Robert and Caitlin both say their seven-year marriage has been filled with arguing, physical fighting and verbal abuse. They admit that oftentimes, their outbursts occur in front of their 4- and 7-year-old children. Watch more of their story here and here. And, hear a conversation that Robert had with his 7-year-old daughter after he and Caitlin got into a fight, where he tells the child, “I think the best thing that could happen is your Mom passes away.”

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After Dr. Phil tells the couple that their behavior can be considered abusive toward their children, he sheds light on how children feel when they watch their parents fight.

“She’s thinking somehow this is my fault,” Dr. Phil tells Robert of how their daughter may be processing the fighting she witnesses.

“She does blame herself a lot,” Robert agrees.

WATCH: How A 4- And 7-Year-Old React To Their Parents’ Fighting

“And the other thing she’s thinking is ‘My world could come crashing down at any second,” Dr. Phil continues. He explains that children feel like their parents are an island in the middle of the ocean and to the extent that he or she feels safe and secure, the child can swim a little ways out.

“If she knows that island is going to be there, she can swim a little further because she knows she can always come back. But if she thinks it’s not secure, she can go out a little ways and turn around, and it’s gone, and she’s just adrift,” he explains in the video above. “And when it’s volatile, when she doesn’t know from one minute to the next, one day to the next whether it’s just all going to blow up and be gone, then she never develops the self-esteem, never the self-confidence, never the self-worth to go out into the world and feel confident, because she knows she has a solid base of operations that she can always go back to. Because she never knows when you two are going to blow it the hell up.”

This episode of Dr. Phil airs Monday. Watch more here.

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