About the Guest
Rob Kopf was contemplating divorce as he listened to the speakers at the FamilyLife marriage getaway, but Laurie still had hope for their marriage. Today Rob and Laurie talk about the miracle that God did in their marriage once they recommitted their lives to Him and to one another.
Rob and Laurie KopfRob and Laurie Kopf, former FamilyLife staff, live in Buchanan, MI, where they lead the lead Order Fulfillment Center of Life Action Ministries. They have four children and several grandchildren.
Rob Kopf was contemplating divorce as he listened to the speakers at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference, but Laurie still had hope for their marriage.
Rob: Laurie and I had a tremendous fight the week before the conference, because I just wanted to go and say, "Honey, let's just not do the projects. Let's just go and have a good time," and she's still saying, "Well, honey, we've got to do the projects." So we decided to go, we did the projects and, without a doubt, I wish we had done the projects the first time. The projects is what brings out all these things that you just don't want to talk about. It forces you to communicate and talk about things that you'd just rather put off to the side.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 16th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. And if the Love Dare book had been around back when Rob and Laurie Kopf were going to their Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, they could have benefited from paying attention to the dare on Day 12. We'll talk about that today, stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. And the reason that I mention that Rob and Laurie Kopf would have benefited from Day 12 of the Love Dare, which, by the way, we are going through the Love Dare book between now and Valentine's Day. It's a 40-day Love Dare that we're inviting our listeners to take, and if you need a copy of the book, "The Love Dare," you can go to our FamilyLife Resource Center, go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, and we can get a copy of the book sent out to you.
But on Day 12, the Dare says "Love lets the other person win" – Philippians 2, verse 4 – "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interest of others." So your assignment today is to demonstrate your love by willingly choosing to give in in an area of disagreement between you and your spouse, like doing projects at a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Tell them that you've decided to put their preference first, which paid off for Rob and Laurie Kopf when Rob did that. Again, if you'd like a copy of the book, "The Love Dare," so that you can continue to go through this with us as we approach Valentine's Day go to FamilyLifeToday.com and you can order a copy online. We are posting each day's Love Dare on our website, so if you miss one you can always check on the Web to see what your assignment for the day is and, keep in mind, the movie, "Fireproof" is going to be out on DVD here in a couple of weeks, so you may want to consider getting a copy of that movie.
And then let me also remind you that today is the last opportunity you have to register for one of our upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences when it comes to a city near where you live this spring. You and your spouse attend, pay the regular registration rate, and we'll send you, at no additional cost, when you register today, we're going to send you a certificate that is good for a free registration for another couple. So you can invite a couple to join you, you can send the certificate to somebody who lives in another city, and they can register for a different conference in a different city on a different weekend, if you want. We want to be flexible, but we want to give you the opportunity today to register for an upcoming conference, and when you and your spouse register together, we'll send you a certificate so that another couple can attend at no additional cost.
Again, all the details are available on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. If you have any questions, call 1-800-FLTODAY, but if you want to take advantage of this offer, you need to do it today. So – 1-800-FLTODAY is the toll-free number, or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and register for one of these upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences.
Now, we have been visiting this week with some friends and co-workers here at FamilyLife – Rob and Laurie Kopf are joining us this week. Rob, Laurie, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Rob: Thank you.
Laurie: Thank you.
Bob: You know, what you have already shared with us this week is a pretty dramatic story. I mean, you stop and think about it, the two of you were teenagers – high school boyfriend and girlfriend when you ran off with plans to get married. You thought you were going to elope, but that didn't happen. Eventually, Laurie, you met somebody else, married him, that didn't last long. Your paths crossed again, and the two of you finally did get married thinking that now that the two of you were together, and you were finally married, everything would be on the right track, but even then there were challenges. Laurie, you had an affair in the first couple of years of your marriage, and, Rob, you were having an affair with alcohol throughout those early years of marriage.
And you attended a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, and as you've already shared with us, it was not a great experience. You did not have a fun, romantic getaway weekend. It was – you felt like it was pretty much a waste. I'm just curious, Laurie, did you come away from that first conference experience feeling like it had done any good? Did you have any hope for your marriage at this point?
Laurie: Yes, I still had hope. I knew if we could just do what God tells us to do, we would be happy. But I realized just how selfish we are. We are just selfish human beings, and I continued to pray that Rob would grow; that he'd turn to God and lead our family.
Dennis: Rob, you didn't have hope at that point, though. You were thinking about divorce.
Rob: Right. I was thinking of trying to get out of the marriage while I still had time, while I still had youth, and I went back to work and thought it was a weekend that was probably not going to be one that I ever thought about again. But over the course of the next two years, God started really working on my heart and reminding me that I am the leader of this family.
Dennis: And you all had numerous issues in your lives to work through at this point. You had performed some acts of selfishness in your relationship that needed God's forgiveness, hadn't you?
Rob: I did, I did, and a lot of those deeds – we wouldn't even admit that God would forgive us. It took us a long time to realize that God would forgive us for our behavior, for some of the acts that we had done together or as a couple.
