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How God Saved a Military Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
August 9, 2022 6:00 am

How God Saved a Military Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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August 9, 2022 6:00 am

Military veteran Chad Robichaux and his wife, Kathy, discuss his former struggles with PTSD, which led to the couple's separation, and how God helped Chad overcome PTSD and restored their marriage. (Part 1 of 2)

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I always say the loneliest place I've been in my life is not in Afghanistan, but in my own bed when my wife's back turned to me. We were just in this dead marriage. I just didn't care.

I was so cold towards her. Hard reflections from Chad Robichaux, whose story we're telling today. In this broadcast, he and his wife look back at a very troubling time in their marriage and what God did to restore it. This is Focus on the Family.

Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. There are so many marriage relationships that are challenged and hurting, and they need God's touch. We have an incredible story of how God worked in a marriage involving a military couple. This was recorded a few years ago, but the lessons learned and the wisdom shared in this story are as relevant as ever.

Chad Robichaux served in Special Forces in the Marines for eight years in Afghanistan. He came home for good and realized that he was suffering from PTSD. His marriage was caught in the crosshairs of that suffering, and today we're going to talk to Chad and his wife Kathy about how God took them from the bottom back to the top again. And if your marriage is struggling, you're going to want to lean in today and listen because I think you're going to learn some golden nuggets of how to fight for your marriage and how to survive.

And I think in the end, give God the glory for what will be accomplished in your marriage. And Chad and Kathy established the Mighty Oaks Foundation to help other military families as soldiers return home from combat with trauma. They've also written a new book about their journey to restore their marriage after PTSD titled Fight for Us. Let's go ahead and jump into the conversation now recorded here at Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Chad and Kathy, welcome to Focus on the Family. Thank you for having us.

Okay, Chad, let me start right here. Man, I so appreciate your service. And Kathy, you in that role of support and spouse, thank you for what you've done for our country. Eight tours in Afghanistan. That had to be hard. Yeah, it took a major toll on me. On many of my friends, you know, I wasn't the only one that came home and suffered. I know many of my friends that came home and really struggled. And yeah, it was hard. But I am thankful that I got to serve.

I'm thankful for my service and I'm thankful for what I get to do now. We're going to get to more of that story and how that set up the difficulties in your marriage. But Kathy, you talked about being raised in a broken home, not only for you, Kathy, also for you, Chad, you both were raised in broken homes.

Kathy, talk about your home and growing up and what was the picture like for you? My father, first of all, was a single father for many years. My mother and him when they divorced, somehow my father got most of the custody of us and my mother had visitation rights. And many times my dad was just trying to find a place, you know, for us to stay while he would work.

He was a firefighter in the way. Yeah, most of the time, I think, especially as he remarried, and he had a family with, they made their family, I definitely felt like I was in the way. And how old were you when your parents divorced? Oh, I was still baby, I was probably two when they completely divorced. And then when he got remarried, I was six. So when they had their own children, it became harder. And I was just becoming, you know, growing up. And so by the time I was 10, actually, I ended up moving in with my real mom, thinking maybe this will be better. But my real mother was just a very busy woman. She was, I don't think she was ever into anything. You know, it wasn't drugs or alcohol. I don't believe that she lost custody.

In fact, I truly don't know what the answer is to that. But I do know she was a hard working woman. So when she come home at night, she didn't have time really to spend with me where the I was the last thing on her plate that had to be horrible as a child not to feel connected to either your father or your mother. Yeah, it was it really was. And unfortunately, I think that led into a lot of my own insecurities growing up. And even to this day, I mean, of course, I, I have Christ, I can go turn to him when I'm feeling that because, you know, I definitely will sink back into that feeling every now and then. And I got to find where the truth really lies. But, but yeah, it was hard.

You know, I would go I was a cheerleader in high school. And there were even friends that had their parents there quite often. And I would always feel like, man, I wish I had my parents here to support me and never once did any of my parents show up to any of my activities. And I was always admiring that with the other but it left a hole in your heart. I know exactly what you really did. It really did. And because of that, I think I bombard on my kids too much.

