Getting Back in the Game: A Marriage Restored
About the Guest
Vicki and Bill experienced restoration in their marriage after they came to Christ. Although still very different in personality, they agree that the storms they've faced since turning their hearts to the Lord-and back to each other-has only made them stronger.
Vicki and Bill experienced restoration in their marriage after they came to Christ.
Getting Back in the Game: A Marriage Restored
Bob: After a five-and-a-half-year separation, Bill and Vicki Rose decided it was time to try to make their marriage work again. This time, both of them had put their faith in Christ; but in the back of Bill's mind, there was still an escape clause—a way out—until, one day, Vicki called him on it and told him it was time to commit.
Bill: It was at that moment that I realized that marriage is a commitment and not a feeling. That was like a light bulb went off. It was the first time. I mean, you know, I don't always feel like I want to be married. I know Vicki doesn't feel like she wants to be married; but, no matter what, I am committed to his beautiful woman over here. I know she is to me. But it really wasn't until I took the feelings out of it that I realized that this is what it's about—it is a commitment.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
We'll learn today how Bill and Vicki Rose burned the ships in the harbor and decided marriage is for keeps.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: I've got the question for our guests on today's program.
Bob: Well, save your question because I've been saving this moment here—
Dennis: You have a twinkle in your eye, Bob.
Bob: I just have to do this. We've been talking, this week, with Bill and Vicki Rose about their dating, their marriage, how their marriage drifted toward isolation, Bill's drug habit, and Vicki coming to faith / Bill coming to faith.
Dennis: Both are from a Jewish background.
Bob: That's right. Then, as—when Bill comes to faith in Christ—he kicks the cocaine habit, goes through detox, they get back together, their marriage is reestablished, and people would think—what would they think? They would think, “From here on out, it's going to be a bed of roses!” [Laughter] Huh? I've been saving that one. They think, “This is going to be a bed…” You've never heard that before; have you? Nobody ever—
Bill: You know, I think that was just brilliant. [Laughter]
Bob: But the truth is—
Dennis: It wasn't; was it?
Dennis: A lot of thorns?
Vicki: A lot of thorny roses. There have been so many incredible times—and times of memory—standing at each of our children's graduation from college, as a complete family—handing them both off in marriage, just this year, as a family.
Dennis: Can you imagine what you would have given up?
Vicki: Yes, I can. I can easily—I have so many friends who have given it up. It's just a constant nightmare when the family has to get together. In fact, we have a family—and it's all—it could not have happened apart from Jesus Christ and the foundation that He offered and laid for us in our lives.
Bill: I have asked both kids for forgiveness for what went on. It's still emotional for me; but, you know, my daughter has said, "Daddy, you've so, so have made up for it." But it was really important for me to be able to go to both kids and say, "Will you forgive me for how I screwed up?"
Dennis: Bill, why is it so emotional? I mean, we've heard the story. You talked about how you were so self-absorbed and into your drug habit—abandoning your family for five-and-a-half years. I mean, why—
Bill: Well, because, clearly, the drugs are not what are leading me now. I mean, Jesus leads me. It's emotional because now I certainly realize why I did this, and what I gave up, and how I screwed up. So, it becomes emotional when I talk about that. But, I mean, if you saw the letters and the cards I get from my kids, you know, for Father's Day or whatever—they're just—they're amazing.
Dennis: If you don't mind me asking, and you may not be willing to share this, what did you say to your son and what did you say to your daughter when you asked their forgiveness?
Bill: I just told them how sorry I was that I wasn't there for them and, you know, it wasn't me—it was the drugs—but I can't make that as an excuse. I just said, you know, "Will you please forgive me?" And they did—they did.
My relationship with both my kids is unbelievable. I mean, it is fabulous! I mean, both my kids are best buddies.
Dennis: Vicki, would you ever have believed you would have witnessed the picture he has just painted right there?
Vicki: No, no; I wouldn't have. Actually, friends came alongside me during our separation, after I had accepted Christ. One friend, in particular, said, "No matter what you do—whether you divorce Billy or whether you get back with him—it's not going to be easy."
That was really important for me to hear because that's the truth. I mean, life is not easy. I think I grew up thinking, somewhere along the line, it's supposed to get easy someday. That's just not the truth. When she said that, I thought, "That is really true." So, which "not easy" would I prefer and which "not easy" is more pleasing to the Lord?
Dennis: You know, as you were talking about that, I was thinking of a picture that Jesus gave of two different builders of two different houses in Matthew, Chapter 7.
One guy who built his house on the rock—on Jesus. It says: "When the floods came, the storms blew and burst against that house, and the rain descended." It says, "The house stood—
Dennis: —because it had been built on the rock.” That man did what Jesus Christ asked him to do. He compared that to a person who built his house on the sand—who didn't obey Christ. The same wind, storm, floods came; and it says "The house fell, and great was its fall."
