FamilyLife Today® Podcast

A Marriage Adrift

with Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs | August 5, 2009
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Has your love for your spouse cooled a bit? Today Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs talk about their whirl-wind courtship and the California high life they lived in their early years of marriage. But as each anniversary passed by, Cheryl tells how she became aware of a lingering emptiness, which she assumed indicated her marriage had hit the rocks. Hear to what lengths Cheryl went to fill her emptiness, and how those choices became the beginning of the end of her and Jeff’s marriage.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Has your love for your spouse cooled a bit? Today Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs talk about their whirl-wind courtship and the California high life they lived in their early years of marriage. But as each anniversary passed by, Cheryl tells how she became aware of a lingering emptiness, which she assumed indicated her marriage had hit the rocks. Hear to what lengths Cheryl went to fill her emptiness, and how those choices became the beginning of the end of her and Jeff’s marriage.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Has your love for your spouse cooled a bit?

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A Marriage Adrift

With Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs
August 05, 2009
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Cheryl:  I thought it would be extremely romantic, that we wouldn’t fight.

Bob:  For Cheryl Scruggs it took a little more than two years for her fairy tale dreams to start to crumble.

Cheryl:  I noticed that I was feeling extremely empty, and starting to fight this anger that I was starting to have for Jeff.  I started blaming on him that he wasn’t the right guy that he didn’t know how to connect with me.  I was very visible at my work and there were a lot of men that were paying attention to me.  What I started to realize is that I was looking more forward to going to work than I was coming home.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 5th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’re going to hear today how Cheryl Scruggs fairy tale collapsed. Stay tuned!

Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  When a marriage starts to go through the kind of cycle we just heard about that’s a marriage where the danger signs on the dashboard warning lights ought to be going off.  It ought to be saying to couples, “We need to do some preventive maintenance on our marriage relationship.” 

Before we unpack the story we are going to hear today, I want to remind our FamilyLife Today listeners that this week and next week you have a unique opportunity to register for an up-coming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  If you register at the regular price, you can bring a second couple along with you to the conference at no cost.

For FamilyLife Today listeners this week and next week we are making available a special offer.  You can sign up to attend one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences – we are going to be hosting more than 50 of these in cities all across the country this fall.  When you sign up at the regular rate, you will receive a second registration at no cost.  You can use that for a family member, or a relative – your daughter and her husband, your son and his wife.

Now this offer is good this week and next week for FamilyLife Today listeners.  To take advantage you need to register online at and in the promotion code box on the registration form type in my name. Type in “Bob” and we’ll know you are a FamilyLife Today listener, and you’ll be eligible for the special rate.  Or, call 1-800-FLTODAY say, “I listen to FamilyLife Today or Bob told me to call.”  Again you will be eligible for this special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. 

If you have any questions, get in touch with us at 1-800-FLTODAY, or go on-line at  We do hope you’ll plan to attend one of the up-coming fall Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences when it comes to a city near where you live.  It’s appropriate that we are talking about the Weekend to Remember today because the story we are going to hear today Dennis, is a story of a marital resurrection right?


Dennis:  We are!  It’s really fun here on FamilyLife Today to tell stories that give people hope. The story you are going to hear this week is going to be one that I think energizes some people to take steps of faith, or maybe order the CD, Bob or download this and pass it on to a friend who may need to hear this.  Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs join us on FamilyLife Today.  Cheryl, Jeff welcome to the broadcast.

Cheryl:  Thank you – we’re glad to be here!

Jeff:  Thanks – thanks for having us!


Dennis:  Cheryl and Jeff live in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area.  They have twin daughters, and they are founders of a brand new ministry.  Well, actually it’s been around for a while.  You just stepped out of your job back in March and giving leadership to Hope Matters Marriage Ministries.  You do speaking at church conferences, and events.  Writing, some marriage counseling – is that right?

Cheryl:  Yes – retreats – all kinds of stuff!

Jeff:  Right – all of the above!

