Is My Spouse Normal: Erika and Giovanni

A Big Joke
Dr. Phil weighs in with guests who want to know if their spouse's strange behavior is normal.
Erika says that her husband, Giovanni, is like her third child. "He can be very, very immature. It's embarrassing," says Erika, who's been putting up with his inappropriate jokes for eight years. "Once my husband tells a joke, and it's successful, he tries to do that again and again and again." Giovanni also likes to wear his pajamas out in public. "My husband wears his pajamas to work, to a restaurant, to the doctor's office, to the store ..." Giovanni knows that his wife hates it when he wears his pajamas out in public. "And that's why I do it even more," he says.

Giovanni admits, "I actually watch more cartoons than my 5-year-old girl does." But he doesn't think his behavior is abnormal. "I like to have fun. I like to relax. I want people around me to feel comfortable," he says.

Erika turns to Dr. Phil for help. "He's a big kid and he doesn't think there's anything wrong with that. How can I convince my husband that this is not normal for a 35-year-old to act like this?"
"You said you want people to feel comfortable," Dr. Phil tells Giovanni. "Do you think she's comfortable?"

"It's a very big grey area," says Giovanni.

"Is this the most significant person in your life?"

"Yes, it is," says Giovanni.

"And she's telling you that she's not comfortable. That you're embarrassing," says Dr. Phil.

Giovanni says he was like this when he met Erika, and will probably be like this in the future. "She has accepted me for the last eight years," says Giovanni.

"I don't think so," says Dr. Phil. "I think she has endured you for the last eight years of marriage." Dr. Phil also wants to know why Giovanni tries to push Erika's buttons.

When Giovanni states that spouses likes to annoy their loved ones sometimes, Dr. Phil doesn't understand. "What are you wanting to get back at her for?" he asks.
"There's always going to be something," says Giovanni. "Once you fix a problem that you currently have, the next thing is the biggest thing in the world."

"Do you think that there's good-natured humor and bad-natured humor?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes," Giovanni says.

Dr. Phil goes over some of Giovanni's comments that weren't so funny to Erika. For example, one of Erika's friends got beat up by her boyfriend, and Giovanni said, "I'll give you some boxing lessons." Also, Erika once had a deportation scare and Giovanni told her, "Don't worry, I'll give you a ride to the airport."

Giovanni explains that he's trying to lighten the mood when things are serious. "I don't normally go out and just be vicious," he says.

"Have you noticed she ain't laughing?" Dr. Phil asks. "What if it really isn't funny? What if it's being insensitive?"

Giovanni says he has apologized for certain comments in the past.

"Let me tell you what I think is not normal here," says Dr. Phil. "You are insensitive to your impact on your significant other."
Dr. Phil continues: "What you want your mate to feel is that you care what she cares about. It doesn't mean you have to change your whole personality ... But there's a point at which it's starting to be painful to her," says Dr. Phil, using the example of wearing pajama bottoms to a family baptism. "I wonder if maybe you could just dial up the sensitivity?"

Giovanni explains that he works in a corporate environment. "It's just so stuffy in that kind of environment. And when I get home, I just want to be able to open up as much as I want," he says.

"Is that no, I don't want to dial up my sensitivity for my wife?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No, I want to make her happier," says Giovanni.

Dr. Phil explains that maybe doing that involves not shopping for himself on her birthday.

"She didn't like anything," he justifies.

"This goes back to the sensitivity dial," says Dr. Phil. "Dial up the sensitivity. Will you think about that?"

"I will think about that," agrees Giovanni.