “What is going on here?”
Does Chris really want a divorce? “Did you marry her because she got pregnant?”
Dr. Phil reads Heather’s journal entries aloud. “I want to feel liked and appreciated.” How will Chris react to her private words? Plus, Dr. Phil lists Heather’s violent behavior toward Chris.
“What do y’all think when the children beg you, crying, to stop fighting?”
Dr. Phil asks Heather what’s really going on with her, and she responds, “I’m hurting. I’m hurting a lot.” She says she wants to feel like she is in control of her life, specifically by earning her own money. She tells Chris that she lashes out at him because she feels like she’s treated like a child. “I want to be equal. I want to be in a partnership with my husband.”
“You take everything I do as a form of control,” Chris tells Heather. “All I’m trying to do is keep our heads above water.”
Dr. Phil interrupts Chris and says, “What did she just tell you?”
“That she’s hurting,” Chris responds.
“Don’t be a hammer head here,” he tells Chris. “She just said, ‘I don’t like being in a parent-child relationship.” He points out that taking away Heather’s cell phone and computer as punishment is similar to grounding a teenager.
“These are issues that you negotiate in a relationship.”
Kerry says she and her husband of one year, Sam, engage in explosive fighting at least four times a week, and she fears they’ll lose control — and someone will get hurt.
“Our fights get very intense and heated,” Sam says. “There are fights and arguments that have been going on for the last 10 years and have never been solved.”
The couple says their fights include swearing, threats, screaming and insults. “I feel really guilty that I’ve exposed my kids to this,” Kerry confesses. “I don’t know what else to do.”
“The reason why things are the way they are is because nobody listens to me,” Sam tells Dr. Phil, adding that he has a lot of common sense.
“If you’re so smart, how come you can’t get along at home?” Dr. Phil asks.
Sam says that too much has happened, and he feels that anything he does or says doesn’t matter.
“Why are you doing this?”
Dr. Phil asks Kerry what she can do to make the situation better, and she responds, “I think I have to stop accepting a less-than life. I think I have to put my kids and myself first.” She admits she does not know how to make that happen.
When asked the same question, Sam responds, “I need to get some help … I need to be able to calm down.” He says he’d like to be able to walk away when tensions are high — before he says something he’ll regret.
“You have a real impulse control problem,” Dr. Phil tells Sam. “I think you’ve got a real problem with anger, and I think you’re a right-fighter.” He offers to arrange help for Sam to work on his anger issues. The couple grows tearful. “You know you care; you just don’t know how to convey it without getting loud,” Dr. Phil says to Sam.
“That’s how I was raised,” Sam responds.
“Sometimes, we say in Texas, you’ve gotta rise above your raisin’,” Dr. Phil responds.