Make sure on there at everything way too often. They're like, No, mom's the loving mom. Yes. Chad, how about you? What was your home life like growing up? No, Kathy and I have a very similar path of coming out of broken homes. I kind of step off to say my son Hunter joined the Marine Corps. So he's a third generation Marine, because my father was a Marine. And when he came home from Vietnam, I think he struggled with a lot of things that that I struggle with, but he just didn't ever get the help he needed. So I grew up in a very dysfunctional home with a very angry father who's probably suffering from PTSD. And so I never really understood that as a kid, I just knew this had this angry man who drank a lot and physically abused my mother, then my stepmother, then myself and my siblings. And, you know, he was bars and women and so just hard, just really hard life. And if anybody's, you know, I think people could relate to me who's lived in that kind of home that siblings get really close.

Yeah. And so me and my survival, yeah, you just kind of bond together. And my brother who was a year older than me, and he and I were, we would talk about joining the military and escaping that lifestyle. And then when I was 14, and he was 15, he was, he was shot and killed. And so that was just extremely devastating.

You lost him. And how old were you? I was 14.

Wow. That is the closest person to me in my life at that time. So 14.

That happens. You met as teenagers, though, correct? You guys were young. Yeah, I was my first year in the Marine Corps.

Kathy was in her senior year in high school. And yeah, we met and I don't think we separated from each other since. So you how did that happen? I mean, you come in together? How did you propose?

Let's go there. That's always a nice story. Maybe if we start like how it all happened, because there was it was just kind of a, you know, we're getting married type thing with us. After two dates after one.

Pretty soon, I'd say I will go back. So when we got together, we actually met through a friend of mine that went into the Marine Corps. And, and so Chad had needed a ride home one day, and we kind of met up on accident. I gave him Oh, that's right, right. Not you, Chad gave the guy a ride home that one evening.

And you're sure this wasn't planned? In fact, the funny thing was I was in like, he had met me, and I wasn't really interested in him. I was like, he's too short.

Too short for me. I mean, he was two inches taller than me back then. But now he's already shrinking. And then the second time I saw him this time, I had showed up at my friend's house that my friend Scott was dating. And another girl was there. And they're all getting ready to leave. And it didn't even dawn on me. I was just kind of hanging out there. And I had sweats on my hair was up in a bun.

This was 1994. And, um, he showed up again. And I'd already been like, No, I don't want to meet him.

I'm not really interested. Well, as soon as he pulled up, I was like, I looked at that girl. And I was like, I thought he wanted to get to know me. And that was it. It was a spark of jealousy.

You knew you had a feeling for it. It was a blind date. They were setting me up on because she wouldn't go out with me. And so I had never and so I'd never seen the girl before. But when I saw Kathy there, this girl was getting pretty and stuff like that. And Kathy was in sweats with her hair in a bun. And I invited her on our blind date. Yeah, yeah, I had that other girl feel.

Yes, she hung around. But I don't remember even speaking to the fifth wheel. So one, you know, one little thing that he did that that melted my heart was we were all sitting in the back of his truck. It was just a brand new open bed truck. And he had cami paint in the back of his truck.

And they were like playing with cami paint. Well, he started painting my face with his, you know, fingers or whatever. And as soon as his thumb kind of passed over just the cheekbone and put it on me. I was like, Oh, I felt it and just kind of put that he could put my makeup on every day.

I always say that you had me at a little stroke across my cheekbone. And that's all the ladies listening. They're feeling that.

Yeah. And then so there you are a military young couple. You're in the Marines. What was that commitment like for you, Kathy being the spouse, the wife of a marine?

Well, you know, back then this was 19. We got married in 95. I had just graduated high school, lots of training, lots of field, lots of school. I had him like pretty much almost every time we were off, we were together and now all of a sudden I get married and my Prince Charming is like has to work for a living.

He was always gone. He was in the field and just, you know, so back then, although there wasn't a war going on, you know, he was really busy training. So that took some getting used to it wasn't what I what I thought marriage was going to be like, you know. And then of course, things ramp up in the Middle East, you get deployed, all that activity going on. You talk about your PTSD. We've had shows about PTSD, but describe it for those of us who never served in the military, who don't understand it. What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Yeah. I mean, for me, it wasn't like a, you know, one incident that had happened and all of a sudden I have PTSD. I think it started with this like really intense drive to do my job and do my job at an intense level and just wrote strong passion. And eventually I turned into being one person in Afghanistan and I come home and being someone I couldn't be someone totally different at home. And so that intensity started turning into anger and that and it trickled over into my home.

