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Hope for Every Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 22, 2021 6:00 am

Hope for Every Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 22, 2021 6:00 am

Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs describe their marriage journey of infidelity, divorce and restoration, and encourage other couples not to give up on redeeming their relationship. (Part 2 of 2)

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Man, I knew my marriage was falling apart.

I just didn't know how to fix it. I felt like I would always be alone, even if I stayed married. At Focus on the Family's Hope Restored Marriage Intensive, we offer hope to couples in crisis so they can have the marriage they've always dreamed of. For the first time, I felt like my husband truly heard me. I've received some great tools from the counselors that have changed my life and my marriage. To begin the journey of finding health, go to today.

Well, she was having an affair and pursued divorce, but said that the day the judge granted her divorce request was the worst day in her life. This is Focus on the Family, and you're going to hear an incredible story of God's restoration in more than one life, as Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs share with us today. They're the founders of Hope Marriage Matters Ministry in Plano, Texas, and authors of the book, I Do Again. And your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller. John, it is always a pleasure to bring hope into someone's life. I mean, as Christians, it's really a wonderful thing to be able to share the hope of Christ with people and to see their lives come back together. And that's what we're going to be talking about today.

If you missed last time, you really need to go download it or order it through Focus on the Family. What an incredible story. Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs, they were married for about 10 years, ended up divorcing because Cheryl was having an affair and they live separately for seven years divorced. And then God began to work in their hearts during that seven years and rekindling the romance, the relationship and what it meant to be committed for life in a marriage.

And it is powerful. And I want to welcome back Jeff and Cheryl to Focus on the Family. Thanks. Thanks for having us back. Great to have you. Last time, again, Cheryl, I'll start where I left off.

I just again want to, for both of you, just want to say thank you for your vulnerability. In the Christian community, the mistake we make is trying to project some kind of perfection. And people that are living what you lived don't know where to connect because we're saying, hey, you just, you know, you accept the Lord and you live happily ever after. That's not always the case.

Right. And God definitely wants that life for us. I'm reminded of John 10 that the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. But he came that we might have life and life more abundantly.

Of course, talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, you live a testimony now that fulfills that scripture because your marriage was dead and the Lord breathed life back into it. So let's pick up from that point. Again, if you didn't hear it, you've got to go listen to it because it was dramatic. As Cheryl said last time, it was like living a soap opera. Jeff, you put the pieces together.

Cheryl was never able to really tell you that she was having an affair. But after the divorce, you went to pick up your daughters and you saw the man. You knew the man and put two and two together. You talked about feeling that anger at the end of the last program. We need to talk about that because men in this situation, there's a lot of testosterone that goes on at that moment.

You want to throttle some people. Talk about what you were feeling and how you dealt with it. I was so angry for a couple of years, really. And I didn't deal with it very well, to be honest with you. But at the same time, I knew the girls didn't want this divorce. And so my motivation was to make things as easy for them or as healthy as they could be given the situation. So when I would have the girls, I tried to be as positive and upbeat as I could be.

I never spoke badly about their mom in front of them. At the point of divorce, how old are your girls? Twin girls? They're four years old.

Four years old when the divorce is final. Yes. Yeah, it's just so sad. I think even today, when I think back on it about their little lives and just how crushed they were, because every night when we put them to bed, when I put them to bed, they would spill their guts to me and just cry. Yeah, and they would cry every night. And it's like Lauren typically- When you had them.

When I had them. Typically, Lauren would want her mom. And it was just so sad. And a lot of times, if I couldn't console them, I'd call Strel and she would come over and talk to them or rub their back until they fell asleep.

Or if it was really bad, just take one of them home with her. But it never felt settled. It was always fractured. I was angry. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. When I had the girls, I was in a high.

And when I didn't have them, I was in a low. And probably, looking back, I was probably depressed. Who were you angry at? I was mostly angry at Cheryl. And to be honest with you, I was angry at God, too. I was like, how could he let this happen to my family? Of course, looking back, I see how selfish that was. We'll talk about that, because that's a common statement that people make. But when you really reflect on it, I'm sure God's saying, hey, in reality, I didn't do this.

Right, exactly. And I made it all about me. I'm this good guy. I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't done anything wrong.

