Love Comes Full Circle
About the Guest
Mike and Hayley Jones reflect on their courtship, engagement, and how three years into marriage they were both ready to walk away. Find out what lead them back together.
Love Comes Full Circle
Bob: It took less than a year for Mike and Hayley Jones’ marriage to end up in trouble. Hayley remembers she didn’t have any interest in seeing a counselor.
Hayley: I was completely not interested—I was done with him. It’d just been eight months of just what seemed like hell to me—I mean, it was terrible.
Mike: It was just all those little things that built up, and we couldn’t communicate. There wasn’t any infidelity or anything like that, but we just thought being married was just being miserable and was not for me. I wanted something better.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, November 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Could Mike and Hayley Jones find their way from despair back to marital happiness? We’ll find out today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Bob, what’s your grocery bill for you and Mary Ann on an average week? Do you have any idea what you spend? When’s the last time you were in a grocery store, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: I do a little shopping myself—I do a little of the shopping; yes. Our average bill on a given week—I’m trying to remember—you know, when you don’t have kids at home, it’s a whole different deal.
Dennis: We had a family get-together back last summer.
Bob: Yes; okay.
Dennis: We had 17 grandkids and 12 adults get together down in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Bob: That’s a big crowd—17 grandkids?
Dennis: Seventeen grandkids—they were not all there. Anyway, we went to the grocery store, because we were going to be together for a week. Mimi and Papa said we would take care—
Bob: You’ll buy the groceries.
Dennis: “We’ll take care of the groceries—
Bob: Nice of you.
Dennis: —“for breakfast and lunch for a week.” Each night was designated to a different family.
Dennis: Okay; you got it?
Dennis: So, what do you suppose we spent the first trip to the grocery store, Bob?
Bob: For a week for breakfast and lunch for 30 people? I’m guessing you spent north of 500 bucks.
Dennis: That’s correct. It was over $800—
Dennis: —three shopping carts. [Laughter]
Our guests on the program today—they do almost that every week. Okay, Mike—what is it for you guys every week / the grocery bill for your crew?
Mike: It’s probably up to around $650 now.
Bob: $650 a week. You have some teenage boys—how many teenage boys do you have at your house?
Hayley: It’s four.
Dennis: They had to take a breath, because they were counting. [Laughter]
Hayley: It changes! Four or five—we’re not sure. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, it is Mike and Hayley Jones who join us today on the broadcast. They have written a book called At Any Cost: Overcoming Every Obstacle to Bring Our Children Home.
Hayley, I had to smile when I read the subtitle of your book; because our daughter, Ashley, has a huge heart, along with her husband Michael, for foster care and for taking care of foster care children—and has actually adopted a couple of them, in addition to her five boys that are bio boys; okay. But one of the things that drives her absolutely crazy is when people hear about her caring for 25 foster care kids in addition to taking care of her crew and—not at one time, by the way; but, you know, one after another—they go, “Oh, I could never do that!”
You’re shaking your head. Those words are not in your vocabulary.
Hayley: No; not anymore. That is for sure. You never know what God has planned for you; but when He calls you out for something, no matter how crazy it sounds, He’s going to give you everything you need to do it, one day at a time.
I always say: “For us, it’s kind of like manna from heaven. We have what we need for that day; and the next, God will give us more.”
Bob: So Mike, explain to our listeners what it is that He called you guys out to.
Dennis: No; I want to ask Mike, “Do you drill oil wells for a living?” [Laughter]
Bob: He’d be a pauper today if he did—[Laughter]—that doesn’t make him any money.
Dennis: That’s true! [Laughter]
Mike: It’s been—God’s just been so gracious to us—I mean, whether somebody hands us a random gift card in a grocery store and says, “I don’t know why I’m supposed to do this…” or whether it’s a little ladies’ prayer group from my granddad’s church that gives us $50 every month. It’s just a lot of time—money’s going out faster than it’s coming in.
Hayley: A lot of times—all the time. [Laughter] He didn’t say that part.
Bob: You are the proud parents of 11 children.
Mike and Hayley: Yes!
Bob: And you never expected, when you stood at the altar and said, “I do,” / “I do too,” that you’d be the proud parents of 11 kids; did you?
Mike: I said I’d never have a large family—never say, “Never.” [Laughter]
Bob: Let’s go back to before the grocery bills started to increase / before God brought you to a place where you expanded your borders and your bedrooms at your home. Let’s go back to the early years of your marriage. Am I right?—you were still in high school when you got married?
Hayley: I had graduated high school, but I was 17.
Bob: You were 17.
Bob: When did you meet Mike and fall, head over heels, for him?
Hayley: Eight months before we married.
Bob: Okay; and how did that happen?
