Love Resolutions: Cheryl and Jim

"My husband and I bicker about everything, from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed," says Cheryl, who has been married to Jim for five years.

Some of the things they bicker about are: the laundry, what TV channel they're going to watch, where they will go, how each of them drives, who will drive, the trash, the groceries, the dishes, where Jim puts his keys and cell phone, and where he puts his cups and coat. "I like my house to run like a fine-oiled machine, and I like everything in its place."


"Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to leave the house to cool down," admits Jim.
When Jim gets ready for bed at night, he is usually tired and just drops his clothes on the floor. This irritates Cheryl. "It drives me crazy when I see a pile of laundry sitting on the floor," she says.
Cheryl argues with Jim about the way he drives, and questions the routes he takes. "When we go shopping, my husband will circle the parking lot 20 times. I don't understand why he can't just park the car and we can go in," she says. "The thing we bicker about the most is who works harder. He thinks he's got it tough. I'd like to see my

husband stay at home with a 2-year-old all day long."


"She remembers everything," Jim says. "Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around her." Jim also notes that the quarreling really has affected their sex life. "We let the little things get to us, and sometimes it follows us into the bedroom," he reveals. "There are times that I get so mad, that I don't even want to sleep in the same room with her."
Cheryl agrees. "After fighting all day, there's no way I can get in the mood," she says. Cheryl realizes she needs to change. "I know if I could just keep my mouth shut things would be better, but I sit there and I think, 'Cheryl, do not make that comment,' but I just have to say it. "She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "I love my husband; I just wish that he would see things my way," she says. "Our New Year's resolution is to stop bickering once and for all. Can you help us?"

"Why are you choosing to be this way?" Dr. Phil asks.
"I don't know," Cheryl says. "Maybe I have nothing better to do than to nitpick everything."

"I guess we just feed off each other," Jim says.

Dr. Phil asks them what they fought about before the show.
"We bickered about whether it was time or not to go down to the lobby. He thought it was too soon. I thought it wasn't soon enough. I didn't want to be late. He thought I was being neurotic," Cheryl explains.

"We waited down in the lobby for 20 minutes, by the way," Jim chimes in.
"You're right then," Dr. Phil jokes with Jim. "You both agree that the bickering has you so resentful toward each other that you're just not affectionate."
"It's great when we get there, but we just don't get there often enough," Cheryl says.

Dr. Phil asks Jim and Cheryl why they want to change their behavior.
"Mainly for our son and ourselves," Jim says. "I don't want him to grow up seeing his parents bickering about every little thing, and then do

the same thing that we do."
"The greatest thing you can do for him is to take care of the relationship between the two of you," Dr. Phil tells them. "You shouldn't feel guilty if you're spending time with each other and nurturing that relationship so it remains stable."


Dr. Phil explains to Jim and Cheryl that in his book, Love Smart, he tells people to view their lives not as a fantasy, but as a movie. "I want you to step back and look at this like you are watching a movie, and you are the star. You're the female lead in this movie, and you're writing this script for yourself," he says to Cheryl. "Do you like the character that you have described and written?"
"Not at all," Cheryl says.
"Do you like the role that you're playing?" Dr. Phil asks.
"No, I'm tired of it," Cheryl replies.
Dr. Phil suggests that Jim do the same thing. "Is this the character that you would write for you?" Dr. Phil asks.


"No, it's not," Jim says.


Dr. Phil addresses Cheryl. "Tell me the character of you that you would like to see in this relationship," he says to her.
"A relaxed, easy-going person who doesn't take everything so tough," Cheryl says. "Everything I take, I take it really personally."

"What you've got to decide is if you truly know who you are and what you really want in your life, and if you're true to that, then grass on the carpet just won't even almost hit your radar screen," Dr. Phil tells her. "You've got to really decide what's important and what's not." He asks Jim what is important to him.
"I just want to be happy," Jim says. "I want to have a good life with a good wife and a great son."


"If you fight about everything, which you do, then isn't it true that you're really fighting about nothing?" Dr. Phil asks them. "This has become

a tug of war, and that's not smart." He explains that Cheryl and Jim had a problem like this before, so they read Relationship Rescue and completed the exercises. "Everything got way better."
"Way better. So much better," Cheryl agrees.
"Then you quit working on it, and everything got way worse," Dr. Phil points out.
"We thought we fixed it," Cheryl laughs.
"Do you want to know what the good news is? You don't need him to change a thing for you to change this marriage in a huge way," Dr. Phil tells Cheryl. "If you change the way you're in this deal, you will change the way it happens." He says the same thing to Jim. "If both of you change the way you're in this deal, you've seen what happens." He reminds them that they need to continue to flirt, kid, joke and date, so that their marriage stays strong. "You've got to do all that stuff within the relationship, or you've just become workmates," Dr. Phil says.