Marriage Crisis: Drowning in Debt: Marriage Problems

A Marriage in Ruins

"Right now, I really don't find Chris sexually appealing at all," Pam says. "I don't want to be intimate with Chris because I think he's fat, selfish, clueless. Some of the things he does disgust me, and I don't want to sleep with him."

"Pam hasn't initiated any type of advances toward me in five years," Chris says. "Pam has compared my advances toward her as rape. I've just been sleeping on the couch."

"It's really hard to be loving and affectionate to someone who's created all these problems and really takes no accountability for them," she says. "I don't know if I love him or not."


Dr. Phil tells Chris, "Tell me why you think she's having a problem with you in this regard."

"I consider some of the issues: I've gained probably 80 pounds since we've been married. She's an excellent cook. Some of the other things, I don't know why, because our communications don't exist," he says.

"Do you not know why, or do you not want to think about why? Do you think she respects you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No," he says. 

"Do you think she trusts you?"


"Do you think she relies on you as someone who's going to be there for her mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, in any way?"

"At this time, no."

"Do you think that this has become a parent/child relationship?"

"It feels like I am a child in the house. I'm being told what to do, how to do it," Chris says.

[AD]Pam isn't sure about the parent/child relationship, but Dr. Phil tells her, "My God, you talk about him like he's 5 years old."

"Well, he doesn't want to make any decisions. It's always ‘You figure it out. You know money. You know how to do this. I don't know how to talk to a creditor,'" Pam says. "So, I do as much as I can."

"So, isn't that a parent/child relationship?"

"I guess it is." Both Pam and Chris begin explaining things at the same time.

"Do y'all notice that you both talk at the same time a lot? You say you don't communicate. You can't talk and listen at the same time," Dr. Phil says. 

"Look, right now, you're in serious financial trouble. You're going to have to make some really hard-edged decisions to get out of it," Dr. Phil tells them. He agrees with Amelia's opinion about getting rid of their house. "You'll never get it paid off. You don't make enough money. … If they stay there, they are headed for bankruptcy, right?"

"Oh, absolutely," Amelia says.

"And if you get rid of the house, then maybe you're not," he says. "You don't own the house anyway."

"No, we don't," Pam says. 

"You quit owning that house when you took $300,000 out against it which was more than it was worth," Dr. Phil tells them. "That's the reality here."

He turns to Chris. "Somehow or another, you've got this attitude like ‘If I don't think about this, it just isn't there,' but the point is, this woman is going to divorce you if you don't man up and get involved in working through these things. You've got to come up with a plan that the two of you will stick to."

Pam says, "And I think right now, when I do lose the house, I don't know why I wouldn't file for divorce. Because that's the last straw. The trust just isn't there, and I'm afraid to stay any longer. I just want to get my stuff squared around and get myself squared around."

"And how do you feel about that?" Dr. Phil asks Chris.

[AD]"I would consider divorce a failure, and failure is not an option in this," he says. "I don't see divorce solving the problem financially. I can understand the trust issues. I can understand why she would want to divorce because of losing the house, as it was one that she acquired from previous money that she had. But how's that going to fix tomorrow?"

"She's not divorcing because of the financial situation. She's divorcing because you have unplugged, and you've not been a partner with this, and she feels alone," Dr. Phil says. "And she's saying, ‘If I'm going to lose everything, why am I going to keep dragging him?' Right?"

Pam agrees. "That's basically the way I feel, right."

"That's where she is, and your job is to show her that you want to plug in and partner through this situation, to land on your feet again," Dr. Phil tells Chris. I'm trying to give you a wake-up call to say she needs to understand that you bring something to this for her mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, management-wise, all of that. You've got to plug in here. You can't just keep explaining everything away. You've got to plug in, and you've got to convince her," Dr. Phil says.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil tells them, "There are two things that I want you to do. Number one, I want you to sit down with an attorney who can look at all of your debt, get all of the cards on the table, and examine the strategy: Do you need to give your house back " which I think the answer's going to be absolutely yes. And, do you need to take bankruptcy " which may or may not be true depending on dependency of this inheritance and that sort of thing. I want you to make informed decisions. You've not made informed decisions. So, we're going to make that resource available to you. We're going to locate you an attorney in your town who will sit down with you and talk about this."

[AD]Amelia also agrees to work with Chris and Pam as well.

"And secondly, before you decide to pull the plug on this, I do want to arrange a counselor for the two of you to sit down and talk about ownership of these problems. And Chris, you're going to have to man up," Dr. Phil says. "I want you to have the opportunity to declare a new day and partner with your wife in a different way. I want you to do those two things before you pull the trigger."

The couple agrees to give Dr. Phil's plan a try.