"My husband has not been happy with me since I had children, and he doesn't treat me the way he did when we were first married," reveals Michele, who has been married to Carl for seven years. "When we first met, he couldn't keep his hands off me. I would love for my husband to desire me the way that I do him ... I wouldn't care if
Carl admits that he has an issue with Michele's appearance. "My wife's legs have changed dramatically since I met her. They've gotten larger, less firm and harder for me to cope with. I would not be attracted to my wife if I had met her now," he shares.
When Carl and Michele got married, Michele weighed 155 pounds, and with each pregnancy she gained 80 pounds. She has since lost all of that weight and is within 15 pounds of her wedding weight. "Everything that I have tried, whether I weigh 180 pounds or 130
"I am not comfortable with my wife being naked because of the way her legs look," Carl admits. "I would say I'd rather leave the room than look at my wife's legs ... If she were physically more attractive, I believe I would be more intimate with her."
Up until a month ago, Carl and Michele's three children were sleeping in the same bed as them. "It was a way for my husband to avoid having to spend intimate times with me," Michele believes. "We have received lingerie
"I am an extremely visual person. I objectify women, because I see them as sexual objects. I do double takes when I see a pretty girl walking by," Carl admits. "I really like Elle Macpherson's legs."
Michele points out that there are no overweight people in her family or Carl's. "They are very judgmental of people that are overweight," she notes, referring to Carl's family.
Carl agrees. "My parents have said to Michele that men do not like women who are obese. Knowing my parents, they were absolutely
Michele reveals that this has been a lifelong problem for her, and she has always been embarrassed by her legs. "My legs have prevented me from leading a normal life, in that I do not participate in things that I would love to participate in," she shares through tears. "In my dreams, I would be able to put on a bathing suit and take my kids swimming at the YMCA." She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "I want my husband to be attracted to me the way he used to be. Can you help us?"
When Dr. Phil comments that Carl was comforting Michele while the video was playing, Carl explains, "I really love my wife and have a hard time expressing how I felt. I've been silent about my feelings concerning her legs for basically the first three years of our marriage."
Dr. Phil points out that Carl hasn't really been silent, because his message is coming across through his non-verbal communication. "He's made it very clear to you that he basically finds you visually disgusting," Dr. Phil says to Michele.
"Yes," Michele agrees.
Dr. Phil addresses Carl. "It seems to me to be just a huge contradiction of terms, amazingly superficial, and extremely one-dimensional that you're sitting here saying, 'I want to comfort her, but yet I have chosen,' and it is a choice ... you have chosen to see your wife as visually, physically disgusting. How is that OK?"
"It's not OK," Carl concedes. "How do I get supportive in a way where I can accept my wife for who she is?" He explains that he's not superficial. "I didn't fully understand at first that this was the wedging factor between us."
"The first thing is to get real and acknowledge it," Dr. Phil tells him.
"That's what we're doing now," Carl says.
"Do you recognize this is a choice?" Dr. Phil asks Carl.
"There's no question it's been a choice," Carl says.
Dr. Phil suggests ways for Carl to stop being judgmental of Michele. "The first step is get a full-length mirror, take all of your clothes off and take a good look at yourself," he tells him.
"What do you say to yourself that says, 'I'm going to let this come to the point that this is a wedge between us,' rather than focusing on her loving spirit, her quality as a mother, as a wife, as a companion?" Dr. Phil asks Carl.
"I just have a hard time with the visual aspect of my wife's legs. And the things that it causes me to feel, or how it causes me to act hasn't been, although you say it's a conscious decision, I don't believe it has been," Carl explains. "I think at this point, I've realized that there's something wrong here on my part."
"Absolutely," Carl says.
"Has your family weighed in on [Michele's] legs?" Dr. Phil asks.
