Hazards of the Road

with Sam and Toni Gallucci | October 7, 2008

Travel has its perks, but it also has its hazards when sexual temptation becomes too much to resist. Sam Gallucci finally gave in to the temptations that he faced while traveling. He and his wife, Toni, talk frankly with Dennis Rainey about Sam’s struggle with pornography and the moral failure that turned out to be his wake-up call.

Travel has its perks, but it also has its hazards when sexual temptation becomes too much to resist. Sam Gallucci finally gave in to the temptations that he faced while traveling. He and his wife, Toni, talk frankly with Dennis Rainey about Sam’s struggle with pornography and the moral failure that turned out to be his wake-up call.

Hazards of the Road

With Sam and Toni Gallucci
|
October 07, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

 

Bob: Sam Gallucci was a Christian who was traveling a lot for his business, spending a lot of time in hotel rooms at night, and he remembers one night when he decided to let his guard down just this once.

Sam: That's how it got started for me, you know, I'm lonely, I'm away from my wife, and the lie, the adversary, is that, "Gee, why don't you go do this?  It will protect you from having an affair."  And it's so accessible, then you just start by, okay, you know, you almost stumble into it in the beginning, and then a little bit more, a little bit more, and then, before you know it, it becomes a consuming habit, and that's what happened to me while I was on the road.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, October 7th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  The path that Sam Gallucci chose that night in the hotel room almost destroyed his marriage.  We'll hear how it came back from the brink today.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  If you were sitting down with a young couple, Dennis, and let's say they'd just gotten married or were about to get married maybe in a couple of years, but this guy's career was starting to take off, and it meant that he was going to have to do a little more travel than he had been doing up to that point.

Dennis: Right.

Bob: And they came to you and said, "We'd just like some coaching, some advice."  What would you recommend to them?

Dennis: I think I would recommend one solid principle – you need to be in agreement as a couple about the amount of time you're on the road.  If, at any point, there is major disagreement – and I'm not talking about it just a point in time, but an ongoing disagreement that travel has become too much, too often, too much time away, then it's time to call a timeout and to recalibrate.

Bob: So if the guy is a truck driver, and his wife says, "This is too much," he needs to go find a new career, is that what you're saying?

Dennis: It might be.  It might be a possibility, but I wouldn't say it's an automatic.  I think the question has to be visited – how do we make our commitment to build a marriage and a family a reality in these economic times?

Bob: And that's the principle you're talking about there – you're saying that the relationship, the covenant, in marriage has got to supersede whatever else you're talking about, right?

Dennis: Right.  When two people decide to get married, they decide not to go their own way.  They decide that they are going to build something together with another person, and they take their spouse, whether it be a husband or a wife, and they move forward in life, and it means there's sacrifice, a lot of sacrifice, if you're going to be successful at it.

And we have with us a road warrior, one who wrote a book about it, and his wife, who is married to him, Toni, and Sam Gallucci back for another broadcast on FamilyLife Today.  Sam, Toni, welcome back.

Sam: Thank you for having us.

Toni: Thank you.

Dennis: The book is called "Road Warrior, How to Keep Your Faith, Relationships and Integrity When Away From Home."  Sam is a pastor, and Toni is a pastor's wife now.  She's smiling big, because they had a unique ministry.  They have three sons.  In fact, just real quickly, I want our listeners to hear just a little about your church in Ventura, California.  It's called "The Harbor?"

Sam: Yes, it's called "The Harbor," and the Lord has called us to embrace the homeless population in Ventura County.

Dennis: You don't think there would be a homeless population in Ventura County, but there is.

Sam: It's one of the largest in Southern California, close to 1,000 homeless people between Ventura and Oxnard.

Dennis: And you're seeing God …

Sam: Amazing things the Lord is doing as we embrace them inside the church, and love on them and help them in every way possible.

Bob: Now, have you thought about the irony – you wrote a book called "Road Warrior," which, you weren't homeless …

Sam: Right.

Bob: … but you weren't home, either.

