Couples Therapy seeks to repair the relationships of couples who have spent significant time in the spotlight, and season two is going to bring the drama in ways that season one never dreamed. Dr. Jenn Berman will be speaking to us each week to help us make sense of the couples’ issues and shed light on why they need her help. Tonight, four of the couples reveal their darkest moments that led them to therapy, and we meet a new couple, Too Short and Monica, who have just arrived in the house.
This episode started with everyone’s darker moments, but what I wanted to ask you about was JoJo, who actually denied having a darkest moment. That was the one thing in this session that stood out the most.
Absolutely, that’s a great observation and what you picked up on was very much how JoJo operates in his relationship, and that is from a place of denial. I know it’s almost a cliche, but the hallmark of alcoholism is denial and I think that was a great example of exactly that. I thought it was so brave how Tiny stepped up and said “Well, actually, here’s the deal, here’s the darkest moment, it’s this pattern of addiction and this one specific incident where I picked him up from the hospital and he wanted to go get alcohol.”
Were you worried she might go along with him and say they didn’t have a dark moment?
Yes, I was, and it was the first group session, so you never know at the beginning, typically what happens in a group is everyone looks to each other to try and set the tone and say “How brave are we going to be? How open are we going to be around here? What is expected of us?” and fortunately we were able to create a vibe in the room where everybody felt like “Oh, we actually talk about s— around here!”
Going off what you just said, do you think anyone might have held back and not revealed all that they could have in that moment?
I think that Courtney was more hesitant to take a risk, which was tough for the other group members but they all did a great job moving forward with their own stuff anyway. Courtney had also not been exposed to therapy, she had never been exposed to an atmosphere like this, she was younger, so she was working at a disadvantage.
And it was also a disadvantage, I’d imagine, that she couldn’t live in the house with everyone. Did that affect her at all, did she feel disappointed to to be able to share in that?
Yes, I think it was very hard on her, and the combination of that plus the fact that when she walked into the house there was such animosity and aggression, made it even harder for her to open up. That and the vast age difference between her and the other women in the house made it harder to relate to her. And her dress, truthfully. Her dress is very off-putting to others, particularly to women.
It’s hard not to take sides, but she has it out with Shayne during dinner because she’s sitting there in a bikini, and truthfully, I’m with Shayne, I think it’s weird that everyone else is fully clothed and she’s eating in a bikini.
Yup, absolutely. And you’ll hear from Courtney that for her, her dress is a sense of identity and it’s symbolic of her standing up for people who are different and who are pushed to conform to the status quo. So for her to change her dress feels like giving up a piece of her identity and letting her fans and supporters down on an issue that’s important to her. You’ll see how that develops and gets addressed.
I really did appreciate that you called her out not just for her dress but for what seems like really hypersexual behavior and asking if she had been molested, because so many people are wondering what triggered her to become so sexual. Were you surprised when she said she had no history of abuse?
I was fascinated, yes, I was surprised.
I don’t know if you saw that there were some photos of Courtney posted online this week at around age 13 where she was very fresh-faced and cute and then three years later she’s known for wearing bikinis.
That’s actually something we discussed in therapy and I think said almost verbatim what you just said. Three years prior, she was young and innocent and looked like your average kid and now she’s hypersexual and wearing these outfits, what happened? And that’s something you’ll hear about from both her mother and Courtney.
I know everyone’s really hard on Doug but in a way it’s hard not to feel bad for him because of the sacrifices he made just to marry her.
Doug and Courtney came to the house thinking their issues were the more superficial issues of the age gap and he wants a baby and she doesn’t, and those are absolutely issues. The truth is, the issues between them go so much deeper and are so much more significant and are exactly that. When he married her, he lost his career, he lost his family, he lost his friends, he lost his income, he lost everything, and as a result, he relies on her for everything in his life. That is not a healthy dynamic that he’s created. It created a dependency of Doug on Courtney, which isn’t what you’d expect, but he has nobody else and the pressure that puts on them as a result is that he and she are very enmeshed.
Too Short and Monica are brought to the house this week, what was your first impression of their relationship?
They came to the house and they had this friendship of about seven years that has been romantic on and off, and he came to the house saying he felt conflicted by his Too Short persona and Todd, who wants a house and two kids and a dog and a picket fence. He was trying to figure out how to reconcile the two and he recognized that this is an extraordinary woman he was with and she’s someone who appreciates him in a way he hadn’t experienced before and he didn’t know what to do with that. And then you have Monica, who is this really extraordinary woman who has tremendous depth and is very spiritual and she’s really amazing and also is very defended and scared and has worked hard to protect herself in this relationship. Monica brought a really motherly, care-taking quality to the group that was terrific, especially with Courtney. Out of all the women in the house, she was particularly great with Courtney. Other women in the house were perhaps too aggressive or finger-wagging at Courtney but Monica spoke in a way that Courtney really heard her.
You mentioned how Courtney and Doug relied too much on each other, so now we have Shayne and Nik who appear to do the opposite, they push themselves away from one another.
Shayne and Nik had some terrible relationship habits that were on the verge of killing their relationship, for sure. Shayne pushed Nik away, she isolated, they would get aggressive with each other and then they would run away from each other and Nik couldn’t figure out how to get her to listen and it was really quite the disaster.
Are these things cyclical and each one fed the other’s behavior? Or was one person more at fault?
Typically it’s 50/50, but also, often times one person appears to be doing more because their actions are more in your face and aggressive, and in this case that would be Shayne who would run away or would be very insensitive to Nik. But also, Nik had a lot of insensitivies as well and ways that he chose to live that disregarded her feelings. It was very much a dance they did together.