Hayley: I don’t really know. [Laughter] He was at our church / he went to our church. He knew my sister, and he would come sit with our family every Sunday. His parents were going to another church, and he and his brother would come sit with us at church.
My sister would always talk to him. I found out that he had horses. I love to ride horses; so he invited me over, and we rode horses—and just were kind of friends.
His parents were very gracious to me / his mom was really good to me. It was my birthday shortly after we kind of started—I guess we probably weren’t even dating at that time—we may have been. She bought me a devotional. It was just something that I really just kind of dove into and really just took hold of. I feel like that was just—she was very important to me in that time of my life, because she really got me in the Scripture and in God’s Word. Through that, it was just kind of that knowing of: “This is the one—this is the one for me. This is it.”
Bob: At 17.
Dennis: I just have to do something.
Hayley: Go ahead.
Dennis: I’ve never done this—Bob can attest I’ve never done this in 24 years of broadcasting on FamilyLife Today.
Hayley: Oh no; I’m nervous. [Laughter]
Bob: I’m a little nervous too!
Dennis: I’m going to put my Bible right here. Put your right hand on my Bible, Mike, and answer this question: “Were your motives pure, in church, when you would slip over to the family?”
Mike: Actually, I wasn’t—
Dennis: Your hand needs to be back on my Bible. [Laughter]
Bob: You took it straight off the Bible.
Mike: Actually, I wasn’t even interested in Hayley at the time.
Dennis: Wait a second. Was it her sister?
Mike: I sat with her sister and her boyfriend.
Hayley: Her sister and her boyfriend.
Hayley: He thought I was too young. He would have never—that’s what he said—he thought I was too young.
Mike: No; I thought she was too young. I was 20 years old.
Bob: Okay; so hang on. Not interested and too young—eight months later—
Mike: And her mom grabbed me in the hall at church—
Hayley: Yes; you’re going to love this story—you’re going to love this part.
Mike: —and she said: “My daughter likes horses. You should invite her over to ride sometime.”
Mike: I invited her over, as a friend, to come ride. From there—
Dennis: Your hand wasn’t on the Bible when you said that. [Laughter]
Mike: From there, you know, we just got to know each other. We’re just kind of friends, and I realized how mature she was for her age. That’s how we developed that relationship.
Bob: I mean, most 17-year-olds I know would be a little afraid to take the plunge to get married.
Hayley: I would not recommend that. I mean, I have an 18-year-old, and he’s not anywhere near ready to get married.
Bob: Were you anywhere near ready?
Hayley: No; looking back on it now, we were very young; and we were immature in that way. But we did what we did—you know, we did get married—and God ordained our marriage—so we are committed. We stuck to it, and we worked through it.
Bob: But three years into your marriage, you weren’t so sure that God had ordained it; were you?
Hayley: I don’t think I thought about that, as far as God ordaining it.
Bob: Tell us what happened.
Dennis: Well, before we get there, though, I have to hear how he proposed. I mean, if he had her over to the horse farm—
Bob: You think there was a ride out in the sunset involved?
Dennis: —I just think there has to—this guy has to—he played football for the University of Tennessee. He has to have some moves. [Laughter]
How did you propose?
Mike: Well, the first time we ever went on a date, we went horseback riding. Then, the day I proposed, we went on the same similar ride. Underneath two trees on top of a hill, I said, “Let’s take a break a minute and get off the horses.” I get down on one knee and ask her to marry me.
Mike: Those two trees are still there on the farm now.
Dennis: And you two are still standing, too, —
Dennis: —even though there have been some storms.
Dennis: Tell us what created the storms.
Mike: I think I did. [Laughter]
It wasn’t big things—it was all the little things, that we didn’t know how to communicate, that we let add up, still being young and thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. There wasn’t any infidelity or anything like that—but just thought, “What’s the point of this?” You know, just listening to the world and thinking that “There has to be something better,” instead of just trying to talk, and actually communicate, and work something out. I was kind of like, “I’m done.”
Dennis: So what were you chasing?
Mike: Nothing. I didn’t have anything, but I just thought being miserable and being married was not for me. I wanted something better—so I was the one that initiated it.
Bob: You guys have never been to one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways; but when you go, one of the things we talk about, at the beginning of the getaway, is the fact that a marriage naturally moves in the direction of isolation—that if you’re not intentional / if you’re not purposeful, the drift is not together / it’s apart from one another.
Bob: The thought that, “Now, that I’m married, I will have greater happiness than I’ve ever known in my life,”—well, you forgot that you’re a sinner and she’s a sinner. Between that, there’s going to be selfishness / there are going to be all kinds of anxieties.
You experienced that normal drift that happens in a marriage. It got you to a place, where you were really looking at each other, going, “Are we going to stick this thing out?”—right?