Sam: I never thought of that, Bob, but that is really amazing.

Bob: How many – at the peak of your travel, you were working for a major software corporation …

Sam: Yes.

Bob: … traveling around doing a lot of business.  At the peak of your travel, how many nights a year – were you gone more nights than you were home?

Sam: Yeah, you know, we figured it out later and of the 20 years I traveled, I was gone 10 of them – away from my family 10 of the 20 years.

Bob: Wow.

Dennis: Now, you're talking about 365-day years or 260-day years?

Bob: Are you talking about being gone just on business days, or are you talking …

Sam: Business days – I was gone, of the 20 years during the business travel days, I was gone 10 of those years.

Bob: Wow.  And in some of those years, you were gone for more than half of the year, weren't you?

Sam: Oh, yes, yes.  And especially once I started to get involved in international travel, because international travel, you're gone over weekends just by the nature of the travel.

Bob: Do you remember the first time the company said, "We need to send you to London," or Hong Kong or wherever it was, and you're thinking, "Well, that's kind of cool – a big wide-body jet."

Sam: Absolutely, yeah, you know, and it was first-class travel, and I'd like to go to London.  I haven't been to London, and, oh, I remember that well.

Bob: So you came home, and you said to Toni, "Hey, they're sending me to London."

Sam: That's right.

Bob: And she got excited about that, too, didn't she?

Sam: No, I don't think she got too excited.

Bob: Do you remember the first time he went international?

Toni: In the beginning, I was very supportive, and I was excited, and I really supported him.  After 10 years, you know, my excitement dwindled down big time, and then it was just like, "Oh, my goodness, okay, get strong.  Take a nap, you know, get prepared."

Dennis: Toni, I have to ask you this question – did you ever think about divorce?  I know you're a follower of Christ, you've been a Christian, grew up in a Christian family – did you ever think about, "This is not what I bought on for?"

Toni: You know, if I ever complained – I would call my mom, and my mom, because she, for years, put up with my father's travel, she would say, "Your husband is providing for you and be grateful."  And so I was quiet.  And, you know, I saw my parents go through a real relationship, and I was really grateful to see them go through fights and disagreements and make up.  And I learned a lot about that.  So I never – I always had divorce in the very – I mean, that wasn't really something I ever wanted to do.  I would think that I needed to work it out.  There was a way to work it out.

Dennis: But it did become painful enough …

Toni: Yes.

Dennis: … the thought did cross your mind?

Toni: Yes.

Dennis: Did you ever say anything to him about the "D" word?

Toni: No, never, never.

Dennis: Did you know she was entertaining the thought?

Sam: No, no, I was so wrapped up in myself, so self-absorbed in business travel and myself by the – you know, and that's part of the evolution of what happens to a man who travels extensively; that you're …

Dennis: You're a junkie.

Sam: Yeah, you're just doing your thing and thinking this is the way it is, and everything is going to be fine.

Toni: You know, and divorce – maybe it was a slight, little thought, but it was really never an option to me.  I didn't consider it an option because of the wonderful example my parents gave me.  You know, marriage is tough, and you will have tough times, so I was kind of, like, I needed to just get stronger, which didn't work.

Dennis: I want to stop you both at that point and just say how important that is to you all finding a solution.

Sam: Yes.

Dennis: Because if you know there is no bridge to take to get out of this thing, then you have to figure out, "How are we going to make this work?"  That makes a big difference in how you approach problem solving.  And in this culture today, it may not be business travel, it may be some other issue – a weakness or addiction that's there, but the point is burn your bridges in terms of escape and make your commitment to that other person.

Sam: Absolutely.

Bob: I don't know how many wives, as Dennis is talking about this, I don't know how many wives have that kind of resolute sense that that's not an option that you had, and so, as a result, when the pain threshold gets turned up, they go, "I have to escape the pain," and so divorce looks like the way to do that rather than pressing through it and bringing things to resolution.

