MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Julia Merfeld said Tuesday in Muskegon County Court that her husband has forgiven her for her plot to kill him.
The victim in this case, Jacob Merfeld, also told the judge he had forgiven his wife, describing her as a great mom, and urging for leniency.
But how can a relationship possibly survive something like this?
WZZM 13 News spoke with a psychologist and relationship therapist to find some perspective.
"My tears are not for your pity, your Honor. My tears are for remorse," said Julia Merfeld. She plead for mercy before a Muskegon County judge Tuesday after admitting to hire a hitman to kill her husband was wrong.
"Her tears were orchestrated in order to manipulate," said Dr. Richard Raubolt, a psychologist and relationship therapistwith 30 years of experience, who has written three books.
Hesays the person being manipulated is the person who's likely been in the back seat their entire marriage.
"My husband, who actually sits behind me right now has already forgiven me, and the second is God," said Julia Merfeld.
"I know that she is a Godly person and that after talking to her, she is very repentive of this sin she has committed," said Jacob Merfeld.
"True forgivness is rare," said Dr. Raubolt. He says actions truly speak louder than words in this case.
"It has to do with genuine, heart-felt remorse, and a willingness to abide by consequences and move forwards. I didn't hear any of that presented," he said, after watching the news stories.
So the question many have is this: what did Jacob Merfeld hear in his wife's words that made him say these words: "Before this she has been a wonderful person, a wonderful wife."
"She's really the powerbroker. And I would suspect this man is so traumatized at this point, so identified with his children that all he wants is this imaginary wife back that will really love him this time," said Dr. Raubolt
Dr. Raubolt says what likely happened in the past created a dysfunctional relationship, and even a murder plot can seem, not so crazy.
"Reality gets completely distorted." When asked if he thinks their marriage could be saved, he gave a firm no.
"I think it's stretching all definitions of word to call it marriage."
He says that because of how severe her intentions were, as her guilty plea revealed.
He says In this case, the judge protected Merfeld and his kids from a potentially dangerous situation.
"He put his kids at stake and used them almost as pawns in this game of 'the kids need her.''
There's also this thought shared in court by Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson. He questioned how remorseful Merfeld would have been if her plan succeeded and she received the $400,000 insurance settlement.