Marlon and Shamika's marriage has been on the rocks since the day they said "I do," just a little over a year ago. After their first appearance on the show, Marlon and Shamika say things were great — for about two weeks. After their second appearance, their marriage continued to deteriorate.
"After the last show, I think things did go downhill pretty fast. Shortly after the last show, we did separate," says Shamika.
"I realized how Shamika felt after talking to Dr. Phil. All I could think was, 'This woman can't possibly love me,'" says Marlon. "The last thing that Shamika said was, 'Have a nice life.' We filed for divorce. I feel like it's the right decision, absolutely. Put a fork in me, I'm done."
Shamika does not feel the same. "I do regret signing the divorce papers. How can Marlon give up so easily after only one year? I told Marlon that I did not want a divorce, but he still thinks that it's the best thing to do. If I had another chance with Marlon, I would do many things differently. I do still love Marlon. I don't know if Marlon still loves me," says Shamika, wiping a tear from her eye. "I don't want to give up on my marriage."
"I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't see a flashlight. I don't see a nightlight. I don't even see a little man lighting a cigarette," says Marlon. "I've done all that I can do to save the marriage. It doesn't matter if we go talk to the Pope. Shamika is probably not going to change."
"Why did you marry her to begin with?" Dr. Phil asks. "What was it about her that caused you to say, 'This is it. This is the one'?"
"She was different," says Marlon. "That backbone that I talked about, that feistiness, it's a turn on, but furthermore, I fell in love with her."
Dr. Phil asks for details about Marlon's proposal to Shamika. Marlon explains that he left the ring in the refrigerator and then asked Shamika to get him a glass of water.
Dr. Phil asks Shamika, "How'd you feel when you opened that refrigerator door?"
"I was completely, just elated. I was just surprised and taken aback because I wasn't expecting that. I was just beyond ecstatic," she says.
"So how do you feel now?" he asks.
"Very hurt and disappointed and just crushed, basically," she says.
"You don't want this divorce?"
"No, I don't want it," says Shamika.
"The number one predictor of divorce is not whether you fight or not, it's how you fight," says Dr. Phil, "and specifically, how you end a fight. If you get to a point where it deteriorates into character assassination, name calling, put downs, it's not about the topic or the issue anymore; it gets personal." Dr. Phil brings up some colorful language that Shamika used when she was mad at Marlon.
"I was holding in a lot of anger. A lot of things happened prior to that, and I got to the boiling point," she explains. "His coming and taking the computer, on top of him confiscating the van, on top of him leaving us for Christmas, all of that just came out. It was wrong, and afterward, I apologized to him."
"So you just got to the point where you said, 'I'm not going to take this anymore'?" Dr. Phil asks Marlon.
"Pretty much," says Marlon. "I realize that, because of my childhood, I had some shoes in front of her that were maybe too big for her. It's not all her fault, I want to say that for the record. I realize now that maybe my expectancy was just too high for her."
"I've told you two on prior occasions that I truly believe this relationship can work," says Dr. Phil, who has a simple test that will tell you if you're ready to get divorced. "You know you are ready to divorce when you can walk out the door with no feelings, no anger, no bitterness, no hurt, because that means you have turned over every stone, you've done everything you know how to do. There is no unfinished emotional business."
Dr. Phil asks Marlon if he still has feelings for his wife, if he's hurt, angry, confused, and trying hard not to be in love with his wife. He answers each question in the affirmative.
Dr. Phil turns to Shamika. He asks her if she's hurt, scared, angry and confused, and she also answers yes to each question.
"That is not the time to make life-changing decisions. You failed the test," Dr. Phil tells them.
Shamika says she grew up in an environment where emotions were not expressed and were, in fact, viewed as a weakness. Dr. Phil explains that that might be the reason she puts up a wall to keep herself from being hurt. "Now, let me ask you about being behind this wall. Has this proven to be pain free?"
"Absolutely not, there's still a lot of pain back there," she says.
"Isn't there fear? Loneliness? Aren't there times that you want to just run and jump in his lap and say, 'I want to be with you. I want you to take care of me. I want to take care of you'?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Yes," says Shamika.
"What stops you?" he asks.
"I guess fear of rejection. Fear that he won't receive me," she says.
"We asked you how you would rate him as a husband on a scale of one to 10. What did you say?" asks Dr. Phil.
"I said a nine," says Shamika.
"Do you want that divorce?"
"No, I don't."
"Then be strong enough, be your own best friend, and look him in the eye right now and tell him what you feel," Dr. Phil tells Shamika.
