"I drink, and Mike isn't happy with it," Cindy says in videotaped interview. "I drink when I don't even want to drink. I don't want that control over me, so I rebel against it. It's the one thing I'm holding on control over, and he's wanting to take it away. Even though it isn't healthy for me, I need to control something."
"This dynamic may not be working," Dr. Phil says, pointing to her and Mike, "but pouring alcohol on top of it, if it's rebellion or whatever, that doesn't help."
"No, it's not healthy for me," she agrees. "It seems like it's the only time that I can really have a voice though. I'm able to have this liquid voice, that I can say how I feel, and so I'm able to stand up to Mike."
Dr. Phil shows a clip from a home video Cindy made:
"Dr. Phil, this is a normal night. I come home and have a bottle of wine," she says." Today, he was so terrible to me, and I just accept it. I try to protect him, to the point I was going to write you a letter and say, â€˜It's not him; it's me.' Everyone wants me to leave him. I do not know how, because I'm his only friend. I can't do that to him."
Mike explains that he left his wife in Palm Springs that Thanksgiving because she embarrassed him with her drinking. "What happens is I get frustrated, and then I get angry, and I left," he says.
Cindy says she doesn't drink every night and doesn't drink when she's around her family. "When I'm with him, I feel like drinking," she says.
[AD]"You said when you were at rehab away from him, you were at your happiest," Dr. Phil says.
"I was," she says. "I made good, healthy decisions for myself, and I went to yoga every day, and I swam every day, and I prayed every day, and I enjoyed that."
"He says you like to play the victim and manipulate people," Dr. Phil says.
"Sometimes I think I do. I think I feel I'm a victim," she says.
Three years ago, Cindy lost her father and Mike lost his job. She says that's when things began falling apart. As Mike got more controlling, she started drinking more, eating more and spending money they didn't have.
When asked for his theory, Mike says he thinks he controls Cindy because she makes choices that hurt her, such as drinking too much. Dr. Phil points out that Mike also acts controlling with wait staff in restaurants.
Cindy brings up what happens if they go see a movie: "I go in and pick out a seat in the theater, he gets popcorn, and I know immediately when he gets into the theater, he will make us move to another seat. Without a doubt, I know that we will be moving to another seat because it doesn't matter what seat I choose in that theater, it's not the right one," she says.
[AD]"You can't tell me you don't have insight into this," Dr. Phil says to Mike, "that you don't get that this is not OK."
"It's a big theater. There are six people in the theater, and they come and sit down right behind us!" Mike explains.
"But it happens every time," Dr. Phil says. "It happens at every restaurant, every theater."
Dr. Phil asks Cindy, "Is this marriage going to work if he continues to do this?"
"He has to accept me and not try to change me. He has to back off and let me breathe, let me see what it is I want for myself," she says.
Dr. Phil guesses that Cindy has never been on her own without a man, that she married young and went from one marriage to her second marriage and to her third marriage in succession. She affirms that's correct.
"Do you feel like you need to have a man in your life?" he asks.
"I do," she says.
Dr. Phil says the couple feeds into each other's flaws. Cindy has a need to be in a relationship, and Mike has a need to control his environment, and together they play into each other's bad points.
Mike notes that Cindy can be controlling as well. Dr. Phil agrees. "Trust me, you're aggressive, and she's passive-aggressive. She sabotages you like you wouldn't believe," he says. "If you don't change this dynamic, you're going to be divorced, and [Cindy's] going to be on to [her] fourth husband. She's going to replace you before dark, because she doesn't know any other way to live."
Dr. Phil tells the couple a parent/child relationship will never work. He tells Mike, "You've got to be willing to recognize, â€˜I've got to back off' â€¦ You've got a free-floating anxiety, and you are dealing with it by trying to control her in your external world. If you will deal with your anxiety, instead of just placing it on her and others, this will be over in a short period of time. You can be happy." He tells Cindy, "You can get a grip on your drinking and stop acting like a rebellious teenager."
[AD]Dr. Phil offers Mike help with his anxiety.