Dennis:  You’ve written a book called I Do Again.  I love the way you start your book!  August 21, 1992 – the worst day of my life.

Cheryl:  Yes, that was the day that our divorce was final.  I divorced my husband and the ironic thing is I was the one that wanted the divorce, and when I stood in front of the judge and the gavel went down—divorce granted—I felt like my heart was going to explode. 

I thought to myself what am I doing?  I divorced my husband, this is what I wanted, and I thought I’d be elated.  I thought I would feel free and I felt none of that.  I felt devastated, very sad.  I walked out of that courtroom and it seemed very cold and I thought what was I after?

Dennis:  You say, “You went to the bank, and you make the statement in your book,” “One life became two, just like that.”  Then you went over to his office.  Why in the world did you go to his office?

Cheryl:  Well, I just thought it was the practical thing to do.  I went straight from the courthouse to the bank, and I split up our assets, and they gave me two checks.  I went over to Jeff’s office. Deep down I actually thought that maybe Jeff would tell me that he didn’t expect this to happen.  I think I was actually looking for hope that my marriage wouldn’t be over, and I was the one that let it be over.

Bob:  So you showed up at his office with here’s your check, the divorce is over, see you later. Was that kind of it?

Cheryl:  No, I walked in, and I was shaking.  I was nervous.  I walked in there and I looked across the room and I saw him sitting at his desk, and I started to tear up.  I thought, “There’s a wonderful man sitting there – he’s the father of my kids, and I’m here to give him his split half of our life together.”

All of a sudden our life was changed and we were two different entities basically.  I had so much emotion and I just was standing there looking at him still in disbelief, but I was the one that had pursued it for two years.  So, I was pretty much dying inside.  I wasn’t really sure how to react. When I saw him in there, I felt so sad because he had tried to keep our marriage together for a couple of years after he found out I wanted a divorce.  I had nothing to do with it.  I was very hard hearted at that point.

Bob:  But, even then you walked out of the courtroom, you’re thinking what have I just done? You walk over to your husband, give him the check, and now you are walking out of his office, are you thinking…

Cheryl:  Well, I had mixed emotions!  What had led me into this to begin with was I’d gotten involved with somebody else. It was really interesting, my heart felt torn. I thought what am I doing? 

I felt like I was two different people living two different lives.  My heart was so hard and it had been hard for many, many years in our marriage.  That’s what kind of led to me struggling with having an affair, how I got there in the first place.  What was going on when I left the office was I just split up my family, and now I’m going to pursue this other man that I thought I was in love with. So, I was so torn!

I had a house that I had already bought.  Jeff and I had already split up our possessions and I had moved into my new house.  I thought I was going to go to this brand new home, feel free, live this brand new life, and seek my soul mate who I had found a couple of years before.  I felt devastated and happy all at the same time.

Bob:  We need to dial this back to 1982 – right?  That’s the year you got married?

Cheryl:  Yes.

Bob:  Tell us how you met?

Jeff:  We met in Memphis, Tennessee.  Cheryl was a waitress at a restaurant/bar.  Can we say that?

Bob:  That’s what it was, isn’t it?


Cheryl:  That’s what it was!

Dennis:  This is not a stodgy… Yes!

Bob:  This is real life – right here!

Jeff:  This is real life baby.

Cheryl:  Go for it baby!

Jeff:  Okay, we met in 1982 in Memphis, Tennessee.  Cheryl was working as a waitress at a restaurant/bar and I came in with a friend of mine and saw her, and thought, “Wow – she’s really attractive.”  So I asked to be sat in her section, and they sat me there.  I started you know…conversation.

Bob:  You started flirting with the waitress?

Jeff:  I started flirting with the waitress. Yes I did!

Cheryl:  Flirt is an understatement!

Bob:  So, I think we’ve established that the two of you were not a young couple seeking the Lord, living for Christ, trying to build your house and your marriage on biblical principles?

Jeff:  No!

