Jonnie and Dennis hit it off right away when they first met. They learned they both grew up in Detroit. "We pulled a map out and realized our moms' houses were only five blocks apart," says Jonnie. "We went to the same store, the same parks. We had so much in common we couldn't believe that we'd never met before."
"After the first six months of Jonnie and I dating, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her," says Dennis.
"When I looked at the picture, I knew instantly that Dennis's mom
had to be pregnant with Dennis in the picture, standing with my father," says Jonnie.
"Dennis and I knew we had to get a DNA test. I had to know if he was my half-brother," says Jonnie. The test proved that they were indeed related.
According to the laws in their state, their marriage was null and void after they found out they were siblings. "Even if Jonnie and I separate forever, I still would like to have a brother/sister relationship with her," says Dennis.
"I've had a hard time dealing with the whole brother/sister issue," says Jonnie. "Dr. Phil, I'm still in love with my husband. Should I fight for my marriage, or just live with the heartache and move on?"
"I was in denial all the way until the very end, until the DNA test. I just had no inclination that the gentleman that I thought was my biological father wasn't," Dennis responds.
Dr. Phil makes a clarification. "This is a DNA issue. I think that's what people need to think about as they realize this. What makes your sister your sister at one level is that you share that intimate history with her. Dennis and Jonnie don't have that shared history. "Do you have any moral issues with this?"
"I want to right the wrong. I feel like I've been deceived," says Jonnie. "I want back what I thought I had."
"Now you want this relationship to continue as husband and wife at a romantic level, correct?"
Jonnie nods and asks, "My big question is how do I get past the DNA issues?"
"And you know that children are out of the question. Are you OK with that?" asks Dr. Phil.
"I'm fine with that," says Jonnie.
Jonnie wipes away a tear. "I think I do."
"Are you taking that out on Dennis?"
"I'm not sure what I'm taking out on Dennis," she says.
"I think she is," says Dennis. "After finding out, we actually starting fighting like brother and sister and about the littlest things, but it was just all so enhanced. I couldn't do anything right. And I believe it was because of the resentment [toward] her dad."
"You're not in favor of continuing this relationship on a romantic level, are you?" Dr. Phil asks Dennis.
"I would. If I could get back to the way it was prior to finding out about us being half-brother and sister ... As soon as this came about, everything went haywire," he says.
"I want us to be together," she says. "I want what I thought I had, which I know isn't possible. But I just, I want to make it right. I know I need closure. I need closure from finding out that we're half-brother and sister. The picture was the opening of it and I feel like there can be closure so that we can move and just work on our marriage."
"Are you in denial about the fact that this is your half-brother?" Dr. Phil asks Jonnie.
"She's fully aware," says Dennis.
"I'm aware of it, but I'm really upset," says Jonnie.
Dr. Phil asks Dennis, "So you're OK with the origin of it and you're not bothered by the fact that you share some DNA?"
"I married her, not a bloodline," says Dennis.
But Jonnie is having a hard time moving forward. "I don't think I'm past the DNA fact," she says.
"You are responsible people caught up in a tragic and horrible twist of fate. I can't solve this for you here, but I can tell you you are entitled to have this ball of yarn unravel." Dr. Phil offers them counseling individually and as a couple.
"We appreciate it," says Dennis and Jonnie.