Of course not. In fact, at that point, I wasn't having any ownership in it. I was blaming the whole thing on Cheryl. And looking back now, what the Lord started to show me was I had a lot to do with it. And it wasn't so much what I did.

It was more what I didn't do. And so it was the sin of omission, and really that I never loved her like God calls us to love our wives. And when I read 1 Peter 3.7 now, it just convicts me.

What is the verse? Well, we're to treat our wives as the weaker vessel. And I never treated her as the weaker vessel. And as a piece of porcelain, protecting her, covering her, I never did that.

In fact, and then it goes on as co-heirs of the grace of life. And I never treated her as a co-heir or as an equal. I always looked at her as like, I knew the part where she was supposed to submit to me.

I got that, right? But I wasn't submitting to the Lord. So how does that work if I'm not submitting to the Lord and I'm the spiritual leader of the family? So God started revealing this to me in so many different ways. And so eventually, I was still helping with the high school youth at the church. And probably two years after that, they asked me to teach the boys a Wednesday night Bible study. And they wanted me to use the book by Kent Hughes called The Disciplines of a Godly Man. And I would tell these high school boys, you need to do, as Kent says in the book, not as I did.

And I would use the mistakes I made in my marriage as an example of these high school boys. And I also told them, I'm learning this three days ahead of you. And that's because I'm preparing the lesson on Sunday night, delivering it to you on Wednesday. So you're anywhere from 14 to 17. And I'm 34 at that point.

I'm learning with you. And the reality was God was just really starting to show me how I didn't treat Cheryl and how I wasn't the spiritual leader. And that I didn't love her like Christ loved the church. You know, there's something unique that's coming out in your story. And I don't know that a lot of people experience this in the circumstances that you faced. I mean, you're Cheryl, you're having an affair, you end up divorcing your two to three years after the divorce.

There seems to be an incredible sense of humility in it, though. It's like you know what's happening. Your heart is broken. The tether between you is still there, even though it's like the visual I have is a rope with all the threads torn except one. There was just something still hanging on between you.

What was that? Wow, that's that's great. Never, I never thought about the humility factor.

Wow, that's interesting. It does take humility to stay connected. Because that anger could have overwhelmed either of you. Yeah.

And that's what a lot of couples deal with. It's just done. It's over.

Right. Well, and I had lived, you know, starting in year two or so. I did start getting angry, but it never showed. I mean, I'm the typical type A, you know, perfectionist, had a great spirit, you know, just smile on my face, outwardly loving my husband, dying on the inside.

That's how I would have described myself. You know, Jeff and I had an incredible working relationship with the girls. We lived five minutes from each other. We didn't have the normal visitation. We did have a schedule.

But, you know, Jeff wanted the girls two nights overnight during the week so he could take them to school. And we agreed on all of that. He never came to the door mad at me.

We never put the kids on the sidewalk. We walked in each other's homes, you know, mostly right in the front foyer, but not, you know, walking around the house and things like that. But we did have a good relationship there. But my heart, even though I now was free to pursue this other relationship, my heart was still with Jeff. And so when you talk about that one little strand is the covenant that we made with God is that is really what that was.

Which we at that point, we weren't pursuing or I didn't even know really anything about that. At this point, you know, three months after we divorced, I finally come to know the Lord. And for me, it was like a Damascus road experience for me. It really was.

I was 33 and my eyes were completely opened. I was so hungry for the Lord. I was reading everything I could get my hands on, on marriage. I couldn't stay out of the word.

I had my home set up where I had a little chair and a little light. And I'd wake up every morning at five o'clock in the morning. I didn't even know how to read the Bible.

And these girlfriends of mine that I talked about, that were loving on me, said, here's what you need to do. Just, you know, get up in the morning or it doesn't have to be morning, but whenever time to spend with the Lord and get your Bible out, have a journal or something and start writing your prayers. And that's what I started to do. That's what I started to do every day at five o'clock. I couldn't wait to get up at five o'clock. And one day I'm sitting there and this is about two or three months after I came to know Jesus.

