Silent Darkness Follow-Up: The Marriage

Stressed to the Breaking Point?

"Every day, I physically can't give them what they need, and I take it out on George a lot," Liz admits. "He feels that I'm taking him for granted and that he deserves a metal for putting up with me and all of our problems."

"I feel that I'm doing everything that I can, and it's not enough," George says.

"I need him to be happy, and I need him to do everything I need him to do and never complain," Liz says. "And I still want to kick him in the head. What's that say about me?"

"She will say things that cut me. Sometimes her critiques can be so withering that I don't know how to hold up against her un-manning me," George says.

"I feel like I'm the scapegoat. Everything wrong in his life is my fault. Suck it up. Get over it. I don't want to hear about his problems!" Liz says with a laugh. "I've got enough problems; don't tell me you're unhappy too."

"I want her to feel the way I feel, when I feel like we're in a no-win situation," George says. "I will allude to the fact that, if it weren't for this situation, I wouldn't be going through this."

"He tells me that I've ruined his life, and I've dashed all his hopes and dreams," Liz says. "As soon as I hear 'danger,' it's like, OK, I'm going to be doing this on my own again. I mean, who can live like that?"

[AD]"Liz has been forced to be a survivor. When she goes into survivor mode, it makes me feel like I'm on the outside, that I'm not accepted, that I'm not in the family," George says. "She still thinks that she has to do everything on her own. She doesn't trust that I'll be there at the end of the day. She doesn't trust that anybody will."

"How do I get out of survivor mode in my marriage and become a wife to him?" Liz asks.

"The one thing I can't figure out is how to make this marriage thing work without all the pain," George says.

Dr. Phil tells Liz and George, "If you guys fall apart, that's a real negative in this situation, because you are their rocks, their safety zone. If that falls apart, if that fractures, that's going to be very disruptive to them." He asks Liz, "What is the issue here, that you choose not to trust him? You say, ‘It's easier to live in reality. It's just easier not to have hope.' And you say, ‘Now, I just want to kick him out when he makes me feel guilty. I have to bite my tongue. I want to say, ‘If you don't like it, then just go.'"

"Right. When you're already dealing with so much that you have going on, and he says, ‘I need this,' or ‘I have a problem' or ‘I'm upset about this,' I'm just look at him, and I'm thinking, I can't deal with that too. It's easier just to ignore him or tell him to go," Liz says.

"Do you want to know why you do that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I guess," she says.

Dr. Phil gets to the bottom of their marriage troubles.

 

"They don't need someone to suffer for them, they need someone to lead them. They need their father here. This is their father, and you keep trying to push him away. And one of these days, he's going to fail the test. And at that point, where are you? You've proved yourself right," Dr. Phil tells Liz. He asks George, "Are you going to leave her?"

[AD]"No," he says, turning to his wife. "I'm absolutely not going to leave you."

Dr. Phil brings up George's empty threats of leaving when they get into fights.

 

George admits, "In my weaker moments, when I'm a child and not a man, when I've had as much of it as I feel like I can take, I will say those crappy things, and immediately, I'm ashamed." George explains that because so many people in Liz's life have run out on her, she believes that he's just the last one who will eventually take off. "How do I stand up to that and feel good about myself?"

Dr. Phil says he's going to speak on behalf of their kids. "You, to me, are an amazing woman," he tells Liz. "I think what you do, and the grace and patience with which you typically do it, is pretty humbling, to tell you the truth. I admire you greatly."

He turns to George and says, "I say exactly the same thing to you. You stepped up. You didn't know how deep the water was, but you knew it was deep. You knew that there was a huge challenge here, and you love this woman enough to step up and do the right thing."

Dr. Phil tells Liz, "He's still here. Let me tell you something, you're going to have to make a decision that he is here, and he's staying. You withhold yourself to protect yourself. You withhold yourself because it will hurt less when he leaves if you don't become vulnerable and don't allow yourself a soft place to fall, don't allow yourself a soul mate connection, don't allow yourself to have the feelings received and given for when he leaves."

"That's very true," Liz says.

"Listen, you are a woman of courage and conviction. It is time to extend that courage and conviction to your marriage. It is time to say, ‘He may hurt me, he may leave me, but I'm just going to take the chance. Life is tough. People get hurt,'" he says. Dr. Phil says she has to put the focus back on herself and her marriage.

Marriage counselor Julie Nise has been working with this couple in their hometown. She says their marriage issues are not unusual, despite their unique challenges in their family. "Liz wants to have that protection, have the connection, deeply, emotionally, and know there's permanence. What happens, sadly, is some of these past issues get in the way, and then she gets overwhelmed and accidentally starts criticizing him and doubting him."

[AD]"You say accidentally, I say conveniently," Dr. Phil says. He tells Liz her family wins the lottery if they can work past these issues. "He's worth the risk. But this is not about him; this is about you ... Those girls deserve all of you. You need this connection. To do this, feeling like you're just one step away, one fight away, one phone call away, one crisis away from being abandoned, is like waiting for lightning to strike. You know it's going to hit you; you just don't know when, and that is a helpless, scary feeling."

Dr. Phil implores the couple to take care of their relationship so they can take care of their girls. "I want you two to commit to working on this relationship.

 

George tells Dr. Phil, "I'm not going to sit here, and blow roses and say this has been an amazing, fun-all-the-time, movie-like experience. It's been real, it's been hard, it's been dirty, and it's been rough. But man, I tell you, when it's good, it's good," George says.

[AD]Liz smiles. "It's true," she says, grabbing her husband's hand.

"You know women across America are wanting to clone him right now, right?" Dr. Phil says to Liz.

 

She laughs.