Shara claims that her newlywed husband, Luke, is a “mean, insecure know-it-all” who won’t let her own a cell phone, hold a job or leave the house alone — and also dictates how she should dress and wear her makeup. Luke denies all of Shara’s allegations and claims that she is “no angel” and has a vicious temper. Can this marriage be saved?
“My husband, Luke, is very controlling,” Shara says. “He manages every move I make. My marriage is definitely a prison.” Shara claims that Luke won’t let her own cell phone or leave the house alone for more than five minutes. “When I was employed, he would come with me to work every day, sit in the lobby and wait for me to get done,” she continues. “I ended up losing my job.” Shara claims Luke even tells her when she is allowed to shower.
Shara also claims that Luke is verbally abusive. “Luke thinks that he’s ‘the man.’ He’s smarter than everyone in the room,” she says. “He has called me dumb, stupid, lazy, ugly, worthless. Luke has taken my pride, my dignity, my self-worth … I can’t go on in the marriage and fight every day with him.”
Luke denies all of the allegations. He insists he’s only trying to help “guide” Shara, who he says lacks motivation and street smarts. “On a daily basis, I have to remind her, ‘It’s cold outside, put some socks and shoes on’ — things I shouldn’t be telling a 33-year-old woman.” He continues, “Every time I bring up an issue that needs to be addressed, she takes it as an attack. She feels like I’m being condescending.” Luke says they talk about divorce often, adding, “I can’t get through to her. I can be delicate; I can be abrasive. I’ve simply run out of ideas.”
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“Do you have to give her permission to shower? Do you tell her she can’t leave the house?” Dr. Phil asks Luke, who disputes Shara’s claims.
Dr. Phil asks Luke if he used to sit in the lobby at Shara’s workplace, and he admits that he did. “I had a diabetic coma episode,” he explains. “I ended up in the hospital. She wanted me to come up to her work so she could keep an eye on me, and she asked her boss if it was OK if I sat in the lobby.”
“That was the one time,” Shara replies.
“It’s the insecurities, too. We’re leaving out a big part,” Luke continues. “She thought I was running around seeing other women, so it makes her feel better when I’m in the line of sight.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not going to listen to that lie,” Shara says. “I allowed that to happen the one time, because of the diabetic coma. The other times, I felt that you came to work with me to monitor everything that I did.”
Dr. Phil reviews Luke’s verbal abuse, according to Shara. And, Luke reacts, “That’s very far-fetched.”
Dr. Phil says to Luke, “You said that you’re savvy, street-smart, educated — you’re just a more worldly person, right? Why are you in such a mess? Because, seriously, if you’re that smart … “
“Well, I guess that’s why we’re here, because I can’t figure it out,” Luke replies.
In a previously recorded interview, Luke claims that Shara is “no angel” and has a vicious temper, which he says has caused him to fear for his safety. “The other night, she threw a plate of food at me when I was lying in bed,” he says. “Food went everywhere and, luckily, the dish didn’t break.”
Shara admits, “I do raise my fists to Luke in anger, but I have never hit him.” Regarding the plate incident, she says, “If you were there, you would have laughed. It was a paper plate. It wasn’t, like, a regular plate.”
Luke also claims that Shara devised a plan to have him thrown in jail overnight on a domestic violence charge.
Shara says they were arguing, and tensions were rising, so she went to the neighbors’ house and asked them to call the police if she signaled them by knocking three times on the wall. “I went back inside the house, and he grabbed my chin,” Shara claims. “He had so much rage and anger inside him that I didn’t know what he was going to do next. I knocked three times, and the neighbors knew to call 911.”
“Immediately, when I heard a knock on the door, I knew it was the police,” Luke says. “She said I physically assaulted her, and they arrested me for domestic violence.” He adds that he was found not guilty in court.
Onstage, Dr. Phil asks, “When you see all this condensed into a profile of your marriage, how do you feel?”
“There are a lot of things that need to come to light today,” Luke says. “We haven’t touched on some serious issues.” He claims that Shara has gone behind his back and contacted his ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend, and says she also discusses their personal life with “everyone she comes in contact with.”
“I’ve been doing this 35 years. This isn’t my first rodeo, and I’m seeing that you have a parent/child relationship here. It’s glaring.”
How did Shara end up behind bars after a recent argument? She insists she never touched Luke.
Dr. Phil says to Luke, “Your capacity for insight, your ability to step outside of yourself and say, ‘How am I doing? Is that reasonable?’ is very low. If you want a different result, you have to have a different behavior. You should be asking me, ‘Dr. Phil, what can I do as a husband to inspire change and heal this situation?’ That’s what you should be doing, instead of arguing about what kind of plate she threw at you.”
Luke claims that Shara admits she’s jealous of him. “I asked her why everything is a secret, why she has to go behind my back and discuss our personal affairs,” Luke says. “I said, ‘Why do you do those things? Why do you lash out?’ … And, she said, ‘Well, I’m doing this because I’m frustrated, and the reason is I have this envy.'”
“What is it that you envy about him?”
Finding a Way Forward
In a previously recorded interview, Shara confides that when she was 5 years old, she was molested by one of her father’s friends. “I remember as soon as it happened, I thought I was going to get in trouble for something,” she says. “This is a secret I’ve held for 29 years.”
In his own interview, Luke, too, confides that he was the victim of molestation when he was 8 or 9 years old. “For all this time, it was just this memory in my head that I never shared with anyone,” he says tearfully.
“I’ve worked with so many people who have been impacted by that kind of horrific conduct. They go one of two ways: Either they become very passive and compliant, or they embrace a false sense of superiority.”
“Both of you need to start holding yourselves to a much higher standard of how you conduct yourselves,” Dr. Phil says. “You’re calling the cops on each other. You’re throwing names out there and derogating one another and getting into physical tussles. That’s beneath you.” He turns to Shara and adds, “You have a damaged personal truth, and people generate the results they think they deserve. You’re generating the results you think you deserve.”
Dr. Phil tells the couple that he wants to set them up with specialized counseling for survivors of molestation, as well as counseling to help them work on repairing their relationship.
Luke and Shara both accept.