Denial is a river on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars. During the Friday, November 18, episode of the relationship rehab show, Tanner Tolbert was suffering a serious case of denial when it came to his history with his parents and how that was affecting his marriage to fellow Bachelor in Paradise star Jade Roper.
“I have the most baggage, for sure,” Jade assured the experts at the outset. Tanner joked, “Yeah, I’ve got a carry-on, and Jade’s got four or five suitcases.” (He was grossly underestimating his amount of baggage, just for the record.)
But Jade and Tanner weren’t the only ones with some serious issues from the past interfering in their present. The Real Housewives of New Jersey alum Amber Marchese finally confronted her demons in front of the group related to her first sexual encounter.
Amber Marchese Reveals She Was Raped
Though Amber had revealed it in private already, now she had the opportunity to admit that she lost her virginity when she was raped at a party. Through tears, she told the group that she passed out at a party, and when she woke up, a guy was having sex with her. “He took something very special away from me,” she cried. Michael Ford felt especially bad for Amber as she spoke of the painful encounter, and even the usually tough Keke Wyatt got misty-eyed. Karen Gravano and Storm also felt terrible for Amber.
“Sex is not beautiful,” Amber said. “Sex is not emotional.” She realized that this experience was having a negative impact on her sex life with her husband, Jim. For his part, Jim was very proud of his wife and optimistic that this would help them moving forward.
Jade Admits She Thought About Suicide
“I went through some therapy for this because it was just something I thought I deserved, and I grew to hate myself, and I thought about suicide all the time,” she said as tears welled in her eyes. “My mom emotionally and verbally abused me and said that boys wouldn’t want to date me and that I wasn’t worthy of love and would tell me this every single day before I went to school.” But it wasn’t just her mother who was at fault. “My dad knew about it, and my dad never did anything,” she added. She explained that as a young girl, she figured that since her dad didn’t stick up for her, what her mother was saying “was true.”
Jade said she “grew to hate” herself and “became very depressed.” She turned to alcohol to “numb” herself and help with her anxiety. That didn’t work so well, it turned out. To help her get over this trauma, the experts had Jade speak directly to her mother. (One caveat: Her mother wasn’t there.) Jade went along with it, telling her mother she didn’t love herself fully and was therefore unable to give herself fully to her husband. “Mom, I love you, but you do not own me. I define me. Mom, I forgive you,” she added. After that dramatic moment, Jade said she felt a lot better.
Tanner Reveals a Dark Secret
Asked whether he had anything in his past that might affect his marriage, Tanner said, “Honestly, nothing bothers me that much.” He added, “Everything’s that’s ever happened to me has been pretty good.” Pressed, however, he admitted that his dad “ran around” on his mom a lot. In fact, his father “had another house on the other side of town” where his girlfriend was living. “My mom found this out, and I went with her, and we busted the front door in,” he recalled. (Umm, that seems like something that might have a negative impact on a child …) Tanner, though, insisted that when he thought about that experience, it just felt like “nothing.” Yeah, sure.
In an aside, Jade said she wasn’t sure boot camp was getting through to Tanner and was deeply worried they were going to have no emotional connection — then Tanner’s story got even more intense.
It turned out his mom hired a private investigator, who had footage of his father and his father’s girlfriend leaving the airport together. “We had movie nights a lot on Friday nights,” Tanner recalled. “So my dad’s sitting there with popcorn thinking everything is cool, and mom pops in this video, and on comes this private investigator footage.”
Jade couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “I love your mom,” she said to Tanner. “But that’s not OK.” Tanner snapped back, “Well, your mom isn’t the best either.” (Yikes!)
Tanner Breaks Down
Finally, after a lengthy chat and much urging from Jade, Tanner admitted he tended to “keep s–t bottled in.” He got emotional as he added, “That’s how I deal with it.” Jade said that system wasn’t working for her. “It happened to you too Tanner. That’s your dad,” she argued, trying to convince him it was OK to be upset about this trauma. Something clicked, and Tanner broke down in tears.
“I love you, and I will try to change,” he said. Jade commented, “You were giving me exactly what I wanted.”
“I don’t want my wife to carry that burden for the rest of her life,” Tanner reasoned. It was one of the most truthful things he’d said all night.
Tell Us: Do you think Tanner’s breakthrough was genuine?
Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars airs on WE tv Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.