"This is something that I know his family weighs in on behind my back. Just like my family did. So this is an issue that I've had since I was a little girl that no one's ever talked about. It's finally on the table," Michele says through tears. "I'm relieved that it's never been a secret. It's been something that was said behind my back, but I want to talk about it." She explains that everyone in her family has thin, tall legs. "To feel like an outcast for a very long time, absolutely I want it to be over with. Now that I have my own kids, I don't want this to go and affect them."
"Body image and self-image are often intertwined," Dr. Phil says to Michele, noting that it shouldn't be that way. "You're not a better person when your weight's down. You're not a worse person when your weight's up, but it changes with you. Your self-worth goes straight down in the tank."
"Absolutely," Michele agrees.
"This has started to spiral out of control for you," Dr. Phil points out, and Michele agrees. He explains that she used to have a career, and she feels that's what attracted Carl to her in the beginning. He repeats a significant statement that Michele told the producers before the show. He says, "'Now, I am just a stay-at-home mom. I used to be really out there and knockin' the long ball, and now I'm just a stay-at-home mom.' And then you go on to say, 'With fat legs.'" He asks her, "Has something happened that your view is distorted of the value of the role that you have right now? Do you realize that those children believe that you get up 30 minutes before they do every morning and let the sun out, turn the world on, make everything work?"
"Yes, I do," Michele says. "I believe I feel that way based on what he has given to me in terms of — not conversation — but I've overheard him on the phone with my sister-in-law, talking about, 'How is she doing? She's watching nine kids, she must be making pretty good money.' And his conversation back to her was, 'Not what she could be making.' And it killed me inside, because even what I'm doing now doesn't feel like it's good enough for him," she explains, voice quavering. "This started as self-image, and I think it is spiraling out of control into other areas, where I'm doubting some aspects of my life that I know could not be more important."
"Whether he likes [your legs] or not, you don't like them," Dr. Phil says. She agrees. "You've worked hard. You're down to the point that if you lose much more weight, you're going to be getting unhealthy."
To Carl Dr. Phil says, "You've got some cleaning up to do. You need to make the decision that saying these things to yourself and to others about your wife is just not a healthy thing to do, and you owe her a huge apology for that. And then, you need to become her partner in helping her resolve an issue that [Michele] wants to resolve." Dr. Phil looks at Michele and says, "I would not go and get my legs fixed for him. Not in a million years. Two wrongs don't make a right." He points out that if Michele qualified for it, she could have surgery to change the
"How do you know if you're a good candidate?" Michele asks.
"You're not right now. And do you know why you're not? The statement about, 'I'm just a stay-at-home-mom,'" Dr. Phil tells her. "Remember back in the day? You were sharp as a tack. You were a doer, and you were a goer."
"I feel that way now. At home, I teach the 5-year-olds the kindergarten program," Michele says. "I think my comment about being just a stay-at-home mom is more of a reflection of how he feels about me, not how I feel about myself."
"If you truly had that confidence, then you would not be so vulnerable to him," Dr. Phil tells Michele. "You've got to get straight with you and recognize that you're letting him hurt you with those judgments, hurt you with those comments, and you've sat there for three years and never said anything about it. That's not OK."
"It's not a comment," Michele says.
"You knew it, and you didn't do anything about it because you didn't think you had the right. You didn't think that you had the confidence. For some reason, you were willing to accept that behavior," Dr. Phil says, instead of standing up for herself. She finally put it on the table when she wrote a letter to the show. "This is a good thing. You read the letter, that was a wake-up call. This is another."
Dr. Phil explains that there are right and wrong reasons to have plastic surgery. "You probably have some right reaso
Dr. Phil tells Carl, "You've got some fences to mend."
"What are the steps that I can do to repair what I've done?" Carl asks Dr. Phil.
"Number one, you've got some major apologizing to do. You really need to say to her, 'I got so self-absorbed. I got so into all of this Elle
"Go to counseling first?" Michele asks.
"You don't need counseling," Dr. Phil stresses to Michele. "There's nothing wrong with you!"