Brandon and Raquel have been married for three years, and fear they are living a lie. One week before their wedding, Brandon told Raquel he was gay.
“I never suspected Brandon was gay. It was a complete shock,” Raquel says. “I had the perfect vision of marriage and staying together forever. They call it soulmates and I feel like we have that connection.”
Believing they could overcome Brandon’s homosexuality, they got married anyway. “It was my feeling that love would conquer all,” explains Raquel. “He reassured me that he would be fine in a heterosexual relationship.”
But while married to Raquel, Brandon developed feelings for and eventually dated four different men. He told Raquel about the dates.
“My heart was shattered,” says Raquel. “It hurt so much because I never stopped believing in him.”
They say they want their marriage to work. Brandon asks, “Are we just fooling ourselves?”
Raquel admits her biggest fear is that they are fooling themselves. Dr. Phil tells them, “I’m surprised that you guys discussed this a week ahead of time and then went ahead as scheduled.”
Raquel explains that she really believed that everything would be fine, especially since Brandon reassured her.
Dr. Phil asks Brandon why he made that assurance if he knew he was gay.
“I’d never been intimate with a woman before, and I’d never been attracted to one either, until her,” explains Brandon. “She fulfilled so much of who I was that I started to have those feelings. I would hold her hand and I would get a tingle up my arm.”
Dr. Phil tells Raquel that she shouldn’t personalize this or feel inadequate in any way. “You need to understand that this has nothing to do with you,” he says.
Before Dr. Phil can answer their question about whether they can stay in the marriage and be happy, he wants to clarify what their definition of a marriage is.
“However you define a marriage, for sure it’s about commitment, it’s about fidelity, it’s about being there for one another and in a way that is based on trust,” Dr. Phil says.
“Yeah,” Brandon agrees. “And that’s what scares me the most, is the fact that everything you’ve just said, I don’t feel like I have right now.”
Dr. Phil points out that it’s because Brandon has already violated that definition of marriage by being involved with other men.
He turns to Raquel: “Now, just take out that it’s men he’s involved with. If marriage is what I just said ” it’s commitment, it’s fidelity, it’s trust, it’s being there for each other and all ” that’s not happening here, right? Is this the vision that you had of a marriage when you were growing up and had these dreams about what was going to happen in the future?”
“No,” says Raquel.
“Of course not,” says Dr. Phil. “But the question becomes: Is it something you are willing to settle for?”
Raquel says it’s hard to answer that question. She can’t imagine giving up on their relationship and the family they built and the love they share.
“Would you guys agree that as you went into this, you were incredibly naive about the gravity of this issue and the marriage?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Very,” agrees Raquel.
Dr. Phil recognizes that they do have deep feelings for each other. “I think you can and should nurture that relationship. And you have a child. You will, whatever happens, forever be the co-parents of that child,” he says.
He turns to Brandon: “But what’s going to happen is, at this point, your heart, your mind, your energy, your attraction is toward men.” He tells Raquel, “You’re going to be confronted with that every single day.”
Dr. Phil explains, “All of these good things that you are experiencing right now ” the positive regard you have for one another, the respect and the loving feelings ” are going to be dashed upon the rocks of the future disappointments. And my belief is you need to face that now.”
Dr. Phil continues: “And if you want to have good and loving feelings, and be co-parents of this child in a constructive way 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, you need to redefine your relationship right now, because to me, marriage is about intimacy. It’s about sharing. It’s about trust. There is a physicality that is involved. It’s that one thing that you do with each other that you don’t do with anybody else in the world. And if that is forced or non-existent, then that is going to create pain in this young marriage.”
He tells Brandon, “Your heart and mind is not in a heterosexual relationship, and you need to let her go. You need to do what feels natural to you, and you need to free her to do what feels natural to her. And not force this because you made a miscalculation on the front end.”
When Brandon and Raquel ask how they go about redefining their relationship, Dr. Phil suggests counseling. “What you have here at this point is not a marriage. What you’re doing is clinging on to what you wish you had … You’re not going to miss the marriage that you have, you’re going to miss what you dreamed it would be. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you can heal those wounds and move on with your life … The future here as a married couple ” it’s not going to work. That’s my opinion.”
At the end of the show, Dr. Phil turns back to Brandon and Raquel and asks them what they think about what he has told them.
“It makes sense,” says Brandon, “but at the same time, how the hell is that going to happen? I can’t see it, I can’t think about it, I don’t want to think about it. I’m scared to death.”
Dr. Phil asks Raquel what she’s thinking.
“It hit hard,” she says, getting emotional. “So I feel like it’s still going to take time for me to process it and decide from there, because I’m so emotional about it right now, that I can’t go there.”
Although his delivery style may seem spontaneous, Dr. Phil assures them he chooses his words carefully and takes their situation seriously. “I just hope you guys will consider redefining it in some way that will preserve all of the good and wonderful things that you have in the relationship right now, because you don’t want those to get buried under resentment and hurt, which I think is going to build.”