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From Marriage to Addiction to Divorce... Now They Help Other People's Marriages!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2023 3:04 am

From Marriage to Addiction to Divorce... Now They Help Other People's Marriages!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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August 18, 2023 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, as rising seniors in college, Roane and Eva Hunter decided to get married, thinking it would fix all of their problems. A few years down the road, they realized that that wasn't the case. After going through many struggles, and even a divorce, the couple healed their once-broken relationship, and today they help others do the same. 

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For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share these powerful perspectives from real people with MG so their experiences can help inspire the MG community and educate others about this rare condition. Listen to find strength in community on the MG journey on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Terms and conditions apply.

See website for details. And we return to our American stories. Up next, you're going to hear from Rhone and Eva Hunter. This couple went through great hardship and even a divorce. Today, they use their experiences to help others heal in their marriages.

Hear Rhone and Eva sharing their own story of brokenness and how they restored a marriage that most would have deemed hopeless. I grew up in Macon, Mississippi, which is a small town, which is all of Mississippi, and I lived out in the country. We farmed around 4,000 acres, and I had two older brothers that were four and five years older, and it was kind of like boy heaven.

Growing up in that environment, hunting, fishing, cows and dogs and horses and tractors, there was not a better place to grow up. My mom and dad then divorced when I was eight years old, and that was the first great tragedy or trauma in my life. And everything changed. I was kind of turned over to my two older brothers who were four and five years older. And I always say that I was raised by wolves, the wolf pack, my two older brothers and their buddies that were all four and five years older than me. And so we kind of figured life out.

We had very little parental supervision or direction, and we grew up, not in good ways. Eva and I met. We knew each other. Everybody knows each other in small towns.

But we actually started dating when we were 15, and that began our journey together. I, too, am from a small town in Mississippi, the same hometown as Rome. However, I lived in the city. The big city.

The big city. I'm the firstborn of three children. My parents were very young when they had me. They were just 19 years old and then quickly had another child.

And so they were just really, I think, probably in survival mode trying to make ends meet. However, I mean, they were very involved in my life, especially my mother. I had a lot of accountability and a lot of rules. However, I had a lot of freedom, too. I mean, I knew every crack in the sidewalk. I rode my bike all over town.

Like I said, I had a lot of rules. I grew up in church. I accepted Jesus when I was eight years old. But that was just a one time experience.

Not a lot of growth after that for me. And my home, just a lot of intensity. My dad was an alcoholic. Being a firstborn, I took on the hero role in the family system.

So an overachiever, overly responsible. I made the family look good because I achieved. So Eva grew up with a lot of rules and I grew up with no rules. And when we met, you know, she could come to my house and get a beer out of the refrigerator. And that was just normal for me growing up. And for her, that was like really, really out there. And so I think that was the attraction for her, that she could get a beer out of the fridge.

So that's why she liked me. That is not true. That is not true. I was really shocked by that, quite honestly. It was a red flag, but I did not question it.

Yeah, there were lots of red flags. We were both very broken growing up in kind of the dysfunction. I always say I grew up in the Easter Christian denomination. We went to church at Easter, maybe, if nobody was hungover. And growing up in small town Mississippi, not going to church was kind of, you know, that was different. And like none of my friends' parents were divorced. And so even that, you know, was something that like, it just felt different.

What I developed was just that kind of a chameleon personality to be able to adapt and fit in in whatever environment I was in. And then when even I met, I started going to church with her. I always say 15-year-old boys don't love Jesus.

They go to church because there's a girl there. And so I did start going, and then we started dating, and we graduated and went to college. That summer before going into our freshman year, kind of the second great tragedy in my life, and certainly tragedy in our life, happened. Yes, and it was definitely the second tragedy for me. Although I did not realize the first tragedy was growing up in an addictive family system, I did not understand that.

I really didn't think it had affected me. And I got pregnant in between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college. And we really thought, well, let's just get married, you know, small town Mississippi, we'll just begin life together now. However, our parents got involved.

I mean, I'd already had several buddies that that had happened, and you just get married and, you know, build a house on the farm, and I'll just farm, and we'll start doing life together. When my mom divorced, she remarried very quickly. Probably the ink was not dry on the divorce papers. Later in life, my brothers and I came up with our affectionate name for him. We couldn't call him Stepfather because he didn't have a father bone in his body.

So after this movie came out, we started calling him Step Focker. And so that became our affectionate name. And then they had my little sister, and so that became kind of my mother's new little nuclear family, and I was kind of like, where's Waldo? And he had a yacht, and in the summer, they would go over to the Bahamas and live on the boat, which I got to experience that in my teenage years, which that was one benefit of growing up with him, but it didn't outweigh the bad. And so they were in the Bahamas, and I talked to my mother, and I told her that Eva was pregnant, and she basically told me that she needs to get an abortion, and y'all don't need to get married.

