"I absolutely feel like I cannot trust Ernie as far as I can pick him up. He lies; he cheats. I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth," says Vicki of her ex-husband. Yet, she admits that she has returned to her former partner six or seven times. "Ernie is an incredibly sexy man. He is just a big, cuddly guy. He's very charming. When he tells you something, he has a way of making you believe it.
"In the beginning of our relationship, Ernie made me feel very beautiful. From the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed, Ernie always puts me on a pedestal," she continues. "He was great for my self-esteem and my confidence. We got married in October of '06. Ernie and I had a phenomenal life."
Now Vicki considers reuniting with her ex-husband but questions his fidelity. "The first clue I had that Ernie was cheating on me was a few of the neighbors told me that they had heard he was seeing somebody at work," she says.
"Vicki found a text on my phone, and then she saw a phone number on my telephone bill. It was about two hours in length," Ernie reveals. "She knew something was going on."
Vicki says she took drastic measures to determine if her husband was cheating. "I went to his work one day when he was off, posing as a new employee, and just started asking girls. They were all excited to tell me all about him, and how he's getting a divorce, and that they hear rumors that he's already seeing a couple of people from work," she says. "He told his coworker that we were getting a divorce, that he was only with me until I received my inheritance. He had convinced this coworker to the point that she was leaving her husband for mine."
"Vicki thinks that I was having sex with this lady, but it was just an emotional relationship," Ernie says. "I wasn't getting what I wanted at home, and I decided to get that feeling from a coworker." [AD]
"After I spoke to his coworker on the phone about all of his lies, he was gone. I kicked him out that following morning," Vicki says.
Ernie still wants to reconcile with his ex-wife, but he says he keeps getting mixed signals. "Vicki and I have tried to work things out numerous times. She loves me one day, she hates me the next day," he says.
"I don't even know where to go from here," Vicki says. "I don't know if I ever can trust again."
Ernie and Vicki join Dr. Phil onstage. The couple hasn't seen each other since New Year's Eve. Dr. Phil explains why he kept them separated backstage. "I'm not sure I trust your judgment when it comes to him," he tells Vicki. "Do you?"
She replies, "I don't trust my judgment at all. I think with my heart and not with my head. That's how I feel when it comes to Ernie."
Dr. Phil consults his notes. "You said, â€˜I feel that Ernie and I are toxic, but we can't stay away from each other. I hate him, but I love him,'" he reads. "True?"
"That's very true," she replies.
[AD]"You were together on New Year's Eve," Dr. Phil says. "You said you weren't going to get intimate with him or anything of that sort. You certainly weren't going to sleep with him, but you did."
"In the final 15 minutes that he was there," Vicki admits with a sheepish grin.
"It was more like an hour," Ernie chimes in.
"Well, as long as you left it to the very end, then I'm OK," Dr. Phil says sarcastically.
Dr. Phil continues reading from his list of Ernie's offenses. "He has lied to you. He has attacked you," he says to Vicki.
"Twice," she replies.
"You've called the police." Dr. Phil addresses Ernie. "You've gone to jail for attacking her."
"I've gone to jail twice," Ernie says.
[AD]Dr. Phil wants to give Vicki a wake-up call. "So he's lied to you, cheated on you, attacked you and beat you, and you can't stay away from him," he reminds her.
"I know it sounds crazy, but it's like he's two different people," Vicki says, her voice quavering. "There is Very Nice Ernie, who is the nicest man I've ever met, and who makes me feel wonderful and makes me feel loved. Then those two days he's beaten me up " there's never anything in between. They come out of the blue. I don't understand how the person that I believe he is is capable of doing that."
Dr. Phil turns to Ernie. "What are you doing beating up a woman?" he asks sternly. "What the hell is the matter with you, hitting a woman?"
"I know that's wrong, and I went to jail, and I took six months of counseling for that," Ernie says. "I acknowledge what I've done, and I know that was two years ago, and I understand there have been no incidences since then."
[AD]"So you're serious and sincere about healing this situation," Dr. Phil says. He turns to Vicki. "Is that true? Do you trust that?"
"I don't know if I trust it, because I've heard it all before," she responds. "He doesn't understand. I relive those attacks in my head every day, like a movie in my head. But he says, â€˜Let's leave the past in the past. I've taken the classes. I've moved on from that,' that I should trust him. He acts like it's over and done with. He went to jail, he did his time, he took his classes, and I should be over it by now."
"That's not true," Ernie says. "I'm just trying to earn her trust back."
Dr. Phil tells Ernie that his wife doubts his sincerity. He reads from a transcript of Vicki's conversations with his staff. "You e-mailed her and said you went to Dr. Phil's Web site, copied 22 pages of advice, read them all, plans to read them again," he says. "According to Vicki, Ernie is trying to 'get a feel for Dr. Phil,' says he's going to try to memorize the right things to say, the right reactions, and will try to outwit, outsmart and outplay Dr. Phil."
"Well, two things: I'm not that smart," Ernie says. "The second thing is she overanalyzes everything." [AD]
"I just have to tell you, I don't think I'm that hard to outsmart. I'm just an old country boy," Dr. Phil says. He issues a sharp warning to Ernie. "If you're going to try to sell to me that it's OK to hit a woman, you need to circle the wagons, because I'm coming!"
"No, it's not OK," Ernie says.