The most important thing of all we learned, besides our communication, was that we weren’t keeping God at the center. If you envision a triangle, He wasn’t at the top and we weren’t both looking to Him first. That’s the biggest thing we learned—is to have that relationship with God and pray together.
Bob: How bad did it get?
Mike: Well, at first, she was living upstairs. I was just waiting on her—I had given her some divorce papers that I’d gotten off something online, and—
Dennis: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Where did the word, “divorce,” ever enter into the conversation? Who was the first to throw the word out?
Mike: I did.
Dennis: There’s a reason why I’m asking—I want our listeners to hear this: “When the d-word is tossed on the table, it becomes a live option. Words have power.”
Bob: It’s toxic.
Dennis: It is toxic. Just introducing the possibility gives license to that possibility growing into something other than a tree, like we’re talking about.
Dennis: It uproots the tree.
Bob: Do you remember how it hit you when he said, “Maybe we should just get a divorce”?
Hayley: I do—it was kind of just a long process there. I mean, he was miserable—you could tell he was miserable. Everything I said he would be angry about. I was young, and I was very insecure in whom I was—so just belittling things that he would say to me, and then I would shut down. Well, that’s not how he wanted to communicate. I think we kind of take opposite roles here—the traditional male and female roles—he wanted to hash things out and talk about them. Well, I just wouldn’t answer back / I would totally shut down. Well, then, that would make him more upset.
Literally, I was still in school / he was still in college as well. We would just kind of pass each other, coming and going. I had night classes.
Mike: Yes; I told her to get out. She went upstairs and was living in the upstairs part of our old farmhouse that we lived in. She stayed up there for months and just refused to—
Hayley: I’m 20 years old / I have nowhere to go—I mean, you married me at—
Bob: So you had months, where you’re living in that kind of a separate existence?
Mike: Oh yes.
Dennis: No children.
Hayley: No children.
Bob: Divorce papers that you had downloaded from the internet.
Hayley: Yes; found on online. Yes; that shows the maturity of us, at this time.
Bob: You really wanted out.
Bob: What were you looking for that you weren’t getting?
Mike: It was just all those little things that built up, and we couldn’t communicate—so it was miserable. Like she said, I would want to try to talk to her; and she wouldn’t want to talk. That was just the way she had conflict with her parents before we ever got married—
—you know, she just wouldn’t speak / she always kept things bottled up.
Hayley: Just more internal—I don’t share easily.
Dennis: Yes; I just want to point here that this is where a lot of couples start their marriage. They aren’t trained in knowing how to resolve conflict between two broken people. They’re assuming that “…til death do us part,” is going to be automatic and that problems resolve themselves. No; problems take hard work—to work through the misunderstanding, the unmet needs, the disappointments, and the discouragements.
Back to the Weekend to Remember, Bob, this is where a lot of couples find hope; because we give them really some skills—not just in communication—but in knowing how two people, who continue to hurt each other, can get out of that cycle—and can find hope, and forgive each other, and then move and begin to replace the hurt with the hope that allows love to be reborn again in the relationship.
Bob: What was the turning point for you guys, and how did you get the help you needed?
Mike: Well, she was upstairs for four months.
Mike: Then she went to live with her mom and dad when she finally was willing to accept that I didn’t love her or want her anymore. She lived with her parents for another four months. Then, isn’t it ironic?—that those were eight months that we were separated but still married—and God redeemed it all with eight more children.
Bob: Wow. At the end of the four months, how did the ice thaw between the two of you?
Hayley: He actually just started talking to my mom a little bit; because at that point, I wouldn’t talk to him. At that point, I said: “You know what? I’m done. You’ve hurt me so much. There’s really nothing left to say.”
He started talking to my mom and just kind of checking up on me, and wanting to know how I was doing, and wanting to work things out. I was completely not interested / I was done with him. I mean, it’d just been eight months of just what seemed like hell to me. I mean, it was terrible.
Dennis: But you hadn’t filed then.
Hayley: No; I still hadn’t signed any papers. I wouldn’t sign papers, because that didn’t feel right. Now, at the time, I know it didn’t feel right because it wasn’t what God wanted me to do; but I wasn’t there, at that point in my life. I just know that that didn’t feel right. I was kind of like in this no-man’s land.
My dad set me down on the couch one day. He had already known that Mike had been talking to mom. He [Mike] just really seemed like he had changed. He was really working on it and wanting to become just a new person. So my dad set me down on the couch; and he said, “Hayley, you have to make a choice.
“You either have to get divorced and moved on, or you have to work through the marriage. You can’t just stay in this no-man’s land. You have to make a choice.”
