Let's Make a Deal: Stephanie and Rick
Dr. Phil speaks with guests about how to negotiate for what they want.
Stephanie and Rick moved their family to Las Vegas a year and a half ago for the promise of a "job of a lifetime." Stephanie says she doesn't think her husband negotiated a good deal with his employer, and now that the job isn't so ideal, he won't negotiate with her about leaving.


"I'm stuck in Vegas and I hate my husband for doing it to us," she says. "I don't want to raise my children around boobs, sex and sin." She also says they've gone from "riches to rags" and are living paycheck to paycheck. "Rick has asked me to get a job to help out and I refuse. What about our three kids? Who's going to watch them?"


Feeling lonely and resentful, Stephanie wants to negotiate a way out of their situation. "He just shuts down," she says, adding that Rick is a good negotiator at work, "but when it's about his family, he keeps it inside." She wants Dr. Phil's help getting her husband to the bargaining table.
Rick says his company didn't keep their promise and changed the job description immediately, adding more hours, tons of travel and less income. He has bounced from job to job, but is still struggling to make it work.


"It's all on me and I know that," says Rick. "It's a constant argument. It would be nice just to come home and not talk about, 'Let's move here, let's move there.'" Rick says moving takes money and a job to go to, and he doesn't have either.

Dr. Phil first addresses Stephanie's negotiating tactics. "Would you agree that what you're doing is not working? What I see is you getting in his face and saying, 'I hate you for what you have done to us.' If you started a conversation with me that way, the conversation is over," Dr. Phil says.


Rick agrees that he tends to just unplug and not deal with his wife when she does that. Stephanie says Rick doesn't try to see things from her point of view.


"First off," says Dr. Phil, "Isn't it true that the two of you decided together to move to Las Vegas?" Stephanie agrees that they did. "But you said, 'I hate him for bringing us here.' You went further and said you're in sin city where it's nothing but boobs and sex. OK, did they just grow those since you moved here?"


Stephanie says she feels that they didn't look at the big picture when they made the decision to move. Dr. Phil continues: "What you just said is, 'We decided this. I hate you. We decided, we failed to look. I hate you.' When did it go from 'we' to 'you'?"

"I know," says Stephanie. "Well, after that one job failed, he just kept on searching for the next, instead of calling back and saying this is not where we should be."


Dr. Phil tells her that life is about intentions, and asks Rick what his intentions were when they married. Rick replies that he never intended to put his family in this position. Dr. Phil turns back to Stephanie: "So you two made a decision and then when it didn't work, you blamed him for it."


"I'm not blaming him for making this decision. I'm blaming the both of us," says Stephanie. "But I'm blaming him for jumping into that next job without looking at the whole scenario."


Dr. Phil tells them they're not going to fix the situation by turning on each other. "You don't go into negotiations by beating people up. You go in helping them feel good by being part of the process." Herb, an expert negotiator whom Dr. Phil invited on the show, adds that they both have a problem. Stephanie needs to ask Rick to discuss the situation with her and Rick need to ask his boss to help him negotiate a better deal at work.

"What's happening here is both of you are frustrated," says Dr. Phil. Rick responds with withdrawal and denial, and Stephanie reacts with frustration and aggression. "You need to sit down and say, 'We both agree we want a different job, we want a different family quality, and we really want this hostility between us to stop.' You have all these things you agree on and common goals, now find a plan to get there."


Stephanie says she wants Rick to understand her position as a mother. She feels she has no support system, especially because he's giving himself to work — not to her. Dr. Phil tells her there are things she can control while living in Las Vegas, like finding some adult interactions and forming some friendships.

When Rick acknowledges that moving is a possibility and that he's willing to do what will make his family happy, Dr. Phil tells Rick to not waste time because it can affect his marriage and family life. "It might involve some challenges, but if you're together and you know that you're working on this together, then you might have a better chance of getting what you want."


He turns to Stephanie: "Are you ready to back off and try to become part of the solution instead of just identifying the problem?"


"I am," she replies.


To Rick: "And you have to be willing to not keep hiding in your job and being stuck in denial. Are you willing to open your mind to moving and look at some things differently?"


"Absolutely," says Rick.