Relationship Rescue Retreat: Self-Defeating Games: Vinnie and Donna
Dr. Phil continues his intense workshop with six couples on the verge of divorce.

Dr. Phil tells all the couples about the most common self-defeating games they play in their marriages:

Game #1: Don't participate.

Game #2: Be a problem. "You don't like how its going, just pitch a fit, and boy, is this group good at that," says Dr. Phil.

Game #3: Change the game. "You don't like what's happening? So just shift everything to something else."

Game #4: Get them before they get me. "I think this is a real number one hit parade with this group," says Dr. Phil.

"I want you to give specific examples of how you have defeated yourself by playing games in these relationships," Dr. Phil tells the couples, who form two small groups, with Robin leading one discussion and Dr. Phil's colleague, Scott, leading the other.

In his group, Vinnie identifies "get them before they get me" as his self-defeating game. "I wasn't feeling that secure with the relationship, and I met that girl and messed around with her for about a month," he says about the affair he had.

"So what were you afraid you were going to lose that made you feel the need to play that game with her?" Robin asks Vinnie.

"Maybe pride and self-respect if I had gotten cheated on, so I kind of did it first," he replies.
In the other group, Donna identifies "be a problem" as the self-defeating game she plays in her marriage. "As soon as he gets in the door, I yell at him, and I want to make him as unhappy as I can, and I'll just keep going until the sun comes up," she admits.

"What are you afraid you're going to lose by doing that?" asks Scott, the group leader.
"It's the only way I can fight him for what he did to me," says Donna.

Dr. Phil steps in. "Isn't it the truth that as soon as you stop making him pay, then it means he got away with it?"

"Yes, that's exactly how I feel," she replies.

"You're just plain-old-country-pissed, aren't you?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Yes," says Donna.

Dr. Phil summarizes, "Your mission in life is to punish this man."

"Right," agrees Donna.

"So tell me about the anger that you're carrying around."

"He took my baby and pushed the stroller around " she's 3 months old and he took her to the park with the girlfriend. They walked around, playing house all afternoon, while I was at home waiting for him. And the thought of her near my baby, I don't even know her. And I'm really pissed about that," says Donna.

"Tell him what it does to you when you think about him doing that," Dr. Phil says. "You tell him enough, you ought to be good at this."

Donna looks at Vinnie. "I just think you're just an a**hole for doing that. And I can't believe you did that. And I can't get over it and I don't forgive you."

"Tell him what it did to you inside," pushes Dr. Phil. "This will never end between you two until he knows what he did to you."

"Even though I told you to get out, I thought you'd go to a friend's house, not with some girl," Donna tells Vinnie.

"I think our problems are a lot deeper than that, and have been a long time prior to that too," says Vinnie.

"It doesn't give you an excuse to go and find somebody, go out and deliberately take your wedding ring off, go to a park to play baseball, pick her up, go home with her the same day and sleep at her house," says Donna. "That's ridiculous. And then carry on with her for a whole summer." She turns to Dr. Phil, "Driving around in a white Corvette with vanity plates on it, putting a big stereo in the back like he's 22 years old. Driving around Seaside, where everybody goes, Bon Jovi, everybody hangs down there."

"I can't take it back. We can only move on from this point," Vinnie tells her.

"Where is she now?" Donna asks him. "And how do I know you're not talking to her still? Who is she? I want to know who she is."

Dr. Phil asks Donna to tell Vinnie about putting a picture of herself in a bikini on a singles Web site, to get even for his affair.

"It's embarrassing and ridiculous that I put that picture up there, but I wanted attention from other people like you got attention from her," Donna tells her husband.

"It was prior to that and that's another reason that I left ""

Donna interrupts, "You're on the Internet porning around every day."

"I cut down because you asked me to," says Vinnie.

"Do you think he's sorry?" Dr. Phil asks Donna.

"I've seen him be sorry for things before and I don't think he's sorry about this," she replies. "I think he thinks I deserved it, and he told me I'm the reason he did it."

Dr. Phil turns to Vinnie. "Do you realize that you have hurt her? Do you see that?"


"Every time that she asks you about this, and there's just no remorse, it's just like, 'Hey, I didn't do anything, it's no big deal.' This is killing her here, I mean, do you get that?"

"I absolutely do," says Vinnie.

"Withholding is a vicious and mean and ugly thing to do," Dr. Phil tells both of them. "And you guys do it every single day."

In the exercise where each couple has to rate their marriage on a scale of one to 10, Vinnie and Donna both rate their marriage as a two.

"Vinnie, you gave your relationship a two," observes Dr. Phil. "I want you to give Donna eight things that keep this from being a 10. Look her in the eye when you say it."

Vinnie tells Donna, "Let go of things that happen. Give me love when I need it. I need some down time too when I come home from work. Learn to trust me. We need to do more things together. We need to find more time."

"One more thing she can do something about," prompts Dr. Phil.

"Be nicer to me," he says.

When it's Donna's turn, she says, "Give me some money when I ask for it. Help me keep the house clean. Take me out when I want to go out. Help me with the baby. Don't argue with me. Don't tell me how to do things in the house. Don't correct everything I do. Don't look at other women. Don't laugh at me. Don't call me names. Don't say anything about my body parts."
Later on, Dr. Phil points out that Donna never mentioned anything about Vinnie's affair or her desire that he be faithful.