Was Our Marriage a Mistake: The Deal Breaker

Was Our Marriage a Mistake: The Deal Breaker
Dr. Phil speaks with newlyweds about their turbulent first year.
Brooke and Dave have only been married 11 months, but their relationship is far from bliss. "I want Dave to admit he's an alcoholic," says Brooke. "When Dave drinks, he gets belligerent. It's like he has split personalities." Brooke recalls an incident before they were married. She came home from work early to find their 1-year-old son asleep, and Dave partying in a nearby apartment. "At that point I said, 'It's over,'" says Brooke, and they split up.

That's when Dave went into a treatment program. "Treatment was the stupidest thing I've ever been through," says Dave. "I felt like I shouldn't have been there." Believing Dave had changed, Brooke married Dave, but it wasn't long before the past started to become the present.
Although Dave doesn't believe he has a drinking problem, Brooke says, "Dave does not see the pattern as clearly as I do. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic."

Dave believes Brooke is living in the past, and he resents her trying to control him. "She wants to know what I'm doing, where I'm going, how I'm getting there, and when I'm going to be back. I have a curfew. Nine o'clock on the dot, and if I am here at 9:01 she is pissed," says Dave. "I feel exactly like a kid. It is ridiculous."

"I cannot get over the damaging things that have happened in the past because of the alcohol and I'm never going to forget them," says Brooke, who turns to Dr. Phil for help. "I want my marriage to work and to live happily ever after. The only way that is going to happen is if Dave stops drinking and I can learn to trust him again."

Dr. Phil begins by asking Brooke, "You had this controversy about the drinking before you got married, right? But in your youthful optimism, you thought you fixed it?" Brooke agrees.

Dr. Phil asks Dave, "Did you ever honestly think you had a drinking problem?"

"At the beginning I did," he responds. "Before we got married I did, and I tried to handle the situation."

"Were you what you considered an alcoholic?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Yes," Dave replies.

Dr. Phil asks, "But now, you can drink and handle it, that's your theory?" Dave agrees. "So, you're going to be the one example in the history of the world that can be a cured alcoholic?" asks Dr. Phil. "I look at these things just in terms of markers. Things happen to people with an alcohol problem that don't happen to people who don't have an alcohol problem." For example, Dr. Phil tells Dave: "You promised to quit and then started again. You left one time and said, 'I'll be back in 30 minutes,' and you got back at 4:30 in the morning."

Dr. Phil continues: "You came home at 4:30 in fact, with bullet holes in the car." He turns to the audience, "Everybody that's come home with bullet holes in the car, raise your hand. OK. Does that tell you, statistically, there could be a problem here?"

Dr. Phil continues: "And you left your 1 1/2-year-old son alone while you were drinking at a neighbor's house. And now you drink almost every day of the week. And you said that treatment was just total bull."

"It wasn't treatment in general, it might have been the facility I was going to," explains Dave.

Dr. Phil asks Brooke what she thinks. "I repeat myself over and over with him," she says. "I try to philosophize with him in an adult manner and I can't get through to him that way so sometimes I treat him like he's 5 because he acts like it."
Dr. Phil asks Dave a series of questions: "You say she keeps bringing up the past, right?" Dave agrees. "But haven't you had serious problems with alcohol in the past? And haven't you introduced alcohol into the present? So haven't you bridged the past to the present? And doesn't that then make sense that she would have all those bad memories of bullet holes in the car, son left unsupervised, belligerent, drunk episodes ...? Listen, whether you do this for her or whether you don't, you need to hear what I'm saying. You have an alcohol problem," Dr. Phil tells Dave.

He turns to Brooke, "And to me, if you're living with someone who has an alcohol or drug addiction, that's a deal-breaker. It's a drop dead deal-breaker. Because you're not dealing with Dave, you are dealing with the alcohol ... You can't choose whether he does

this or not. What you can choose is what you subject yourself to."

Turning to Dave, Dr. Phil says, "Whether you think it's psychological or physical or whatever, some people just can't drink. And you've got to make a decision whether you're going to get real about that or you're going to destroy this marriage."