Relationship Advice from Dr. Phil McGraw - Ask Oprah's All Stars
OWN TV | January 03, 2011
Dr. Phil McGraw—one of Oprah's favorite tell-it-like-it-is experts—says, "It's time to get real America."
"Right now, I am concerned about the trickle-down in America. There's a lot of pressure from finances, a lot of people are worried about economics, and that trickles down into relationships, pressure in the home, how kids are treated, our entitled generation. I want people to go away with some tools so they can make a difference."
On Ask Oprah's All Stars, where nothing is off limits or too embarrassing, Dr. Phil is helping viewers make this the year to start living their best life.
Dr. Phil has the answers to your toughest questions:
I've been married for 14 years and separated from my husband for a year. He had an affair for six months, and after a year, he's asked to come back. I really would like some tools or some advice from you about what I can do or what I should do.
Dr. Phil: Let me be honest here. First, I don't know him. He's not here, so I can't speak specifically about what you should do with him because he's not here. And I don't care how flat you make a pancake–it's got two sides. And I am sure there's another side that he would be telling us about. I'm not sure I would care, but he would be telling us about it.
But here's the deal. Can marriage survive infidelity? Of course it can. It can, but you have to really work at this. And a few things have to happen. Number one, you will never ever get past this. Never ever, [not] even almost, unless and until you believe that he totally gets what he did to you. And when you see in him that he gets what it does to you for him to do what he did, then you can begin to start building back. Until then, no.
And then he's got to be willing to do several things. Number one, he's got to be willing to cut all contact with her. I don't care if they work at the same place. One of them has got to go. No more contact. He's got to be an open book. And you've got to make a decision whether you're ever willing to forgive him or not. Because if not, it's a life sentence, and it will make both of you absolutely crazy.
He's got to earn his way back, but remember this: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
You've heard of the 40-year-old virgin. How about the 52-year-old virgin? That's me. I haven't really dated for the last 30 years. Most of my life as an adult, I've been overweight. [At] my highest weight, I was tipping just under 300 pounds. ...I started on a regimen to eat better and eat healthier, and in the process, I have lost almost 100 pounds.
Even though I feel more confident, I still have those times where I feel insecure, and I feel those stings of rejection. I don't want to be a virgin forever. Dr. Phil, how do I get through this maze of how to date? And how do I get through the insecurity of feeling that rejection?
Dr. Phil: You've got to get in the game. You've got to get out there where people can discover you, where they can see you, where they can find out about your sense of humor and your warm heart and everything about that. And to that end, I want you to meet some people.
Make sure you're not giving off signals that tell people to stay away. You want to tell people, "Hey, listen, I am here, and I am happy to meet somebody." Let me give you a couple of tips:
Number one: Make eye contact. Seriously, look these boys in the eye because eyes tell you a lot. And you will connect with them that way.
Number two: When it comes to guys, their favorite topic is them. So, ask questions about them. They will think, "Oh, wow, I am the most interesting person in the world." They'll love the way you make them feel.
Number three: Have fun. Dating should be fun. It's serious if you're headed for a relationship, but the process should be fun. So, have some fun. You've got a great personality.
My kids make fun of me because I am afraid of germs. ... My hands are very chapped from washing them constantly. If I touch a doorknob, I will have to wash my hands. If I read the newspaper, I will have to wash my hands.
Do you think my fear of germs is justified or am I overreacting?
Dr. Phil: Interestingly enough, this probably isn't about germs. It's probably about control, stress and anxiety. You are focusing on something you think you can control, but there's a real paradox here: People with germ phobias live in filth because they are afraid to touch things they need to pick up and clean.
But there are things you can do about this. It's really mostly about anxiety, and you can take medication for that. I don't recommend that, but you can. There are also treatments for this such as cognitive behavior therapy and something called systematic desensitization, where we teach you to control the anxiety. They help the anxiety go away, and you no longer need a target to dump it on.
Out of my four kids, my youngest is 10, and she is still sleeping in the bed with me at night. How do I get her out?
Dr. Phil: I can tell you that there aren't bad effects from letting a child sleep in their parents' bed. Common sense says otherwise. Common sense says that you are going to raise a child that's too connected to the parent—who's going to be a mama's boy or mama's girl or whatever. And I tend to agree with that, but the evidence is really to the contrary. It doesn't correlate with poor independence. It doesn't correlate with low self-esteem. It doesn't correlate with bad social skills.
