Married Too Fast, Too Young

Married Too Fast, Too Young
They married too young, and now they want out.

Patty and Dan


"I feel like I was too young," says Patty, who got married to Dan, her high school sweetheart, when they were both 18. Now 23 and the stay-at-home mother of three, she says, "Had I known then what I know now, I would not have gotten married."


While her friends go to nightclubs, Patty is bitter about spending so much time at home with her husband and children. "I resent Dan because he's married to me and because he keeps me from dating. I resent him for getting me pregnant in the first place so we had to get married," she says.


Wishing she had gone to college, she says, "I feel like a huge failure. I feel like all I'm doing is destroying everybody's lives around me."


"You have bitterness and resentment toward your family ... What did they do?" Dr. Phil asks.


Patty answers, "They came into my life."

If that's not the life she wanted, Dr. Phil asks, "What the hell are you doing with two more kids?"


"Accident," Patty says.


"You are playing the victim. You're feeling sorry for yourself," Dr. Phil tells her. "You brought them into your life. You got pregnant, and then you got pregnant again, and then you got pregnant again, and now you're here whining about it. I don't get it. What am I missing?"


Patty explains that at first she got married because she felt she had to. Now, she says, "I've dug myself into a deep hole and I can't get out."


Their first mistake, Dr. Phil says, was thinking they had to get married. "Two wrongs don't make a right," he explains. "It's hard to take back stupid, isn't it?" Dr. Phil asks, questioning what Patty and Dan want from him now.


"I want to get over this resentment," Patty says. "I do love him, but I hold all this bitterness and resentment from us getting married so young that it's hard to get past that to love him. I want to be able to make my marriage work."

"My dad used to say, 'You better spend five percent of your time deciding whether your situation is a good deal or a bad deal, and 95 percent of your time focusing on what you're going to do about it,'" Dr. Phil says. "You may not like that you have three children right now. But that's where you are. It seems to me that you're sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and blaming Dan and the kids."


Turning to Dan, Dr. Phil says, "You've got to provide some leadership here. I think you've got to step up and be a man here and provide some leadership in your family."


Dr. Phil tells Patty, "Quit sitting around whining about what you don't have and exercise some choices and create what you want." For example, she can go to school, get a job, or go out more often with her husband. "Grow up, get involved in making your marriage right, quit hanging out with losers you meet online, stop resenting your children for being there ... Create some things in your life that you really want. If you don't have what you want, you better start wanting what you've got."

Heather and Doug


After dating for about four months, Heather and Doug found out she was pregnant. They got married, and are now struggling. "Sometimes I almost feel like I want him to abandon me," says Heather, admitting that she's not even attracted to her husband anymore. "We're on the brink of disaster. I have no idea how to make this marriage work. Where do we go from here?"


Though Heather, 22, is exhausted from being a full-time mother, wife, and student, she and Doug tell Dr. Phil that they want to try to make their relationship work. "If we get a divorce," Heather says, "I want it to be because we tried and tried so hard but it just didn't work."


First off, Dr. Phil stresses that they must stop fighting in front of their son. He says, "If you think that child is not being impacted by those antics between the two of you, one of us is a fool."

 

"You got married before you had a relationship," Dr. Phil tells them. "You've got to go back now and build the relationship."


To build that foundation, he suggests they read Relationship Rescue and complete the exercises in the workbook as well. "There is a formula for success in a relationship," Dr. Phil explains, "an absolute drop dead formula. You do it; it works. You've got to learn what that formula is and you've got to know each other and you have to learn what a relationship is — what you're supposed to be doing as a wife, what you're supposed to be doing as a husband, how you should now measure your success as a man. And a big part of that is whether or not you're being a good partner for your wife, a good father for your child ... You're turning on each other. You're hitting each other. You're throwing things at each other. That happens in pre-kindergarten; it doesn't happen in marriage. You've got to grow up and learn how to have a relationship."

Nikki and Richmond


"I know that marriage is going to be hard work from the experience I had raising a puppy," says 22-year-old Richmond, who wants to marry his girlfriend of three years, Nikki.


Nikki's Greek family objects to the relationship, wishing she'd marry within their tradition. Complicating matters further, Richmond wants to move from New Jersey to California because he sees more opportunity there.


Nikki says they've already talked about how they would divide responsibilities if they get married. "I'm going to be in charge of paying the bills, and Richmond is going to be in charge of taking the garbage out," she says.


Still, she's torn between her family and Richmond, and asks Dr. Phil, "Am I in a relationship that's going to last, or am I just a naive 22-year-old? How do I know when it's time to get married?"

Dr.Phil shows them a list of premarital issues they should talk about: sex, money, in-laws, division of labor, free time, children, religion, goals and priorities.


Dr. Phil asks Richmond to estimate how much it would cost for them to live in California. Based on Richmond's answer, Dr. Phil says, "Let me just get right to the point. You don't have a clue what it takes to get married and move to California or anywhere else. That doesn't mean you guys don't love each other, but the obstacles you've got in front of you are amazing."


Dr. Phil asks Nikki, "What's the hurry?"


"I want to be with him," she says.


"OK, so date," he suggests. "Keep that up and if that works out in eight years, then call me back."


Then Dr. Phil takes a closer look at some of their issues. The fact that Nikki's family doesn't approve of Richmond is "a huge obstacle," Dr. Phil says. It shouldn't keep them from getting married, he says, but Richmond should first attempt to win their confidence and trust.

"You're getting ready to alienate your entire family and support system and move all the way across the continent with no support, no friends, no money, no nothing, and get married," Dr. Phil tells Nikki. "Look, this thing is hard enough when everything is flowing for you. And here's a real good sign: If you've got to talk yourself into it, don't do it. It ought to be so compellingly clear that this is what you ought to do or you're just not ready."


Perhaps in two years, they will be, but in the meantime, Dr. Phil says, "Absolutely, unequivocally do not get married."


He tells Richmond, "It won't work if you uproot her and bring her out here away from her entire support system. And the only time she's ever talking to them is when she's crying and alone and they're telling her to come home. This is a hell you don't want ... Get everything lined up before you do this. You're not ready to get married. That doesn't mean that you don't love each other and that you won't be together forever. But don't start it with everything stacked against you."