Relationship Advice from Dr. Phil McGraw - Ask Oprah's All Stars 103
OWN TV | January 16, 2011
Dr. Phil McGraw is back for another round of "getting real" with America's most burning relationship questions. Dive in to Dr. Phil's one-of-a-kind advice as only he can tell it in the full Q&A from Ask Oprah's All Stars Episode 3:
I've been a bridesmaid 11 times in the past four years. Each wedding has cost around a thousand dollars. I love my friends and I can't say no, so what's the best way for me to save up?-Sara from the Ask Oprah's All Stars studio audience
DR. PHIL: Well, first off, this isn't about sayin' no to your friends. It's about saying yes to yourself. Okay? Because, come on... and let's be honest here. You say you're doin' this because they're great friends and they're altruistic. But isn't the truth that you really like the big show? You like the hair, you like the makeup. You like the dress, you like the show, so you're getting a payoff for this as well, right?
And this other question is, can you afford the ticket to the dance. And you're telling us, no you can't. I mean, across 30 years it'll be $55,000. So how do you say no? You just look at 'em and say, "Listen, I really, I really love you, you're a great friend. I would be tickled to death to be at your wedding, but frankly, I don't have a thousand dollars that it costs to do the dress. But I'll be there. Let me do something else. Let me serve punch, let me do whatever, but I don't have a thousand dollars, and so I'm just gonna have to say to say no, because I can't afford to be a bridesmaid for the thirtieth time in my life."
Is there a way that we can actually come to an agreement on the actual wedding? Am I really being a groomzilla?-Cody from Houston, Texas
DR. PHIL: Well, let's talk about not getting married. Okay? Because if you can't agree on this, you are in for a helluva ride. I'll guarantee you. Now, Cody, you don't wanna pick a fight you can't win. You can't win this fight. Because if you win this fight you lose. If you win the fight and you have a drunken barbecue or whatever it is that you, you decided to have instead of an elegant reception, she will be mad at you about that for the rest of your natural life. And listen, women have a realllly good memory. A really good memory. So, you can't. Wait till your anniversary and throw a big barbecue. Negotiate this out.
When she was five- or six-years-old, 10, 11, 12, she was in her bedroom putting a bath towel on her head, pretending it was her veil. Walking up and down the hallway and doing all of that. Now you come in with a big idea to have a beer bash. It isn't gonna happen, you can't win this fight.
What's the checklist on how to deal with conflict in your family...do you have [any] pointers for it?-Robin Meade, host of Ask Oprah's All Stars
DR. PHIL: I do. First, ask yourself: Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy? Because you have the right to do this. You do, you're part of the marriage. You're 50 percent of the couple, you have the absolute right to do this. Or do you wanna be happy? 'Cause you can't have both on this point.
Sometimes you gotta be the hero. The way I do this with Robin is always said, okay, on a 1 to 10, how big is this for you? And she says, "Well, it's a 9." And I say, "Well for me it's a 2." A 9 wins over a 2.
I'm a single mother of two teenage daughters, and my boyfriend wants to sleep over. Am I sending a bad message if I do that? -Buffy from Cleveland, Ohio
DR. PHIL: Okay, first off, Buffy, the most powerful role model in any child's life is the same sex parent, so that would be you. And in this case you're the only parent that's living with the child, so you're certainly the most powerful role model for these children at this point. So, then I ask myself, okay, role model, you've got teenage girls, which means they've probably hit puberty, so they're probably starting to find different interests in their life, including boys. And so your question is it okay for you to shack up with your boyfriend in the room next door to your kids? Uh, no. Because how are you going to explain to them your decision making when you're asking them to make decisions. Listen, people always say, you know, kids don't listen, they roll their eyes. They may roll their eyes, but they're watching every thing you do, and it will come back to you. Let's see what the audience said.
ROBIN MEADE: Yeah, 73 percent said no, it's not okay for the boyfriend to sleep over.
DR. PHIL: I am stunned. I am stunned that a quarter of this audience thinks it's okay to shack up with your boyfriend next door to your teenage daughters.
DR. OZ: Let me ask you one other question, 'cause I'm a dad so I think about this a little bit. But I've looked at these numbers a little bit, if I understand correctly, probably about 20 percent of kids at some point in their life are exposed to sexual abuse. That's the numbers that I'm looking at. Do you think that's about right?
DR. PHIL: At least.
DR. OZ: All right. So, is it true that it's most likely to happen from a non-relative in the house with them?
DR. PHIL: It's most likely to happen by someone that is known to them. It can be a family member, extended family or it can be a friend. But it's usually someone that is known to them...stranger danger is a small percentage of what really happens in molestation.
ROBIN MEADE: But what you're saying is you're opening up your family to possible abuse because you don't know this person that well?
DR. OZ: Exactly. And they're new in there and the relationship is a sexual one in your home, and there are teenage girl. If it was, you know, infants might be different. But when you have teenage girls in there, all kinds of craziness starts to happen. And that's another word that I had when I heard the question.