Cheryl:  No – we definitely were not!  Then, my Mom said to me a long time before that you know when you meet the guy you are going to marry, you are going to know it!   I really felt like that’s what happened. It was kind of a love at first sight thing.

Bob:  You didn’t know anything about him!

Cheryl:  I know, isn’t that sad?


Bob:  I mean he’s a cute guy all right, when he shows up at the bar, but what did you know about him – nothing!

Cheryl:  I knew nothing! I absolutely knew nothing, and like you said, “I wasn’t looking for a godly man.”  I didn’t even know I was supposed to be looking for a godly man.  All I knew is that he had a great personality, seemed like he was a lot of fun, and of course he was great looking.  That’s about all I was going on!

Dennis:  So Jeff, it wasn’t long after you dated, you got a promotion, you were going to have to move away from Memphis and so what did you do?

Jeff:  Well, we dated for about nine months, and Cheryl graduated from college and went to Dayton, Ohio for training with her new company.  While she was gone I got transferred to Los Angeles in my new career.  So, I picked Cheryl up when she came back from her training at the airport, and I said, “Well I have good news and bad news.”  I whisked her off to our favorite Italian restaurant.

Cheryl:  Such a romantic!

Jeff:  Yes -I said, “I’ve got good news and bad news, what do you want to hear first?”  She said, “Well, give me the bad news first!”  I said, “Well, the bad news is, while you were gone I was transferred to Los Angeles, and then the good news is”… Then the waiter walks up with a tray and he has the box and I get down on my knee and ask her to marry me!

Bob:  Wow!

Cheryl:  Yes – it’s incredible! It really was!

Bob:  So, he swept you off your feet, and you said, “Let’s go to LA!”

Cheryl:  He did!  Yes – we got married in two months, and moved to LA, and we were living the high life of Southern California.  We were consumed with how much money we made, the right house – we basically had an ocean view home – it was beautiful.  We drove the right cars, had the right stuff, looked like we were the perfect couple, and looked like we had the perfect marriage.

Bob:  Was there tension early on in the marriage?

Cheryl:  I would say, “For me there was undiagnosed tension.”  I guess that’s what I would say. My reference for marriage was soap operas.  I watched One Life to Live when I was growing up. I thought it would be extremely romantic.  I thought we wouldn’t fight or have any issues.  I guess that we would never get tired.

Dennis:  Well, you had an ocean view!

Bob:  What else do you need? That’s right!

Cheryl:  Yes - what else do you need? Right!


So, Jeff was happy go lucky.  I was feeling a little… I just kind of chalked it up to PMS – really! I thought that it was probably just me adjusting.  We did not know anyone in LA when we moved there.  That was kind of a cool thing, but at the same time we were away from family and all of our friends – everybody we knew.

Dennis:  What about you Jeff – what was marriage like for you?

Jeff:  Well, you know I thought marriage was great.  I loved Southern California.  I loved my wife and I was excited about getting started and enjoying life together.  So, for me things were perfect.

Bob:  When did there first start to be cracks in the foundation?

Cheryl:  Yes, it really started with me.  About two years into the marriage I noticed that I was feeling extremely empty.  I couldn’t pinpoint it, and I grew up as the oldest of five children, type A personality; perfectionist: because it didn’t look perfect anymore.  I thought there was something wrong, and I felt like I wasn’t connecting with my husband.  I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t connecting with my husband. 

I put the blame on me at first – like there was something wrong with me and I wasn’t measuring up.  I wasn’t all the things that I should be as a wife, as a business worker in sales: all those kinds of things.  I started internalizing it, and what started to happen is that missing link I blamed it on it being a bad marriage.  I thought I had married the wrong guy!

Dennis:  By the way this is not abnormal!

Cheryl:  This is absolutely normal for a lot of people.

Dennis:  It is – it really is!  I want to say this, because I’ve said it many times on the broadcast, “There is no seven year itch!”  That’s been cut in half and that was cut in half again.  So, there are an enormous number of marriages where one or both go through a similar pattern what you are talking about.