Toni: It's interesting, because when this all came to a climax, and Sam told me how he had failed, it was like a light turned on to me, that where we were is because of our compromises that we've made in our lives, our choices to compromise God's Word, and if the people listening choose or think or contemplate divorce, that's more sin.  Sin begets sin, and that's not something that's going to help them, and it was clear, when Sam told me what happened, I was dry at the time.  There was very little of our relationship left, but I didn't trust him.  I had given him full rein, and this is where it led.

Dennis: Yeah, and I want to ask you a very personal question – there are those who don't consider divorce, but who, in the midst of a dry wilderness experience, just because of the needs of the human heart, can begin to rationalize an attraction to another person.  Were you ever tempted to relationally connect with another person?

Toni: I had some good girlfriends, and that was good, but what I did to satisfy me is here we got bigger and better things, and I consumed myself with the home.  My home became my idol.  And so what satisfied me was the house not my husband.  And that doesn't do well for relationships.  That doesn't satisfy relationships.  That gives you a bigger and pretty house, that's it.

Dennis: So you weren't attracted to another man.  What about you, Sam?

Sam: You know, I – as I went down this path of loneliness, never was attracted to one woman, but I came to the edge of that ledge many times and, over the years of business travel, I became addicted to pornography.  And that became the thing that became all-consuming that ultimately led to a moral failure of my life with a prostitute, and that whole journey to that edge of that ledge and back was – is a part of the story of what can happen if you leave a life unchecked of business travel where your success gets wrapped up in the travel, and then the more you travel away, the more loneliness just kind of seeps in and causes devastation in you personally.

Bob: You know, hotel rooms are set up as a lure for business travelers.

Sam: Yes.

Bob: You come back after dinner, 7:30 at night, you're not tired yet.  You've done all the work you want to do for the day, so you pick up the remote, and the TV is right there saying, "By the way, we've got some stuff you can watch that nobody will ever know about."

Sam: That's right.

Bob: Is that how it got started for you?

Sam: That's how it got started for me, you know, I'm lonely, I'm away from my wife, and the lie of the adversary is that, "Gee, why don't you go do this?  It will protect you from having an affair," and it's so accessible.  Then you just start by, okay, you know, it's – you almost stumble into it in the beginning and then a little bit more, a little bit more, and then, before you know it, it becomes a consuming habit, and that's what happened to me while I was on the road.

Dennis: Had you had a pattern of pornography before you had gotten married?

Sam: Yeah, when I was a child, when I was – I was going to 10 years old, I was introduced to pornography, and as a young child, and that definitely planted a seed that I thought was, you know, just gone away when I became a Christian.  But once I started traveling extensively for business, and the loneliness set in, it drives you to those dark places. 

I think, for me, what happened was, my career just skyrocketed, and I became a senior executive.  I was traveling around the world, and I was somewhat of a celebrity in my field, and people would treat me like that.  You start believing your own press clippings, and I ended up, as a Christian man, in a circle of guys that were non-Christian that had these professional women in every city, I mean, and that was just their way of life.  They were on their second or third marriages, and I was just kind of in that circle.  And with the pride of life and the consuming – it was all about me in that time.  It just kind of developed in that.  It was all about me – that the consuming nature of pornography, when you're tired, when you least expect it, that's when it happened for me.

Bob: So you're out to dinner with these business associates, and this has become a way of life for them.

Sam: For them, yeah, and, you know …

Bob: And are they talking about it at dinner and saying …

Sam: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Bob: … "Hey, later on tonight I'm getting together with Lisa and" …

Sam: Well, yeah, or whatever, yeah, sure.  They'd talk about it or it was clear where they were going, that kind of a thing, and …

Bob: And you know you're going back to your room.

