The four couples participating in the Starting Over Couples’ Boot Camp came knowing they had problems within their relationships, and most were blaming the other person for all of it. By this second week in the show, many of the individuals are zeroing in on the fact that they have lifelong issues that need to be dealt with.
This is certainly something any therapist would tell you, that you need to take care of your own stuff before involving yourself in a union with another. However, it’s not an isolated incident that many enter into a relationship thinking all will be solved, “yours, mine and ours” once they get married.
The first week, much time was spent in determining those that had issues. Simon seemed to the number one target as he was one to isolate, and on a show like this, he stuck out like a sore thumb. His wife, Kacie, was having troubles dealing with being molested while in foster care in her early years. Michael and Jaclyn came to the house, she thought, because of his infidelity issues. But the time she was raped was brought to the forefront, and he soon realized his problems in the relationship were brought on by the uncomfortable relationship he had with his mother. Cheryl and Troy wanted to discuss his overuse of chat rooms and her moving out and into another man’s home, but Cheryl realized she had never gotten over the fact that she didn’t feel she fit in with her family the entire time she was growing up.
The focus this week, however, seems to be on Jennifer and Lou. He wants to talk about how domineering she is, and that she doesn’t have time for him, spending too much time with the dust buster, vacuum and their daughter. They realized they acted out parent/child roles they had grown up with and had never quite abandoned.
Lou often seems to be the ultimate sensitive male, and is often the one leading the group activities. He really seemed to have it all going on. Until this week. Iyanla presented the couples with a dirty non-working car. They were to, as a group, clean it up and get it working, as a way to learn cooperation. She warned them from the outset that this car was a metaphor for their relationships. As usual, Lou led the show. He quickly got a list going of what couples and individuals were to take on certain tasks with the car.
After determining their jobs, the couples moved inside for a Group session with Iyanla. Cooperation was discussed as well as the couples codependency with each other. She tells them when two people cooperate they have power with each other; when there is no cooperation, there is no power.
Much of the focus was put on Lou and Jennifer, since they have the ultimate codependent relationship, acting out child and parent roles. Despite not being happy with the way she rules the roost, Lou is not willing to take on the responsibilities and move out of the child role. Despite being unhappy with Lou’s lack of responsibility, Jennifer is not willing to let him take anything on.
Along the same lines, once Kacie begins to talk of her struggles with Simon, she says he doesn’t like any of her friends, and Iyanla notes that she says things that remind us of a six- or seven-year-old, and that becomes her manipulation of him, not always the other way around like Kacie thinks. Kacie takes great offense and asks if Iyanla if she thinks she likes crying like this. Sometimes you have admire Iyanla’s bluntness. She asks Kacie if she doesn’t like crying, why does she do it?
Once they return to the car to begin work, they find it has gotten much worse. Now garbage has been dumped on the inside. Despite the fact that Simon and Kacie were scheduled to tackle cleaning the inside of the car, Lou is outraged by the whole thing and is refusing to go anywhere near the inside of this messy car.
Iyanla and Rhonda are called in to diffuse the situation. Trying to diffuse his own situation, Lou says he gets it. Since he understands the point of the exercise, he believes he should be excluded and that the others should be forced to clean it up. He understands the messy inside of the car represents the messy inside of relationships. He’d like to move on.
Iyanla points out that despite understanding it, it still needs to be done. And be refusing to do it, he’s only showing his own reluctance to clean up the mess that’s been made of his relationship with Jennifer. She, of course, turns to the codependency in their relationship. In an effort to support him, Jennifer is now refusing to do it as well, putting them both in danger of being kicked out of the Boot Camp for refusal to do an assignment.
Despite everyone liking Lou and Jennifer before, and allowing him to be the unofficial leader, everyone begins to turn on him. They don’t like how he made it seem he was better than them and didn’t need to do the assignment, and now because of the codependency, they are assuming the same of Jennifer as well.
Outside with the car again, as the group is gathered once again with Rhonda and Iyanla, they have decided that the cleaning of the inside of the car has now switched from being Kacie and Simon’s job, to now being Lou and Jennifer’s. Jennifer admits to being scared she and Louie will be asked to leave because of his continued defiance, but says she is willing to stand by him. Lou says he is so appreciative that she is backing him up, that he willnow clean the inside of the car all by himself. He still is upset about having to do it, but will do it.
After Lou jumps into the mess and begins to clean, the others jump to action as well, finally following their accepted leader. Troy says if he had tools he could fix the car and get it to start, but without them he is forced to leave that part of the car as is. They replace lights, knobs, and scour, shine and polish everything and are very proud of their accomplishments. Iyanla can’t believe they took the time to clean everything and make it look good, but have left it non-functional. Once again, it’s emulating Jennifer and Lou’s relationship. You can clean it up and make it look terrific, but it still isn’t working.
Rhonda holds a group game where they are playing for a prize of an evening alone in a previously unseen private bedroom. All the couples say they really want it, knowing the help the intimacy will bring to their work in the house. They are to run a three-legged obstacle course as couples. Cheryl hurts her ankle early on, mentions it out loud, but chooses to go on. Rhonda gets her to see that this emulates her relationship with Troy. She needs help, but refuses to ask for it, and later gets angry because he doesn’t help enough.
It’s the sometimes over-achieving couple of Lou and Jennifer that win the race well before the time of the others. Recognizing that they don’t even sleep together at home, they feel the prize is better suited for Cheryl and Troy who have been dying for that time to just hold each other all night. Rhonda things it’s very magnanimous of Lou and Jennifer, but also realizes it’s indicative of the fact they really don’t want to spend time together.
