Was Our Marriage a Mistake: Where Are the Fireworks?

Was Our Marriage a Mistake: Where Are the Fireworks?
Dr. Phil speaks with newlyweds about their turbulent first year.
After six months of dating, Ben proposed to Stacey in front of her entire family at her college graduation dinner. "Everyone knew about the proposal before I did," says Stacey. "And I think I said yes because I didn't want to let anyone down." Although she was unsure during the engagement period, she attributed it to having cold feet.

During the ceremony, Stacey felt she was putting on a show for everyone. "I feel like I made a huge mistake," says Stacey. "I just don't feel that spark. I don't have the emotional connection with Ben that I think a married couple should have. I have had dreams about cheating on him and sometimes I'm just not physically attracted to him."

Stacey recently broke down and told Ben she wanted a divorce. "On paper, my husband has all the qualities that I equate with love, but you just can't put chemistry or sparks on paper." Stacey asks Dr. Phil how to tell if she's really in love with her husband.

Dr. Phil asks Ben what he wants. "She was everything I ever wanted," says Ben, who fell in love with Stacey "almost immediately." He tells Dr. Phil, "I want us to work through it, and try and be that couple we wanted to be when we first met, what we envisioned us being."

"Well, let's go to the worst-case scenario first. Do you want to be with somebody who doesn't want to be with you?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No," says Ben.

"So, if in fact this is really how she feels, you wouldn't want to invest another two, three, four, five, six, 10 years in a relationship with somebody that doesn't want to be with you?" he asks.

Ben replies, "I love her too much to do something like that. And I know that I shouldn't be with someone who doesn't want to be with me, but there was something there in the beginning."

Stacey says she doesn't know what she feels, and that she questions it every day. Dr. Phil asks her, "Do you have an unrealistic expectancy about what it's supposed to feel like? Because there's a big difference between falling in love and being in love. Are you expecting some kind of fireworks every day that aren't there?" he asks.

"No, no, not at all," says Stacey. She explains that when they were dating, they'd only see each other on the weekends, and although it was exciting to see Ben, she's not sure it was that "in love" feeling. "He's not the type of person that I ever saw myself being with," she says.

Dr. Phil asks her what she wants to do. "I don't know," says Stacey. "I don't want to be shallow and just end things. I think he's a wonderful person."

"Well, that sounds like half of a sentence. 'I think he's a wonderful person...' and what is the second half of the sentence?" asks Dr. Phil.

Stacey struggles to answer. "I don't know," she says quietly, wiping tears from her face.

"Let me tell you what I think," Dr. Phil says. "First off, I don't think you have the right to quit this marriage at this point. Because I think that you have to earn your way out of it if you're going to get out of it. And that means you have to be willing to turn over every stone with yourself and with Ben. Is this something about you that you just can't connect? Wouldn't you hate to get rid of Ben, and get into the next one and find out the common denominator is you?" he asks.

"Yes," Stacey replies.

Dr. Phil continues: "And that you had a great guy who loved you a lot, but you for some reason couldn't experience, because of something in you, what you wanted to experience with another person. And then you find out, 'Well, I went through Ben and Bob and Tom before I figured out it was me, I could've hung on to a great guy that loved me and had amazing patience.' Amazing patience," stresses Dr. Phil.

"I know that he does," Stacey agrees.

"I don't think you have the right to string him along," states Dr. Phil.

"I think you've got to get the guts to either do the work and get in this marriage, or do the work and find out that you owe it to him to let him go. Because you're burning daylight for him," says Dr. Phil. "I'm telling you what he is too kind to tell you right now. And that is you don't have a right to waste his life."

He turns to Ben, "If in fact she said, 'I don't love you, I will never love you.' Wouldn't you rather know that today than a year from now?" asks Dr. Phil.

Ben agrees. Dr. Phil asks them, "If I give you, as a couple, some specific things to do over a two-week period — it takes a lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of time — will you do it?" They agree. "I'm going to give you something to walk you through. It's a book I've written called Relationship Rescue." In the book there are exercises to work through, including "The Five Tough Questions" everyone should ask themselves to help them get real about their relationship. To Stacey, he asks, "And if you get to the point when you can honestly say, 'I can't give you what you deserve,' are you going to have enough integrity to step up and say so?"

"Definitely," she replies.