Sam: I'm going back to my room, and then just one night made a phone call, and I'll never forget that night because that was the end of the road for me.  You know, I crossed a line that I had sworn to myself I would never cross.  And when that happened, that next day, I was so broken because I knew I had done this thing, and I remember that moment very well, because the lie of it all, the lie of the adversary of it all, and the accusations, you know, I remember crawling in my bed, and I was in this five-star hotel, you know, and just done this great speech and all of this stuff, crawling into my bed, getting on the ground and started weeping before the Lord, and I remember the adversary just speaking into my life, "Now that you've done this, I'm going to destroy your career, I'm going to destroy your marriage, I'm going to destroy your reputation, I'm going to destroy your kids, because I don't care about you.  All of this that I've been doing, I never cared about you, and all of this is all part of just the destruction that I want to put on you.  I'm not done with you."

And I remember, on my knees, crying out to the Lord in that moment, just desperate.  You know, at the peak of professional success, personal failure and loneliness and the depth of it after 20 years of travel.

Bob: Now, you're sending personal and professional failure, and yet you're saying your co-workers, this is a way of life for them.  I mean, it could have become a way of life for you if not for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Sam: That's right, exactly.  You know, it was a crossroads for me.  You know, my professional life was skyrocketing, you know, it was top earnings and doing extremely well, but it was a crossroads, and I knew I had reached that crossroads, and it was either continue down that road and see everything fall apart or turn back to the Lord.  And at that point in my life, I cried out to the Lord and said, "Lord, rescue me and save my marriage, and I promise You if You do that, I'll serve You the rest of my life."

Dennis: Had you told Toni at that point?

Sam: No, no.

Bob: Did you know that at that point, "I've got to tell Toni?"

Sam: Oh, sure, you know, at that point it was clear that that was a step.  But I had made this covenant with the Lord and the first thing the Lord had me do was, "Okay, Sam, you need to walk away from – if you want to save and rescue your marriage and your family, you need to walk away from your career.  You've traveled so extensively, you can't just take another job.  You need to walk away from it."  And so I came home, and I was home.

Dennis: Yeah, I want to ask Toni about that.  When he walked in the door, did you know something had happened?

Toni: Well, he came, at one point, and said, "We need to talk."  And I knew something was up because just the tone of the voice.  And when he told me, I didn't cry, because our relationship had gotten so dry at that point, we were coexisting.

Sam: Yeah, it was like a domestic partnership.

Toni: There was no relationship.  I did the shirts, I did the laundry, and …

Bob: And you still went to church, and you still smiled, and everybody thought, "Great Christian couple."

Toni: And he made the money, but we were very independent of one another.

Dennis: You'd been married how long at that point?

Sam: About 19 years.

Toni: Nineteen years, yeah.  But what was clear to me – our choices got us where we were.  It was our choices, and I certainly, at that point, didn't trust him at all, and I went to the Lord, and I cried to the Lord, I didn't cry when Sam told me, but I cried to the Lord, and I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do.  I don't trust him."  And He said, "You don't need to trust him, you need to trust me."  And that was huge.  That's when it was kind of like a light bulb went off, and I went, you know what?  I haven't been trusting You and following You, and abiding in Your Word and listening to what You have to say.

Dennis: And how long before you forgave him?

Toni: It didn't take me too long because Sam fell morally but, you know, I had fallen away from Christ also in letting the house become my idol, having my personal worth in the things that I owned.

Bob: I know, I know, but your stuff is little stuff, and he did the big one.  I mean, you know that?

Toni: Yeah, well, this is all sin to God, and the Lord started showing me things that I took in my own heart.  God wants us to know what's in our heart.

Sam: I think part of what helped us was, you know, I got her attention.  When you leave a million-dollar career, you just walk away from it, it gets your wife's attention.

Bob: So when you came in and said, "I have to tell you what happened."  And you …

Sam: I had been home for a couple of months.

Bob: And that's when you told her?

Sam: And that's when I told her.  And that what had happened and basically that my career was over, and I want to focus on us.

Bob: So in one sense you had demonstrated some level of repentance before you ever confessed?

