Saving a Marriage

"You guys have counseled thousands of couples," Dr. Phil says to Fred and Anna.

"Fred has probably counseled more than 10,000, but that's because he's really old," Anna jokes.

"So, did these guys get real when they sat down with y'all?"

"Yes," Fred says. "The first thing I wanted to find out right away was, were they willing to work at it, one or both of them? Because we believe a marriage can be saved. If just one of them wants to work at it, it's possible to save a marriage. If both of them want to, it's almost a home run." He says it was important for Marcus to be repentant and for Joni to be able to forgive.

"The question a lot of people are going to ask is are you sorry for what took place, or are you sorry you got caught?" Dr. Phil asks Marcus.

[AD]"I'm sorry it took place. It was the worst decision of my life," he says.

Dr. Phil says if they want to help people who may be going through the same issue, it's important for them to be honest about how they really feel.

Joni says she went through stages of shock, hurt and anger. "Fred kids with me, still, that I lived in Camelot, and I found out that Camelot really doesn't exist, but I lived there for a while, thinking our world was perfect, but it's not," she says.

Dr. Phil explains the mistakes they may be making that can keep them from moving forward.

"People ask me all the time, ‘Dr. Phil, can relationships survive infidelity?' and my answer always is, ‘Of course they can. Yes.' But it takes two people: You being able to forgive and not make it a life sentence," he says to Joni, before turning to Marcus, "and it takes you owning it and realizing that until she knows " and forget about being ministers for a minute. I'm just talking to you two as a couple " unless she knows that you get it, that you get what this did to her, not as a minister, but as a woman, a wife, a mother, unless and until she knows you get it, she will never, ever be able to turn this loose. Unless she knows you get what this did, what message it sends to her, what questions it causes her to ask herself as a woman and a wife," he says to Marcus.

With tears in his eyes, Marcus says he understands what he did to his wife.

Dr. Phil asks Joni, "Did you blame yourself for this at all?"

"Well, I mean, initially, don't you think all women do?" she asks. Joni says she knows the affair is 100 percent her husband's responsibility, but admits she was busy working for the network and as a mother. "We'd always been so connected, but somewhere along the way, we got disconnected," she says.

Dr. Phil clarifies, "That is a marriage issue. That's not an infidelity issue."

Dr. Phil explains his problem with some of Joni's statements.

 

[AD]"Then you went on to say, ‘Marcus and I both came to the table and said we were going to work through this and ask the Lord to restore where we got off the track,'" Dr. Phil stresses. "I assume you weren't with him when he did this?"

"That was a typo," she jokes.

"There wasn't any ‘We got off the track,'" Dr. Phil says. "Now, ‘We might've done some things to make our marriage better, we might've communicated better, but he went across the street.'"

"Yes, amen," Joni says, laughing.

Dr. Phil brings up the couples' daughters, and Marcus grows emotional. 


Anna says, "There is something so powerful having come through something like that that gives you faith and hope for other people." She explains that she and Fred hit a rough patch in their 45-year marriage too.

Video: Anna and Fred tell a funny story about the trials in their marriage.

Dr. Phil asks Joni, "Have you been able to forgive Marcus for this?"

"Yes," she says. "Completely and totally."

Marcus says throughout their healing process, he would ask his wife how much she trusted him, and the numbers went up until she eventually got to 99.9 percent.

Joni says their marriage is going to survive, even through an alleged extortion attempt. "I'm glad to tell our story," she says. "All you can do is tell the truth, and then take your pain and use it to try to help someone else, and that's what we're going to do."

[AD]"I commend you for being so open and honest about this, and for providing a real-world circumstance for overcoming this challenge and keeping this marriage and this family together," Dr. Phil says.

The Dr. Phil studio audience receives a copy of Joni's book, Surrender All: Your Answer to Living with Peace, Power and Purpose.