I remember being in Afghanistan just raging kind of lunatic, just fueled on anger. And now I come home to my family and I'm starting to see I'm behaving the same way. And, you know, I always say my, you know, our home became not a very happy place for my wife and kids. They were became very scared of me and I was aware of that. I felt like everyone was walking in eggshells and that being aware of that and Kathy being what I believe to be this really godly Christian lady, I felt very out of place. And so I felt very uncomfortable being home. And you had two kids at that point or three, three, three kids. And that, uh, that anger eventually started turning anxiety. And so I was, uh, in this very small special operations group of guys, very tough kind of special ops group.

Yeah. So there's a lot of bravado and people didn't talk about things like that. So I started having these anxiety feelings, but I didn't want to say anything. And I think that keeping it to myself and trying to push it down and drive through, uh, led to a natural progression of things going sideways for me. It started off with like, um, my arms would go numb and, uh, arms would go numb in my face. My cheeks would go numb and, uh, all the physiological symptoms of panic attacks, but I wasn't aware that's what it was. And then my throat would felt like it was swell shut. And that eventually that led in what I know now to be full blown panic attacks. I felt like I was dying and maybe having a heart attack and, uh, and it was very scary. And, um, and I just kept trying to deal with it myself.

I didn't tell anyone at work. In fact, one time I came home from a deployment and I told Kathy and she took me to a civilian doctor and they gave me anti-anxiety pills and I was refused to take them. And I tried to go back again. And, uh, the very last deployment, there was a period of about two weeks that now I could recall parts of it, but I couldn't even recall the two weeks. Kathy, let me ask you as a spouse, what were you responding? Like, how did, did you feel like there was no solution? You didn't understand? Yeah. At that point we had no clue what was going on.

We didn't even know about post-traumatic stress. Um, so how he was acting, um, looked scary to me. You were fearful. I was very angry to very broken, like overnight.

Yeah. And so he was very quiet. He see, he looked like, um, all I can say is like a sick person, maybe, you know, just very down and weak. So it was easy at that point at the beginning of his last deployment and finding out something's wrong, it was easy as a woman, as a mother, I wanted to nurture him and care for him.

That was the easiest part of the whole thing. And he would let you, I mean, he would let me, he would wake up in the middle of the night and just ask me to hold him. And I would just hold him. I'd pray for him. Um, I knew something was wrong and it scared me because I always looked at Chad like Superman, you know, like he would, no matter if someone even dare walked into this house, they better run out quick.

You know what? It was always like that. And so to see my husband in this position of weakness, it was different to see. So I was totally fine comforting him and loving him through this kind of standing in the gap really. Yeah. Um, that's admirable. I don't know that everybody could do that, but you saw that as your responsibility in that moment and you did it. Yeah.

Right. Chad, let me ask you this question. Um, how long from the time you were seeing action, the night tours, special ops in the Marine Corps, uh, how long was it before you started feeling these panic attacks and the PTSD symptoms? Were you still in the military or was it after? Well, I went in in 1993, so it was a long span of active duty reserves, other life things.

And then in 2007 is when I came home from my last deployment of April 07 and that's when I was actually diagnosed with PTSD. So you were in a long time. Yes, sir.

Yes, sir. And Kathy, in that context, I mean, how are you, how are you managing all these curves and swerves in your life? Yeah, it was, it was difficult, you know, getting out of active duty and him going into law enforcement. Um, that was an exciting but scary move.

But the thing was is we were starting our family and you were all into the kids. I'm sure. Yeah. Yeah.

That's all I knew. That's all I did. And so, um, best thing I could ever ask for, but I really felt alone most of the time and like a single parent.

Yeah, I did. I did feel like a single parent. And, um, and so I really, everything that I thought marriage was supposed to be like, and you know, having Prince Charming came to rescue me and I thought that we were going to live happily ever after and have this awesome family.

I, I really felt like, definitely found myself, um, feeling very alone and I felt really, um, just, you know, there not really in a good, healthy marriage. And then, um, can I ask you about that? Because we've alluded to that, but you're, you're a believer, you're going to church.

Yes. Um, I'm not sure Chad, where you were at and your faith with everything going on and war. And I'd like to talk about that a little because, um, you know, a lot of times as Christians, we are in a world full of sin and our hearts are sinful. What was happening spiritually at this time for you guys?