After a lesson in finances by an expert, the couples seem a little more lost with that than they were in the beginning. They are informed there is a board of review tonight, and all panic, except Lou and Jennifer. The board of review works a little different than the standard format of Starting Over, in that if the person received a C they can be asked to leave, instead of needing two Cs. If they are asked to leave, their “better half” can decide whether to stay or leave with the other.
Cheryl is the first called up to Board of Review. She is asked what grade she feels she deserves, and says an A- for some things and a B+ for others. She is still reluctant to take responsibility for what has happened in her relationship, and Iyanla asks if Cheryl actually has the gall to blame Troy for chatting on the internet even though it was Cheryl who left and got into another man’s bed.
Cheryl still wants to make her actions justified by what Troy did. The talk moves to her codependency and her sadness of how she has grown up. She now for the first time is realizing she carries much of the blame for her relationship with Troy and that she has forced him into carrying on this codependent relationship, being used to it herself as that was how she grew up. Going back to her seat after being given a B, she can’t seem to get ahold of herself, crying and nearly hyperventilating, and is pretty much put in her place and told to get over it.
Simon is called up next. We see a very different Simon. He forces himself to admit to his failings, and for the first time he is not withdrawn, but actually stands and cries for everyone to see. It is clear he is in pain. He admits to not knowing how to express his emotions and says he wants to work on it. He is given a B.
I wish I could tell you what happened when Jaclyn went up for her review, but I can’t, as my local station decided until the end of the hour to cover the White Sox winning their division. I’m awfully proud of them, yet I know I missed out on something, as in the next day’s show at the beginning they show how her housemates were asked if she should stay or go, and it was her husband, Michael, that said if she wasn’t ready, she should leave. Woah. I missed something big.
Lou is the next one called up, rounding it up to be one of every couple has now been up for review. He comes up and tries to say the right things, as he always does to get by, but is called on it. He appears to be just as defiant as he was standing before the messy car. He can’t give them what they want. He is given a C, but told he doesn’t have to leave just yet. He’s on probation, and has 48 hours to get his life cleaned up, just as he did with the car.
After the board of review, Cheryl and Troy sit together holding each other, and for the first time he lays it out on the line for her. She has done him wrong. He knows it and has been reluctant to tell her, but now he does. Jaclyn is confused as ever. She doesn’t know what she wants and realizes she can’t hold on to Michael and make him wait for her to get it figured out. He asks her how she wants him to support her, and she asks him to let her sit alone. He does.
Lou just continues his defiance. He gets so angry with Jennifer, it makes me remember him saying on the first day in the house that he once broke her hand in anger. If it’s hard for me to forget, I can only imagine what it is like for her. He is tonight unwilling to listen to her and when she asks him to use his tools that he has learned in the house, he gets even more defiant and stalks off. There is something bubbling under the surface. I think he has a lot of anger over something and covers it up.
A few days before, it had been Lou trying to help bring Simon out of his shell, but the situation appears to have now reversed. Simon, who had not been able to get in touch with his emotions and preferred to be alone, has organized the whole “community” as they call themselves, to come together to aid Lou. Simon has written a little something that he hopes to inspire Lou, and he plans to later in the day call Lou in, and have a mini intervention of sorts with everyone there to support him.
Today’s topic happens to be intimacy. It’s interesting that as everyone is asked to write a definition of intimacy, some see it as a vulnerability, others see it as coming together physically and emotionally, and the two women that have been molested or raped only see it as sex. Very, very telltale.
The women and men meet with an intimacy specialist who asks them to write down adjectives that describe their sex life. Many of them describe it negatively, both men and women. The therapist advises all to take a month off of sex, but not intimacy. Hold each other, kiss each other, etc., when there is a need for intimacy, but abstain from intercourse for a month to recreate the passion and intimacy.
Rhonda sends the men out to interview women on the street as to what they are looking for in intimacy. The men are shocked that they had it all wrong what women wanted. As a woman I’m shocked as well … NOT! The women are sent to learn exotic dance and although they have a problem in the beginning, are surprised they end up enjoying it and find themselves fully into it.
Returning home, the intimacy specialist sends all the couples into the pool. He has them each hold their significant other in the pool and repeat what they hope the other can feel while being held. Everyone does so quite willingly, and find themselves in intimate moments after that that are anything but negative. Most notably, Kacie holds Simon and says she hopes that he can trust her. He pauses for awhile, but then repeats it back. It’s nice that he actually took the time to stop and think about it.
After everyone is back inside and dried off, Simon asks Lou to come into their bedroom with him. Lou begins to describe how he feels different today and hopes it means things are changing. Simon then brings the rest of the “community” into the room, and presents Lou with the paper that he stated his worries and wishes for Lou. Everyone else has now added to it as well, telling Lou they care for him, love him, consider him a friend, are worried for him, hope he stays, etc.
Lou is extremely touched and I have to admit, so am I. Of all two guys for this to happen with. It’s the solitary unemotional guy organizing the others to let the friendly sensitive guy know they have his back and are in full support. I bet this will be a turning point for everyone in the house.
I am struggling to find a format for these Starting Over recaps/reviews. I would much appreciate if anyone with an idea or two about them would email and tell me what they’d like to see here. Strictly recap? Strictly commentary? How often should they appear? I want to be able to give people what they want. Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com