For Better or Worse: Libbie and Matt

Affair with a Coworker

"Is this over for you?" Dr. Phil asks Libbie. "Do you have any hope, any idea that this marriage can survive infidelity?"

"I don't," she replies. "To be honest, I'm not sure I want it to." She adds that she had more feelings shortly after she found out about her husband's affair than she does now. "I'm just angry, and I'm not sure I even love him anymore."

Dr. Phil asks Matthew, "How did you get into this mess?"

"I don't know," he replies. "The affair started before we conceived the last child. It wasn't something that I looked for to happen. It just happened."

"Are you really owning this yet?" Dr. Phil asks. "If you didn't want it to happen, who did?"

"That's a good question," he says, repeating his previous statement.

[AD]"It didn't just happen," Dr. Phil says. "You made a choice."

Matthew's encounters with his mistress often occurred at her house or hotels.

"You would get in your car, and you would drive to her house. You would park, and you would go in, and you would do whatever you would do. That's not a, ‘Whoops,'" Dr. Phil points out. "That's a premeditated decision to clandestinely affiliate with someone else on a repeated basis. That is a conscious and premeditated act that you made the decision to do."

Matthew has says he wasn't attracted to the other woman, and Dr. Phil asks, "Do you say that because you think it makes [Libbie] feel better?"

"No. It was the truth," he replies.

To Libbie, Dr. Phil says, "Basically, what he's saying to you is, ‘I don't even have to be attracted to somebody to jerk you around.'" He asks Matthew, "Do you get that that's how she hears that?"

Matthew nods.

 

"You can't ever get past something until all the cards are on the table so you can talk about it openly and honestly," Dr. Phil tells the couple.

"Why did you agree to come here?" Dr. Phil asks Libbie.

[AD]"I have seen you provide resources to help, and counseling, or maybe to tell me I need to get over it and move on," she says. "I'm just angry with him, and I'm not sure I love him anymore."

"When you found out, you say you had feelings for him then," Dr. Phil says.

"I was devastated, of course, but I felt like I still wanted to be married to him. I felt like I still wanted him to want me," she says.

Libbie learned that Matthew wrote a contract and gave it to his mistress. Dr. Phil reads the document. "It reads as follows, ‘I want you, only you. I'm not going to have sex with Libbie. I can't give you 100 percent of me at this time, and I don't know when I can, but I promise you, I will not sleep with her. I do love you, and I want to be with you. We will be together,' and it was signed by [Matthew]," Dr. Phil says. He asks Matthew, "Why did you do that?"

"She was getting so jealous of Libbie, and she wanted me to write something out to prove that I was dedicated to her," he says.

"Did you mean this?" Dr. Phil asks, holding up the contract.

"I didn't mean that," Matthew says.

"You lied to your wife both by omission and constructively. You lied to the person you were cheating with," Dr. Phil says.

"It was pretty devastating to everybody involved," Matthew says. "I was more so trying to protect my career."

"The problem with affairs, it's not whom you lie with, it's whom you lie to," Dr. Phil tells Matthew. To Libbie, he says, "It's not her. It's him you have the problem with, because you realize that if it wasn't she, it would have been somebody else, if he's going to go out and do that."

Dr. Phil asks Matthew, "Do you think you've ever told [Libbie] with honesty and clarity, ‘I did this. It was wrong. It was my choice, and I'm going to spend the rest of my life making this up to you and our children'?"

[AD]"I have told her that," he says. "I tell her that just about every day."

"Do you hear excuses in what he says? Because I do," Dr. Phil says to Libbie. To Matthew, he says, "You beat yourself up over it, but that doesn't help her. What helps her is knowing that you get what you did to her and to your family." Turning back to Libbie, Dr. Phil says, "Until you believe that he truly gets this, that he truly understands the gravity of the choice he made, you'll never be able to get any kind of closure or move forward in any kind of way. And maybe you shouldn't bother."

Dr. Phil tells Libbie that most couples who get divorced aren't ready to sever their union, because they do it when they're angry, hurt, bitter and resentful. "The only way you'll know that it's time to take that option, to get that divorce, is when you can look at Matt, when you can look at your family situation, and not be emotional about it," he says. "There will come a time, trust me, when your children grown up, and they will say, ‘Mom, how come we grew up without Dad?' And if your answer is, ‘I was really pissed off, and I just walked out, and that's why you spent the next 10, 12 years without your father in the home,' that's not a good answer, is it?"

Libbie shakes her head and fights back tears.

"If you can look those children in the eye, and you can say, ‘Kids, I did everything I knew to do; I saw counselors, I read books, I talked to Dr. Phil, I prayed, I turned over every stone I possibly could, before I made that decision. I didn't take this lightly. I did everything I knew how to do,'" Dr. Phil says to Libbie.

"But do you stay with someone you don't think really loves you?" Libbie asks.

[AD]"No. You don't do that," Dr. Phil says.

"I don't think he really loves me," Libbie continues.

"Then that needs to get on your To-Do list to find out," Dr. Phil says. "I don't want you to quit with unfinished emotional business." He adds that even if she learns that Matthew still loves her, that may not be enough of a reason for her to stay with him. "He may not be willing to step up and own this whole situation for you, because he's going to have to do a lot of things."

 

Dr. Phil addresses Matthew, "You would have to be willing to reassure her in every possible way for however long it took."

Dr. Phil says to Libbie, "I'm not saying that that would be enough for you, but if you walk out of here, you need to be prepared to do it in a way where you can say, ‘I don't have any unfinished emotional business. I'm not mad. I'm not even hurt. I have closure on this. I can walk away calmly and move on.' That may be exactly what you need to do, and all you need to do to get there is get yourself in a position. Make sure you've said what you need to say, you've considered what you need to consider for you and for your children, because there's more than you involved here." He tells the couple that it's not beneficial for children to live in an emotionally-barren environment.

[AD]"This is a situation of serious gravity, and you have both the responsibility and the right to decide what you're going to do," Dr. Phil says to Libbie. "If getting a divorce is a good idea, it will be a good idea six weeks from now. It's worth doing the work to have peace of mind when you make that decision."