My Mom vs. My Man: Jessica

In-Laws on the Attack

"My parents have always been there for me, and then I met Seth," Jessica says. "Every time something happens with my husband, I do go running back over there, because that's my safety net."


"Jessica relies on her parents way too much," Seth says. "I feel like there's always going to be a competition between me and Jessica's mom, if we don't resolve this."

"As long as she needs me, I'm going to be there," Irma says.

"I get very torn between the middle of them," Jessica admits. "How do you choose between your parents, who raised you and have done everything for you, and the man that you're supposed to build the rest of your life with?"


Dr. Phil warns that Jessica's behavior is toxic to their relationship. "You go over and dump all the trash on your parents, and that's all they get. They're not there for the make up," Dr. Phil explains, adding that the parents will only have a negative view of that person.


Seth's mom, Laurie, says Jessica needs to stop running to her mom and dad to badmouth Seth. "You think that's a bad idea," Dr. Phil says to Laurie.

"I think that's a horrible idea," she replies. "I was taught that when you get married, you leave your parents and you cleave to your spouse."

"But you do not stop being a mother to your children once they leave the home," Irma retorts.


Dr. Phil quotes a statement Irma made to the show producers. "You said, ‘Seth's mom is an idiot. Her philosophy is: Once kids are out of the house, they have their own lives and have to deal with their own problems,'" he reads. "What is idiotic about that?"


"We are not asked to come into this situation with their problems," Irma says. "[Seth] always pulls us in." 

"This is about setting up some boundaries," Dr. Phil says. He tells Irma that while she is a well-intended, loving mother who would do anything for her daughter and grandchildren her actions are flawed. "Here's the thing: you failed to make a jump. You failed to make a leap. You said in the tape, ‘She's my baby.' But you need to recognize that she has moved to another phase of her life, and so your parenting has to move to another phase. You're now not mothering a baby. You're mothering a grown woman who is a mother on her own, has a family of her own, and you've got to respect boundaries and stay out of this situation."


Dr. Phil adds that although Irma wants Jessica to be happy and thrive in her own family, she's trying to hold on to her as if she were a teenager. She needs to start putting up boundaries with her daughter. "When she comes running to you, you really need to say, ‘Listen, you need to resolve this in some way. I can't fix your problem for you. This is between you two,'" Dr. Phil suggests and asks Irma, "Are you part of the problem?"

"Right now, I am," Irma admits.

"Should you be getting into a physical confrontation with your son-in-law or anybody else?" Dr. Phil asks.

"When you get disrespected in your own home " " Irma says.

"What are we, in a street gang?" Dr. Phil asks in disbelief.

"Right now he's very nice and calm. There's a totally different side to Seth," Irma says.

"I get that he can grow horns and become a problem, but there is no set of circumstances where you should be getting into a physical fight with him or anybody else," Dr. Phil reiterates.

"I know that," Irma says.

Jessica says her mom is making excuses to justify her bad behavior.

Dr. Phil lists Seth's inappropriate behaviors. "You cuss at Jessica in front of Irma. You call her a [expletive] in front of her mother," he says to Seth.

"The fight is mutual," Seth says. "When Jessica and I get into it, it gets heated."

"You've called [Irma] the b-word. You said to Jessica, according to Jessica's sister, ‘Who's going to want you with your stretch marks and scars?'" Dr. Phil says to Seth.

Seth admits to making the statements, but says, "I love my wife very much. Marriages aren't picnics. They take a lot of work. Jessica and I went into this marriage not knowing each other. We had a child very early in the relationship, and we're still growing and getting to know each other, and every day, it gets better. I think our love gets stronger every day."

Dr. Phil asks Laurie, "You're not proud of that behavior?"

"No, I'm not," she says. "But I will also add that the chaotic, volatile nature of their family was there long before Seth ever came into it."

"Do not blame this on us," Irma says.

Dr. Phil asks Jessica's sister, Laurie, who joins the show via phone, for her thoughts.

"A lot of the issues are really Jessica's and Seth's issues, and they are both actually really guilty of bringing the family into their problems," she says.

Dr. Phil asks Laurie to describe an incident between her husband and Seth.


"I'm really not at liberty to speak about that, because it's still " " she says.

"Seth is pressing charges against him," Jessica interjects.

"He attacked me in my towel," Seth adds.

The family bickers.

Dr. Phil offers the family advice. Facing Seth and Jessica, he says, "This is your marriage." Noting that many of Seth's arguments occur after he's been drinking, Dr. Phil tells Seth, "You're a father now. Just don't do that."

Dr. Phil turns to Irma and says, "You need to get out of their lives so far as an advice giver, a confidant, an interjector in this. Have a wonderful relationship with your daughter."


Dr. Phil faces Jessica and says, "You have to grow up. It's like you're doing this the same way you did it when you were a teenager. You need to put up some boundaries and recognize that if you've got problems with your husband, taking them to your mother " who is anything but objective " she's going to side with you. She's not going to see things in you. She's going to really contaminate the situation because you engage her unfairly. You need to be mature enough to put up boundaries and keep the in-laws out of the relationship." He implores her to solve her problems with her husband, not by running into another family member's arms.

Dr. Phil offers to provide marital counseling for the couple.

"If you don't want to be married, then don't. But if you're going to be married then plug in and do it, but don't run home to Mama every time you get your feelings hurt," Dr. Phil says to Jessica.