Out of My Family Tree: Melissa, Betty, Tyson

The Man in the Middle

"I haven't spoken to my mother in at least three weeks," Tyson says. "I don't understand why my mother wants to ruin my marriage. I would figure, as close as me and my mom are, that she would be happy to see how happy I am. She's being jealous. I feel like I've been put in the middle of this. My mom went from a sweet and loving person to someone who has a bunch of hatred. My mother's personality has changed, so I don't even know her anymore. When my mom said that marrying Melissa was a mistake, that was just a devastating feeling. In the last heated argument I had with my mother, she told me that she was done and that she was putting me behind her. I feel that what she is doing is wrong. I still love my mother. I miss her very much. I would like things to be back the way they were. I want to know from Dr. Phil if this can be fixed."

Dr. Phil points out to Betty that two people are being critical about the way she engages them in their relationship. "Is that because she has corrupted his thinking," he asks about Melissa, "or is he right?" 

"I feel that she's put things in his head, like telling him he's a mama's boy, telling him that he can't stand up for himself," Betty says.

Tyson, who has been watching the conversation from another room, joins the discussion.

Tyson confronts his mother.


Dr. Phil tries to get Betty's attention.


[AD]Melissa admits to saying negative things about her mother-in-law, including using an expletive and hanging up on her a year ago. She hasn't spoken to her since. Melissa informs Betty that the vasectomy reversal was Tyson's idea.

Dr. Phil says to Betty, "Tell me what you want. What do you want them to do in their relationship with you?"

"I want him back in my life," she says. Betty maintains her innocence in contaminating their marriage. Tyson disagrees.

In a previous interview, Melissa says Betty has a strange attachment to her son. "She makes inappropriate comments, like, ‘Oh, if you weren't my son …' and ‘Damn, you look good in those pants.' She is freakin' obsessed with him," she says.

Back onstage, Dr. Phil says to Melissa, "OK, so your perception is that we have an Oedipal catfight that's going on here, that this is a mother who is over-attached to her son."

Melissa agrees. "It's ridiculous. I'm not the only one who sees that either," she says. 

Tyson agrees that there have been some strange comments, including when Betty saw a photo of them on their honeymoon in their swimwear and asked for a copy.

"Oh, my word. I've never even seen a picture like that!" Betty says angrily.

"Yes, you did," Tyson says.

"Why do you hate me so much that you want my son to hate me?" Betty asks Melissa.

The two women argue once again.

[AD]Dr. Phil tries to speak to Betty but doesn't think she's listening. "I'm trying to help you, and if you don't want it, then I'll move on and talk to somebody else. I'm trying to help you, but at some point, you've got to stop talking and do at least a little bit of listening," he tells her.

Betty begins to argue once again, and Dr. Phil throws up his hands.

"I'm not here to hurt anybody. I'm not here to look ridiculous " I'm sorry," she tells Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil confirms that Melissa and Tyson have been married two years now, are very happy and have no regrets as far as reversing Tyson's vasectomy. Tyson says he wants a healthy relationship with his mother. Dr. Phil asks Melissa, "Are you open to that if the toxic nature of these interactions was to diminish and go away?"

Melissa says Betty is not welcome in their home, but she supports her husband having a relationship with her. "I don't need a relationship with her. I just need things to be civil," Melissa says.

Betty cries, and Dr. Phil tells the women, "You certainly think that she has been manipulative and negative with you, and she thinks that you have been manipulative and negative with her, so you two are not going to be fast friends right now. I mean, I hope at some point, you can forgive one another and begin to build a new history and maybe start with some boundaries and all, but at this point, I don't see that in the cards, because there's so much unfinished emotional business here."

"There's so much that she won't acknowledge," Melissa says.

"You started it," Betty says.

The two go at it again.

Dr. Phil tells Betty, "You can have a relationship with your son, but it can't be based on the character assassination of his wife. That will never, ever work. Here's the thing: Maybe this relationship won't work. Maybe they'll get a divorce, and she'll go away, but all signs point to no at this point … You don't give him much credit. I would think if you believe in your son, you would have the confidence in his ability to think for himself and to not be putty in the hands of this woman. I mean, give him some credit, right? He seems to me to be an intelligent, articulate and put-together guy."

[AD]Betty agrees.

"And believe me when I tell you that I'm happy," Tyson tells his mother.

"Do you love your mom?" she asks.

"Yes, I do."

Betty again tries to bring up the past, but Dr. Phil tells her, "People change, they make decisions, and he made a decision, and that's what being an adult is all about … And you know what? If this is the wrong thing for him, if she is the wrong thing for him, then he will suffer the consequence, and he will be fine, he will survive, and he will go on … You have to step back and let him be a grown man."

Betty tries asking her son a question, but Dr. Phil cuts her off. "You didn't hear a word I said, did you? You can't think that fast. Before I'm finished with the last syllable of the last word, you're already engaged in a conversation with Tyson like I wasn't even here!" Dr. Phil tells Betty that she's crossed a boundary when it comes to her son and needs to take a breath and step back.

Dr. Phil turns to Tyson. "I urge you, I implore you to try to find a basis to have a relationship with this woman. You need to help by establishing some boundaries. Spend time with her but just don't talk about your marriage. That's off limits," he says.

[AD]He tells Betty, "I want you to have a relationship with your son. Respect some boundaries and allow that to happen. You don't need to be right; you just need to have a relationship with your son. That's all you want, correct?"

She nods, looking like she's ready to cry. "I would want to," she says tearfully.


Tyson and Betty give each other a hug.