Laurie: Well, one of the things I didn't share was when Rob and I started to get back together, before we were married, I had left my husband in November, my ex-husband, and it wasn't until I was three months pregnant that I realized that I was pregnant, and seeing no way out, actually, I had two choices. I could go back to my ex-husband and have two children now with him, or I could have an abortion and still have my dream of being with Rob.
Rob: Because I told her right then, I said, "Honey, you have this baby, you don't have me." And we decided to go for the abortion, and now I wish I could talk to more women who have been through this, because it's horrible, and I came out of there regretting it from the second it happened, and it's just – it's the biggest act of selfishness that I have ever done. I think leaving my ex-husband and taking his child wasn't as selfish as killing a totally helpless child who had no choice in the matter. But I decided it was best for me, so I had an abortion.
Rob: What I was thinking of, during that whole time, was when Laurie told me that she was pregnant with her ex-husband's baby was here I had waited so long – years – six, seven years, to be back with Laurie again, and there just was not going to be anything to stop me. And I told her, I said, "Well, I've got some vacation time saved up, I'll just cash that in. We'll use that." To me, it was just something that had to be done for Laurie and I to be happy.
Dennis: You know, it's interesting, as you all share the story of how quickly we, as human beings, can rationalize what we want, when we want it, and how we're all made that way. It's not just you. Your story is one that you are sharing with us here today, but everybody's got a story that's rooted in the same selfishness. There is no one who is standing in judgment over you feeling like they are better than you because maybe they haven't done that.
The reality is all of us need forgiveness. Rob, you mentioned that after attending the FamilyLife Marriage Conference the main thing you left there with was that God expected you to do what was right. He expected you to be responsible for your marriage and your family. Over the next couple of years after the conference was over, was that the thing God used to begin to turn your marriage around?
That was. That was exactly the thing that God used. God also used Laurie's encouragement. Every time I took a small step towards being the godly leader that she wanted in her family, you know, our family – she would encourage me.
Bob: How long was it between your first FamilyLife Marriage Conference and your second FamilyLife Marriage Conference?
Rob: Six years.
Bob: I'm guessing the second time you went the weekend was a little different?
Rob: It was a little bit different. It was equally as challenging because we started to do our projects and, boy, those projects, they bring up some muck, let me tell you.
Dennis: And you hadn't done any of the projects the first time you went in 1986?
Rob: No, we didn't even consider doing the projects.
Bob: So even though you'd had six years of growth, there were still some hidden issues down there?
Rob: Oh, sure, there still was. There was still this ace that I would bring out. There was still this affair that I would throw up to her whenever I thought I was losing a fight. But we decided we're going to do the projects this time, and we started to do the projects, and I think we got into Saturday's projects, and then we started fighting a little bit, and we decided, "Well, let's just put the project off to the side."
And we went to a third conference, and I think we got through most of the projects, and what's funny is we went to – the fourth conference we went to was this past November in Memphis, and, Bob, you were one of the speakers there, and Laurie and I had a tremendous fight the week before the conference, because I just wanted to go and say, "Honey, let's just not do the projects. Let's just go and have a good time." And she's still saying, "Well, honey, we've got to do the projects."
So we decided to go, we did the projects, and, without a doubt, I wish we had done the projects the first time. The projects is what brings out all these things that you just don't want to talk about. It forces you to communicate and talk about things that you'd just rather put off to the side.
Dennis: So you're saying even though there's some discomfort in doing those projects, there's tremendous benefit there?
Rob: Oh, sure. If you can get past the stubbornness at the level Laurie and I have and actually do the projects, that's the gist, that's the meat of the conference. And you've got to agree, in your own mind, that you're going to cross that line to where you stop saying, "What's in it for me" in this relationship to "What's in it for us," or "What does God want for us?" That's really the first step, and that's where the projects will take you is – there's more than just one person in this marriage, and it's not me.
Bob: Here is what I want to know – Dennis spoke at your first conference, I spoke at the last one you went to …
Dennis: Don't go there, Bob.
Don't even think about going there. Their marriage was in terrible shape when I spoke to them.
All kidding aside, you've spoken about this ace that you used to throw up to her, and it was actually a punishment of her for a moral indiscretion, an affair she had with a guy at work while you were having an affair with alcohol.
Rob: Right, right, right.
Dennis: And you said that just a year ago that was finally released?
Rob: Laurie and I had had an argument in our bedroom where I continued to pull this ace out, and remember that I never considered this affair as my fault. It wasn't my problem, it was something that Laurie had done to us, it was something that Laurie had done to me. Laurie is just, I thought, was just lucky that I didn't walk out on her right then and kept the marriage together just in spite of that.
Dennis: Before you go there, Laurie, I've got to ask you how did that make you feel when he would throw up your mistake at that point? Were you aware that he wasn't assuming responsibility?
Laurie: Well, I never really thought that he should assume the responsibility. I mean, I had – it was my choice. I just wanted him to understand that if he had been what I needed as a husband, I would have never even considered or been in the position to have done that. I just kind of wanted him to admit that maybe he had a minute responsibility.
Bob: He could have protected you.
Laurie: Yeah, he could have protected me.