Bob: The point is—the wind, the storms—come against everybody.
Vicki: Are coming, right. I think we'd both come to realize that—I mean, we look at each other now; and we go, "We've got history." We've realized now, in our mid-50s, that the storms have made us stronger. The storms have helped us to trust each other more. We don't like storms when we're in them—we don't like them at all.
It's not fun when we're in them; but when we get to the other side, it's really been worth it.
Bob: Vicki, there was a year period where Bill had come to faith in Christ—he'd gotten cleaned up. He was confronted by two of your friends saying, "Okay, when are you going to move back in?" It took him four or five months after that before he called and said, "I'm ready to come home."
Bob: And he moves back in. Were you thinking: “He's going to move back in—it is going to be easy; and from here on, it's all going to be—we're going to be a happy family because we now—we all know Jesus, and we all love Jesus”?
Vicki: I think—yes. I really do think I thought that. I always struggled with thinking that we should be the same. I thought: "Well, you should just get on board. We'll do everything the way I've been doing it, and everything will be great." I still had that thing going—that's really not accurate.
Bill: I feel the same way, by the way—that she should get on board with me, and everything will be perfect! [Laughter]
Vicki: Actually, that's a lot more difficult. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, but it's interesting because you're thinking, “If we both love Jesus, now he'll act like me.”
Vicki: Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking.
Bob: Instead of thinking, "Since we both love Jesus now, he'll act like Jesus."
Vicki: That's good—that's a good point.
Bob: But we do get this whole idea that it's going to be sameness. I want to talk about this learning to adjust to these differences in the early years of your reconciliation. Were there times when you thought: "I'm not sure he really came to faith in Christ," or, "I'm not sure we should really be together, even though we've both come to faith."
Dennis: Bill, what about you?
Bill: Yes, well, we had a breakthrough moment up in Maine on a vacation. We were driving. I'm not sure what was happening in the car, but it wasn't good. Vicki was driving because I have a bad knee. She pulled the car over and basically said: "You need to make a decision. Either you're in this marriage, or you're not in this marriage."
Vicki: We'd had a terrible fight, and it was definitely my causing it. I was totally in the wrong, at that point. You said, "I just don't think this is going to work." You know, "We're not meant to be together." I swerved the car off the road. I said: "Okay, you know, when you came home, I made a decision. You know I made the decision that, no matter what we face, I'm in this marriage. I'm not getting out of it, but I don't think you've made that decision." I said, "Either you need to make the decision, or you need to step out because it's just not going to work this way."
Bill: It was at that moment that I realized that marriage is a commitment and not a feeling. That was the first—that was like a light bulb went off. It was the first time. You know, I don't always feel like I want to be married. I know Vicki doesn't feel like she wants to be married; but, no matter what, I am committed to this beautiful woman over here. I know she is to me.
But it really wasn't until I took the feelings out of it that I realized that: “This is what it's about—it is a commitment.”
Dennis: So, what did you say to her when she said this, then? I mean, she's pulled off to the side of the road—
Bill: I don't really remember what I said at that time; do you?
Vicki: Yes. I said, "You need to decide now." I think I said that.
Bill: Well, I must have said, "I'm in," because we're here.
Vicki: You did. [Laughter]
Bob: Had you been vacillating for two years? Had you been going back and forth going: "Gee, did I make a mistake? Should I go back to…”
Bill: I don't know. I guess I thought, you know, I guess I thought maybe leaving was always sort of on the table as an option. I'm not sure that I presented it that way to myself.
Dennis: You must have been sending her some mixed signals.
Bill: I don't know; was I?
Vicki: Well, it just was hard. I mean, it wasn't a bed of roses—it was not a bed of—
Bob: Was there ever a time when you packed up your bag and said, "I'm out of here for the night," “…for the day,” “…for the weekend.” You didn't do any of that?
Bill: No; no.
Vicki: We teased. We kept all your old furniture in mini-storage.
Bill: We did. She kept on threatening to send me to mini-storage, too. [Laughter] That was going to be my house.
Dennis: But did you threaten to leave? I mean, you said it was on the table. So, this was—
Bill: It was on the table in my mind— not out there.
Dennis: It was back in the—
Vicki: I think, when we would have really bad disagreements, you would end up saying, "You know, this just may not work." I know, for me, whether he said it or not, I felt that. I felt like I really had to walk on eggshells a lot just to keep things smooth so that he wouldn't leave again.
Bob: What does a bad disagreement or what did a bad disagreement look like at the Rose home? Was it loud?
