Falsely Accused: Terry

"It's a wonderful day when your child gets married. Five months ago, my son, Steve, was married. It was a hideous day. I called it a mother's nightmare," says Terry. "I was falsely accused of gossiping about my ex-husband at the rehearsal."

Steve's wife, Theresa, tells a different story. "At the re
hearsal I found out that Steve's mother had approached a family member of mine and said, 'Steve's father couldn't keep his d*** out of his pants and got that bitch pregnant while we were still married,' clearly referring to Steve's stepmother, who was our guest at the wedding," she recalls.

Terry disputes this: "I never would say anything like that. Ever. The next day, I was thrown out of the wedding. Two police officers escorted my son's mother away from his wedding. What Theresa did was absolutely vile. She didn't want me to go to the wedding."

Steve has severed ties with his mom and sides with Theresa. "My mother is a gossip, and she is not afraid to tell anybody my family's business," he says. "The hardest decision of my life was to ban my mother from my own wedding. But in my heart, I knew that she was not there to celebrate our occasion."

Terry maintains her innocence. "I didn't say it. How do I defend myself against that? I consider Theresa a very cold, manipulative person."

"What happened here?" Dr. Phil asks Terry. 

"From the beginning, we were having problems because [Steve] didn't want his sister there, at the wedding, because she questioned how quickly they were getting married from the time that they met. And so, I just kept trying to resolve the problem," Terry explains. "But I was determined to go to this wedding, even if I had to go by myself."

Dr. Phil points out that Terry was allegedly barred from the wedding because of a comment she made to Theresa's aunt. "Had they said to you before, 'Look, this isn't a time to be airing our family business, and all that sort of thing?" he questions. "Are you a troublemaker?"

"No."

"That was just totally out of character for them to think that you would get there and air this, your resentment and pain toward your ex-husband?" Dr. Phil wonders. "Because you said, he dumped you and took off with some other woman."

 

"A coworker, yes."

"Any history of you being a gossip?" Dr. Phil probes.

Terry replies, "I am the recipient of a lot of gossip, but I don't like to talk about stuff that I don't know anything about."

Dr. Phil reads a list of offenses that Steve has against Terry. "He says that when he was a teen, that you had to tell him about no less than 20 affairs that were going on at work."

"That's not true," Terry protests.

"When he was in college, he said that you would tell him about one of your coworkers out getting drunk and sleeping with younger women," Dr. Phil continues.

Terry is flabbergasted. "I don't recall any of this," she says.

"Then they say at the wedding that you said to this aunt — and by the way, we talked to the aunt, and she said that's exactly what you said — 'My husband couldn't keep ... it in his pants, and he got the bitch pregnant while we were still married.'"

"Absolutely not!"

Steve and Theresa join Dr. Phil on stage. They have been backstage listening to Terry. "Steve, are you convinced she said what we've quoted her as saying?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Oh, absolutely. I believe she said it, because there's no reason for Heather to make that up," Steve replies, referring to Theresa's aunt.

"Could you be wrong?" Dr. Phil asks Theresa.

"No."

Steve gives additional information. "Heather did not have prior knowledge of my family's situation before that time, so why would she make it up?"

Terry comes clean. "I'll tell you word for word what I said. And I thought it was just one divorced mother talking to another. She goes, 'What happened?' And I said, 'He worked with this chick that wanted a baby, that was the end of us.' That's exactly what I said to her. Exactly. Word for word," she maintains. Turning to her daughter-in-law, she says, "I don't know your aunt, and I couldn't imagine her making up some crude, vile comment that I would say."

Dr. Phil thinks the issues are deeper than just gossip. "Is this all about this statement at the wedding? Or is this a feud between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law that goes well beyond that?"

"It's not a feud for me," Terry insists.

Dr. Phil is skeptical. "But you didn't want him to marry Theresa, did you?"

"I had no qualms about him getting married," she says.

Steve chimes in, "She felt that we may have rushed things," he says.

"I felt that you rushed things, but I never did said anything about that I didn't want you to get married," his mom clarifies.

Theresa tells a different story. "She wrote us a letter disowning Steve, saying she wasn't coming to the wedding, and telling him he's making the biggest mistake of his life."

 

Dr. Phil wants Terry to own her contribution to the family drama. He takes her to task for discussing her marital woes with Theresa's aunt, Heather. "Isn't that in violation of the spirit of what your son asked in honor of that occasion that day?" Dr. Phil questions.

"He didn't ask me that," Terry maintains.

Dr. Phil plays comments from Steve's brother, Ed, who sides with Terry: "I don't believe my mother means to gossip, she just loves to communicate. She's a people person. I don't believe my mom said any statement at the dinner. Steve wasn't there; he got it by hearsay. She may have brought up the divorce, and whatnot. My mom would never say anything like that. I never could've blocked my mother from my wedding."

 

Turning to Steve and Theresa, Dr. Phil says, "Isn't kicking your mother out of your wedding the height of drama?"

 

"We didn't kick her out. She chose to no longer come," Theresa points out.

 

Dr. Phil is incredulous. "You didn't kick her out? You had the cops on her on the yard!" he says.

 

"She was told from December on, if anyone — whether it was her, the sister, any family member of mine — said anything inappropriate to anybody, about anything, they were going to be asked to leave. She has been trying to turn her children against Steve's father from the divorce," Theresa explains.

Dr. Phil wants the family to understand the pettiness of their issue. "You can waste a lot of time being upset about things that, I'll promise you, in the grand scheme of things, aren't worthy of the time that you are spending with a big crack and fissure in the middle of your family," he says.

He addresses Theresa. "You don't want to come between Steve and his mother. Because he will ultimately resent you for that, however right you may be factually, and however much you think she's being unreasonable," he warns. If you come between a child and their parent, and you get that can tied to your tail, that won't work for you."

Terry should also not come between Steve and Theresa. "You don't want to try to keep her from being the woman in his life, because you have been replaced," Dr. Phil tells her. "And you have to embrace and support that. And if you have another agenda, run it another way. But you guys all need to say, 'This is ridiculous.' If you lost your son today, God forbid, how dumb would you feel? If you lost your mother today, what would you give to get that five months back? Don't waste this time. Because it's just not worth it."