Dr. Phil tells her, "I'm curious what your position is on this at this point. Because frankly, it seems like this really isn't working at all on any level. How is your relationship with Charles at this point?"
"I just think he needs to figure out what he wants with his life, and I just need to stay out of the equation at this point," she says.
"Are you still having a relationship with him now?"
"No. We've parted ways and decided to let him and Tracy figure out their life, and I've sort of walked away," she says.
But Dr. Phil points out that they met over the weekend for her birthday. "So you're still in contact."
"Contact, yes," she says.
"We've been friends for 13 years before all this started," says Charles, who is planning on moving into his own apartment. "One of the reasons I wanted to move out is I wanted to find out, what kind of separation anxiety would I have with my family? This wasn't where the other woman just moves right in. I wasn't going to start dating. I was searching in myself, why did this seem OK to go explore the polyfidelity? What would happen if I moved into an apartment? How would I feel? How would I develop a relationship with my boys, separate from my wife? Those are the feelings I want to explore and go through."
Dr. Phil asks Tracy, "How do you feel about the other woman at this point? Do y'all talk at all?"
"We met for lunch one day by ourselves, and we were very honest with each other about how we feel about what's going on," Tracy explains. "I don't hate her. I don't think she's a bad person. She, at one point, told me that she was going to walk away and let us figure this out, and if it didn't work between Charlie and I, then they could go on their way. And she hasn't done that."
Dr. Phil asks the woman on the phone, "Do you feel like an interloper in somebody else's marriage here?"
"Well, that's what I told Charlie. That's not what I'm about. I don't want to break up his family," she says. "And that's when the polyfidelity thing came into play. He, as well, didn't want to hurt Tracy. He wanted to make sure she was taken care of for the rest of her life, and he was trying to be a good guy and make everybody happy, but it's just an impossible situation to make everybody happy, unless everybody agrees."
"You knew Charles was married when you first got involved with him romantically, correct?"
"Yes, I did." She also knew Charles had a family.
"He had told me that he was getting a divorce, that he was basically going to be separating with Tracy. And basically, he started telling Tracy about the feelings that we were having for each other. And at one point, Tracy and Charlie had talked about him going and exploring this, and according to what I was told, Tracy was OK with this
Dr. Phil wants to know if she was OK with sharing a man who was married to someone else.
"I'm quite an open-minded person, so I'd have to say yes," she says.
Tracy says she's never been OK with Charles and the other woman spending the night together. "And she knows that," says Tracy.
"But you have gone to bed and had sex with your husband, knowing that just a few hours before, he was having sex with this other woman," Dr. Phil points out.
"When all this happened, Charlie and I reconnected intimately," says Tracy. "I didn't get some sick thrill knowing that he was sleeping with somebody else. It's just through all the hours and hours of honesty and talking over and over and over, we were able to strip lots of layers away."
Dr. Phil explains that that's not an uncommon reaction. "It's kind of repossessing the territoriality, the reasserting of your ability to claim, and control, and be involved." But he warns them, once the desperation, urgency and fear goes away, the anger will kick in.
"I'm not there yet," says Tracy.
"At this point, Charles, what do you think is the best route for you to pursue?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Well, I would never, ever look at the polyfidelity relationship, ever. We explored it; it didn't work. What I want to do is, I want to find out why I did this in the first place," he says.
"You didn't like my answer?" Dr. Phil asks. "I look at these things in the most objective way possible. I think part of it, truly, is I think you're, how do I say this? I think you're just mighty proud of the way you turned out."
"I can accept that. Like, I'm conceited and overbearing?" Charles asks.
"I think there are many things that you are very proud of in your life," Dr. Phil explains. "I think you think you're intelligent, and that you've been successful in your life, and that you've accumulated achievements, and material things, and friends. And I think you look at a lot of those things and say, 'If you were going to put together a resume, those are good things, those are positive things.' I think that you just kind of forgot about some of the elements and aspects of being a human being and a life partner, because it has a lot to do with the ability to see things from other people's point of view," says Dr. Phil. "When you stood up all those years ago, in those wedding pictures we saw, you didn't say, 'I agree to be your life partner until I feel that I've worn you out, until I have exhausted my relationship with you.' I think you just cut a deal back then, and now you're trying to re-trade the deal because you hit a time when you [two] disconnected and it wasn't very much fun."
"Yes," Charles agrees.
"But I'm going to tell you something," Dr. Phil continues. "You just don't fix relationship problems ever, by turning outside the relationship. All that does is run it off in the ditch. But, if the only point of view you're considering is your own, then it makes sense because that feels good. That's all fine from your point of view until you say, 'What does it do to a woman who said, "This is no dress rehearsal. I am going through this life one time and I gave you 20 years and four children. You cannot walk away from me in this way"?'"
"What do you want [the other woman] to do?" Dr. Phil asks Tracy.
"Go away," she says without hesitation.
He asks Charles, "What do you want her to do?"
"In light of all this, probably the same," he says.