What was going on? Well, I think we always went to church right when we even first got married. If I could be a little transparent and honest about my, I looked, looking back, I believe I went to church really to drag my wife there because I knew if my wife went to church, she'd, uh, she'd be a great godly Christian woman, be faithful. And, uh, my kids would go to Sunday school and learn about, you know, right and wrong. And so I believe I was really manipulating my family and just checking the block for myself.

I was never going to go beyond the surface of that. And I think a lot of men do that. And really, I think I had this kind of masculine persona of myself and I looked at a lot of men in the church and thought, you know, these guys are not like me, these guys are weak. And, and, uh, sadly, in some cases, it's true, right?

There's a lot of Christian men that don't stand up and be the man that God called them to be. And that was my perspective. Kathy, let me, let me ask you this, the, um, the picture you're painting there of being almost like a single parent and our heart goes out to single parents cause they're living it every day and there's no, no solution right around the corner for them. Um, but did you feel better? Did you just start to become better toward Chad that, Hey, you know, I'm doing it all. Yeah, I did.

I really did. I think, um, a lot of my, uh, the way I would react to him would even be out of, um, anger, bitterness towards him because, uh, I mean, I'm, I'm grateful. He always provided, he always, um, you know, we never went hungry. He, whatever he did, whatever job he did, he did at a hundred percent. He was a hard worker. Um, but in our home, he wasn't putting that time and effort into our home.

And, uh, that was, you know, in the early mid nineties, he was really focusing on his, um, his martial arts career as well. And so, uh, for me, I, I was even, um, better towards even just him being in the gym. It just, it made me so upset with him because I needed him a lot of times. Would you try to communicate? The reason I'm digging on this is that I think in many cases, marriages are in trouble in this way because particularly wives are saying, I had a different picture of what this would be like. And you can fill in the noun of what it is, whatever you're struggling with as a listener in your marriage.

It may not be your husband's into martial arts, but they're giving their time and energy to something other than what you would like them to give time and energy toward. How did you communicate? Were you guys just fighting at this point?

Did you ever, could you have a discussion about it? Um, your feelings, your desires, and for Chad, his feelings, his desires, how did you communicate or was it already so much tension you couldn't talk it through? Yeah, it was really hard for us to communicate this.

Yeah, he was, he did. I mean, unfortunately I hate this and I see it so often is women, we try to discuss this with our husband. We try to share it with them. We're not always good listeners.

No, not good listeners. And then we get accused of being naggers. And so it's trying to find a point. How do you discuss this with your husband and share something that's bothering you and not be accused of nagging about it?

How do you get there? And because we were so young at that time in our early 20s and not having really been connected in a church, we did not know how to communicate. And so it was just always just strife in our marriage. How many years did this go on, this strife, this loneliness?

Gosh, well 15 years, 15 years of trying to figure this whole thing out and you'll hear the victory and how we finally came to that. But there was no model either for us. We had no, I mean, come both come in for broken homes, not connecting to a church to have that mentorship and discipleship in our marriage. We had no model.

We didn't even have anything to aim at. My mother was the kind of woman, by the way, who was divorced and married and divorced three times. She, I learned in the first two years, don't go to her about problems in our marriage because she'd always say, pack up your bags and leave them.

That would be her solution. Then I had my sister, my oldest son pack up your bags, get Hunter and leave. And that was it. And I don't know, you know, how did you resist that temptation?

I mean, having that kind of modeling and then saying, you know what, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to stick with it. I think, um, I'd say sometimes it was probably my faith that gave me the strength, but a lot of times it was fear. And also, and I can say this probably for a lot of majority women out there, if I can just make it till the kids graduate high school and then I'm out of here. That was your feeling stick together for the kids.

Yep. Stick together for the kids. Cause I was scared to death of my husband. Um, he was very good at manipulating the story and I was scared that he would actually somehow turn or twist something around on me and to hurt me, he would somehow take my kids from me. Right.

And so I just figured if I can just hold in there until my kids graduate high school, then I'm out of here. And there was some tough stuff. We've been a little surfacey here.

I wanted in the last few minutes of today, I want to get down to the nitty gritty. Chad, you did pursue martial arts training. You had a, your own studio, I believe. And that environment, you got into mixed martial arts, MMA competitions, things like that.

