"Michael wants me to be perfect," says Christy about her husband of three years. "I can list 1,000 things that he doesn't like about me. There are a lot of times where I feel everything about me is just ugly."
"I would like to see Christy lose some weight, get into shape, put more time into her grooming, her hair, her nails, and her dress style," says Michael. "I have always been attracted to brunettes, shoulder length hair. I like hair to be styled, skin to be in good shape, makeup nice and neat, well groomed, hands and feet to be manicured."
"My husband's very repulsed by the way I look," says Christy, who's tired of her husband's criticisms of her weight, her skin, her smell and even her toes.
"She had hairy toes, and it grossed me out. I told her she needed to shave her toes," says Michael. "You see beautiful, skinny women everywhere you look. An attractive woman is firm and toned and slender. I've always wanted a size 2 woman, like the ones you see on magazine covers. Jessica Biel is my idea of the perfect-looking woman."
"When I look in the mirror, I feel gross, I feel ugly, I feel just very unattractive," says Christy. "I think I am very worthless because of my weight and my appearance. I want to be beautiful in my husband's eyes, but unless I am like an actress who's on TV, skinny as a rail, then I am not worthy."
"Christy is probably 90 pounds heavier now than she was when we got married," says Michael. 'She tried so many diets, and I didn't know if she was sticking to them. Christy thinks about food constantly. When Christy asks me if she looks heavy in something, I am brutally honest with her."
"I've tried every diet and I kept gaining weight on all of them," she says.
Her husband even questions her cleanliness. "Michael complains that I smell or I'm not fresh all of the time," she says. "He would tell me that I don't clean my skin. If I didn't do it right in front of him, then I wasn't doing it at all. I feel very self-conscious about being with him sexually."
"We are not being as physically intimate as frequently as before because of Christy's weight," says Michael.
"I want him to give me a kiss and come on to me. I ask him, 'Why did you marry me?' I worry that he would leave because he wants to be with somebody who's thinner," says Christy.
"I feel bad after [seeing] that," Michael tells Dr. Phil after watching his own pre-interview on tape. "After watching that, I don't know what to say. I really don't. I'm here for a reason because I don't want to be this way. I really don't."
"What's this doing to your wife, in your assessment? Dial in. Tell me what impact this is having on her?" Dr. Phil asks. He tells Christy, "And I want you to listen very carefully because I want you to see whether he gets this or whether he doesn't."
"Well, I know that she feels real bad about herself. Sometimes I feel that the things I say to her are a little harsh, but I don't know if she already had some of these issues before we got married and before we met each other, or if I've made them worse since we've been married. I don't mean to. I don't want to destroy her as a person because she is a beautiful woman, and I want her to feel good about herself, and I don't want her to be, because of what I've seen in Hollywood and all that, to really have an impact on her," he says.
"OK, I'd say that's a no, that he doesn't get the impact this is having on you," Dr. Phil tells Christy.
"I agree," she says. "When you're raised a certain way, and attraction and beauty is the main focus of your family, I feel that he, from when we've had talks and stuff, I don't think he gets it. I don't think he gets how detrimental and how it can make somebody feel."
"You may be getting the impression that it's, like, every single day, I'm always on top of her, and it's not like that," defends Michael. "It's not like that at all."
"I've said it before, if I took a hot iron and touched it to your leg for a half of a second and then took it away, then problem is over, right? Hardly. The burn hurts for a long, long time and the scar can last forever," says Dr. Phil. "You said, 'I don't want to hurt her feelings,' but you've said to her, 'All you do is think about food. You're lucky I stick with you when you're so heavy. Lots of girls would be happy to be with me.'"
"I don't remember 'because you're heavy.' I don't believe I've ever said that," says Michael.
"Well, we got that from your wife. That is what she's hearing," says Dr. Phil.
"I'm going to be with Christy until we die because we are married and that is how it is. Those are my values, whether she gets to 500 or 600 [pounds]. That is not going to affect the fact that I'm still going to be with Christy. Yeah, I'm shallow, yeah, I have issues. I'm trying to get past them," says Michael.
Christy explains that she gained her excess weight after the birth of her son, and she's seen numerous doctors to find out why she can't lose the weight. She's also adopted, so she doesn't know what her medical history contains. Christy's biggest fear is that she'll resent her husband once she loses the weight, for not loving her regardless of size.
"Y'all are in a dangerous, dangerous spiral here, relationship-wise," says Dr. Phil. He points out that Michael is also obsessed with his own looks and wants to lose 40 pounds and look more like an athlete. "Why do you think you're so focused on the superficial appearance aspects of yourself and your wife?"
"Probably the way I was raised," he says. "Probably growing up in a family where women sat around, talked about how pretty this person was, how thin this girl is. Plus, when I was younger, I got a lot of attention, and I think I kind of grew up a spoiled brat, and I probably carried that into my marriage, and I shouldn't."
Dr. Phil explains Christy's side, and while he does, Christy begins to cry. "She has said, 'This is the man whom I love. This is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.' So she invests a lot in you, so your opinion, your thoughts,
Christy agrees. "I feel like I'm repulsive," she says, wiping her tears away. "I know that I'm heavy and I hate the fact that I'm heavy. I have tried so many things, and I'm trying to just love myself. Growing up, I was a cute girl I thought, I never had any problems really worrying about my appearance, but I worried about my inside, and now I just want him to love me for my inside, for who I am. Beauty is a bonus."
"I see all that in Christy. I would never have married her if I didn't. I didn't marry her for just her outward appearance alone. I really do love her for what she — I mean she's just an amazing woman of God, and she's awesome," says Michael.
"But you continue to hurt her with your selfish observations, criticisms and putdowns," Dr. Phil points out.
He tells Christy that she may be weight loss resistant and that can be fixed, but it won't fix her possible resentment of Michael after she loses the weight.
"I'm afraid of that," says Christy. "There are a lot of women who are heavy and beautiful, and their husbands adore them and don't say a thing about them."
Dr. Phil turns to Michael. "What I'm trying to tell you is you have
He offers Christy help with her weight loss goals. "But I will do that on one condition, and that is we're doing that for you. We're not doing this for Michael, we're doing this for you."
"That would be amazing," she says, tearfully.
Dr. Phil turns back to Michael. "Your question is, 'What do I do?' The first thing you have to do is recognize that you are now a grown man, and therefore, you are responsible for the things you say and do. Number two, you need to truly search your heart and seriously, seriously, seriously apologize to this woman for the messages you have sent to her. You don't want to go through the motions; you need to recognize that you are a better man than that, that you have betrayed who you are as a husband and a father and all the things that go into being that. You need to apologize for that, and I hate to put it this way, but you ain't perfect."
Christy wonders if Michael's criticisms stem from insecurity about his own appearance.
Dr. Phil agrees. "There is an old saying in psychology: 'There's something about that old boy that I can't stand about me.' We tend to see in others what we don't like in ourselves." He tells Michael, "You need to recognize that if you are wanting someone to affect a change, then you want to inspire that change. You don't shame them into it. You don't brow beat them into it. You don't judge them into it. You inspire them into it. And it can be something that the two of you can do together."
Dr. Phil tells Christy, "You've got to take your power back. The things he's saying to you truly are about him; they're not about you."
He turns back to Michael, "The question you need to be asking yourself is, 'What is wrong with me that I could inflict that kind of pain and discomfort on this wonderful woman?' That's the question you need to ask, and I'm going to help you find answers for that."