Vicki: It wasn't loud. I'm more—it was more on the phone. You know, like, if he'd go to work on a Sunday—which I had just so longed for family weekends together. He would be at the restaurant all weekend. I would just constantly want him to want to give that up.
Bob: So were you nagging him?
Bob: Regularly, habitually—he's smiling. [Laughter] It felt pretty regular to you?
Bill: “Better to be on a rooftop—
Bob: You're a man who knows his Bible.
Dennis: You know what nagging is; don't you? It's being nibbled to death by a duck. [Laughter]
Bill: That's exactly right.
Bob: So there was kind of a regular routine of complaining, whining, griping, and nagging?
Vicki: Yes; yes; yes.
Bob: Were you thinking: "This isn't what I signed back up for. I was happier when I was doing cocaine."
Bill: No, I wasn't—no, I never thought that. I didn't think that because one of the things Vicki once said to me is, "Play out the full tape because you'll…" because we'll come to a—something where I'll say, you know, "Maybe, I should…” “Maybe, I'll do this." You know, it's probably a really bad idea.
Bob: You start to fantasize what life might be if something else were going this way?
Bill: You know—I play out the full tape.
I started to feel guilty about—that was a new feeling / a new deal—that I was now working at the restaurant and not home with Vicki and the kids.
Bill: Yes, really.
Dennis: How did that manifest itself? I mean, were you sitting there going—
Bill: I couldn't wait to get out of the restaurant to go home. I would leave there—I mean, sometimes at 6:00, sometimes at 9:00, sometimes at 10:00—but, I mean, I wasn't leaving there at 3/4 in the morning anymore. It was—that's when I started looking for buyers—about 1995—finally sold it. When did I sell it? —'96/'97?
Vicki: Ninety-seven. I started to—on a Saturday—say, “Okay, kids, let’s go and,” you know, “be at the restaurant,” so we could—
Bill: It was great. They would hang out—they would hang out.
Vicki: Douglas would go in the kitchen and expedite—
Bill: Yes. It was—
Bob: So, you were trying to pitch in and find some common ground here?
Vicki: Yes. Yes.
Bob: But the differences between you are pretty dramatic differences—personality, temperament, style of life; aren’t they?
Bill: They are.
Bob: The clash of those differences—even with two of you knowing Christ, loving Christ, wanting to make it work—that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; does it?
Bob: If we had a couple here today that had just been through a prolonged separation—there had been a lot of junk in their marriage, but they wanted to give it a go—and they came to you and said: "Okay, we want to give this a try. Coach us. Prepare us for what's ahead. What do we need to know so that we can get to the finish line together?"
Let me start with you, Bill. What would you tell them?
Bill: Well, I think the first thing you need to know is: “It's not going to be easy. It's going to be a battle. A lot of times, when you think you're really on the right track, I mean, Satan wants no part of this. Satan wants no part of us being together.”
Satan wants no part of us being here—I realized that this was probably going to be a decent show and a good place to come—because my good knee had a major deal on Saturday—that I was supposed to have surgery on this Friday now—and I felt sick as a dog for the last three days. So, I knew Satan was at play at that.
Bob: So, when you face adversity, you're saying that should be a sign to you that you're probably on the right track?
Bill: Absolutely; absolutely! It's not always easy; but it's so worth it. And—
Bob: What would you say?
Vicki: I think the biggest thing I would say is—the patience factor. I know I expected things—I expected Billy to come home right away. I expected, suddenly, you know, everything would fall right into place because now we both had Christ directing us. We're still two different people. We're still from two different backgrounds. We still are humans; and, you know, have areas in our lives that we wish we didn't—a lot of patience, a lot of grace, and a lot of forgiveness—every day is a day to forgive. I think it's just perspective.
Bob: If you have a tendency to be an impatient, high-control kind of person, you might have some challenges at this?
Vicki: You definitely would. I have to say, before anything else, the most important thing—the most important thing to me is reading the Word every day—for both of us.
For me—to know that Billy is reading it so that I know that he's accountable to it—and for him to know it's the same thing for me—and so that we're growing every day in Christ to become more like Him. Because the more like Him we become, the better things are between us.
Dennis: You know, as you guys have been sharing here, there's a couple of things you'd mentioned, early on, that I'd underscore in answering that question, too. One is commitment. You both have embodied that—where you haven't quit. The easiest thing to do is quit and just toss the towel in. But neither one of you did that. And there may have been moments when you were tempted, but temptation is not wrong. Temptation becomes wrong when you take the bait—and you make a decision, based upon your feelings—and you step out rather than stepping in.
Then, the other thing we've talked about numerous times is having the biblical blueprints for building a marriage on the rock. That comes as two people get to know the Bible and apply it in their marriage relationship together, diligently. When they fail, they forgive each other, as you guys have modeled here.
