Relationship Rescue Retreat: Eric and Jennifer

Relationship Rescue Retreat: Eric and Jennifer
Dr. Phil's intense workshop with six couples on the verge of divorce.
Married less than a year, Eric and Jennifer have one child. They fight every day, and nothing ever gets resolved. "I think we fight dirty," says Jennifer, who has spit on Eric, pinched him and punched him in the arm. "Every day is a struggle. And the anger level and the frustration level are really escalating. It's no way to live, let alone raise a baby." Her biggest issue with Eric is that he's very negative about life.

"It destroys me emotionally to fight in front of my son," say Eric, who grew up in that kind of environment and doesn't want to repeat it. He also hates it when Jennifer corrects his grammar, and when he tries to help with the baby, everything he does is wrong. "I feel like a failure, I feel anger, I feel unappreciated," he says, but he could never suggest divorce. "Saying the word makes me sick to my stomach."

Dr. Phil stands before Eric and Jennifer. "You spit on your husband, don't you?" he asks.

"I did once," admits Jennifer.

"You've thrown the phone at him."


"You've hit him. You've called him 'dick,' 'lazy' and 'buddy boy.'"

Only when Dr. Phil pushes does Jennifer admit that she has.

"What do you call her?" he asks Eric.

"I've called her a bitch," he replies.

"In fact, you've called her an 'ungrateful son of a bitch,' don't you?" Dr. Phil asks. Eric agrees. "And you do what you can to be cruel and hurtful on purpose at times, do you not?" Eric disagrees, but Dr. Phil reads from his notes: "Admits he knows how to give a dig that hurts. 'I can be very cruel and hurtful.' That's in quotes."

"You're correct," admits Eric. "I've done things in anger that I wish I hadn't and you are correct."

"Are you proud of calling your wife an 'ungrateful son of a bitch'?

"Absolutely not. Not at all," says Eric.

Dr. Phil turns to Jennifer. "Are you trying to hurt him when you call him names and yell and scream?"

Jennifer pauses. "I think I am," she admits.

Dr. Phil asks everyone to think about what she just said. "This man is your husband," he stresses. "He's your partner in life. And on a daily basis, you try to figure out ways to inflict pain on him."

Jennifer objects to that statement. "I don't sit there and try to think of ways to inflict pain on him, but I fight back," she says. "Maybe I've just gotten really good at it."

"Get the concept here," Dr. Phil tells her. "This is your partner and you attack and demean and hurt him every day."

Dr. Phil turns to Eric. "And you give it right back, don't you? You've thrown plates, you've smashed windows ... This is your wife!" he stresses. Dr. Phil poses a scenario for Eric to think about: He's walking down the street and he sees that someone has his wife pinned up against a wall, saying and doing the things that he does to her. "How would you feel about that ... yelling and screaming at her and throwing things, threatening her and getting in her face?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I would feel terrible and I'd feel for her safety," says Eric.

"Would you want to protect her? Would you say, 'Hey, back off of my wife, ain't nobody talking to my wife like that'?"

"Yes, sir. Absolutely," says Eric.

"Then why is it OK for you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"It's not."

"Apparently it is. Based on results, it is OK because you do it every single day," says Dr. Phil.