It's right after Christmas, actually. And on my paper was pursue reconciliation of your marriage that was written in your journal. Yes. And I looked at those words and I shut my journal and I'm like, there is no way I'm in love with someone else. I'll never consider that. And that's where the anger was for me at that point, because I was so mad at Jeff that, you know, he didn't do what he was supposed to do, I guess. You know, that's the way I saw it. What did you expect him to do? What did you want him to do? You know, he was supposed to read my mind. Well, yeah, I asked that question for that reason. I think a lot of women, a lot of wives are frustrated with their husbands because we find that very hard to do.

Yeah, much to your chagrin. But how did you manage that? What's the next turn? Where do you and Jeff take that broken strand around that single solid strand?

And how do you tie that together? And what was it? Well, the next day, I kept waking up every day.

And that was the topic, pursue reconciliation, pursue reconciliation. And finally, I was invited to a Tommy Nelson study, The Song of Solomon. Tommy did it live back then.

It was in 1993, January of 93. And I sat with 1000 other people. And I had no idea what The Song of Solomon was, didn't know where to find it in my Bible.

She thought it was a rock group. And I sat there with my mouth dropped open for six weeks. And I thought I had no idea that God had a plan for marriage, that he had a plan for dating, he had a plan for us. And what I realized, because now I was in tune with the Spirit of God, that the Lord was sharing with me that, here's another marker for you, for you to pursue reconciliation. And it was a turning point for me. So at that point, I went to Jeff. And I communicated to him that I felt like I told him I'd become a Christian. And he kind of shook his head like, whatever. And you're doing the Bible study at your church this time.

Yeah. I didn't believe her when she said it. I'm like, okay, I've been fighting for this marriage for all these years. And then three months after the divorce, she comes to know the Lord. Yeah, it was just too coincidental for me. I didn't believe her.

Okay. So I told him, I said, I felt like, you know, I'm learning the Bible and learning about marriage, God's intentions, and we did it all wrong. And I really feel like God is leading us to restore the marriage and really try to work on putting it back together. Okay, Jeff, I got to ask, I mean, at that moment, what are you thinking? I'm thinking she's crazy.

There's no way. Yeah, I'm so prideful. I'm just like, no, you know, I'm still angry. I'm still dealing with that anger I have.

And I'm just looking at her like, you're crazy. Well, he said, I'll never reconcile with you ever. Don't ever talk to me about it. Never, never. Never say never.

That's amazing, though. So what I mean, what was the catalyst then if your hearts are, you know, you're reaching out, you're trying Jeff's rebuffing that effort. What took place that opened your heart, Jeff?

I mean, what, how did you say? Well, it was definitely a combination of things. One, it was that Bible study that I was teaching the young men at church. But then one night I was just laying in bed and I didn't have the girls at night.

And typically when I didn't many nights, I would just lay there in my bed and I'm really just crying, looking at the ceiling and just crying and just like, you know, how did it get here? And I was just like, toss and turn. And I opened my Bible and I was reading Proverbs.

You know, it was interesting. It was probably on the third because somebody said, hey, there's 31 Proverbs. Right. Which we've all done.

Right. And so I turned, I was reading Proverbs and I came across Proverbs three, five and six, which was a verse I memorized in vacation Bible school back at my Baptist church in my hometown. And the verse said, trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding and all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your path straight. And I'm reading that verse and I'm feeling like really like I'm wrestling with the Lord. And he's showing me, Jeff, you've been leaning on your own understanding for at that point, 36 years. It's time to trust me. And I really thought that was the pivotal time in my life because I'm like, I get it.

I get it. I really have been doing things my way. And another friend had told me, you've become this, you used to be one of the most positive people I knew and you've become this angry guy.

And I didn't want to be that guy either. And so I feel like the Lord was just showing me, Jeff, it's time to do it my way. And so that was the pivotal night for me. Now for both of you though, I mean, it took some time because you're, you're separated and divorced for about seven years. So it didn't, it didn't just happen overnight. It was a process. What happened during that period of time? How did you, I mean, you're three months into it.

You're divorcing, you got six more years now separated. I mean, what was that journey all about? You know, I, I left Jeff's house that day after sharing my heart with him, probably for the first time on a deep level. And I had my tail between my legs, got in my car and I thought, I guess that was the I guess that wasn't God. So I got back to my home five minutes away and I just sat with the Lord and I'm like, God, you know, I guess it wasn't you. And I'm, I really don't understand all that you do yet.