We have big arguments over little things all the time and they don't seem to stop. How do we stop "paper cutting" each other?-Tim and Kathryn from Chicago, Illinois
DR. PHIL: here's the thing. You guys have to know that you're getting a huge payoff for this, or you wouldn't do it. People don't do things that they don't get a payoff. You're getting something out of this "paper cut" war, or you wouldn't be doing it. And you've gotta ask yourself: What kinda sick payoff are you getting from this?
You guys have to understand here, you are getting a payoff for this, and it's pathological. It may be fun, but really it starts to accumulate and you start getting on each other's nerves.
Different is good, look, I don't wanna be married to me. I don't wanna roll over in the morning and look at me. I don't wanna be married to somebody that thinks like I do and talks like I do, and acts like I do. You want something different. You've gotta choose to embrace those differences.
Now there's a couple of things I want you to do. Number one, you gotta figure out what your payoff is for this. And, and when you have these exchanges, you've gotta change your objective. Your objective is to get agreement. And as I said to Cody and Azizi earlier, you want to change that so you don't...there's not gonna be a winner and a loser.
And second, you gotta be proportional. You don't wanna just, just go nuts and talk for an hour about everything. And you two need to put a time limit on stuff: "We're gonna talk about this for like three seconds, and then we're gonna move on."
And I want you to do something for me for the next week. Wake up every morning and ask yourself, "What can I do today to make my partner's life better?" And it doesn't have to be flowers or something big, just "What can I do today to make his or her ride through this world a little easier." And don't ask for approval from each other, just do it.
I saw a woman strike her child in a store. I was horrified, but didn't stop her. Now I feel guilty. Should I have said anything?-Allison from Tenafly, New Jersey
DR. PHIL: I think most people would say you wanted more information, right? You wanted more information: Where did they hit the child? How aggressive was it? Now I have to tell you, I am not a fan of spanking, and the country is evenly divided on that. About 50 percent believe spare the rod, spoil the child, and about 50 percent say, no, you shouldn't hit them. I'm one of those that say, no, you shouldn't hit them because I think it creates confusion. It's like, okay, you're supposed to love me and now you're inflicting physical pain on me? I don't get that. There are so many other ways that you can discipline a child, and you don't learn much, you get immediate suppression but there's really no learning that's there.
So, should you say something? Or have they swatted the child? If so, that's probably none of your business even though you disagree with it. But if they're hitting this child aggressively or in anger, they're hitting a child in the face or the head, or they're just hitting them too hard, then you do need to say something. And what do you say? The best thing you could probably do is tell them, say, "Excuse me, ma'am, sir, can I help you in some way? I mean, are you overwhelmed here, are you out of control? Is there something I can do to help you?" And what they're going to do is turn that anger on you and say, "You need to butt out and mind your own business, lady." And if that's what happens, then you need to say, "Okay, look. I'm uncomfortable with what I'm seeing you do here and so..." you're just gonna have to go and find the authorities. Write their license plate number down if you need to, go get a police officer in the store. Go get someone in authority so you can intervene.
Now I believe that the Child Protective Service - when we're talking about molestation of children, or abuse of children, it's what we call a false positive situation. Most situations, that people are innocent till they're proven guilty. I think this is the other way around. I would rather investigate a thousand cases where there is not abuse then fail to investigate one where there is. Listen, trust your gut, particularly parents, you know, if you're a parent, if your gut tells you that's just wrong, trust your gut. Write down the license number, find a policeman. Tell him, and don't care if you're gonna make the person mad. They'll get over it or they won't, I don't care one way or the other. But you have to protect the child. So what you don't wanna do is get physical. Don't put your hands on that child, don't try to separate them, and don't get in an altercation. Use the authorities, use the system: it works.
Hey, All Stars, Arsenio Hall here. And my question is for you, Dr. Phil. I have a friend who's a doctor, he has a very attractive wife...Recently when I was coming out of a restaurant in Malibu, I saw his wife in a car making out with a man - not the doctor. I didn't call. I forgot that I even saw it because I don't wanna get in it, man. I don't wanna mess up nobody's marriage. Am I wrong for swallowing it all? Am I wrong? Am I not being a good friend? I can't wait to hear your answer.-Aresnio Hall
DR. PHIL: There is not a risk-free way to go, and I'll tell you why. If you tell, then the problem is, they may reconcile and then that person that you busted out is gonna really resent you from busting him out. And you're probably gonna wind up loosing a friend outta the deal, and if you don't tell, your friend has got risk of picking up STD's. I mean, if his wife's out sleeping around, I mean, you didn't see her sleeping around, but she's at least swappin' spit with somebody, and that's bad. So, you've got risk. And you gotta ask yourself, where is your loyalty lie? And your loyalty probably lies with your friend. And ask yourself this: If it was the other way around, would you want him to tell you? And I guess that's why the 60 percent of you that voted yes voted yes 'cause you're saying, "I would wanna know." Would you wanna know? You would wanna know. Here's the risk: in the aftermath, if they reconcile, you could be criticized and be on the outs.