Cheryl:  Right -a lot of times we see them even after six months.

Bob:  Where they are looking at each other and thinking I made a mistake.  We just need to cash this thing in, cut our losses.  You didn’t have any kids at this point right?

Cheryl: No kids.

Bob:  Were you thinking – well let’s just end it and be done?

Cheryl:  I wasn’t!  Divorce was not on my radar at all.  Leaving my marriage was not on my radar.  All I kept thinking was I’ve got to figure out a way to connect with my husband.  I would try angles that were very discreet to try to get to know Jeff. 

Really what was going on inside of me is I was feeling insecure.  I thought I wasn’t measuring up.  I thought if I told him that I felt weak in an area or I was angry with him that he would leave me.  That’s what I really thought!  I didn’t know why he married me in the first place. That’s how insecure I was at that point.

Dennis:  Yes, I was going to ask you because we get married to know another person and be known, and to be intimate.  I was going to actually ask Jeff –didn’t she try to get your attention? Try to express what she was feeling?  Or, did she hide all this from you?

Jeff:  I think she did a good job of hiding most of it from me.  I knew from time to time that things weren’t as deep as they should have been and I would try to talk to her and say, “Cheryl is everything okay, is there anything going on?   You want to talk about it?”

Usually she’d say, “Everything’s going great – I’m fine – there’s nothing wrong!”  So, I really didn’t pursue it.  I took her at her word and believed her.

Dennis:  In defense of Cheryl and women at this point – one of the things I’ve learned about my wife—you ask her what’s wrong and she says, “Nothing” – at that point, she’s not lying – she just doesn’t know what she’s feeling.

Bob:  How to put words to it.

Dennis:  It’s a wise man who knows how to go after his wife in those situations.  Again, on behalf of Cheryl, she was feeling very insecure so it wasn’t like she was going to be forthcoming with what the truth really was there.

Bob:  You weren’t thinking, “I know how to spice up my marriage, I’ll go have an affair”!

Cheryl:  Oh, absolutely not!  After the two year mark I was starting to feel empty and starting to fight this anger that I was starting to have for Jeff.   I started blaming him thinking that he wasn’t the right guy. 

He didn’t know how to connect with me.  I had a huge job in California and I was very visible at my work.  There were a lot of men that were paying attention to me.  My parents actually own a golf course in Ohio and I was around a lot of men all my life anyway.  I was kind of used to that. I just thought it was kidding and innocent flirting from both them and me.  I really wasn’t thinking much about it.

 What I started to realize about year three, four, or five is that I was looking more forward to going into work than I was coming home.  I’d labeled Jeff as very critical and demeaning.  I didn’t feel like I could talk to him, and so I just buried all that at home, and then I’d get it out at work.  So, I wasn’t looking for anyone at work.  No one ever approached me from the level of I want to be with you at that time.  I just enjoyed what was going on and the attention that I was getting.  So, I’m embarrassed to talk about that now, but it was really what I was looking for at that moment.

Dennis:  Here’s what I want both of you to do.  Speak Cheryl to a young lady who’s listening and she is saying, “You’re reading my mail.”  Jeff, in a moment after she shares, I want you to speak to the husband who is clueless and who doesn’t know his wife’s soul is dead, and their marriage is not vibrant.  What would you say to that wife Cheryl?

Cheryl:  The mistake I made was hiding it all.  The mistake I made was not going to my husband:  I was fearful of expressing my emotions of being vulnerable – I had so much fear.

What I realized later on is that in order to have an emotional connection with your spouse you have to be able to share what’s on your heart.  Jeff talks to guys a lot of times about to provide a safe place for a woman: to come and talk and to share her heart.

 So, I would say the first thing is, to share with someone – a female that you are having issues and that you are not feeling like you’re connected.  Then, it’s very important for you as a wife to go to your husband and talk to him.  Sit him down – what I do with Jeff a lot of times is I pull his face forward with both my hands and I say, listen to me with your whole face.



