Marriage Deal Breakers: Shane and Nikki

Honeymoon Heartbreak

"Shane and I got married four months ago, and on the third day of our honeymoon, he told me he wasn't sure he loved me enough to stay married," says Nikki. "My husband's just trying me on for size, and if it's a good fit, he'll keep me, and if it doesn't feel right, he'll be done with me. It sucks. A test-run marriage is not acceptable."


"When I first met Nikki, she stood out, her personality. She's very vivacious, but some of those qualities in mass quantity definitely drive me crazy at times," says Shane. "Nikki is an incredible person, but I feel like I want out."


Nikki and Shane dated on and off for seven years before getting married. Nikki was shocked when Shane proposed. "A week before the wedding, Shane was having some doubts. He was still going, ‘I'm just not sure. I want it, but I don't want it,'" Nikki shares. "Thirty-six hours before the wedding, it turned into complete chaos. ‘I want you, but I don't want you.' He was driving me crazy. He was driving himself crazy."


Shane admits he had a hard time deciding if he wanted to go through with the wedding. "I was still feeling, in my heart, somewhat unsure about spending the rest of our lives together," he reveals. He spent many sleepless nights pondering what to do. When Nikki's dad asked him for his decision, he ended up saying, "Let's

do it." A choice he now questions.


Nikki thought Shane was comfortable with his decision. "Once the wedding was underway, it seemed like all of the doubts had disappeared," she says.


Shane says that wasn't the case. "In the pictures I was smiling, but all the while I kind of felt disconnected," he shares. His doubts overcame him on the honeymoon. "I remember standing outside on our balcony reflecting on the guy who disappeared off of his honeymoon cruise, feeling at the moment like I understood why he did."

"Shane isn't 100 percent of what I want, but who marries somebody who is 100 percent of what they want? I wanted to marry a millionaire. Shane is definitely not my millionaire. Shane is a sit-and-stewer, and I'm a go-and-doer," Nikki says. At 31, she is ready to settle down and have children, so if Shane won't commit, she's ready to find someone else. "It feels like I'm walking on eggshells. If Shane can't figure out what he wants, I don't want him."


Shane's decision is tearing him up. "I guess I feel guilty, but I feel like there's no way I can deal with this for the rest of my life," he says.


"What's going on?" Dr. Phil asks Shane. "This can't sound reasonable to you."

"It definitely sounds unreasonable," Shane admits.

"You say you told Nikki before the wedding that this was going to be a kind of look-see sort of thing," Dr. Phil says. Turning to Nikki he says, "And you say, no, he didn't tell you that until afterward."

"I recall him saying something of the sort, but I didn't think he was serious, because I didn't think that that would ever be something that would come out of his mouth that he would think that I would be OK with," Nikki says.

"Weren't there some real clues here?" Dr. Phil asks. He mentions an incident when Shane was curled up in a fetal position crying over the wedding. "That's going to send off a flare, if I'm getting ready to marry somebody, and they are curled up in a fetal position at the thought of being with me."


"Yeah, I did think that," Nikki says.

Dr. Phil repeats a statement Shane recently said. "He says that, ‘The past few months,' and you've been married four months, ‘have been an absolute nightmare,'" he says.

"Not our relationship has been a nightmare, just the living with the uncertainty and, I guess, the feelings that have come through," Shane clarifies. He points out that they have a good relationship with each other.

Dr. Phil continues to list incidents that should have alerted Nikki to Shane's uneasiness. "He goes and gets his tux and shows up with his eyes all red and swollen. He disappears all night long, kind of walking around trying to sort this out. Your dad has to confront him the day before. You find him curled up in the fetal position, obviously in an anxiety attack. Why did you do this? Why did you go forward with this?" he asks Nikki.

"I guess, probably a lie I told myself was that once we made it to the wedding day and to the altar, that once he made that decision, that he would be OK with it," Nikki says.


"You really thought once he walks the aisle and says, ‘I do,' that all of a sudden, things are just going to click?" Dr. Phil asks.


"It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense," Nikki admits.


"How do you feel about this now?" Dr. Phil probes. 

"I feel gypped. I feel like I got the short end of the stick, but I blame myself partly too, because the signs were there," Nikki says, tearing up.

"What's the progress report?" Dr. Phil asks Shane, referring to his deadline on the relationship.