Now there is an alternative that wasn't on the Padgett, you didn't have a choice: and that is, you can go talk to her. You can go talk to her and say, "Look, I came out and saw this and I don't like it, and I don't like what you're doin' to my friend. And you need to straighten your butt up and go talk to him, and deal with this in some way." That is an alternative. So, there are risks to telling and not telling, and there is an alternative where you can talk to her.
To my beloved baby boy Bennett. From the day I saw your little face I knew we belonged together. My love for you grew and grew and grew, and it has never stopped growing. Bennett ate a piece of the dangerous Sego Palm plant, and it went into liver failure and I had to put him to sleep four days after being in the emergency room...I don't know if I can ever love another dog the way I loved you. I don't know if my heart is just closed to it, you were an extension of me and...I had such a hard time having to face the truth. Dr. Phil, other people eventually get over the loss of their pet and they're even able to adopt a new one right away. Why can't I get over the death of Bennett?-Karen from the Ask Oprah's All Stars studio audience
DR. PHIL: First, I am sorry for your loss. I'm a huge, huge animal lover. When you think about it, dogs are so noble because they have one purpose in life, and that's to companion us, to protect us, to be there...they're born and their whole focus is you, right? You all shared so much. People grieve differently and I hate to use words that you will "get over it." I mean, what's that mean? You'll never forget this dog, he'll always have a place in your heart. There will always be a sense of loss, but it does change across time. And what I would tell you is that this dog brought so many days and hours of joy to you, and right now you're focusing on the one day that he died. And that's not fair to him. I mean, he was a great dog, right? He gave you so much joy you don't wanna focus just on the day that he died: focus on all the joy that he brought you. Should you get another dog now? No. You're clearly not ready. You aren't through with this relationship yet. Dogs aren't just exchangeable, they have personalities. You had a bond with this dog. So, you wanna really give yourself a chance to heal and then get another dog. 'Cause you're obviously great with dogs, and, and you love them.
KAREN: How will I know when I'm ready [to get another dog]?
DR. PHIL: You will know. People grieve differently for people, for dogs, and you don't - that's not how you grieve. And the time will come where your heart is open to having another animal. And I tell people, always adopt, don't buy pets. I adopted my pet, and I've had her for five years and she's my constant companion. Too many dogs are, are being euthanized. Don't go out and buy a dog, adopt a dog. I thank you for doing that, and the time will come when you'll do it again. Don't rush yourself, it'll come.
ROBIN MEADE: It was so heartbreaking to hear that this dog ate a Sego Palm. What is a Sego Palm?
So, Phil, how do you tell people if they've got bad breath? Without getting them to hate you for the rest of your life?-Dr. Oz
DR. PHIL: Anytime you're dealing with somebody that has something like that, or it's body odor, or something else, what you've gotta do is be as gentle as you possibly can. Of course you do it privately. And you pull 'em to the side and say, "Listen, can I be honest with you about something? Because I would want you to be honest with me about this. Um, you, you have either body odor or bad breath, or whatever, and you know, "please don't think that I'm being critical because as Dr. Oz says that this can be a warning sign of something." Whether it's stress or health or, or some type of bacteria, or something like that, so listen, if you're a true friend, don't you tell a friend if they've got broccoli in their teeth? A friend will tell you that. And so you just have to do it, but you have to do it gently.
My 16-year-old daughter is having sex, but she made me promise not to tell her dad-slash-my husband. I don't want to betray the ounce of trust I have with my daughter, but I feel like I'm lying to my husband. What should I do?-anonymous email via oprah.com
DR. PHIL: Your daughter is 16, her brain isn't even through growing yet. She doesn't know how to predict the consequences of her actions, 'cause that's the last part of the brain that grows. So you've made a deal with the person least equipped to contemplate the consequences of their action. And your deal is to deceive your husband.
And as a husband, I can tell you that if you made that deal with a daughter of mine and withheld that from me, you and I would have a serious, serious problem. So, you shouldn't have made the deal. You need to go to your daughter and say you shouldn't have made the deal.That youre not gonna keep the deal, and you're gonna need to give her the option to go to her father and come clean with him. And then you need to be focused on what in the world she's doin' having sex at 16.
You're talkin' about whether to tell your husband or not? You didn't say a word about what to say to your daughter about having sex when she's 16. What are you thinkin'? I mean, seriously what are you thinking? This is like being lost in the woods and there's a whole group of you and you say, "Okay, who's the most confused, disoriented person here?" Somebody says, "Well, I am." "Great, we'll follow you." That's what you're doin' here. Stop being a friend, start being a parent, square things up with your daughter. Tell your husband and start dealing with why she's having sex.
Well, Dr. Phil, what's your action plan for all of us for the week? -Robin Meade, host of Ask Oprah's All Stars
DR. PHIL: Well, my action plan for the week is this: It's really important that we have continuity in our lives. And I think that sometimes we forget where we've come from. I would like for you to find somebody in your life that you haven't talked to for a long time, and connect with them.
Reach out in some way and find somebody that - maybe it's somebody from school, a job you used to have; somebody that you felt good about in your life at some point and just call 'em up and give 'em a hug over the phone. Go see 'em if they're around, connect with somebody from your past that will give you some continuity about how you are and where you've come from.