Marrying a Younger Woman
Dr. Phil speaks with couples in unconventional marriages.

"My parents were married for 48 years when my 69-year-old father ran off with a 27-year-old woman he met in China," says Amy, 32. "It feels pretty strange to have a stepmom that is younger than I am. I've never known my dad to be an impulsive person. I couldn't believe that he was just giving up on our family."

Amy's older sister, Lynette, is also worried. "I have a lot of concerns with my dad about this relationship, of him being taken advantage of," she says about her father, Al, and his new wife, Linda. "I feel like he did this against his own better judgment."

Linda came to the U.S. on a fiancée visa, but it wasn't all wine and roses when they settled in Texas. "My dad told us that they weren't getting along, that he was just miserable," says Amy. "A few days later, we found out my Dad went ahead and married Linda anyway. They tied the knot one day before Linda's fiancée visa expired."

"I think my father married her because he didn't have the heart to let her go back. I find it hard to believe that this is about love," says Lynette.
Al sees it differently. "My daughters didn't want me to marry Linda because they all thought she was too young," says Al. "I met Linda in China. She was very beautiful. We had a romance and fell in love. When I told my wife I wanted a divorce, she told me I was crazy, that this woman was way too young for me. I was hurt that they didn't understand. I was trying to move on into what I thought was good for me," he says.

Al acknowledges the fact that they had some initial struggles when Linda first moved to the U.S. "The transition to Texas was very traumatic for her and caused a lot of problems in our relationship," he says. But things are much better now. "My daughters are going to have to accept the fact that we are married and Linda's in my life now."

His daughters turn to Dr. Phil for help. "My father's actions have devastated our whole family," says Amy. "We feel like he keeps choosing her over us time and time again. I just feel really betrayed. How can my sisters and I have a loving relationship with my father now that he's married to someone we disapprove of?"
Dr. Phil asks Al, "Why did you do this, in your opinion? You were married for 48 years and you got out of that marriage ... Why after 48 years?"

"I just fell in love with Linda really. My marriage hadn't been real good for several years," Al says.

"Why did you get married so quickly? Was it because the visa was expiring?"

"The visa was expiring and I realized I really did love Linda," says Al.

Dr. Phil turns to Amy: "Is it that they split up or is it that he's marrying someone that is 42 years younger than he is?"

"It's a combination," says Amy. "I could've dealt with a divorce. It would have been hard, but that's not my issue. It's that he was seeing her while he was still married to my mother. That is hard to accept.""Is it your theory that your dad is Linda's ticket to America?" Dr. Phil asks Amy.

"That's how I feel," she says.

Dr. Phil turns to Linda " who has never met Amy " and asks how she feels about the situation.

"I love my husband," says Linda. "I know he loves his family, he loves his daughters. The first time he dated me, he talked about his four daughters. And I was very touched. He's a very family person and he does love them very much."

"They question your motive in this," says Dr. Phil. "Getting a little long in the tooth myself, you have to wonder why a 27-year-old woman would want to marry a 69-year-old man."

"I never think about his age," says Linda. "When I met him, we were working on the same project. I was a translator, interpreter for the meetings and he was very active."
When Dr. Phil asks if Amy has anything she'd like to say to Linda, she declines. "I don't really know what to say to her. Even if my dad felt his relationship with my mom was not where it should've been, I still have a problem with going outside the marriage. And I have a problem with someone who's willing to be with someone who is going outside of their marriage," says Amy.

Al's other daughter, Lisa, adds, "This has been so hurtful for our family and I just really question her motivation. And I get angry with the fact that my dad has done this in the first place and it's up to us to maintain a relationship with him."

Linda explains that her motive was not to stay in the U.S. "He makes me feel like I'm really loved, cared about, and he brings out the best in me. I think that's one of the reasons I love him," she says.

Dr. Phil wants Linda to understand where Al's daughters are coming from. "What they're saying they have a problem with is this person who made you feel loved and comfortable was somebody else's husband. It was their mother's husband. This was an affair and you're the other woman."

"He dated me and I thought, 'He's wonderful person. He has a great personality, he's funny ...'"
"But his wife probably thought that too," says Dr. Phil.

He looks at the 42-year age difference between Al and Linda, reminding them that they're at completely different stages in life. Then he asks Amy, "Do you love your father?"

"I love my father," says Amy, getting emotional. "Ever since this happened I feel like there's this big thing in between us, that we just dance around it and we don't talk about it and there's a strain in the relationship. There's tension there."
Dr. Phil tells Amy, "I don't know what the motives are, but it is what it is. He did divorce your mother ... He is married to Linda. And that's the reality of the situation. You have to be willing to set that to the side and say, 'I love my father. I do not endorse his behavior, I do not endorse his decisions, I do not endorse the way he's living his life, but that's not my choice. What is my choice is that I'm going to have to compartmentalize that and love the man that is my father.'"

"I've already made the decision that I don't want to sever the relationship with my dad," says Amy. "We just want to know how to move forward. How do we move on?"

Dr. Phil reiterates that she can still love her father and not agree with what he does with his life. "I know that's not what you want to hear. What you want to hear is me say, 'End this relationship, go back and marry your mother and everybody be happy.'"

"I don't expect that," says Amy. "I just want him to own this and to acknowledge the fact that he hurt all of us when he did this. It wasn't just about him and my mom; that it was about all of us. He tore our family apart and I don't know that he's owned that," she says tearfully, looking at her father.
"Yes. I know," Al tells her.

"We just don't talk about it," says Amy.

"I feel very bad about it," he says.

Dr. Phil suggests that Amy and her sisters sit down with their father and talk about it to make sure everyone has been heard. "You need to say these things to your father and you need to hear that and respond," he tells Al. "You have responsibilities as a member of this family and you need to meet those responsibilities with these daughters and that begins with a family meeting with just you guys. Will you participate in it?"

"I will," says Al.

Amy and Lisa agree. Al embraces Amy.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil tells his guests, "When you're in a family, nothing you do is in isolation. Everything you do affects every other member of the family. That doesn't mean that you owe them control, that doesn't mean that you owe them explanation. But to be a responsible family member means that you have to understand that what you do impacts other people and if you love and respect them, then you'll sit down and talk about that and give it a voice and discuss it." He turns back to Al and his family: "It is what it is. He's married. You guys have to sit down and talk about this."