You know, I was talking, Bob, to a radio listener, who has been listening to us for a number of years, and got a chance to meet this lady. I said, "Have you and your husband been to the Weekend to Remember®, our marriage conference that takes the biblical blueprints and lays them out in a very practical way and helps couples apply them, right on the spot?” She said, "No." I said, "You need to go. In this culture, with what's at stake, from a generational standpoint, you need to go and get the blueprints." I just think there's a lot at stake in marriages today. You can lose by quitting, and you can also lose by not having the right blueprints to be successful.
Bob: And, you know, anybody who has ever been to one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways knows that there's a lot more to the weekend than just being handed a set of blueprints.
I mean, this is a fun, engaging, relaxing, enjoyable getaway weekend for couples—where, together, you learn about what the Bible has to say about building a stronger marriage and how the two of you can get on the same page and can come together around God's plan for your marriage.
I’ll tell you—you also have a blast. It's just a great time for couples—it's refreshing / it's rejuvenating. For a lot of couples, this is a transforming weekend. Of course, you and I are going to be in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this weekend for a getaway. I think we have four additional getaways happening this weekend in other cities, all around the country. Throughout the spring, we have dozens of these events happening in US cities. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link you see there for the Weekend to Remember. Make plans, this spring, to come out and join us for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
I was with a group of FamilyLife Today listeners recently. I just asked them, “How many of you have been to a Weekend to Remember?” It was about half. I thought, “Here are regular listeners—friends of FamilyLife Today,” and they’ve just never been. Well, this spring is the time to make a change. Join us for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link you see there. Find a location and a date that works for you. Plan to come out for a Weekend to Remember.
If you don’t find a date or a location that works for you, there’s an alternative. There are hundreds of churches, this weekend, hosting one of our Art of Marriage® video events. Our goal was to get 2,014 churches to do it in 2014. I don’t know if we reached our goal or not, but there are a whole lot of churches that are hosting this event in cities this weekend.
You can attend an Art of Marriage video event Friday night and Saturday. Just find a location near you. Contact the hosts and say, “We’d like to come.”
I’m sure there’s room for you. I’m sure they’d love to have you join them. Or if you don’t see a location—or, again, a date doesn’t work for you—you can host your own Art of Marriage event. We’ve had lots of couples do this over the last couple of years. It’s a great time for couples to get together and learn more about how to build a strong marriage.
So, again, find all of this, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link there for The Art of Marriage or the link for the Weekend to Remember. Plan to do something that will strengthen your marriage this spring.
Dennis: Well, I want to, first of all, thank Bill and Vicki Rose for turning their—even their bed of roses—that has thorns in it—into a magnificent fragrant aroma. Thanks for your commitment; and thanks for being real, here on FamilyLife Today, this week. You guys have a remarkable story.
There's a last story, though, Bill, I want you to tell.
Your mom died fairly early in your life, but your dad lived to be—
Bill: One hundred.
Dennis: One hundred?
Bill: One hundred.
Dennis: Something happened—three months prior to his home-going to heaven—that changed the course of his eternal destination.
Bill: Well, it did. My mom died in 1991 of leukemia. Actually, I was in her room, in the hospital, and told her that I was moving back in with Vicki—and that I was really okay. Everything was going to be okay. She passed away two or three days after that.
And my dad, at the age of 100—I had bought him this large-screen TV so I could come over every Sunday—I came over almost every day—but on every Sunday, I would come over; and we'd watch the game together.
Vicki was over there. He was, you know, this little Jewish man lying in the bed—and had always really put down the fact that—originally, was really against the fact the Vicki had accepted Christ. When I came back to live with her, he was—oh, better with it because he saw what was happening with us. And Vicki—I could not have done this—Vicki got next to him and said, "Poopsy,"—is what we used to call him. She said, "Poopsy, would you like to pray this prayer and know that you will have eternal life?" He shook his head, "Yes." At the age of 100, my father prayed to receive Christ. It was really neat.
Three months later, on a Sunday night, I brought one of the ballplayers—who was a friend of mine—a guy named Sterling Hitchcock—a believer. He used to pitch for the Yankees. He was pitching for Seattle, at the time. I brought him to the house, before Sterling and I went to dinner, and introduced him to my dad. My dad said: "I know you! I have seen you on TV!"
That night, after Sterling walked out of the room, I could see my dad was struggling. I said, "Dad, do you want to go and be with Mom?" He said, "Yes." I said: "Dad, I give you permission; okay? You don't need to hang on here anymore; okay? Go." He died the next night—died the next night.
Dennis: That's powerful.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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