Fighting Styles: Gerald and Belinda

Fighting Styles: Gerald and Belinda

"I've been separated from Belinda for one year now. Her style of fighting was so crazy, I fled all the way to Florida just to get away from her," Gerald reveals. He walks through the airport in Los Angeles, on the way to visit his estranged wife. "I came to see if it would ever be possible to live with her again."

 

Back in her apartment, Belinda expresses hope for reconciliation. "If I fail at everything else in the world, I do not want to fail at my marriage. I haven't been able to sleep. I haven't been able to eat. My hair is falling out," she confesses.

 

The tension starts minutes after Gerald walks back in the house. "For the first year and a half of our marriage, you treated me like s**t. You cussed me out, you belittled me, you disrespected me," Gerald says heatedly.

 

Belinda quarrels with Gerald, eventually hitting him in the head with a pillow. Gerald says this style of fighting is nothing new. "Belinda has put me out seven to eight times on the street. We fought the night before we got married, 30 minutes before we got married, 45 minutes after we got married, and then that evening, I got a drink thrown in my face," he reveals.

 

Despite their ongoing squabbles, Belinda wants to salvage their relationship. She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "How can my husband and I reconcile our differences to save our marriage?" she asks.

Dr. Phil addresses Gerald. "First off, if 30 minutes before we were getting married, we were in a yelling, screaming fight, there would be a lot of disappointed people in that church," he declares. He praises the young man's decision to leave a violent relationship. "I believe that physical abuse and emotional abuse is an absolute, drop-dead deal-breaker. If you're going to hit him and throw things at him, and all that kind of stuff, I think you did exactly the right thing to get out of there."

 

Dr. Phil acknowledges that Gerald is no saint. "He may be provoking and irritating and all of that, but what you're doing in terms of physically attacking is dangerous and unacceptable," he tells Belinda sternly.

 

Belinda raises her voice. "That's why I'm here. I need to get to a plan B, C, D — whatever it takes!" she seethes. "I understand that he's hurt. He's been through a lot dealing with me, and I don't blame him at all."

 

"He moved to Florida!" Dr. Phil says. "Do you think you're hostile and aggressive? Hell, you're scaring me now!"

 

"That's why I'm glad she's sitting closer to you," Gerald says with a smile.

When Dr. Phil observes that Belinda acts like she's looking for a fight, she takes a breath to calm herself. "I'm looking for a resolution right now," she says simply.

 

"What man or woman is going to want to do anything for somebody who hits them?" Gerald asks.

 

"Are you at all open to working on a reconciliation of this relationship?" Dr. Phil asks him.

 

Gerald thinks for a minute. "I don't see how it can be reconciled, honestly," he says. "It's a lot more than just hitting and screaming. I've been on the street."

 

Belinda turns her wrath on Gerald. "But you weren't on the street. That was one of the main issues," she fumes. "What did you say? 'I slept with her because she let me sleep in her house.'"

 

They exchange heated words, and Dr. Phil holds his hands up to silence the feuding couple. When that doesn't work, he turns Belinda's chair around to face him. "Here's the deal: When you come into a relationship, you have a history, and you either contribute to that relationship or you contaminate that relationship," he explains.

 

Belinda agrees. "I contaminated it with my history," she says.

Dr. Phil notes that Belinda has a lot of unfinished emotional business. "In your younger years, you were abused. You were molested. You have been mistreated in some ways that have caused you to toughen up to survive. True?" he asks.

 

"True," she says, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.

 

"You can kind of get into a position of saying, 'You know what? I'm going to get them before they get me. I'm not going to sit here until somebody just really undoes me and become the victim again. I've been the victim the last time in my life.' That's kind of your attitude, right?"

 

"Yes."

 

Dr. Phil doesn't advise the couple to reunite right now. "It would be a disaster," he warns. "But what I do want to do is ask you to let me help you get some resolution and come up with some different coping strategies to deal with your feelings, and your pain, and your emotions."

"You have been burned, and those burns need to be tended to. Once they're tended to, then you need to learn a new way to protect yourself instead of aggression and violent outbursts," Dr. Phil tells Belinda. "When you learn that, I promise you, you will find it much easier to negotiate a compatible relationship, whether it be with Gerald or somebody else. But the first person who needs some attention here, some care and some healing, is you. Will you put yourself at the top of the list for a while?"

 

He offers to get Belinda and her children professional help. She struggles to regain her composure. "I was coming on here to get him some help," she says with a tiny smile.

 

Belinda says she will accept Dr. Phil's help.