Fighting Styles: Kim and Mike

Fighting Styles: Kim and Mike

"My husband and I have been married for three years, and we have two totally different fighting styles," reveals Kim. "My style of fighting is more emotional. I scream, I yell, and I will swear. We cannot seem to communicate, and it's destroying our family and our marriage."


Mike says he takes a more rational approach. "I am a cerebral, thinking fighter rather than a hateful, hurtful fighter," he explains. But his method doesn't seem to reduce the tension. "I don't want to live in this situation for the rest of my life."

Kim calls her husband "a f***ing ass****," and "a bald mother f***er." She regrets that they often bicker in front of their children. "My son has repeated f***, bitch, and damn it. I don't realize that my children are standing there screaming at my legs, 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, don't scream,'" she says. "It breaks my heart." 

One of her main complaints against Mike is that he travels all the time, and she is often left alone with their kids. "I am like a single parent, and the one thing I want when he gets home is a break," she says.

Kim is not optimistic about their future. "Our marriage is so rock bottom, we need an intervention," she says, turning to Dr. Phil.

Addressing Mike, Dr. Phil says, "You describe yourself like 20 times in your pre-interview as being more cerebral."

"I would say I think before I speak in most cases," Mike replies.

Dr. Phil takes him to task. "So before you call her 'F-ing stupid,' and 'dumbass,' and 'an F-ing joke,' and 'like talking to an F-ing wall,' and 'a lazy, schizo, psycho, insane bitch,' you've weighed all that cerebrally?" he asks with irony.

"Correct, because usually this happens about 20 minutes into the conversation, where I've reached my blowing point," Mike answers.

Dr. Phil doesn't let him off the hook that easily. "But you have spent 20 minutes weighing all that, analyzing the alternatives, and thinking, 'OK, the best possible contribution I can make to the solution was the foregoing'?" he says.

"I would say that is how I kind of look at it," Mike concedes.

"You would describe that as cerebral?"

Mike responds, "Let's just say maybe that is not the best word for it."

Dr. Phil says Kim shares a role in the conflict. "You call him 'fat-ass, a-hole, stupid,' — and here is my favorite — 'You bald MF.'"

Kim cringes. "Not good. I knew it was coming," she laughs.

"What are you guys doing? What in the world is going on here?" Dr. Phil inquires. He mentions an argument that ensued between Mike and Kim when she left to take care of her ailing mother. "According to you, he said you were a bad mother and told your child you would rather be somewhere else."

"Not exactly," Mike demurs. "The point was, there were some decisions that were made that were not really thought through at the time."

Kim turns to her husband in anger. "Your mother and sister are not just going to come up with, 'Oh, Kim is a bad mother,'" she bristles. "You led them to believe that I was a bad mother. If you really believe that I am a bad mother, then you shouldn't be with me." 

Dr. Phil sympathizes with Kim. Turning to Mike, he says, "If her mom is at death's door and fighting for her life, why would you take issue with any detail that's going on?" 

"That is a great question. I would say that I have to work on my empathy," Mike admits.

"You guys know that when you fight about everything, you're fighting about nothing," Dr. Phil explains. "The topics rotate in and out. The rhetoric never changes."

Kim says, "I need you to tell me how to get over that, if there is an argument —"

"Grow up!" Dr. Phil interjects.

"I am grown up," Kim replies.

Dr. Phil clarifies. "When I say grow up, you have to get to the point of saying, 'Life is not fair. There is no way any treatment that I am going to give of things that have happened in the past is going to change that. I have to accept that and I need to live in the moment,'" he tells her. "The past is over, the future has not happened yet, and the only time is now. If you are hanging onto the past, then tell me why. What is your payoff?"

"There is no payoff," Kim insists. She lists some ways that Mike could decrease the tension in their marriage. "I think it is him saying he is sorry for the things he has done to me, and making me feel like I am respected as a person and that he respects me as a wife and mother."