Shamika looks at Marlon and wipes away a tear.
"Look him in the eye, Shamika," encourages Dr. Phil.
"I love you," she tells him, with tears running down her face. "And although in the past, my actions may not have shown it, I was unable to see a lot of things that I've been able to see in the past few weeks, and I realize a lot of the mistakes that I made, and I know that I can do better, and I still believe that we can make it, and I don't want to divorce you."
Marlon reaches over and wipes a tear from her face.
Dr. Phil has them stand up and face each other.
"Look at her, not me," he tells Marlon. "Do you have any idea how hard it is for her to come on national television, and be vulnerable enough to look you in the eye and say, 'I have been wrong, I have been unfair and I don't want you to leave me'?"
"Yes, I realize how hard it is, for her especially," says Marlon, looking at his wife. "It means a whole lot. I'm afraid too. I'm afraid that when we leave this show, we go home, I say, 'OK, let's do it,' and she reverts back to the hurt."
"Let me ask you this: If she not only had the want to, but also had the how to, to bring those words alive, what would that mean to you?" he asks Marlon.
"It would mean that there's hope, that we could see it, that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The little man with the lighter, he's there now," says Marlon.
Dr. Phil offers to get them some counseling to help them repair their marriage. "Will you let me continue the process?" he asks.
"I think it would be unfair for us to say that we've done everything if we didn't do that," says Marlon, agreeing.
"Because you failed the divorce readiness test, miserably," says Dr. Phil.
He tells Shamika, "But you've got to make the decision that it's not safe behind that wall and that this guy who put the ring in the refrigerator, the guy who fixes you wonderful dinners and just really tries to sweep you off your feet, you've got to let yourself be swept."
Dr. Phil tells his audience, "Well, I have said from the get go that I truly believe that this couple can make it and should make it, and I'm glad they've agreed to go another round because I'm not even almost close to turning them loose."
At the end of the show, Dr. Phil sits down for some more words with Marlon and Shamika.
"Now, I asked you two earlier if you were willing to roll your sleeves up and actually do some work before you made decisions while you were emotional, right? And you've both had a chance to sit there and think about that. How does that decision feel as you wear it for a little while?" Dr. Phil asks them.
Marlon responds, "I'm just sitting here, and I'm just, like, 'OK, Marlon, here we go. Don't be afraid like she's been and show her how to be fearless.' And you know, I'm just thinking about how I can go home and put aside all the bitterness, all the anger and all the things that went wrong, and I was just sitting here, like, 'OK, let's start fresh. Since we've been doing it backwards, let's go home and be friends.' I don't know."
Dr. Phil addresses Shamika. "One of the things that you fear sometimes is that he might say something here, while I'm leaning on him, but then when he gets home, he doesn't really feel that conviction. That really worries you some, right?"
"Yes, it does," she says. "I was thinking about that, like, OK, here he's seeming to be all right with it, but when we get home, he might be like, 'OK, this divorce is going to be final in a couple months.'"
Dr. Phil tells Shamika, "You've been so closed and kind of so intimidating that people don't really engage you and give you advice, or talk to you, or counsel you because you just don't have 'receptive' flashing all around you."
He tells Marlon, "What she's done is she has lived what she learned. And what happened is, once she fell in love with you and started investing in you, she had so much to lose that she panicked. And when she panicked, she started saying, 'Well, I've got to protect myself.' And one of the best ways to do that is you get them before they get you. Hurt them before they can hurt you. Reject them before they can reject you. That way, you don't feel the sting of rejection, you just push them away and you've got an excuse for being alone again. Think of her at the best she has ever been, you know, when she's sweet and kind and loving —"
"Yes, yes, yes," says Marlon, holding his arms up in mock praise. "Amen, brother."
"If that is who she really is, wouldn't you love to spend the rest of your life with her?"
Marlon jumps up and does a little dance.
"Exactly," says Dr. Phil. "And I'm telling you, that is who she is, but she's got this protective device there that has really created some problems. I want to help tear that down."
"And while we're doing that, we can make a list for you," says Dr. Phil. "Because you tend to get a little absorbed in your own life, and your own situation and your own circumstance, and kind of forget that you have a wife and kids at home, right?"
"Yeah," says Marlon.
"So I'm going to ask you to put that divorce on hold and give me a
"Yes," says Marlon.
"Will you send them to me?" Dr. Phil asks.
"Yeah, I'll send them to you," agrees Marlon.