Kind of in that moment, in just a week or so around that time, I knew what I needed to do—and I knew it was I had to go back and make it work. At the time, I wouldn’t have said, “It is all God”; but I know that now. Getting a divorce was not an option for me; so I knew I had to go back and make it work.
It was just the recognizing, in each other, that God had changed our hearts. Going to counseling—it wasn’t like, “Oh, I have counseling today,” or “I have to listen to this; and it’s going to make me angry, because I want to say this,”—it was just like we were agreeing with the counselor. The whole mood of it changed. We were learning from it. We started taking the advice and able to communicate. It became an exciting time instead of this dreaded time.
Mike: We got involved with another couple that was like a mentor to us—that had had marriage trouble—not the same situation as us but were at the breaking point and healed their marriage. Through that couple, we started another young marrieds’ Bible study class at our church. So just besides showing up to go to “big church”—we called it—
Hayley: —and hiding in a pew in the back.
Mike: —and hiding in a pew in the back. We started a Sunday school class. It wasn’t just a social, “feel-good,” come-fill-up-your-couple-hours Sunday school class. It was intentional digging into the Word.
Hayley: We had accountability.
Bob: Well, what you’ve just described is huge—to have other couples, who have said: “You know what? We’ve been in the ditch, and there’s help.” All of a sudden, it’s like: “Okay; other people have done this, and they’ve gotten out of it. Now, there’s hope.” When hope re-enters the picture, now you have some energy to bring to trying to get the help and the healing that you need.
Dennis: And here’s what I want to get to—if you’ve been listening to this broadcast, you have heard a story here, where love blossomed, love died, and was reborn. We know not all of the rest of the story; but we do know—because you’re coming up here, in a couple of years, on your 20th anniversary—so there is a rest of the story here that’s been worked out that is pretty magnificent.
If you would have known what was at stake, at that point—because you’re talking to people, right now, listening to this broadcast, who are at that same point you guys were—but they don’t know the rest of the story; but they’re at a point that demands a step of faith—a commitment / a surrender to Jesus Christ—like you did, Hayley—what would you say to them?
Hayley: I would say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has in store for you, [from 1 Corinthians 2:9].” If you know what you are supposed to do, and what God is calling you to do, and what He’s leading you to do, stick with it; because it will be better, and it will be more beautiful than anything that you can imagine. It will be worth it. He will restore those lost years, or months, or whatever it is. Whatever you’ve lost or has been hurting, He will restore that in a way that you could never dream or imagine.
Bob: I just spent the weekend at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways, up in Philadelphia. Every time I’m at one of these events, I talk to couples, who are on the brink. They have come, much like you guys were—they’ve lost hope / they don’t know what to do to get themselves out of the ditch. They’re at the weekend, wondering if there is any reason for hope to still exist.
What they find is that the Bible has answers. When they hear them clearly presented, it makes a difference. That was the case, again, this weekend in Philadelphia. I’ll just say for our listeners: “If you’ve not attended one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways,”—you’ve heard us say this over and over again—“every couple ought to have one of these weekends as a part of their routine marriage maintenance—something that they do every couple of years / maybe it’s every four or five years; whatever—just do something that will help strengthen your marriage.”
You can find out more about the Weekend to Remember when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You may want to consider a Weekend to Remember gift card as a Christmas present this year. Make plans for a spring getaway and surprise your spouse with a Weekend to Remember getaway gift card—again, more information at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me also mention that Mike and Hayley Jones’ story—in fact, the story we haven’t gotten to yet, but we will get to it—the story of your decision to adopt eight siblings from Sierra Leone, Africa—that story is told in a book called At Any Cost: Overcoming Every Obstacle to Bring Our Children Home. We have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order from us online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order a copy of the book, At Any Cost, by Mike and Hayley Jones.
Now, we want to wish a “Happy anniversary!” today to J.R. and Tara Olson, who live in Whitewood, South Dakota. This is their first anniversary. We think every anniversary is important, from number one to number seventy-one—however many you are able to celebrate over the years—we think every one of them is important.
We’ve been celebrating our 40th anniversary all year this year. God has been using FamilyLife in the lives of husbands and wives all around the globe for the past four decades. It’s been exciting to see how He’s used this ministry in other people’s lives.
If you can help with a donation today, we’d love to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a resource designed for preschool and early elementary-aged children during the Christmas season. It’s called “The Twelve Names of Christmas”—twelve ornaments that children can hang on a tree that teach them about who Jesus is. It’s our gift to you when you make a donation today. You can do that at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to find out more about how God led Mike and Hayley Jones, after He put their marriage back together again, how He led them to adopt—not one, not two, not three, not four, or five, or six, or seven—but eight children / an eight-children sibling group from Africa. We’ll hear that story tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for it.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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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