Dr. Phil questions the way Kim goes about getting her way. "So, then what you want to do is drag up 30 examples of how he violates that?"

"What do you need from him?" Dr. Phil asks Kim. 

"I need him to respect me." She faces her husband. "I need you to validate my feelings. I need you to respect me as your wife and as the mother of your child. I need for you to emotionally connect with me, and understand the things I go through, and try to be there."

Dr. Phil interrupts. "You are using some buzzwords that make him cringe, like 'validate my feelings,'" he explains. "What does that mean? Put a verb in there for me. What is it that you want him to do? I can tell you what I think he needs to do, but I am curious as to what you want him to do."


Dr. Phil turns to Mike. "Let me start you off. Stop being so condescending," he says. "You come at her with an air of superiority that is like fingernails on a chalkboard. You don't want a father-daughter relationship here because teenagers grow up and rebel. And that's where you are right now."

"I would agree," Mike says.

Kim turns to her husband and again tries to express herself. "I think if you could definitely not boss me around, or when I have a situation that comes up, I don't need you to give me answers," she says.

"I agree, 100 percent. I'm very, very hard to please," Mike admits. "I'm very demanding on myself. I'm very demanding on you. I do realize that. Listening and actually not trying to fix things is a problem I have."


Dr. Phil steps in. "You've got to realize, you married her. You didn't hire her!" he says.

Kim wants her husband's condescension to stop. "I feel like I'm not good enough, like I'm not respected. That's probably the worst feeling that a stay-at-home mom can have," she says. "What I do every day is a job, and even though I don't bring home a paycheck to him, it's a job."

Addressing Mike, Dr. Phil says, "Do you get her feelings? The quality of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it meets the needs of the two people involved. She has a need for acceptance. She has a need that you acknowledge, that you recognize, that you appreciate the fact that she is doing the most critical job in this union. You're out there bringing home the bacon — very important — but is there anything more important than that person to whom you charge with the shaping, guidance, and nurturance of your children? That is the primary position in this union, and she's in it, not you. You treat it like a hired hand and take inventory from a distance ... You do not tell a woman who has a child strapped to each leg dragging them around the house all day, not talking to another adult human being throughout the day, you don't start your conversation by criticizing the manner in which she's doing it."

Dr. Phil wants the couple to understand how their fighting affects the kids. He instructs them to watch a video of them arguing in front of their son. As the quarrel escalates, the child holds up his arms and says, "Stop!"


When the video clip ends, Dr. Phil fixes a stern gaze on the couple. "What in the hell are you two thinking?" he asks.

"We're not, obviously," Mike says.

Kim agrees. "I wouldn't have written the show if I didn't think I needed someone to help me and tell me what to do," she says. "I'm asking you what I can do to stop my anger. Why am I yelling? Why is that my fighting style?"

"That's got to stop. You are an intelligent woman with the ability to make choices, and you need to stop choosing to do that to that child. That is abuse," Dr. Phil admonishes. "Do you see that child sitting there?"

Mike nods, visibly affected. "That hurts," he says, with tears in his eyes.

"There is nothing cerebral about that, there's nothing justifiable about that. You've got to stop doing that," Dr. Phil reiterates. "I think a lightbulb has come on over your head. True or false?"

"True," Mike replies.

Mike needs to plug back in to his relationship. "You need to wake up every day and say, 'What can I do today to make that woman feel more special?'" Dr. Phil advises. "If you do that, what kind of partner do you think she'll be for you? Better or worse?"


"Better," Mike says.


Kim needs to wake up every morning and say, "'What can I do today to make him feel like I am proud of him for who he is, and what he does, and the things that define him as a man?'" Dr. Phil suggests.


Mike thinks this plan will make a huge difference in their relationship. Voice quavering, he says, "She talks about validation. I need validation too."


Dr. Phil offers to provide counseling for the couple in their town, and help them come up with a family plan. They accept the help.