Now, the question is this: It is not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when." At some point, you want to get the kids out of the bed. Selfishly, you may want them out of the bed right now because it gets in the way of your ability to be intimate with your partner, even talking when they're there. It can crowd a marriage.
If you do want the child out of the bed, Vanessa, then just simply do this: You've got to kind of say, "Look, it's time to be a big girl. It's time to be a big girl. It's time to be in your own bed. So, let's talk about that." Make a decision, and you can ease your way into it. But you haven't scarred the child, Vanessa.
We have three beautiful children. Moriya is 3 years old. The problem we are having is she doesn't want to go to bed at night. When it's bedtime, she screams and cries and yells sometimes 45 minutes to an hour before she actually falls asleep. Dr. Phil, please tell us how to help Moriya fall asleep.
— Tamika and Rodney
Dr. Phil: First off, the two of you have to work as a unit. You've got to say: We are going to do this together. We are going to both get up at 2:30 a.m. to take her back to bed, if that's what we have to do. We are going to both put her to bed at 8:30 p.m., if that's what we have to do. Then, you've got to make her room inviting. Make it as inviting as you possibly can, and you want a very strong ritual of putting her to bed. A very strong ritual.
And you don't want to go from running around the house and playing tag to going to bed. In the 30 minutes leading up to bedtime, start really winding down. Start getting her physiology calmed down, and then have a ritual where you can talk with her, where you can love on her. You can tell her a story. You can do all different sorts of things that kind of mark that it's time. Make sure she goes to the bathroom right before she goes to bed, whether she says she needs to or not. No toys in the bed other than something that she might hug, but don't make it a wonderland in there with lots of distractions and don't lie down with her. And, listen, you don't want her ever watching more than an hour or two of television a day. Don't do that. And no TV at night, because this gets her brain going. We don't think television gets your brain going, but it does. So, you need a strong ritual. Calm down leading up to it, and be consistent.
When you have this kind of confrontation, don't ever, ever lose. Once you draw the line in the sand, if you just have to go commando and don't get any sleep for a week, you will get it done. Then it will be over with.
David and I were married about 12 years ago. Since that time, we have probably put on about 100 pounds, with me putting on the bulk of it. The same thing has happened to my son and his wife. We've been together for about two years now, and I've gained about 25 pounds, and he's gained about 100 pounds. I'm worried about Danny's health because he's gained so much weight so fast.—Amy
Dr. Phil: Let me tell you guys, the hardest thing I think people face is when you try to do this by will power, because it's the first of the year now, and everybody is excited. And, "Come on, we're going to do it."
I got some new jogging shoes, and I put them on the porch, and the damn things just won't jog. They just won't go. You can't do it by will power because the middle of February, it's going to be cold, and you are going to be sick of it. And you are not going to want to do it.
The only way you are going to succeed is if you change your lifestyle, and you set up your environment to program you for success. You got to make an appointment with yourself every single day, and you got to keep it, and you have got to have accountability to someone besides yourself.
Clean up your environment. You can't eat it if it's not there. The chances of you driving to 7-Eleven to get some Oreos is pretty low, but if they are on the counter, they are history. You know it and I know it. So, you've got to program your environment, and set up a lifestyle that pulls you up when you don't. The question is: Are you going to do it when you don't? Are you going to avoid those foods? Are you going to exercise? Are you going to do the things you need to do?
And lastly, let me tell you, to set a realistic goal. Right now, an overweight Body Mass Index is 25. A guy like you, if you get down to 25, you're going to be underweight. Don't do that. You're too big. Pick an ideal body weight that's realistic and go for that. So, don't try to get back to where you were when you were 17 because you are not, I'm sorry.
Dr. Phil, the majority of people who make New Year's resolutions break them. So, can you help us here?
— Robin Meade, host of Ask Oprah's All Stars
Dr. Phil: There are three things that you need to do. First, make sure it's a measurable goal. I mean, don't just be talking about, "Oh, I'm going to do better." What does that mean? Have a measurable goal.
Second, set a timetable and put in well-defined, small steps. You can't do it all in one big leap. [Say] here's what I am going to do first, then second, then third.
And lastly, find somebody you can be accountable to: your mom, a friend, somebody who every Friday is going to hold your feet to the fire.
My resolution is to slow down and enjoy the ride a little more. I will tell you what made me think about that. I've got a new granddaughter, and she is spectacular. I want to slow down and really enjoy her.