After 19 years of marriage, Tracy's husband, Charles, dropped a bombshell. "In September of last year, he told me that he was involved with another woman; he was not in love with me anymore," explains Tracy. "When Charlie told me about the affair, he was brutally honest."
"I'm getting a little older, and I think I'm looking for a change. I think I have exhausted my relationship with her after 22 years," says Charles. "I was with both women for a period of three months. I even amazed myself as far as the sex is concerned. Didn't even know that I was capable of doing it because I'm nearly 50 and I was acting like a 25-year-old. I have needs, and I needed more, and I got that with the other woman. The sex was actually a gift from the other woman to my wife. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it actually woke something up inside of me with her."
"The irony in it is when the affair started, I was able to feel passion and emotion that I've never felt before," says Tracy.
"The other woman does not have four boys in school. She does not have the responsibilities that my wife has," explains Charles. "We quickly developed a relationship based on her ability to give me what I want. I am the powerhouse in my environment. I am the alpha. I am the alpha of all my friends. I am the alpha of my family."
Charles came up with an alternative to getting divorced. "Charlie wanted us to explore the possibility of having a triangular relationship," says Tracy.
"I can handle keeping both women emotionally and sexually fulfilled," says Charles. "I've always been blessed with a boundless dimension of energy. To me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was able to keep it up for three months. It was a great ride."
But not for Tracy. "I lost 30 pounds. My hair was falling out. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep," she says. "There's just something that happens in your heart when you find out the guy that you have loved and been intimate with for almost 20 years makes a conscious decision to be intimate with somebody else whom he's told you he's in love with. That was very, very hard."
"The other woman was very comfortable with exploring a polyfidelity lifestyle. It's a relationship where you don't have to get a divorce and you have two women in your life. It's just a sincere loving and caring relationship, where you promulgate hours and times to be with one or the other," Charles explains.
Tracy, Charles, and the other woman met with an alternative lifestyle counselor, to figure out if a polyfidelity relationship would work for them. "I wanted to hear this guy tell Charlie there's no way this is going to happen," says Tracy.
"I became very angry when my wife decided, 'It's just not for me and I'm not going to do it,'" says Charles. "It has worked for thousands of years, in other cultures, so why should we be victimized just because we live in America and not have an opportunity to be able to express ourselves emotionally and lovingly the way that I have been trying to do with these two women? I'm willing to go on the show and show people out there that you don't have to get a divorce, you can have a loving and sincere relationship with more than one woman."
"I'm a very traditional person. I think that intimacy is sacred. Charlie kept telling me, 'What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain. You won't be losing me. You won't be losing our marriage. You'll just share.' And the thought of it made me sick in my stomach. It would make me question my morals and my ethics and my values, and I'm not doing that. I would rather be alone than share my husband knowingly with another woman, because I have kids to raise, and I've got to teach them a good lesson." She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "What do I do, Dr. Phil? Where do I go from here?"
"What part of this is confusing to you?" Dr. Phil asks Tracy. "I assume it's that there are children involved, and you have some feelings for Charles. Is that the confusion?"
"Yeah, I don't want to make him leave because I want my marriage to work. And I'm afraid if I throw him out, he's going to go running to the other woman," says Tracy.
Dr. Phil turns to Charles. "So you think it's reasonable to have what you call this polyfidelity relationship?"
"Well, no, that was an alternative lifestyle that I wanted to explore," says Charles. "It wasn't something that I said, 'This is going to work and I'm going to cram it down your throat.' This was an exploration process."
Dr. Phil asks what they learned after seeing a counselor to explore the option of polyfidelity.
"Well, that my wife is absolutely, unwaveringly not going to do it. And the opportunity that I thought existed, that I created in my mind, to be with two women, shattered and dissolved right after our first counseling session," says Charles. "I felt really humiliated. I felt like I was going down a road that I shouldn't have gone down. I now have regret over the way I handled this with my wife. She's obviously in a lot of pain. She's lost 30 pounds. Flaunting the relationship in her face is not the way to handle it."
"Is that part of this alpha male syndrome?" Dr. Phil asks. "You say that you're the powerhouse alpha male? I don't get how bullying your wife fits into some alpha male syndrome."
"I never bullied. Ever," says Charles.
But Dr. Phil disagrees. "Seems to me like you did, when you say, 'I'm making dates in front of her.' You said you flaunted the relationship in front of her. You told her, 'Yeah, it's really heating up over there,' and 'I really don't know that I would pay for you to live if you started dating somebody else.' That seems to me to be bullying of the highest order, using money and threats as a lever."
"You're wrong. You weren't there," Charles retorts. "It seemed like I was handling it in the most loving and caring way while it was happening. It seemed like it."
Tracy comes to his defense. "I think because he was being absolutely, totally up front and honest with me, and he wasn't hiding anything, and he wasn't sneaking behind my back. I have respect for the fact that he came to me and told me what was going on before the relationship became intimate."
"That's like saying, 'I robbed the bank, and as long as I tell you, then it should be OK.' I don't see why that's OK with you," Dr. Phil tells Tracy.
"None of this is OK with me," she says. "But it wasn't like I caught him red-handed. He wasn't a guy who came to me and said, 'Well, I'm out of here. You just figure it out.'"
"Are you going to leave?" Dr. Phil asks Charles.
"Well, first of all, I'm not a bank robber, OK?"
Dr. Phil looks at him and pauses. They stare at each other for a moment. "Your point?" Dr. Phil asks. When Charles begins to explain, Dr. Phil interrupts. "I got the feeling that was one of your alpha male confrontations. You said that and gave me that death stare like, 'OK, buddy, I'm calling you out here.' Is this some macho thing with you?"
"No, it's not."
"I'm trying to answer your questions because I think you're in a lot of trouble with a woman I think you have huge responsibilities for and have made a huge investment in," says Dr. Phil. "I'm trying to be your friend here and tell you, you may be making some mistakes now that you want to consider. I don't ask you to substitute my judgment for your own, but I do want to give you some things to weigh. Do you regret having the affair or do you regret how you handled it and the reaction you got?"
"So you don't think there's anything wrong with having this relationship, this mental, emotional, sexual affiliation with somebody outside your marriage?"
"No, like I said before, we looked at an alternative lifestyle that's in America right now," says Charles. "It didn't work. I'm still in love with the other woman, but I'm just at a point where I think if I have to make a decision — Am I going to leave to be with this other woman and not be with my family? — It's an easy decision to make."
"But there was a third alternative which is, 'Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too. I could have my wife, my family, my children and another house over here where I could just ping pong back and forth between the two,'" says Dr. Phil.
"That was a big mistake," admits Charles. "Why was it so easy for me to do that? Why didn't I have feelings of remorse? I just want somebody to tell me. That's why I'm here."
Dr. Phil raises his hand. "Would you like my opinion? You're not going to like my opinion. Sometimes it's hard to hear the truth. I think the reason that you didn't have any remorse from this is because you are incredibly arrogant and selfish."
"I'll buy that," says Charles.
"I didn't just come in on a load of turnips. I look up everything that's out there. When I read polyfidelity in the Dr. Phil dictionary, it says cheating," says Dr. Phil. "And so you decide, 'OK, I will figure a way where it's an enlightened thing, where this other woman is actually a gift to [Tracy,]' because it awakened you, it awakened her, it awakened everybody."
"Of course it did. The attraction to the other woman was great. It was so tempting for me because we had disconnected. This wasn't something I was out looking for, it just happened," says Charles.