At 17, that's the level of support you get. I certainly did not know what to do. And so I called Eva and told her, and she told her mother what my mother had said, and then that decision was made pretty quickly.

Very quickly, yes. That happened when we were very young, and we both buried it. Between Ron and I, we never talked about it again. Now, if there was a conflict between us, it got very intense very fast. I think that trauma would just come out of me with a lot of intensity over the next 7 to 10 years in our relationship. At 20 years old, we were at Mississippi State in college, and I always say it's real when a 20-year-old frat boy comes to Jesus, and he quits drinking, cussing, and smoking, because that's all I needed to do was to stop those things and then start going to church, and we did. Eva actually was with me when I accepted Christ, and it became very real. We were just so desperate. I mean, we were two very hurting young people. Yeah, going to church, we knew we needed something more than what we had, but we got very little in terms of how do you actually do a relationship, how do you actually navigate emotions and all those things. Yeah, we were both really emotionally dysregulated.

Totally. So there was a lot of chaos. We were dealing with attachment issues. Again, we didn't know any of this at the time. We were just trying to do life. So we wound up getting married going into our senior year in college, because marriage will fix all this. And we just thought that's what we need to do. And you're listening to Roan and Eva Hunter share their story of brokenness and thinking marriage would somehow fix their problems.

And by the way, that happens every day, and it doesn't fix the problems. My goodness, trauma on both sides, brokenness on both sides. Eva, an alcoholic parent, and, well, the trauma that Roan faced with an early divorce, and then being raised by, as he put it, a pack of wolves.

Boys shouldn't raise boys. It doesn't end well. When we come back, more of the story of Roan and Eva Hunter, here on Our American Stories. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis. From early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And we're back with our American stories and with Rowan and Eva Hunter. When we last left off, they were still a bit lost in their relationship, but they decided to get married anyway because they thought, well, they thought that would fix things.

Let's return to Rowan and Eva. What I saw in men growing up were men who were emotionally disengaged. They didn't really connect with their female children.

And certainly what I saw modeled was just a lot of detachment. We didn't know how to emotionally connect. We got married and then moved away, lived in the Mobile, Fairhope, Alabama area for five years, and then I got transferred to Nashville. We were there for about a year and then ultimately wound up in Atlanta. And so we're in Atlanta, and both of our sons had been born.

At this point we had two small children, two sons. And we were having a discussion. I didn't think we were arguing, but Eva asked me, you know, you seem down.

Why are you so down? And I looked at her, and the words came out of my mouth. I said, I have a problem with pornography.

And I literally remember turning around going, who said that? Because there was no way I was ever going to tell her that. For me, the pornography thing started, and obviously this was way before the Internet, but my mother's attitude was boys will be boys. And we had pornography on the bedside table, and it hooked me.

There were hours spent just absorbing that stuff into my brain. And when I came to Christ, it was one of those things that I sincerely wanted to not do that anymore. And, you know, everybody thinks you get married, and that's going to fix it.

And it really doesn't work that way. And so with marriage came stress and intensity and anxiety. And so my full-blown sexual addiction began to escalate. When Eva and I moved into these bigger cities, I was going to strip joints and massage parlors and prostitutes. And each one of the moves, it was a geographic cure, because I was like, if I can just get away from these places, you know, that'll fix it.

Well, each city was bigger, and there were more opportunities, and the geographic cures lasted about a week and a half in each one of those moves. And then we're in Atlanta, and she asked me the question, why are you so down? And the words came out of my mouth. And that was really gone, because it had to get out into the light. And so that was the beginning of everything changing for us.

But it was two years of hell on earth. Yes, it was. It was devastating to me to know that he had this secret because of what he presented, to be to the outside world, to me, we were in leadership at our church. And at that time, in 1990, the 7-Eleven convenience stores had taken out pornography off their shelves all across the United States, and that was a huge thing.

And he talked about that and let everybody know what a great thing that was. At the same time, never saying, this is an issue for me. It was just so shocking to me. So I went into my own grief cycle, the first stage is shock and numbness, and then a lot of anger, up under anger was hurt, fear, frustration, and injustice. But I couldn't tap into those deeper feelings. I never in my whole life really let myself feel those really vulnerable feelings ever. And I lived in that angry stage of grief for longer than I could really sustain. And I got hopeless. When I became hopeless, I thought a separation would be good for us, or for me.

I went to a lawyer in the state of Georgia, which is the same here in Mississippi. There is not a legal separation. I wanted to be protected financially because I was a stay-at-home mom. And so she said, you know, the only way you're going to protect yourself financially is to divorce. And you can be divorced in 30 days.