"Things have been pretty good on the home front," he says. He explains that it was only when Nikki gave him back the ring during their engagement that a timeline came into play. "I told her, I said, ‘If we can't figure out, if we can't make this work, if we can't come to terms and create something good to where we're both comfortable in six to 12 months, we can't continue this on. We can't live our lives like this. We can't bring kids into this," he says.

"Did he put a time frame on it, or not?" Dr. Phil asks.

"He told me, like a month after we got married, that it was going to be a six to 12 month [trial period]. That he just figured that if it wasn't going to work out in six to 12 months, then we'll just call it quits," Nikki says.


Dr. Phil takes Shane to task. "Somebody's got to step up and own their feelings and say, ‘Yeah, that's exactly right. It may be wrong. It

may be insensitive, but that's where I am,'" he tells him. "The truth is, you said, ‘I'm going to give this a trial run,' and so far it isn't feeling right to you. Is it?"

Shane takes a moment. "Overall, true," he says.


"If you knew then what you know now, would you have done it?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah," Shane says. "I feel like with the history, and the relationship and the knowledge I have about who we are and who we could be together, I feel like it was a step in the right direction toward something that we both really wanted, and something that we needed to pursue." 

Dr. Phil addresses Nikki. "You say, 'If I divorced him, I would just then go marry some other inadequate candidate,'" he says.


"Everybody comes with baggage. There's always going to be something that you don't like or something that you have to deal

with in a marriage," she says. "I'm willing to work this out if it's something that he's wanting to work out, but we can't make a marriage work if only one person is fully committed."


"Why are you committed?" Dr. Phil asks Nikki.

"Because I made the commitment," she says. "For seven years, on again/off again, you might as well just " "

Dr. Phil points out that their long history will most likely predict the future of their relationship. "For seven years, y'all couldn't make a commitment. For seven years, y'all couldn't get along without breaking up with an on again/off again. For seven years he kept going, ‘Ah, no, no, no.' Then, you finally get him to marry, and he says, ‘I don't want do this,'" he points out. Dr. Phil addresses Shane. "I'm not criticizing you for the way you feel. You can't legislate emotions. They are what they are," he says. "What you should apologize for is wasting her time, because you ain't got the guts to tell her the truth."

Dr. Phil addresses Nikki. "What I don't get is why you're willing to settle for this," he says. "Why, when he was curled up in a fetal position saying, ‘I just don't know about this wedding,' why you didn't say, ‘You know what? Here's your ring. There's the door. I deserve better than this. Goodbye.'"

"Because he's my best friend, and I love him," she says.


"If your best friend will drag you through this, I would hate to meet your enemies," Dr. Phil tells her. He reminds her that she needs to teach people how to treat her. "If you want to have a good relationship with him or somebody else, then you're going to have to require that they earn the right to be in your life," he says.

Addressing Shane, Dr. Phil asks, "At this point, you're not committed to this, are you?"

"Not as much as I should be," he says.

"That's a no," Dr. Phil says. "He wants to quit, but he can't justify it. That's my opinion."

"I just feel like it's so easy to get a divorce. It's so easy to call it quits. I don't know if this is, like, that much

of a horrible relationship to be in to call it quits," Nikki says. "I'm willing to work at it if it's worth it."

"How are you going to feel if for the next eight months, year, two years, you give the absolute best that you have to offer, and at the end of that time he just says, ‘You know, I just don't feel it'?" Dr. Phil asks. "That's going to feel pretty bad."

"Yup," Nikki says, tearing.

"That's kind of what he's saying to you now. ‘You're not good enough. You just don't do it for me,'" Dr. Phil says. "At this point, I think you've got to stand up for yourself. Should you work on this? Absolutely, you should work on it, but you can't work on it from a position of, 'I hope you'll let me stay.' You need to work on it from a position of saying, 'You need to convince me why I shouldn't get out of this ill-fated relationship right now.'" He asks Shane, "Do you want to try to fix this?"

"I'm still here," he says. "Nikki is far and above so much better, just so much more incredible than the majority of women I've ever met, in a lot of ways. For that reason, I feel like it was enough to move forward, to continue to try, to continue to stay in this despite the feelings."

"You just described a great reason to keep dating," Dr. Phil tells him. "You say, ‘Hey, I'm still here.' Are you really?" To Nikki he says, "You've got to stand up for yourself here."