Will My Mother-in-Law Destroy My Marriage: all three

Three's a Crowd
Dr. Phil asks Rheta to realize that she has made some serious mistakes, specifically striking her husband out of anger. “Any parent with half a brain is going to object to someone who physically attacks their children,” he says, defending Deb’s feelings. “You have to own some of this [feud with Deb] as well.”

“I do,” Rheta responds.

“You two need to grow up,” Dr. Phil tells Rheta and Mark. He turns to Deb and says, “And you need to give them the chance to do it.”

“I want to,” Deb replies.

Dr. Phil tells Deb that she should only go over to Mark and Rheta’s place when invited, and refrain from giving her opinion about its cleanliness unless she’s asked. 

Rheta points out a time when Deb ran her finger along the window blinds to check for dirt.

“Your daughter has allergies, am I right?” Deb asks Rheta. “And don’t you know that you were told —”

Dr. Phil interrupts and says to Deb, “Listen. You’ve got to have some insight here. You just said the key words: your daughter.”   

“My granddaughter,” Deb responds.
 
Dr. Phil gives Deb a reality check!
 

Deb accuses Dr. Phil’s staff of sensationalizing her words in interviews, which doesn’t sit well with him.

“I need you to please explain that to me because that is offensive to me, and it is offensive to my staff,” Dr. Phil tells Deb.

“I did not say, 'I * hate that bitch,'” Deb tells Dr. Phil.

[AD]Mark stands up to his mother. “You told me that you * hate my wife,” he tells Deb. “Those were your exact words. We’re trying to get to a point of healing here, where this stops. This is not healthy.” 

“So, which of you is telling the truth?” Dr. Phil asks Mark and Deb.

As Deb wavers, she says, “I’m not an evil person.” 

“OK. But you don’t do that by attacking my staff,” Dr. Phil says.


In a previously-recorded interview, Deb explains how she found a composition book with a hurtful journal entry while recently watching her grandchildren at Mark and Rheta’s place. “I felt like [Rheta] left it there on purpose so that I would read it,” she says. Deb claims that the entry called her family “toxic, moral, fake Christians.” She admits to writing comments on the page and then tearing it out of the book. “I have no idea if she even knows it’s missing.”

Onstage, Dr. Phil mentions the book, calling it a journal, and Deb interjects, saying, “It’s not a journal.” Rheta rolls her eyes.

While explaining the note, Deb complains that Mark and Rheta automatically assume that she’ll watch their kids whenever necessary. “I wholeheartedly, gladly with my heart, want to be there to watch the kids,” she says, while the audience laughs. “It’s not funny,” she says defensively.

“No. It’s not,” Dr. Phil agrees. “I’ll tell you why it’s not [funny]: because there are children involved, who are caught in the crossfire here, and that’s very tragic.”

Dr. Phil tells the group that they all have to be willing to hear some things they don’t want to hear in order to move forward and reach a peace. He turns to Deb and says, “You have made some serious violations of boundary, in my opinion.” He tells Rheta, “You have been ridiculously inappropriate,” referring to her hitting Mark during a fight. “And you,” he says to Mark, “sit there like you’re a passenger, [saying], ‘Gee, I wish they would get along.’ It is your job to step up, man-up and be involved with your wife.”

Dr. Phil tells Deb that she has to be willing to let Mark and Rheta work out their marital problems on their own. “You don’t have a conversation with [Mark] about getting on a dating website. You don’t talk to him about going to a [AD]divorce lawyer. You don’t talk to him about hooking up with an ex-girlfriend from high school,” he tells her. “Those things are inappropriate.” 

“I have totally backed off,” Deb says.

“The enabling needs to stop,” Mark says. He explains that his brother, Travis, is struggling with drug addiction, and Deb has enabled him by giving him a job. “This is what led me to my addiction,” he says. “Stop; cut it,” he tells his mom.


In a previous interview, Rheta explains a request by Deb, which made her uncomfortable: Deb wanted to bury Mark’s younger sister, Rachel — who was killed in a car crash  — in Rheta’s wedding gown. “Deb couldn’t find a dress that was appropriate to put on Rachel in her coffin,” she says. “I didn’t really think. I just said, ‘OK. If that’s what you want to do.” Rheta admits that she later felt uneasy about the request. “I was sad that I didn’t have that to hold on to [and show my daughters someday],” she adds.

Back onstage, Deb says, “I never knew she felt that way. If she would’ve told me, ‘Deb, no,’ I would’ve respected that. To me, that was a beautiful gift from her.”

Rheta clarifies that she didn’t feel sad when she was first asked about giving up her dress. “We were all grieving [at that time]. I loved Rachel too,” she says. “I didn’t even think about it, and it hit me later on … I kind of had this period of grief about it.” She also says she never considered the request a malicious act on Deb’s part. “I haven’t lost a child. I don’t know what kind of a [mental] state I would be in if I lost one of my babies. So, I don’t want to make it look like I was judging her for that.”

“If you would’ve told me no, I would’ve totally understood,” Deb tells Rheta.

Dr. Phil tells Deb that he doesn’t want to see her lose any more of her children, like Mark or her currently drug-addicted son, Travis.

“I can’t do that again,” Deb says.

Dr. Phil tells Deb that if she were to approach him about helping Travis, the first thing he would do is excuse Travis, and talk to her. “There’s no rehabilitation or intervention that I could do with him that you wouldn’t undo — unintentionally — by enabling [him],” he tells her. “You are one of the biggest obstacles for [Mark] overcoming his addiction and claiming some true sobriety [AD]in his life at this point because he’s enmeshed with you. You live too much through him. He’s too involved.” He tells Deb that she needs to get Travis help immediately. “The sun should not set another night before you take that boy out of the game and get him where he needs to be to have a chance to stay alive,” he says adamantly. He says that giving him money, cars and a place to live is just enabling him. “You might as well just stick the needle in his arm.”