Rob: I could have given her the love that she was looking for. Laurie was right to give me every single thing a man could want in a wife if I would accept her, but it was a conflict between her and the beer at that time, and the beer won.
Laurie: I think I would feel just the guilt of not having been stronger – to have stayed pure and true to him. I continued to feel like a failure. Depression has been a big part of my life. You carry around so much guilt and baggage, and it wasn't until we met with the pastor from our church and talked to him, and his suggestion to us was to meet with another couple and talk about the affair, what got me there, why it happened, how I felt, how he felt, and we did that. We met with a couple and just shared with each other from the beginning to the end, and it's something we had never done in 13 years.
And it was that day, I think, that Rob could finally maybe see that he did have some part in it, and I think that was the beginning of him forgiving me, and I needed that forgiveness for me to just feel whole again, I think.
Rob: One of the things that Laurie already has told me is that if a man would love a woman the way God intends him to love her, that's all she needs in a relationship. If a man would just love her godly, would love her the way that the Bible tells you to, that you learn about in the conference, then that's when I realized she never would have left in the first place. If I had loved her godly, if I had loved her properly, then she never would have been looking, she never would have been in the position, she never would have been anywhere near an area that would – that could get into that kind of trouble.
So it wasn't until we met with this couple and voiced it and, I mean, she had it written down, she wrote it out, it was a long script, but it was then that I knew, finally, how she felt and what led her into that decision to even put herself into a position that could turn into trouble.
Because it wasn't even until then that I even realized that it was partly my fault. I just thought it was a character flaw on her part and, luckily, I'm so strong that I'm still having her around. And it wasn't until then that I realized I was also at fault. I was also to blame in this relationship because we are one, we are one body, and I have to share that blame for not giving her what she wants; for not giving her the kind of love that God wants us men to give our wives. And she's told me that over the years. It's funny, because she's mentioned that over the years.
You know, we talk about people who have affairs and everything, and I'll just say, "Well, you know, she shouldn't have done that," and he'll say, "Yeah, but, if he would just love her like God wants her to, there's no reason a woman is going to go out and do that kind of thing."
Dennis: How did you forgive her? Take us to the spot and the place and how that happened?
Rob: I saw – I saw, for probably the first time that night, how honestly sorry she was – how it bothered her more than it bothered me. It tortured her over the years more than it tortured me, and it wasn't something that I was just going through. This is something that she carried around by herself, and what I needed to do was come up alongside of her and say, "This is something that the two of us need to carry, because we're both responsible."
And this is something that God's forgiven you, and I need to forgive you, and we need to join hands and just have the situation behind us and carry it. And no longer just use it to pummel you whenever I need to win a fight. And it was at that time that I realized – and she wanted that more than anything. I always thought she just did – you know, I thought it was something that she did, and she said, "Well, I did it. I'm sorry, I'll never do it again." But she's been carrying this around for years, and I'd never been there for her, and it was finally – I felt I could come next to her and say, "Okay, I accept responsibility for chasing you away. I accept responsibility for not loving you and putting you in a position where you hated me, and that was me. That was my choices to make back then."
Dennis: And, Laurie, how did that make you feel at that point?
Laurie: Well, it feels good right now just to hear him say that. It made me feel good. I really needed to be forgiven, and I wish – I just wish we hadn't wasted so many years and that our children hadn't to had to have – they've been through a lot, too. I'm sure they've heard things and we haven't been the couple that they deserve. They deserve a mother and a father who love each other and forgive each other and can be a role model to them. And I think it's only been this last year that I finally feel like our marriage is getting to where God wants it to be, and the last conference we went to, we did every project, and we talked about it, and he forgave me again at the conference, and we talked about it again, and it's only God could have done what He's done in our lives. It's only by God's grace that we are sitting here with you in this study today and for openly talking about things that have tormented me for a long time.
Dennis: There are two thoughts come to my mind. First of all, the Scripture that says "He who has forgiven much loves much." And we're all forgiven, and your love and adoration for Christ is evident on your faces and in your story as you've related the grace of God not only to us through your lives but as we've watched and heard of you relating God's grace to one another, because you've hurt each other in innumerable ways.
And the other Scripture that is just shouting in my ears is the hope that comes about as a result of building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. There are two foundations in Matthew, chapter 7, verses 24 and following. There's the foundation of the rock, that is Jesus Christ, and a foundation of sand. Your lives were built on the sand, and it was horrible. You still bear some of the consequences of that building that occurred upon that sand.
But, at a point in time, when God got your attention and when you finally responded, you had a choice, and you made the right choice and have continued to make the right choice, to keep on building your house on the rock.
And, Bob, I've got to believe there are lots of listeners whose marriages have been through more, some less, some have their own dramas they could tell, but they need to realize that God does exist, that the tomb is empty, God does answer prayers, He does resurrect marriages, lives. Forgiveness is real; forgiveness is possible, shame can be replaced with grace and hope can take root and can result in maturity – not just getting by but having something that's worth sharing with other people.
And, Rob and Laurie, I want to thank you for baring your souls and for sharing God's work in your lives, because I've got a feeling you've brought hope to a lot of homes today.
Rob: Thank you.
Bob: Well, and we also hope, