Why It's Never Too Late For 'Premarital' Counseling (Even After Years Of Marriage)

06/10/2015 01:51 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2016

Sarah says her husband Jason, a pastor, can be controlling — wanting to always know where she’s going, listening to her phone conversations and checking her social media accounts — but she says she wants to make her eight-year marriage work.

Jason admits he can be a jerk but says he doesn’t know why he acts the way he does. “I can be controlling and manipulative,” he says. “I want to know what’s happening, when it’s happening, why it’s happening. There have been times I’ve been verbally abusive … Why I act that way, I don’t know. But I know that I shouldn’t.” They turn to Dr. Phil for help.

Dr. Phil tells the couple that relationships continually need to be negotiated to meet the needs of both people. “There’s a formula for success in a relationship,” Dr. Phil says in the video above, “and the formula is this: It’s a function of how well it meets the needs of the two parties involved. In order for it to be successful, you need to learn what her needs are and make it your life’s mission to meet them. And you need to learn what his needs are and make it your life’s mission to meet them.” He explains that marriage is not a 50/50 partnership; rather, both spouses need to contribute 100 percent. “Everybody has to be all in all the time,” he says.

Dr. Phil also suggests that even though the couple has been married for eight years, they should go through “pre-marital” counseling. “I want you to sit down and talk about all the things that are topics in a marriage: parenting philosophy, and religion, and sexual expectations, and division of labor, and finances, and future planning and all of those things that go into a marriage,” he tells them. “I want you to negotiate until you come up with a plan that both of you can be really excited about.”

As for Jason, Dr. Phil says he needs to hold himself to a higher standard to fulfill his role as the man in the family. “If you wake up every day and ask yourself the simple question: What can I do today to make my wife’s life better? You’ll be amazed how things can begin to change,” Dr. Phil says.

Take Dr. Phil’s “Marriage Inventory Quiz” to see if your marriage could be at risk of falling apart.

Have a question for Dr. Phil? Ask it here!

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