Brandy and Greg are almost a million dollars in debt. They have lost their boat, one of their cars and their home is about to enter foreclosure. They've also been forced to take their three daughters out of preschool because they can no longer afford tuition.
"You wonder how you got there, and it's overwhelming. It's sheer panic. It's almost a million dollars in debt. It is so unsettling, I don't sleep at night," says Brandy.
The family's financial struggles have affected Greg's self-esteem. "Up until two years ago, [we were] living on a six-figure income, and then going to very minimal now, has really taken a toll on my pride. It just hits me that I feel like a loser," Greg reveals.
Money has become a constant source of bickering between Brandy and Greg, which causes Brandy to worry about the state of their marriage. "Greg has had a history of abandoning me at difficult times," she says of her husband of seven years. "Sometimes, I feel like I have to walk on eggshells, because I fear that he is going to leave."
Greg noticed a change in their relationship as well. "I do think that our financial situation has driven us apart," he says. "I feel like we're a runaway train about to go off the track because we're right on the edge of losing everything."
Dr. Phil asks the couple why they decided to come on the show.
"I really want to learn where we've gone wrong, and what we can do to go forward and get ourselves out of the mess," Greg says.
Dr. Phil tells the couple that before he addresses their money issues, he wants to uncover the problems in their relationship. He notes that the number-one issue that divorcing couples fight over is money. "It's what I call non-directional frustration," he says. To Greg, he says, "You're really mad about this. You don't like it. You feel bad about yourself. How do you feel about having four children and a wife, and you can't make it work?"
"It hurts my ego so bad, because I feel like I should be the provider. It's hard," Greg says, adding that the financial situation has also impacted his personality when he is socializing. "I kind of become withdrawn. I feel like I'm drained. I feel like it just really brings me down."
Dr. Phil asks Brandy, "Do you feel like he could abandon you?"
"Yes," she replies, adding that she's scared.
"You've got all of this financial pressure, and instead of supporting each other, instead of being together, you do this," Dr. Phil says, showing a video of the couple yelling and fighting. "That's about a 45-second clip of a fight that went on for half an hour."
Brandy and Greg say their four children are suffering as a result of the strained financial situation as well.
"When I look at the numbers each month, of how much debt we have, I feel utter despair. I feel like a loser," says Brandy as she hangs her head and cries. "My girls can't go to preschool. They don't understand why. My son can't do these things. He gets why, because he's older. He knows it's [because of] money."
Even the children's birthdays have become a financial burden. "Logan's birthday is Saturday. We don't have a single thing for her. I don't even have a party planned for her," she says, tears rolling down her face. "It's just overwhelming to be so in debt, and there's no way out. How do you not feel like a failure to them? You try to figure out how you got in such a big mess."
As the video ends, Dr. Phil asks Greg, "What do you say to yourself when you watch that?"
"I really feel like I should have done a lot of things differently," he says. "I know we had certain circumstances that led to the situation, but, like I said, to be the provider and to see my wife like that really hurts."
"If there's a way out of it relationally, if there's a way out of it financially, if there's a way to turn this around, are y'all willing to do what it takes?" Dr. Phil asks.
"Yes," Brandy replies.
Dr. Phil points out that Brandy and Greg have refinanced their house twice, and as a result, owe almost nearly twice it's value. "For a number of years, like over a four-year period, you were living on borrowed money," he says. "You were borrowing money to go to the grocery store. You haven't just been bleeding in the last three, six months. You've been bleeding for four years. You just didn't declare it. That's denial, and you can't fix what you don't acknowledge."
Dr. Phil assures the couple that it's not too late to change. "Money is the cheapest commodity we've got, because you can regenerate it," he says. "The only ego problem you should have is if you don't have the guts to face the truth now." He asks Greg if he realized he was having money problems before now.
"I just thought I could run faster and harder and earn the money that we were spending, and it would all be OK," Greg says.
"Y'all know you're not alone out there," Dr. Phil says, noting that there are approximately two million houses currently being foreclosed on in the United States. "What we have to do is gut up and do what we have to do to get through this and make the changes. But you've got to stop blaming each other."