"Everything about our marriage and relationship had been a lie from day one," says Melissa referring to John, her partner of two years. Although she feels betrayed by him now, she says when they first met, he swept her off her feet. "We were just all gung-ho about getting married. I went dress shopping. I just went hog wild.
"John initially told me he was married twice. Right before the wedding, I found out he had a third wife, and he's been divorced for about two years," Melissa recalls. "At that point, it was too late emotionally to go back. All I wanted to do was go forward, because I was so in love with this guy. John gave me a fairytale wedding. It was beautiful " the fish pond, the DJ was awesome, the head table was gorgeous, all of our friends and family. It was just perfect."
[AD]But she says her perfect life was shattered not long after they exchanged vows. "I never saw our marriage certificate. I just had a gut feeling. I asked him for months, â€˜Can I see it? Can I see it?' He's like, â€˜No, my sister has it,'" Melissa remembers. "Finally, I just drove myself in to the courthouse. I said, â€˜Well, can you tell me if I'm married?' So, they looked up John's name and saw the first marriage, saw the second marriage, saw the third marriage. The first two were divorced, the third one [said] still married. I was betrayed by him, because our marriage was not real. I waited a long time to fall in love with someone, but it's not real love. He lies all the time. My heart's still connected to him, but the trust part is what separates me giving him my heart."
Dr. Phil goes over several red flags that should have hit Melissa's radar. "In August of '09 you have this beautiful wedding, but you never saw the marriage certificate," he notes.
"No. [John] said, â€˜Don't worry about it. I have a friend who can get our paperwork. We'll be fine. We'll sign it and send it in.' I really didn't know legalities of things," Melissa admits.
"You found pictures of him with a woman " compromising pictures " and you said that he said it was just somebody he dated," Dr. Phil points out.
"He said, â€˜I don't remember her name. I don't know who she is,''" Melissa answers.
"But this woman he couldn't remember the name of turned out to be his third wife?" Dr. Phil asks.
[AD]Melissa replies in the affirmative. "It was a total of 14 years that they were together, but they were married for almost 10," she says.
"When you found out that you married somebody who was still married, he wasn't subject to criminal charges because it wasn't a real wedding," Dr. Phil points out.
Melissa explains that John's sister officated their wedding. "I don't know what he told his sister, but she went online, and supposedly she took a test to be able to marry someone," she says. "Later on down the road we had dinner, and she said, â€˜I knew about things with John and [his third wife]. I was going to tell you if he didn't tell you soon.'"
Dr. Phil continues to unravel the web of lies. "He told you that he graduated from the University of Alabama," he says, regarding his notes. "Did he?"
"No, he never went to college. He said he blew his knee out and he lost his scholarship," Melissa replies.
[AD]The Dr. Phil show talked to the University of Alabama and was given the following statement: "The school was unable to locate either a degree or an enrollment record for the subject of your verification request."
John initially agreed to be on the show, but then he changed his mind.
Melissa's best friend and bridesmaid, Roxanne, describes how she feels about her friend's relationship. "As this started happening and unraveling, I thought, wow, this guy really loves her. As things kept unfolding, and I kept learning more about what John has put Melissa through, and how much he contacts her constantly, he manipulates her, he's controlling her," Roxanne tells Dr. Phil. "I think now that she's gone, he's going into a panic mode. He doesn't have her to control anymore. She definitely needs to get the distance and move on."
"Have you talked to him since you've been here?" Dr. Phil asks Melissa. When Melissa nods, he asks, "How did that come to pass?"
[AD]Melissa explains that she called John from the plane and told him that she made the decision to appear on the show. "He just went irate: â€˜I just can't believe you lied to me!' I'm like, â€˜I've been real with you, I've given you my heart, I've given you everything I have in my heart and love you so much, and you're going to get on me for lying one time?'" she recounts.
"Isn't that kind of the pot calling the kettle black?" Dr. Phil quips. He says he's glad that Melissa made the decision to seek his help and offers resources to aid her in repairing her damaged self-worth.