Kendra on Top: Hank finally opens up to Kendra — is it enough?
After visiting Hugh Hefner last week, Kendra Wilkinson seemed at least marginally inclined to try to see the cheating scandal from husband Hank Baskett's perspective. Or so we thought.
Behind the doors of the their first couples' therapy session, it's apparent that Wilkinson's anger hasn't dulled much with the passing of time.
As Baskett opens up about feeling like the "target of situations" and always feeling like "everything had to be perfect for everyone" around him, Wilkinson sits beside him looking like she's about to boil over.
But Baskett persists.
"I was scared to tell her that this didn't happen or this job didn't go through or that didn't happen, because when I would say something was going on, it was hard because of the way she would go off on me, and I just got to where I could close up," he said.
The camera then cuts to two years ago, when Baskett is visibly excited to tell his wife about his dream of becoming a host. With only a few words, Wilkinson reduces Baskett's dream to rubble.
Of course, Wilkinson didn't have the benefit of taking that revealing walk down memory lane. In the now, she's livid.
"That's interesting that he said that, because he's still not telling me what happened. He's not giving me any answers," she shouted. "Why the f*** would you agree to having a baby if you're f***ing lost in your head?"
Wilkinson insists she is just an honest person, but the therapist points out that Baskett may be holding back out of fear for how Wilkinson might respond.
And, to play devil's advocate, Wilkinson doesn't really seem to be listening to anything Baskett has to say.
When he talks about how he has been struggling since leaving the NFL, Wilkinson inwardly laments the loss of the confident, strong man she married. Even when he starts to open up, saying, "I'm just trying to find a way to be able to tell her that the way things are said is not what happened," Wilkinson cuts him off.
Might she have been a bit more empathetic had the cameras not been rolling? SheKnows Dating and Relationship Expert Andrea Syrtash says it is possible, but not likely in their specific case.
"People do behave differently when cameras are rolling," she said. "However, when cameras are rolling to the extent that they are on this kind of show — 24/7 — people inevitably let their guards down."
Plus, there actually is some truth to Baskett's talk of becoming closed off over time. "If your partner senses a lack of support or that he will be judged when he's honest, communication generally breaks down," said Syrtash.
"In my research, I've found that the top reason men cheat is because they feel a lack of approval at home. This doesn't excuse cheating, of course, but it shows how necessary attention, approval and acceptance are in a relationship."
And, in all likelihood, Wilkinson is bringing her own baggage into the marriage due to lingering doubts about her absentee father.
Her sudden trip to make amends with her dad, it would seem, could ultimately be good for her relationship with Baskett, too.
"People like Kendra who are generally non-confrontational or who haven't worked through their own family issues from the past will face problems in their relationships since an issue that isn't confronted will manifest and become larger," Syrtash said.
An unexpected sojourn
Wilkinson does trust Baskett enough to leave the kids with him, which SheKnows Parenting Expert Vera Sweeney says is important.
"I am a firm believer that children need to spend equal time with their parents. Society expects the mother to do the majority of the nurturing and raising, but Dad should have some time to shine alone without any assistance," Sweeney said.
"If Kendra felt like she needed to be with her estranged father, then lucky for Little Hank, there was another parent to hold his hand. As a working mother, sometimes I feel the pull of my little children," Sweeney said. "They don't understand my need to leave the house and take care of my responsibilities. But at the same time, they get to have experiences that they wouldn't have had if I was home. It's part of their growing process and it strengthens their relationship with their father."
And so off Wilkinson goes to Costa Rica to meet her long-lost dad... and is greeted at her hotel by its hunky owner, Federico.
When Wilkinson calls Costa Rica an "untouched piece of heaven," we totally catch her drift.
Impressively, though, Wilkinson isn't deterred. Although she does mention to Hall how cute Federico is, she doesn't dwell on it nearly as long as we would have, which suggests she really is still very much in love with her husband.
Photo credit: WETV
The remainder of the episode is devoted to Wilkinson's emotional reunion with her father, Eric.
They both seem legitimately nervous and overjoyed at once. Surely even the haters can thaw their hearts for a hot second and appreciate the courage it took for Wilkinson to reach out to the man who — as far as she knows — abandoned her as a child.
Besides, it's cute how much the two seem to have in common.
"I have found my twin," gushed Wilkinson. "We're the same — he's a free spirit. He's just like me. I am my dad's daughter."
As the episode nears its close, Eric offers Wilkinson a little fatherly advice.
"Any decision that you make right now is going to affect you, your family, your children for the rest of your lives. You know, maybe what you need to do is try to find a way to give it a good shot and work your way through it, and from there make your decision when all the data's in," he said.
When Eric cops to having made "a hell of a lot of mistakes" in his life, it placates Wilkinson.
As the sun sets in Costa Rica, she and her father sit on the deck drinking beers and pondering the possibility of bringing Big Hank, Little Hank and baby Alijah out for a visit.