How You Look Drunk: Christie and Phil

Social Drinker?
Dr. Phil speaks with a couple at odds over whether one of them has a drinking problem.
"My wife has a problem partying and drinking on the weekends," says Phil, 34, who's been married to Christie for four years and has two children. "I don't like the idea of my wife sitting at a bar and strange guys or drunk guys buying her drinks and hitting on her when her family is at home in bed."

Phil especially objects to it when Christie comes home drunk at 4:30 a.m. "Me and Christie fight a lot when she's drinking. And the kids usually hear it," says Phil. "When she's ready to party, there is nothing that can stop her, including me. I think Christie is living for Christie on the weekends instead of living for her family."

Phil keeps a suitcase packed in the bedroom, because when Christie comes home drunk, he'll wake the children up and take them to his parents' house. "Sometimes I get so frustrated, I want to walk out the door and not look back," he says.
Christie, 28, considers herself a social drinker. "I like to go out and have fun. I'm not a bad person just because I drink," she says. Although she knows it's a serious issue between her and Phil, she doesn't think she drinks too much. "I feel like he's the father and I'm the child and he tells me when I'm allowed to go and when I'm not ... I feel a mother should still be able to do what she wants to do. My drinking does not hurt my kids."

Christie admits that she has made mistakes in the past. "I did get a DUI on my way home," she explains. "I actually ran over a curb right around the corner from my house and the police got out guns and the lights and woke the neighbors up. It was embarrassing."

Christie resents it when Phil makes comments around their children about her drinking. "My son says, 'Mom, are you having a beer again?' My husband is the one that puts that in his head to think that it's wrong ... I do have a fear that one day he's going to get sick of it and break up our family." She asks Dr. Phil: "Do I need to grow up, or does my husband need to loosen up?"
Dr. Phil points out that Christie's drinking is not only causing a problem in her marriage, but she's also been in conflict with the law. "Wouldn't that at least hit the radar screen as 'OK, maybe it's not him, it's me'?" he asks.

"Yes, I have asked myself that question. But on the other hand, I still feel like a wife who works hard all week, busy with the day-to-day activities, that you need to get out and have some fun. And sometimes that's the way I choose to do it and he decides not to go," she says, clarifying that she goes out only once every two weeks.
Dr. Phil brings up the fact that Christie sometimes doesn't get home until 4 a.m. and on a few occasions, didn't come home at all.

Christie explains that she stays at a friend's house, but her husband clarifies, "She's worried about coming home and fighting with me over it," he says. "She'd rather sober up and take it on the next day instead of coming home and fighting all night."

"Because you guys fight about it in front of the kids, right?" Dr. Phil asks. "In fact, when she comes home, you get the kids out of bed and leave, right? So that involves them in all of this."

Phil explains that their youngest child will sleep through it all, but the 7-year-old will wake up crying. "We calm him down. We stop fighting when he wakes up usually," he says.

"OK. So let's scare the crap out of him and then stop," Dr. Phil says, sarcastically.
When asked about his childhood, Phil explains that his mother owned a bar when he was growing up, and it wasn't a pleasant experience for him. "It was a female strip club and drunk people would come to me and argue with me ... I just don't have nothing to do with drinking," he says.

"Does that suggest to you why he doesn't want to go with you?" Dr. Phil asks Christie.

"Yes, but when we were dating, and the first couple years we were together, he went and didn't say a word," says Christie.

"Do you think it's reasonable for you to come home at 3 or 4:00 in the morning?"

"No, I don't," she admits.

"I've got to tell you, I've struggled to find some theory for which it's OK for a man's wife or a woman's husband to go out to a social, dancing, gathering, watering hole for people and come home at 4 in the morning. That's just not OK under any theory," says Dr. Phil. "It's absolutely unacceptable. I think it's an insult to your partner and I think it sends a really bad message."
Christie agrees, but says she still deserves time on her own. "I'm with him and the children every single day. I work hard, I like to get out by myself," she says.

"I'm certainly not saying you should be restricted to the point where you're not allowed to have friends, social situations, or even go to a bar with your girlfriends and hang out if it's happy hour or a moderate time in the evening," says Dr. Phil.

He also reiterates that they shouldn't be fighting in front of their children. "It absolutely changes who they are. It scars them mentally, it scars them emotionally and they're paying the price for the fact that you aren't handling your anger and you aren't handling your behavior," he tells them. "Your children shouldn't have to pay the price for your judgment or your conduct."

Dr. Phil explains the basic criteria for figuring out whether a person has a drinking problem or not. "Number one, is it interfering with your life? Is it creating conflict with those that you love and care about? And is it putting you in conflict with authorities? And you're hitting on several of those," he tells Christie.
"I feel like he tries to change me as a person," says Christie, explaining that she's always been outgoing and used to be more "wild." She had a dream of being a singer, and they agreed that once they got married, they'd move to Nashville so she could pursue her dream. "And now that we're married, it's 'No.' So I'm pretty much just married, two children, at home in Ohio, doing something that I don't want to do," she says.

"But the remedy for that is not drinking," says Dr. Phil. "What you've got to do is negotiate something different. Negotiate a move to Nashville. Negotiate some other definition of what's going on here ... You guys have issues and drinking is a symptom of the issues if you're using that as a way of rebelling. The solution is not to be fighting in front of the kids and staying out until 4 in the morning. You guys have got to negotiate something different instead of just rebelling against each other."