Dave prefers to buy video games, sporting equipment and DVDs. "Tina knew when we got married that I like to spend money freely, mostly on myself," he said, and has racked up $20,000 in credit card debt.
Now that he's living with his mother, Dave realizes the severity of his situation. "I'm on the verge of losing my family because of my immaturity and my selfish behavior," he says. "I don't know why I can't seem to grow up."Dave explains why he wrote to Dr. Phil: "Tina trusts what you have to say, and I thought I can come to you for help and you can show me what to do. I'm tired of acting like I act now and I want to do something about it."
"Are you sincere about this or is this just a manipulative ploy?" Dr. Phil questions.
When Dr. Phil asks Tina if she thinks Dave is sincere, she responds, "Well, writing a letter was a big step. I don't think a lot of men would do that. But no, I don't believe him yet."
"Why did you two get married to begin with?" Dr. Phil presses, pointing out that Tina knew Dave spent money frivolously and he knew she had the tendency to nag.
"I thought he would change," Tina confesses. "I thought getting married and having a kid would show him the light."
Dave also thought that being married would force him to grow up.
"That's impulse control," Dr. Phil explains. "You got so angry at Christmastime you're knocking the Christmas tree over and backing her into the corner to the point where she had to call the police."
Dr. Phil continues with more instances of Dave's immaturity. "You have called her an F-ing b**ch, a whore. You've called her the C-word," he points out. "You told her that Abigail, your daughter, would be better off if [Tina] killed herself. Are you kidding me?"
Dave is remorseful. "If I could take every word of that back, I would. When we start arguing like that, it's just very immature," he reveals. "She comes to me and tries to discuss it like an adult, and I just degenerate it into a big name-calling and shovefest."
"What I want you to tell me now is what dialogue you have inside your head that tells you it's OK to violate you wife in that way," Dr. Phil demands.
Dave admits he doesn't know. "When I do it, she talks about getting a divorce, taking Abigail away. I get afraid. I get angry," he says.
"And you are so stressed that you are now taking it out on your daughter. And how are you doing that?" Dr. Phil questions Tina.
"What you're doing is an absolute, drop-dead deal breaker," Dr. Phil says sternly to Dave. Turning to Tina, he says, "If that goes on in the marriage, shut it down and get out of the marriage. It is just that simple. You do not allow someone to verbally abuse you. You do not allow someone to verbally abuse your daughter. You do not allow someone to physically abuse you. Those are absolute deal-breakers. Non-negotiable, unacceptable. That's my advice to you."
He thinks Dave genuinely wants to change. "I don't think your being here is a purely manipulative ploy," he says. "I think you are sincerely not proud of what you are doing. I think right now you're scared that you're losing your family, and you are. The question is, can you turn this around?"
"I don't want him back in my house until I can trust that he's not going to do that anymore," she says, matter-of-factly. "But I don't want to get a divorce."
Dr. Phil is in her corner. "We are so on the same page about that," he assures Tina. He reminds Dave that his wife has an open mind and heart about their relationship. "What you want is to just be able to say, 'This is terrible. It's wrong. I'll never do it again. Let's go home and be happy.' That would be your first choice, right?" he questions.
"Actually, no because I know if we did that, my behavior wouldn't change," Dave counters. "I would still be able to get angry because I don't know what to do to help myself."
Dr. Phil agrees. "Then we are on the same page. Because if you went home right now, it wouldn't be two days before these old habits, these old patterns, this old anger, came bubbling back up again," he explains.
Dave agrees. "I would absolutely rather die than pass that along to Abigail in any way, shape or form."
Dr. Phil stresses that the legacy has to stop with Dave. "You need anger management help. You need communication skills help," he advises. He tells Tina that she should not allow her husband back into the home until he seeks counseling and starts making strides. In the meantime, Dave should get rid of his gadgets and spend more time with his daughter or take up a constructive habit. "You need to step up and be the man and lead this family," he says. "But you have to prove that from outside the home."
Tina approves of that plan. "I commend you for being open enough to give Dave a chance ... to try to turn this around and work it out," Dr. Phil tells her. "I will help you get this started. I'm going to give you both some things to read, and I am going to get inside your community and find you someone that can and will work with you on an ongoing basis."