Family First: Follow-up, Part 2: John and Devon

Family First: Follow-up, Part 2: John and Devon
Dr. Phil checks back in with two families in crisis.
Since their last appearance, John and Devon have begun to get their parenting back on track. But the two of them have hit a roadblock in their relationship with each other.

"The major problems still in this house are Devon and I need to learn how to connect and communicate more," says John. "I told her, 'I'm doing my best to help you out here. And I feel like you're not giving me any credit whatsoever.'"

John admits he has to work on his aggressive behavior, but says things are a lot better, especially because they're sleeping in the same bed again. "We're connecting more now than we did six months ago," he says. "I have to make Devon understand that everything is going to be fine. It'll come, but not this soon."
But Devon is still frustrated. "Sometimes I feel like I'm raising four children instead of three," says Devon. "He's as bad as they are. John is very angry. He's angry at everybody. I'm like, 'John, you know, you wouldn't talk to your worst enemy the way you talk to me.' But then he'll tell me, 'Devon, you're my best friend. You can take it.' I just don't get that. I learned that you need to have respect between a husband and a wife. And I feel that I don't get that with my husband. Our relationship could use some help."

Devon also says that not much has changed since John started sleeping in their bed again. "What sex life? What is that?" she asks, laughing. "John sleeps in the bed. That's it. The intimacy level is just not there because we're so busy. I want to save our marriage. We owe it to our kids to have a stable marriage."
"What are you so mad about?" Dr. Phil asks Devon.

"I'm mad because he talks to me like crap," she says. "That's just flat out why I'm mad. He talks to me in no way like he would talk to anybody. I've told him he would not talk to his mother or his worst enemy like he talks to me."

"So what does he say to you that really cuts you to the quick?"

"He's called me 'bitch.' If I say something about him going to see his mother, he'll tell me, 'You're jealous because you don't have a mother.' Or if I'm being like I am with the kids, it's because 'You didn't have a childhood.' And these are things I've told him."

"So he uses that against you," observes Dr. Phil. "What are you feeling like inside? I've been talking to the little southern belle sitting here who wants to tell everything just as nice as it can possibly be and it's eating you up inside. And you're either going to need to get real with me or go talk to somebody else ... I want to change this family, I want to help this family, but I can't deal with what I don't have. If you are hurting inside, you've got to be willing to stand up and say, 'It's my right to have peace in my home, it's my right to have peace in my marriage and I'll be dammed if I'll settle for anything less.'"
Devon agrees. "That's true," she says.

"Then why am I saying that instead of you saying that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because I've said it so often and he knows. He'll tell me I know what buttons to push on him to get those reactions going." She looks at her husband. "But John, why do you do it?" She turns back to Dr. Phil: "And he's going to sit here and not say a word."

John objects. "No, I'm not," he says. "Once I've realized I've talked down to her and I've condescended to her every thought, I've worked real hard to try to change my ways and my views of that."

Dr. Phil asks, "Do you recognize the disrespect from John Jr. toward his mother and sister? Do you see it as inappropriate, hurtful and insensitive?"

"Yes sir, I do."

"That boy is like looking in a mirror for you. They call him John Jr! And he looks at you — you are the most powerful role model in his life. He sees you condescend to her, he sees you make these comments to her and he does exactly the same thing because 'Dad does it.'"
Dr. Phil continues: "You've said to her, 'This is my house. If you don't like it, get out.' Is that true?"

"Yes. In a sense, but not as dramatic as it sounds," says John.

"So you said it, but you meant it in a good way?"


"Well then how did you say it?"

"Pretty much the way you explained it. Bottom line," admits John. "Why would it be just my home? That's our home."

"Words hurt and they sting," says Dr. Phil. "And let me tell you something I've learned about women: They have a really long memory. When you say something like that, it doesn't go away soon."

"Do you love your wife?"

"Yes I do."

"And I truly believe that you do have very positive feelings for her. But when you say that you love her, I want you to tell me what that means. Love is just four letters in a word. What does that mean to you?"

"Companionship, friendship, togetherness," says John.
"Where's respect in all that?" Devon asks. "See? It's not in there."

John adds, "Respect too."

"There's a point at which you have to stop complaining and start asking specifically for what you want," says Dr. Phil. He asks John, "Do you wake up every morning and look in the mirror and make a commitment to live the love you feel?"

"No, I don't," says John.

Dr. Phil asks Devon, "Do you love him?"

"Yes," says Devon.

"Even though he's hurt you and put you down, you still love this man? Why?"

Devon gets emotional. "We have three kids together, we've been through a lot. I just do." When Dr. Phil presses her, she says, "He's a good provider ... I don't know. I don't know why I love him."
"Let me tell you what I just heard," Dr. Phil tells John. "I just asked your wife why she loved you. She said, 'We have three kids together, we've been through a lot, and he's a good provider.' Oh, be still my heart. Not one emotional need did she mention that you are meeting. She didn't say, 'I love him because he loves me.' She didn't say, 'I love him because he makes me feel safe and secure and valued and beautiful and sexy and desirable and interesting. And I feel better about me when I'm around him' ... Are you proud of her?"

"Oh, yeah," says John. "Proud that she takes care of me, she takes care of the kids. She's a friend. I mean, there's some bickering. But there's also a friendship with my wife."

"I'm his best friend. That's why he can talk to me like that," says Devon.

Dr. Phil asks John if that's how he justifies the way he talks to his wife: "That you can talk to her that way because she's your best friend and she can take it."

"Right," John admits.Dr. Phil also recommends they start focusing on each other. "You guys have to get back to being a couple," says Dr. Phil. "One of the biggest mistakes that parents make when they have children is they stop being friends and lovers because they started being moms and dads. And if all you are is moms and dads for all those years and you don't keep your relationship together, you'll have nothing when they're gone."

Devon speaks up: "Oh, he said when they're gone, he'll get a Harley. And he knows I won't ride one."

John hangs his head and the audience laughs. "That memory thing you were talking about is bad," he jokes.

"Here's what you need to do. She needs you emotionally, John. Don't be a clod when it comes to being emotional with your wife. You've got to seduce her, you've got to date her, you've got to wine and dine her, you've got to blow in her ear, you've got to tell her that dress doesn't make her look fat, you've got to tell her things that you feel in your heart. You have a beautiful woman for a wife and she's got a good sense of humor. She's a smart aleck and she's got a spunky spirit, but that's what you liked about her to begin with, isn't it?"Dr. Phil continues: "You've got to focus on the woman that is your wife. Not the nanny that's raising your kids. This is your wife, this is a thinking feeling, caring woman that has emotional needs and you've got to plug in here ... Y'all need to go do some things as a couple."

John has another question: "There's 24 hours in a day. Seventeen are on our feet doing for our kids, or ourselves, or our family, especially since we started this 'Family First.' It's really working and we've got a long way to go and I know we'll get there. But there's only so many hours in a day."

"And it's all about priorities," says Dr. Phil. "If you want to call my bluff, I'll come in and inventory those so many hours in a day and I'll bet you I can find some stuff you can not do and you can do her instead."

"I gotcha," says John, and everyone laughs.