Dennis:  We get that picture! Jeff, what would you say to the men?

Jeff:  First of all, date your wife on a regular basis, and then ask her, how are we doing?  A lot of guys were like me, or are like me, there are asleep at the wheel and they don’t even realize their wife has emotionally broken away from them.  As Cheryl talks about – two years into the marriage she was emotionally divorcing me, and if you had asked me eight years into the marriage I would have told you our marriage was perfect.  So I talk to the guys about that. 

I also talk to them about the importance of having Christian community around them and some men that can speak into their lives – some godly men that are older, wiser, hopefully been married longer in a successful marriage and that can speak wisdom and truth into their lives.

Bob:  You know, what Jeff and Cheryl have described is what we talk about Friday night at the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  How the natural drift in every relationship is a drift toward isolation.  Unless couples are intentional, purposeful, unless they really focus on coming together, they’re just going to drift apart.  It happened quickly for you guys, but it happens in every marriage unless you’re intentional and purposeful the marriage is going to drift toward isolation.

Dennis:  What couples get at the Weekend to Remember are the biblical blueprints for stopping that drift and moving toward oneness.  It’s built around such passages as Genesis chapter 2 – the end of the section there it says, “Leave your father and mother, cleave to your wife” – in other words make a commitment to your spouse, “and then become one.”  Then the result is what Cheryl was looking for: “And the man and his wife were both naked and they were not ashamed.”   That’s not just the lack of clothing it’s the concept of being transparent, being known, and knowing the other person. 

Bob, I’m glad you mentioned the Weekend to Remember because we have a number of our listeners who’ve heard us reference it on numerous occasions.  Now is the time to be building in your marriage.  This economy, the challenges of this day demand that couples invest in their marriage.  I frankly don’t know of a better investment over a weekend that a couple can make: to go and get the biblical blueprints together as a couple, begin to apply them as a couple, and then leave there with hope, with vision, and with the skills and tools to be able to achieve why you got married in the first place.

Bob:  You talk about it being a good investment: particularly right now!  This week and next week we’re offering FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to attend the conference and if you and your spouse register to attend an upcoming conference at the regular price, we’re going to send along a certificate for a second conference registration absolutely free. 

So, you can bring another couple along with you, you can send it to somebody you know: it’s a buy one get one free opportunity for the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  When you and your spouse register at the regular rate to attend a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference another couple can attend as your guests absolutely free.  Or, get another couple with you and just split the whole deal all the way around.

To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to get in touch with us this week, or next week, and you need to let us know that you are a FamilyLife Today listener, and you do that this way:  if you are registering for a conference online you’ll come to a promo code box that is on the form.  Just type in my name: type in “Bob” and automatically you are registered as a FamilyLife Today listener, and we will get you all set up for this special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners.

Or, call 1-800-FLTODAY, register for an up-coming conference and just mention that you are a FamilyLife Today listener, or mention my name – just say Bob told me to call and again you’ll be all set to receive a second registration absolutely free.

If you need any more information, give us a call, or go on-line at and do plan to attend one of these up-coming conferences.  It really will be a great investment for your marriage. 

Let me also encourage you while you are on our web site – get a copy of the book that Jeff and Cheryl have written called I Do Again. It’s a powerful story of hope and encouragement.  A great story of reconciliation – you may know a couple you want to pass this book along to as a way of giving them hope and help for their marriage. 

Again, we have copies of the book I Do Again in our FamilyLife Today resource center.  You’ll find more information on-line at or call toll-free 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329.  When you call someone on our team will let you know how you can get a copy of this book sent to you.

Well, tomorrow we’re going to hear more from Jeff and Cheryl, and we’re going to hear really how the marriage had to finally fall completely apart before it could be put back together again. We’ll hear more of their story tomorrow.  I hope you can be with us for that!

I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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