Role Reversal
“For 39 years that my husband and I have been married, I have done everything. I have cooked, I have cleaned, I have coached my children’s ball teams. Do you know where he was? Sitting on the couch with his feet up,” Debi says.

“That is absolutely correct,” Rick agrees. “Debi does do at least 95 percent of the work.”

“Rick never volunteers to do chores. It’s always me asking him,” Debi says.

“I have to be forced by her. I’m the first one to say I’m lazy,” Rick admits.

“Throughout the years, I’ve built decks, fences, torn off the front porch and the back porch,” Debi says. “I run the power tools. They’re mine. He has no idea how to use them. He would cut his toes off!”

“She’s very mechanical, where I really lack in the mechanical aptitude,” he says. “She bugs me. I get discouraged and don’t do what I’m supposed to do.”

“I really think Rick thinks I’m his mother, but I’m not,” Debi says.

Onstage, Dr. Phil turns to the previous wives. “You guys get that this is your future, right?” He turns to Rick. “How do you get away with this?”

Rick admits he ignores his wife and often just walks away.

Debi says her husband does two chores: He takes the garbage out, and he gets the vehicles serviced.

[AD]“Why do you let him get away with this, seriously, for 39 years?” Dr. Phil asks Debi.

She says, “Trust me, his clothes have been on the front porch quite a few times.”

“The door has been locked on me more than once,” Rick says.

“How many times a day do you get mad?” Dr. Phil asks Debi.

“Every hour on the hour,” she says. “It gets very stressful.”
Dr. Phil surprises the men with a little experiment. They have to go backstage and do the one household duty their wives want help with the most — the dishes! They have 10 minutes to clean some dishes and make their wife lunch! The husbands head backstage to begin their chore.
Back in Season 1, Dr. Phil and Robin switched roles for a day.

Watch what happened when Dr. Phil attempted to bake a cake!

“Do you think I help around the house?” Dr. Phil asks Robin.

“No,” she says. “I’m sorry, but you do not help around the house. And that’s OK because you really don’t know how to do anything around the house.”

Dr. Phil checks in on the men. Have they made a dent in the dirty dishes yet?

Dr. Phil turns back to the wives. “Let me tell you about men. Men are hedonistic. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. If you can do something where he realizes that if he does this, his life gets a whole lot better — have you ever done that?”

Cam says she’s tried, but it doesn’t work.

[AD]“Men want to know what’s in it for them. ‘Why should I do this?’”

“Why? He lives there!” Cam exclaims.

“You understand, that’s right. He already lives there. He’s comfortable. It’s his cave. It doesn’t matter, he’ll step over laundry,” Dr. Phil points out.

“They get to get us off their back. That’s a reward in itself!” Bridget says.

“You don’t get off his back, no matter what,” Dr. Phil says to Cam.

She smiles. “Well, no,” she admits.To make things more realistic, Dr. Phil adds another responsibility to the husbands’ chores.

How will they do when having to care for a baby while cleaning and making lunch?

Kyle, Mike and Rick return to the stage with their crying baby dolls and the wives’ lunch — sandwiches and fruit. Cam says if she served Kyle what he’s giving her, it would be unacceptable.

Dr. Phil asks the men, “What do you guys think? Do you think that they have legitimate requests for y’all to help more?”

Kyle says the request to pick up his mess is legitimate, but asking to take over more of the household duties isn’t. “My wife is at home all the time,” he says.

“He thinks I do nothing,” Cam says.

“I just have to ask you, how’s that working for you?” Dr. Phil asks him.

“It could be better,” Kyle admits.

“I really want people to understand that relationships truly are negotiated, and the negotiation window never closes. And if you’re not willing to negotiate, it can really start costing you big time because resentment builds up,” Dr. Phil says.

Cam says she asked for a housekeeper for one day a week, so she could get a day off and stuff could still get done, but her husband refused.

Kyle asks, “Why would I go and pay for a housekeeper when my wife is at home?”

[AD]“I will answer that,” Dr. Phil says. “Why do you do that? You do that because number one, what is your greatest asset in life? Is it not your children? These are the managers, the shapers, the guiders of the most precious things in the world to you. What would it cost to try to hire somebody who would do this with love, attention, never get tired, never miss a day, never not show up? I can tell you, in this day and time, it would be a ton of money, my friend, because you can’t buy commitment. They have to really feel this. So, they’re doing extremely important things here. You would do it because you want to make their lives better. You want them to go to bed at night saying, ‘You know what? He loves me enough to do something really sweet for me.’ You do it because it is acknowledgment of who they are, what they contribute, and it says, ‘Hey, I get it. I really, really get it.’”Dr. Chloe Bird is a senior sociologist at the RAND Corporation, and she has spent years studying gender differences.

“Does your research show that there are gender specific jobs and tasks, and is that a healthy thing?” Dr. Phil asks.

“There aren’t any gender specific jobs and tasks, at least biologically — other than breastfeeding,” she says. “It’s learned. It’s cultural. It’s social.”  

Dr. Bird explains something she calls invisible work. “Part of it is you see what you do, you see things that happen in front of you, in terms of things getting done, but you don’t see what it takes when you’re not there. You don’t see how many times it got cleaned up,” she says. “You need to be able to appreciate, and communicate and find out, how much work is it for somebody who’s paying the bills? What does it take? How much work is it when you’re taking the car in a couple times a year or changing the oil?”

Dr. Phil asks the wives if they get acknowledged for the work they do. Bridget and Cam say every now and then, but Debi says never.

[AD]“I think it’s important for people to hear that even though you don’t see it, that you get what’s happened,” Dr. Phil says.

Because men often forget to say thank you, Dr. Phil surprises the wives onstage with a $500 gift certificate!

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