Sam: That's right, big time, yeah.  And it was the hardest two months of my entire life, and while that was happening, a lot of other things were happening, and it constantly – I can't tell you the number of recruiters calling – dozens and dozens – "I've got this great job, you know, a million-dollar base and," et cetera, et cetera, "in New York City, can you interview?"  And declining and declining, and it was the hardest time of my life.  I spent most of the time in my office in tears, and I hadn't cried in a long time, and just continual point of repentance before the Lord.

Dennis: Toni, you never heard those tears?

Toni: No, and he was in the – he must have been in his office, because – but you know what?  Sam, for him to quit his job and his career, which was well established, I mean, he had bodyguards, he spoke to thousands, he was – that needed to happen, and his willingness to give that up was a huge step in reconciliation of our relationship because, all of a sudden, for the first time since the beginning of our marriage, I had priority over work.  So that was huge.

Dennis: You know, I recently ran into a friend who handles all of the unclaimed or lost baggage for the airlines, and he shocked me by telling me that one of the items that is most often found in suitcases – and he paused for a moment, and I thought he was going to say cameras, jewelry, you know, something that people would stick in there, but I have to tell you, I was absolutely stunned at his response.  He said one of the things that's found are wedding rings.

Toni: That's the first thing that came to my mind.

Sam: Wow.

Dennis: Wedding rings.  Businessmen on trips taking it off, put it in the suitcase, and traveling as though they're not married.  And it's really back, Toni, to your exhortation, and this is what I was thinking about as you were talking about that sin is a choice, and it's the familiar passage that you see tacked on the front of homes and doorposts of homes from Joshua, chapter 24 – "Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness.  Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt and serve the Lord.  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your fathers that they served in the region beyond the river or the gods of the Amarites in whose land you dwell.  But, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

And I think, you know, despite the tragedy that you shared here, and I so appreciate your transparency, the great thing is, this is a great story of redemption. 

Sam: Praise the Lord.

Dennis: You both came to the conclusion, really, separately of one another, "We've got to build a home on the rock," upon Jesus Christ, and you know what?  Regardless of what you've done, you know what?  This is a Gospel, this is a God of redemption, who reaches down to people who are in ditches, and He delights in pulling out of the ditch.  That's what this story is all about.

Sam: Amen.

Bob: You know, one of the ways that I think that redemption is happening is not just with what you've share on the radio today but by writing this book, "Road Warrior" and trying to help men and women who are on the road maintain purity and strengthen their marriage and stay together even when your job and your schedule is pushing you physically apart, how can you keep love and commitment alive in your marriage?

We've got the book, "Road Warrior," in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  I want to encourage our listeners, especially those of you who have frequent-flyer cards in your wallet, to go to FamilyLife.com and click on the right side of the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast."  That will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about Sam's book.  You can order the book online, if you'd like, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY – 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team can let you know how you can have a copy of the book sent to you.  Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY.

Let me real quickly, if I can, Dennis, say a word of thanks to those folks who, in addition to listening to FamilyLife Today, help support our ministry by making a donation from time to time.  Those donations are what keep us on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country, and we always appreciate hearing from our listeners with feedback.  It's always great to hear how God is using FamilyLife's ministry in your life, in your marriage, and in your family.  And we so appreciate your financial support as well.

In fact, this month, if you are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we have a couple of CDs we'd like to send you.  We had a conversation not long with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, the author of the book, "Love and Respect."  He has also written a book called "Cracking the Communication Code," and that's what we talked about – communication in marriage.

We talked for more than two hours on the subject, and we'd love to send you the two-CD series that includes those conversations.  You can request those CDs when you make a donation of any amount this month either online at FamilyLife.com, and if you are donating online, you will come to a keycode box on your donation form.  Type the word "code" into that box, c-o-d-e, and we'll send you the CDs. 

Or if it's easier to call 1-800-FLTODAY, make your donation over the phone, you can simply ask for the CDs on communication and, again, we're happy to send them to you.  We appreciate your financial support of this ministry, and we want to say thank you for your partnership with us.

Well, tomorrow we're going to hear how God restored what had been broken in Sam and Toni Gallucci's marriage, and I hope you can be back 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'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow. 

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