I'm getting, I'm so new. And so it was very clear that God laid on my heart just continuing this journey. Don't give up on this. And so literally I was in the process of breaking off the other relationship. And literally the Lord laid on my heart just to continue to love Jeff, like I was supposed to in the first marriage, because that's what I was learning now, even though we weren't in the same home.

So I did my best to do that. I know I didn't do that very well sometimes because I was so anxious about that we had, you know, made so many mistakes and I just wanted a second chance. And, and so finally, five years in, I had been inviting Jeff over for dinner for about a year and he turned me down every time for a year.

And one day he said, yes, I'll come over five years in. Why did you say yes, after all that time, what in you made you say yes? I think it was just, you know, that the Lord had been softening my heart. And that's just, you know, I was getting to the place where I could start to look at her and not feel that anger anymore. In fact, Cheryl, I was going to say you wrote in your book about a letter of reconciliation that you'd written, Jeff, I've got an excerpt of that.

Oh, cool. And it'd be great if you could read that for us, because my guess would be, Jeff, this certainly helps soften your heart. You know, Jeff, believe it or not, I pray for us every day. I pray for our situation and ask God to show me what he wants for my life. I do not have peace with what has happened to us.

It just isn't settled in my heart and mind. My heart is still so much with you. I know you may not want to hear this as you appear to have gotten on with your life and appear to be happy. There are times when I really miss you. It's okay. I'm sorry for being selfish with you.

And trying to solve everything on my own. Jeff, I've always loved you and probably always will. Jeff, you may think differently, but I always loved you. I appreciate the tenderness in which you're reading that. Most of us listening are crying with you, because it's such such a heartfelt note.

What did that do for you, Jeff? You know, at the moment, I was just so full of pride that, you know, I basically, you know, I just I had no emotional response to it. And I was just so proud of it. I had no emotional response to it, and I'm not sure exactly what I said to her.

But, you know, I didn't let her think that that touched me in any way. But what happened was I kept the letter and I put it in. So it meant something. Yes, I put it in the nightstand beside my bed, and I probably read it 12 times over the next several months. And it was just another way that God is just one of the many things that the Lord was using to soften my heart and show me that, you know, this could happen.

This could really work. So that was the first time you thought it's possible? Yeah, there was just so many things that happened. But that was one of the catalysts.

Yes, absolutely. Cheryl, it takes, and Jim referenced this earlier, it takes a great deal of humility to get to a point, as you were writing in that excerpt, that you had failed and that you were the driver behind the divorce. Of course, all these years later, is there still a sting there of the pain? I would imagine the humility is not something that you grabbed for, but the Lord kind of pushed on to you. I mean, I'm thankful that the Lord humbled me.

I don't know what I would do without that at this point. Yeah, you know, it's really interesting. We share our story to a lot of churches across the country, different venues and all that. And I still, at times during the testimony, there's certain points that I cry every time. And I think, okay, this time, I'm not going to cry. But the Lord just continually reminds me of where he's pulled, you know, what he pulled me out of and what he can do and how he can redeem anything. And there's hope no matter what. And he's in control.

And we've got to lean on him. You know, when I hear the story and see the tears and see where you're at today, what strikes me is that, especially here in America, with our children and with our marriages, we want this pristine-ness, yet God teaches us so much in the valleys. I can only imagine, I'd like you to respond to this, but I bet the depth of your relationship today, with all of the vulnerability, with all of the pain that you've gone through, is more of a mountaintop than you had before. And something beautiful is in that. And, you know, I think God smiles with that. It's not about living falsely, living a false mountaintop.

God wants you to go through the valley so character is developed, hope is developed, love is developed. And I would think, when you look back on it, even with all the pain, would you do it differently? Well, I guess you would say you would do it differently. But honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.

You know, I wouldn't change a thing. I do want to, when I get before the Lord, when we go to heaven and all that, I can't wait to ask Jesus why it took seven years. There's perfection in that, from what I understand.

It's like being married to a stubborn husband. You know, it's pride, you know, I was a prideful man and it took me a long time to admit that and admit that I actually had played a role in it and there was something I could do about putting it back together. You know, so it's not a story that I would choose for us, but we've learned so much through it. And first of all, our relationship with the Lord, we know now is the most important relationship in our life. And second to that is our relationship with each other.

