"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.
"You have bitterness and resentment toward your family ... What did they do?" Dr. Phil asks.
Patty answers, "They came into my life."
"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."
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."
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?"
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."
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."
"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.
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 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.
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."