Unforgivable Past: Heather

Unforgivable Past: Heather
Dr. Phil talks to a woman who still struggles to cope with her husband's violent suicide.

"I still can't forgive my husband for something he did to me while I was growing up," says Heather. She lived with her mother until she was 4, and then was moved from foster home to foster home. "I blame my husband Aaron because his family wanted to adopt me when I was young and he wouldn't allow them to," she says. "What I loved about their family was they were loving and caring toward each other and that's what I never had," she says.

Aaron admits that he was selfish. "I figured if they moved her in, then I'd get less things," he says.

Heather remained close to their family, and she and Aaron eventually started dating. "When Aaron and I got married, I felt that here's a family I've always wanted to be a part of and it was my chance," she says. But she struggles to forgive her husband. "This one decision that Aaron made has caused me to resent him and it causes stress in our marriage."

 

Aaron also sees problems in their marriage, but he stands by his decision. "I don't regret what I did and said in the past, because if I wouldn't have, then my parents could have adopted her and I never could have married her," he says.

"So why did you marry him?" Dr. Phil asks Heather.

Heather explains that she didn't have those feelings when she and Aaron were first dating. "As we became a family and started trying to co-habitate ... I realized that I don't know how to be part of a family," she says. "I had to blame someone, and rather than blaming the person that I really should be blaming, which is my mother, I figured I'd blame Aaron."

Addressing Aaron, Dr. Phil asks, "So how do you feel about this?"

"I just want her to feel better and be happy and not hold all these resentments against me from the past," he replies. "I love her more than anything."

"Did you really want to marry Aaron or was this your ticket finally into this family?" Dr. Phil probes.

Heather admits that both were true. "I knew I loved him. We were having a baby," she admits.

"What we're dealing with here is two young people getting married with a ready-made family," Dr. Phil observes, because they had two kids under 2 from the start. "That's a lot of demand."

Turning to Aaron, Dr. Phil says, "Is she just picking on you because you didn't let her get adopted or are you being selfish?"

"I guess I've been pretty selfish in the past," Aaron admits. "Especially when she wanted to get adopted, I was real selfish."

"Do you throw up to her this foster care past?"

When Aaron says no, Dr. Phil takes him to task. "She says you say that 'If you had had a better life growing up, you wouldn't be so f-ed up.' And you've said she should be in an institution ... Is that helping?"

Aaron defends himself. "It's not like I say that in a normal conversation. She's probably flipping out on me and screaming at me for 20 to 30 minutes first."

"Is that exactly the button you want to push?" Dr. Phil asks. "You all have to think about this and have some common sense to set some boundaries and say, 'There are some things that are off limits.'"
"Aren't you being a little hard on him?" Dr. Phil asks Heather. "He was 12 when he said that. When you're 12, you are selfish. When you're 12, you do look at things from your point of view. Is it fair now all of this time later to be hating him, resenting him and punishing him for something he did when he was 12?"

"I think a lot of the issues that we struggle with on a daily basis stem from my core issues, which are the abandonment, the fear and the insecurity," Heather explains. "I believe that if I had been adopted, those issues would've been wiped away."

"But you weren't," Dr. Phil stops her. "You didn't choose for your biological mother to place you in a situation or circumstance where you had to be cared for in the foster system. You didn't choose that. You didn't choose any of those things you went through then, so I'm not saying you are accountable for that. But you are accountable for what you choose now ... You have to decide that you're going to forgive him for what he did when he was 12 years old."

Heather also needs to deal with her issues of abandonment rather than living to her self-criticism.
Dr. Phil advises Heather to find strength in her marriage. "What you two have to do is sit down and make a decision to say, 'What do we want for our family? What kind of environment do we want our children to grow up in?'" Dr. Phil says. Turning to Aaron, he says, "You don't want to be criticizing her, threatening her, putting her down."

The couple needs to follow the principles from Family First in order to create a phenomenal family. They need to come up with a family plan they can live with and create a rhythm in their household. "You didn't have the rituals, the traditions, the rhythms of a family, and so you don't know how to create that now because you have no experience at it," Dr. Phil tells Heather. "You do have a family now and it's yours. You do belong to family. You did not spend your whole life without a family. You just spent part of it without a family," he says. "Now you have one."