Be protected financially. If you all are able to reconcile, you can always remarry. And so that sounded like a good solution to me at the time. Once we did divorce, I was completely done. And at that point, really realizing I'm on my own and I have two small children and ended up getting a full-time job and beginning to work on myself.

The first thing I did was go to a group, Adult Children of Alcoholics, ACOA group. And that was eye-opening for me. It was one of the layers began to peel off that, oh wow, what I had grown up had affected me.

And these were all the ways when they handed me the laundry list of what happens to a child. In my mind at the time, I thought, there's nothing wrong with me. When we got counseling during the two years prior to the divorce, Ava was not really engaged in that process. Pretty quickly after I admitted to the pornography and then began to reveal more to Ava, I very quickly got engaged with a Christian counselor in Atlanta because I wanted to be better. I wanted to deal with this. I'd been willing to deal with it.

I just didn't know how. And so I got engaged with a Christian counselor. I got involved in a support group ministry. I was in a therapy group with my counselor because I wanted to do my work.

And I wanted to be better. And we would go to counseling. And the counselor, you know, we knew I was the problem.

I was easy. And then he would kind of shine that light over on Ava. And he would ask about, well, what about growing up with an alcoholic father?

And her standard reply was, I'm fine. We're here because of him. You need to fix him. And then, okay, he'd come back to me.

And then he'd shine the light over there. And, you know, what about the abortion? He's like, I'm over that. I'm fine. We're here because of him.

Fix him. And so at that point, I did not want any more couples counseling. After the divorce, I was ready to get the help I needed for myself. So I did a lot of individual counseling along with ACOA. I, for the first time, saw my own brokenness.

I really didn't think I had anything. I had a lot that I had brought into the marriage. Over the next year, I became open to reconciliation with Rome because I could see. It looked different. Our brokenness looked different.

But there was a lot of similarities in it, too. And even when we were apart, I saw that he stayed in recovery. I saw that he stayed in his own therapy.

That gave me hope that he was always going to work on himself. I was engaged in my process because words at that point are meaningless. I got stuck for a long time with, I'll never be able to trust him again.

Well, as I did my own work, I realized I had been set up in my family of origin not to trust. So we began more of a restoration process. We were separated and divorced for a little over a year. And then we did decide to remarry. We committed to doing our work in that process. We were involved in recovery groups. Yeah, and in our process, it wasn't like we got remarried and everything was rosy.

No, no. We had a lot of work to do. We were both involved in support groups and we always have been and we always will be. And so we continue to do our work because marriage is not easy and you have to be intentional. And you've been listening to Rhone and Eva Hunter share, well, quite nakedly, quite boldly, the problems they each brought into the marriage. It was easy for Eva to blame her husband, Rhone, but in the end she realized she came with a lot of brokenness into this marriage too.

And they ultimately get divorced, reconcile, and find love and hope again in each other when we come back. More of this remarkable love story, Rhone and Eva Hunter's story, here on Our American Stories. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenix, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis, from early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone. Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And we're back with our American stories and with Rhone and Eva Hunter's story.

Let's pick up where they last left off. Eva did not cause my sexual addiction, my acting out. So often, you know, guys will justify that in a lot of different ways.

And that's just totally bogus. You know, I got on the marriage train with all this packed in my luggage. You know, it's in that zipper compartment down in there. You got it all packed neat and hidden. We both got on the marriage train with our stuff.

So she did not cause it, and she could not change it. You know, what I developed was a very illegitimate coping behavior that went back to early childhood. And so the illegitimate coping behavior is learned early on. And so that became my way of escape, my way of numbing, my way of medicating, the anxiety and the stress that I was feeling. And even when we say sex addiction, even I both say we don't really like the term. And the term that we really prefer is just sexual brokenness, because this thing takes a lot of different forms. And when you say addiction, there's almost like it's hopeless. And from an addiction standpoint, it's very different than drugs and alcohol, because those two things actually alter the chemical composition of your brain and your body. And with this, you've got to begin to understand the deeper roots.

And so Eva could not change that. That was on me, and she could not control it. That's all in my journey and part of my own recovery and my growth. Somewhere in our 40s, we both had the vision, I guess, or really the calling that we would give back on a professional level. In my mind, it was going to be when we were retired. Somewhere in our 60s, I didn't think it would be as a career, that this would be life 2.0. It was just going to be how we did it in our retirement years. Well, it's certainly God had another plan. God and Rome had another plan.

When I was in the corporate world, I was very successful, and I had great jobs and worked for big companies and all of that. But for me, my fulfillment came in doing what we were doing in our church setting. Often somebody might go talk to the pastor, and our pastors, of course, knew our story. And then they would be like, you need to go talk to Rome.

Here's his phone number. Or you need to talk to Eva. I think God did a healing work around a lot of the shame that I had. It doesn't always work that way for many people.