Very heady, very macho. Um, these are like fighting full bore, right? And you were good at it and you were winning and that sets you on a trajectory of pulling you away from your family. Uh, describe that environment and what happened. Well, when I, you know, when I came home from Afghanistan and was diagnosed with PTSD, I didn't feel like I could do anything. I felt like if it did anything physical, my body would just stop working. And Kathy and my counselor at the time recommended that I'd do jujitsu because it was something that I jujitsu was a martial art I'd done since I was five years old. I'd already fought professionally as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. And so when they convinced me to go try it and I get back on the mats and wrestle with some of my friends, I literally felt like I'd found a cure because I felt comfortable.

I felt comfortable. I felt like I couldn't think about Afghanistan and do that because if I was focused on something else, my buddies would choke me. So I had to be focused. And uh, and so I took something that could be good for me and I abused it like a medicine or anything else.

Well, I would spend 10 or 12 hours a day on those wrestling mats and obviously I'd find success there. I was spending that much time. And so I, I masked a record of 18 and two.

I thought in some of the most, you know, biggest, uh, televised, uh, fights and strike force and Bellator and all these big shows. And so what happened was I surrounded myself with all these people who told me everything I wanted to hear and no one that told me what I needed to hear. And that was that I was still living in a broken home. I was still angry. I was still having panic attacks, but I just hid those things really well. And so I had this kind of fake facade of success that everyone saw, but at home, you know, many nights Kathy and I slept in separate bedrooms.

Um, I always say that loneliest place I've been in my life is not in Afghanistan, but in my own bed with my wife's back turned to me and, uh, we were just in this dead marriage. And, uh, so it didn't take long with all that attention that I got from MMA for me to step outside of our marriage and to an affair. And I didn't even care if I got caught. Um, I just didn't care.

I was so cold towards towards her. So you're doing a lot to cover up the pain you're feeling. I mean, that's what it sounds like to me bearing it with the dirt of life. Stay busy, stay busy. But Kathy, with an affair in the mix of this whole thing that had to be devastating and it wasn't just one. Right.

Exactly. Um, cause this actually, it went back even before he, he left to Afghanistan. And so, um, so I was already dealing with the past and then you bring this and post-traumatic stress on top of, you know, everything else. And I always say you were, you were super mean before you left Afghanistan. Now you're coming back now and, and I'm supposed to deal with our past and deal with this now. And you know, there was just so much unforgiveness inside of me. And so, you know, yeah, it was easy for me to turn my back at night because I, I just was so hurt from him and so empty. Well, and people, women hearing you, Kathy, you're going right on. I could feel that for you and some of them are actually living it right now.

And they're identifying with that pain that you lived in. We're at the end of the program today. Talk about a bad place to end, but the hope coming is that God was in your corner. What a heartbreaking, powerful story from Chad and Kathy Robichaux. And next time we'll hear how God repaired that brokenness and the hurt in their marriage. And we'll get into more of those details. Yes, John. And I hope our listeners can stick with us as we continue to talk about the darkness, the Robichaux experienced in their marriage before finding a beacon of hope, because God did intervene and he glorified himself in their relationship.

And you know what? You may be in a dead marriage too, as Chad described, and you don't know what to do, which way to go. You're listening, thinking that's us.

Circumstances may be different, but you're living in it. And I want you to know that Focus on the Family is here for you. We want to be in your corner and we believe the Lord is right there with you too. And even though it feels like despair, we know that God can deliver you.

We've heard it over and over again. And we have a great program called Hope Restored, which is a four-day intensive marriage counseling effort with several locations across the country. And it has an 81% success rate two years after the couples attend.

That means they're still married and doing better. If you're in a difficult spot, call us. We have some scholarships available, although they are limited, and we want to help you in your marriage.

Yeah, get in touch today if we can be of any help to you. And you might be wondering, how did Chad and Kathy's story end? Well, be sure to join us next time as they share how God moved in their lives and in their marriage. And the book he wrote is called Fight for Us and it'll inspire you to make changes in your marriage. Get your copy today for a donation of any amount to the ministry when you call 800 the letter A in the word family, or look for the link in the program notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family.

I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Did you ever wonder what it was like to meet Jesus face to face? The miracles, the teachings, the long awaited Messiah in the flesh. It's all in a new novel by Focus on the Family called The Chosen.

I have called you by name based on the hit streaming series. Immerse yourself in first century Galilee. Experience the Savior through the eyes of his followers. You'll want to dive deeper into scripture with every page turn. Learn more about The Chosen novel at focusonthefamily.com chosen. That's focusonthefamily.com chosen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 23:50:03 / 2023-03-14 00:02:01 / 12

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