The Widlunds' Emotional Debt
Dr. Robin says Marnie's out of control spending and careless financial choices are rubbing off on her teenage daughters, Victoria and Gracie. Victoria admits her attention often gets diverted away from academics and her grades aren't what she'd like them to be. "I just get tempted to go tanning or shopping or just do other stuff," she says.
No matter what boundaries Marnie initially sets, when Gracie and Victoria break the rules and overspend, they know they won't have to face any consequences. "My mom can't stick to what she says," Gracie says. Dr. Robin tells Marnie not only do the girls consider her a pushover, they also know they can't trust her word.
"It's neglectful to not give our children boundaries," Dr. Robin says. "Boundaries are a form of love."
Marnie, like many parents, says she feels torn between giving her children everything and giving them a strong work ethic. "The saddest part is you have the best intentions," says Marnie. "Your intentions are to give your children everything and you want them to be successful."
Oprah says Marnie, like many others, is living her life unconsciously—never thinking about the consequences of her actions. "If you just give your kids everything, what are you intending to do by that action?" Oprah asks Marnie. "There's no intention without a consequence. For every action, there is going to be an equal and opposite reaction. That is physical law [as well as] a spiritual law."
Marnie says she was never denied anything growing up and never had to face any negative consequences—but Dr. Robin says otherwise. "You are paying the consequences right now," Dr. Robin points out to Marnie. "The fact that [your parents] did not have boundaries ... that is a form of neglect that you have now passed on."
"As much as we care about each other and love each other, we've gotten to a point where we have pulled into complete different directions, and either avoid conflict or fight to be right," Marnie says.
When Dr. Robin asks them, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be in a marriage?" Mark and Marnie both say they want to patch things up. Dr. Robin wants the Widlunds to understand that the source of their conflict isn't about money—it's in their marriage—and it's dangerous.
"[You're] not being very respectful of each other as husband and wife," Dr. Robin tells them. "It is another form—and I really want you to hear this word—of neglect, and can become abusive. It is neglectful of you with your children and with your union, meaning your marriage."
Dr. Robin suggests Mark learned to retreat from problems before forming his relationship with Marnie. "You learned somewhere in your history that the ways in which you love someone is to also not have boundaries," she tells Mark. "And when it doesn't work out, you check out."
Marnie's angry outbursts also keep Mark shutdown. "I don't want to get her angry about it," Mark says. "She's scary. She'll lash out at me." Does Marnie know he's afraid of her anger? "Of course!" she says.
Instead of giving up and keeping quiet, Dr. Robin says Mark needs to take the power back and be aware of his reactions. If not, Mark and Marnie's marriage could be headed for disaster. "It's one of the surest ways to kill a marriage—that kind of silence," says Dr. Robin. "Because underneath it is such rage."
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