Relationship Rescue Retreat: Parental Legacy: Eric and Jennifer

Relationship Rescue Retreat: Parental Legacy: Eric and Jennifer
Dr. Phil continues his intense workshop with six couples on the verge of divorce.
After the parental legacy exercise, Dr. Phil speaks with Eric in front of the entire group.

"How are you feeling right now?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I'm shaking inside," reveals Eric. "It's hard for me to open up. I've come home drunk and terrible to [Jennifer]. So much that she would beg me just to leave her alone."

"How do you feel about it now?"

"I feel like it's important to talk about it because I kick and hurt her so much. She pushes back because of the bastard that I can be," says Eric.

"You're standing here visibly shaking right now because you are fighting with every fiber of your body to hold back the pain and the shame. Who taught you that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"My mother has taught me not to show emotions. It wasn't OK to be happy. That I was no good because I was my father's son."

"What did that do to you?"

"It destroyed me," says Eric. "My mother passed away and her dying wish was for me not to be there, so she could get the final win."
Eric continues: "I didn't do anything wrong by being born to them. She's emotionally scarred me forever."

Putting his hand on Eric's shoulder, Dr. Phil asks, "Isn't it time that you were there for you?"

"Yes, sir."

"You said something really important, and I want you to say it again: 'I didn't do anything wrong.'"

"I didn't do anything wrong," says Eric, while Jennifer begins to cry.

"Give it a voice," Dr. Phil tells him. "Say, 'It wasn't fair. I shouldn't have been beaten, I shouldn't have been treated that way. I didn't do anything wrong.'"

"I shouldn't have been beaten," says Eric, as tears run down his face. "I shouldn't have been scarred. I was a kid, growing up, facing the fact that my mother probably never loved my father, and she didn't love his son, who was me."
"Aren't you tired of making other people pay for what she did?" Dr. Phil asks him.

"I'm real tired of hurting the people who love me most. Not only my wife, but my father," Eric reveals. "I have a hard time hugging my father. I love him and I can't even talk to him."

"What would you say to him if he was standing right here, right now?" Dr. Phil asks.

"That I'm sorry that I can't express myself to him. Because you know, my father, someday he's not going to be there."

Dr. Phil asks Rob to stand up. "I know and you know because we've buried our dads. You tell him, 'Don't you miss a chance. Don't you let the sun set on you another day without telling him what's in your heart.'"

"Leave nothing on the table," Rob tells Eric. "You only get one shot."

"Tell him what you would give for another day with your father," Dr. Phil tells Rob.

"You name it, I'd give it," says Rob, getting emotional.

"What would you say to your dad?" Dr. Phil asks Rob.
"I love him," Rob responds. He tells Eric, "Tell him you love him. And keep saying it."

"If your dad is watching you right now, what do you think he's thinking right now?" Dr. Phil asks Rob.

"I think he's pretty damn proud," he says.

Rob sits down, and Dr. Phil asks Jennifer to stand next to her husband. "What do you want for her?" he asks Eric.

"I want her to be happy," says Eric.

"If you let your mother dictate what happens in your home, you're just giving your power away to her. Do you realize she's running your home?" Dr. Phil asks.

Eric agrees. "She's controlling my life. I can be a mean person, and I believe I learned it from her."

"But at some point you have to say that wasn't OK," says Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil addresses the whole group. "Are you to blame for what happened to you as children? No. What you do have is a choice of what you do about it now."

He turns back to Eric. "I'll give you a simple rule that you can put in your pocket that'll serve you every day: Interact with this woman in a way that protects or enhances her self-esteem."

Dr. Phil asks Jennifer to remind herself, "'If he's screwing up, I can tell him about that, but I don't need to do it in a mean, condescending, vicious, demeaning way to inflate my own ego.' Can you do that for him?"

"Yes, I can," she says.

"You've got to break the parental legacy," Dr. Phil tells them. "Maya Angelou said it very well. She said, 'You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.' Every one of you knows a lot better right now. It's your job to do better."
Eric and Jennifer check in with Dr. Phil after the retreat. "Tell me what it felt like to trust each other enough to talk about the meaningful things that you discussed about your parents when you sat in that dyad," Dr. Phil asks them.

"I was very proud to be able to talk with her and it was a relief," says Eric, who explains that he feels at ease since he let out all the things that he'd been keeping inside.

Dr. Phil asks Jennifer, "How did you feel about that?"

"It's nice to be able to trust," says Jennifer. "To put your whole self in someone and not feel like you're going to be judged, like it's going to be used against you. You know, just to be embraced when you need it."

Dr. Phil explains that intimacy is not about sex. "Intimacy is about what happened to all of you guys in that moment in time. When you said, 'This is my life partner and the mask is coming off and I'm going to tell you who you're really living with every day.'"
Since then, Eric and Jennifer have been doing very well.

"I've realized that I had extreme issues with my mother," says Eric. "My mother was abusive mentally, physically. Dr. Phil explained to me that it's not my fault."

Eric confronted his father about his childhood, and they've improved their relationship. "We've come to an understanding that we'll let the past be the past. Now, I'm learning to be my own type of father. Thank you, Dr. Phil, for giving me the
encouragement to rebuild the relationship with my father, and build a better relationship with my son," says Eric.

Jennifer also sees a change. "Eric's definitely plugged into this family and I'm really, really proud of him," she says.