Not that I don't have any shame about that, but God spoke to my heart that He was going to use this for His glory. And then over time, I began to think, OK, what does it look like to really do this and kind of make a living giving up that safety and security of a corporate job and launching out and doing something on your own completely different. And boy, that was a process, and it took just a long time because you've got kids and college and bills and houses and mortgages and all of that.

Yes, all the things. And so we had begun our graduate work in Atlanta, and that process was such a journey to go back to school. And Eva thought that it was what we were going to do when we retired. And after our boys went off to college, we decided to move back to Mississippi. But while we were still in Atlanta, we started our master's program at Richmond College and were able to transfer to Mississippi College here and finished at the age of 50. We were actually 49. I felt 50.

Yeah, yeah. Well, I was in the corporate world in my business career for 25-plus years in the corporate salt mines, and one of my goals was to get out of that before I turned 50. And I made it. We started our private practice, and we were 49. And have now been in private practice for 10 years. We work a lot with couples in crisis. When there's betrayal, the relationship is in crisis. And in crisis, you need a lot of direction. It's great to have a therapist that asks you how you feel about that, but when you're in crisis mode, it's kind of like when the plane loses an engine. If the flight attendant is just asking everybody how you feel, it's probably not going to be helpful.

And so when the plane's going down, you want somebody that's kind of giving you direction. And if you trust this process, there is hope. And we've seen many marriages not only survive the crisis, but actually begin to thrive and have the marriage that God intended from the beginning. Ron and I were instrumental in doing an intervention with my father, and he did go to treatment and was sober from alcohol for, gosh, 25 years. And so I got to see my parents give back what they had been given.

They were very involved in the AA community. Just becoming really healthy, becoming very well-boundaried people. So I'm very, very grateful for recovery and for where we've been, what happened to us. It changed everything for us. The way we view life, the way we live life, and the way we give back what we've been given. It's just been amazing to kind of see what God's done in the last 10 years with all of this and how doors have just kept opening and so much of the things that are happening really feel surreal. We really both love what we do, and it doesn't always, it doesn't really feel like work.

No. It's kind of crazy, and so God has certainly added life to us in so many ways. And our mission is adding life to others. I married a very passive man. And when the truth came out, which he revealed himself, which is very unusual, he changed into this man of, he didn't have any fear. He really was very bold and courageous. And for me personally, I had shame to deal with because I really thought we were the perfect couple.

We literally had a precious little house in Atlanta with a white picket fence, literally. And it was so cute. And I really wanted to keep that image.

So I had my own shame that my image was broken. But Rhone, I saw the change from passivity to a man of boldness. And will come against anything. Gets him into trouble sometimes.

She keeps me grounded. But I have been speaking out about this for so many years in churches, with pastors, and in different settings. Because really this pornography thing is destroying so many lives. It's one of those things that you can hide and you can keep secret. And so I am very outspoken. And I always say you can't be a pastor or church leader and be an alcoholic. You get figured out pretty quick when you're preaching sermons and you're drunk. It's hard to be a crackhead and be a pastor. People see you scratching and itching. That gets found out pretty quick.

But boy, with this thing, it can go underground. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We don't count our one year apart. However, we did have to remarry legally. And had new vows, which that meant a lot to us. We call it our marriage sabbatical.

Yes. But what that feels like is there's just so much freedom. We no longer try to present this image. We're very open and honest and transparent. And we still can get sideways real fast, real easy. However, we do recover very fast too today. There's a huge difference.

Yeah, we always say marriage just in and of itself without all this stuff. It's like God's sense of humor. He takes a cat and a dog and he throws them in a dryer. And he says, hey Peter, hold my wine.

Watch this. And then he turns the dryer on. And he says, okay you two, get along. That's marriage, right? And so it takes a lot of intentionality for marriage to be what God intended it to be. But certainly in our journey, we both say quite often, we would not trade anything that we've been through to be where we are today.

Not one thing. Yeah, I mean it certainly has been a journey. And it's been hard. It hasn't been easy.

It hasn't been painless. But boy, where we are today, it is good. And it has ultimately been for our good. And a terrific job on the storytelling and production by Madison. And a special thanks to Rhone and Eva Hunter for sharing their story.

What a blessing when Rhone confessed that he had a problem with pornography. Things had to turn south. There was a divorce. But in the end, a year later, well, the husband was healing. And now the wife had to look at her own brokenness. An abortion.

An alcoholic father. And her own healing journey begins. The two reconcile. They get married. And what do they do with the rest of their lives? They help other married couples heal their lives and their marriages. By all means, pick up their book, Sex God and the Chaos of Betrayal. The story of Rhone and Eva Hunter. The story of marriage, love and redemption here on Our American Stories. So join today and play for free for your chance to redeem some serious prizes.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-25 21:13:12 / 2023-08-25 21:25:21 / 12

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