Is This Normal: Mary and Eric

Is This Normal: Mary and Eric
"Eric has been a drummer for as long as I've known him; it's his passion," Mary says of her husband of 27 years. "Eric is in four bands right now."

"I have played in at least 30 different bands,"
Eric says. "Mary has supported my dream for 27 years, and she wants me to put less emphasis on it and go work a good day job."

"My husband is 50 years old, and he does think he's still got a chance of being a rock star," she says. She wants him to let the dream go. "In 42 years, I really think that he needs to come to grips with it. It's not going to happen. I would like Eric to get a real job, something that would be paying every single week. I am tired of the financial responsibility being on me."

"I consider playing the drums a real job," Eric says, although he admits, "I have been dangling this carrot of success in front of my wife for quite awhile. I keep thinking it may get better right around the corner. Since I've been playing drums for so long, I don't feel necessarily qualified for a lot of professional jobs, but fortunately enough, I'm a pretty good house painter."

"The drums come first. Eric needs to grow up. I need him around more. I need more of a solid commitment," Mary says.

"As long as I'm physically able, I will continue to play drums," Eric says.

"She wants me to straighten you out," Dr. Phil tells Eric. "Get a job. You're bleeding your wife dry!" He turns to Mary. "That's done. But the real question I've got about normal versus abnormal is what the hell are you thinking? You've been, for 27 years, letting him tell you he's a drummer with no paycheck, and you've been paying all the bills and doing all the bills, and he works sort of, sometimes, kind of, maybe? What's wrong with you?" he asks her.

"That's a good question actually," she says.

"Look, people do what works, and we teach people how to treat us. This works for you, right?" he asks Eric. "You're having a ball."

"Yes," he says.

"You like drumming, don't you? You've got your sticks with you," Dr. Phil notes.


Eric gives Dr. Phil a drumming demonstration on his knee.

"You are really good at what you do, no question about it," he tells Eric. "Unfortunately, it doesn't pay very well. You don't live in, like, L.A., or New York, or Nashville or anywhere that lots of drummers go to get jobs, and agents and all the things that make it a commercial enterprise, correct?"

"Correct," he says.

"If you really were serious about this, you would position yourself where drummers are auditioned, and hired, and you would get an agent and a lawyer, and all the things you need to do to get a paying gig," Dr. Phil tells him. "You wouldn't sit in the garage, beating on your drums, hoping somebody's going to stop by and discover you."

"Well, I guess I love my wife so much, I want to stay with her a little bit," Eric says.


"Then get a job because she's about to kick you out," Dr. Phil remarks. "Isn't that true? Aren't you seriously tired of this?"

"Yes, I am," Mary agrees.

"Because wouldn't it help " even if he was a greeter at Wal-Mart, or he worked at Home Depot in one of those vests and showed people around " if there was a steady paycheck, and insurance benefits and all of that was contributing to the bottom line, that would take a lot of pressure off of you, wouldn't it?" Dr. Phil asks.

"It absolutely would take off a lot of pressure," Mary says. 

"Here's the deal: It's not that you are pursuing your dream; it's how you are pursuing your dream. Have you been to a restaurant since you've been here?" Dr. Phil asks the couple.

"Yes," Mary replies.

"You were waited on by an actor. You were waited on by somebody who is looking for their break, but they don't have somebody to pay their bills for 27 years, so they have a job," he emphasizes for Eric.

 

Mary recognizes that she's used to the role of caretaker because she's the oldest of seven kids and it comes naturally, but it's time for a change. "At this point, though, I'm really tired," she says. 

"So what would happen if she decided she wanted to try pottery for the next 27 years, and sell it occasionally down at the flea market or something and let you work for 27 years?" Dr. Phil asks Eric.


"I've never told her she can't pursue something," Eric says. "In fact, I've been very supportive of her lampshade career."

Mary makes a living by making victorian lamp shades. "And he supports me 100 percent in that," she says.

"Emotionally," Dr. Phil clarifies. "When you bring out a new lamp shade, does he give you a drum roll?" he jokes. He tells Eric, "You truly need to make a steady contribution to this because she's getting tired … Get a job so you can have the pride of knowing that you're taking some pressure off of her, and you continue to pursue your dream. Will you do that?"

"Yes," Eric says.