And we have such deep conversations now, we talk about just about everything, and so probably really wouldn't trade it. And I can feel that and hear that in the dialogue today. Well, I was just going to say that, you know, the seven years, I do kind of joke about that a little. But honestly, when I look at the all that God was teaching us year after year after year, the seven years, there was a reason for all of it. Because if we would remarried three years in, you know, God was teaching each one of us something each one of those different years. So it was the perfect time, God's perfect timing.

Yes. And you know, we have these last two days we've concentrated on your relationship rightfully so we talked last time about the age of your daughters when this all started about four years old. They've ridden this journey with you and we haven't come back to talk about them.

How are they doing? Where the girls are now is that they have seen the Lord look power work powerfully in our family's life. It has to be such a foundation for them.

Right. And even their teachers would tell me that, you know, your girls pray for your all's marriage, they pray for you and your wife. And they would tell me that that was so humbling. But how what an incredible thing to strengthen their faith because their prayers were answered. Right.

And they, you know, they actually wrote a chapter in the book, which is, you know, I cry every time I read it. But what's interesting is, you know, they're twins and, you know, the foundation that they have going into marriage is so strong because they've seen, you know, what God's done in Jeff and my marriage and then also the hundreds of couples that have come across our path. And they just don't take it for granted because, you know, as you were asking earlier, you know, one of the things that Jeff and I don't do anymore is take our marriage for granted. And we didn't have the right focus. And that's what we were missing is the right focus.

We thought it was each other. And when our focus is on the Lord and not each other, that's when we have the strength to love each other and we're free to love well. And Cheryl, as you're saying that, those of us in the Christian community, you know what?

There's struggles there. And when we claim Christ, people watch. And you've done such a wonderful job, even with all the brokenness coming back around and making that fundamental commitment to the Lord. That's what I heard you the last couple of days say that started with your relationship with Christ. And that's what you built it on. And once that foundation was set, you got things together.

The crooked things became straight. And now you are in a relationship, married twice and loving each other. And your girls are watching that. And guess what?

The rest of the world's watching too. And you've done it so beautifully. And I just want to again say thank you. Thank you. Thanks. And we give that all that credit to the Lord.

Really. It wasn't anything we did. It was more just letting the Lord work in our hearts. Well, and I think what's important to note is that, you know, Jeff and I don't have a perfect marriage.

Everyone thinks we have a perfect marriage because of everything we've been through. And the truth of the matter is we're a sinner married to a sinner. And so the difference between our first marriage and our second marriage is we go to Christ now. And that's the difference.

That is the difference. Well, again, I just want to say thank you so much for being with us and being so vulnerable. I love it. And I know many, many marriages will be touched because of what you've shared with us. Thank you.

Thank you. This has been such an inspirational story with Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs on Focus on the Family. And their testimony is captured in their book. I do, again, we do suggest that if you're struggling in your marriage or you know somebody who is, get a copy of this book.

Share it. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459. And when you support this ministry with a monthly gift to help us strengthen marriages in a time when more marriages than ever are under attack, we'll thank you for that sustaining gift by sending a copy of Jeff and Cheryl's book, I Do Again.

It might be that you're not in a position to make a monthly commitment. And we'll encourage you to make a one-time donation of any amount today. We'll still be happy to send you that book.

And thanks in advance for helping us do ministry together. John, we've heard such an uplifting story the past couple of days. And I know there are those who've been thinking about their own relationship and that brokenness. First of all, that's OK. Recognizing that brokenness is a good thing. And maybe you haven't been through a divorce, but you're concerned that things are falling apart and heading in that direction. Let us help you through our intensive counseling program called Hope Restored. You're there for several days in a nice setting in Missouri, Michigan, or Georgia, working through the weak areas of your marriage.

And here's the best part. Four out of five couples who've been to Hope Restored are still together and doing better two years after the counseling experience. We're so encouraged by what God is doing through this effort. And if you need help, we highly recommend it. Let us be there for you.

Yeah, and like Cheryl said, there's no perfect marriage. If you're really hurting, reach out, as Jim said. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. You can also learn more. We'll have all the links in the episode 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 more help you and your family thrive in Christ. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-20 10:15:42 / 2023-08-20 10:28:14 / 13

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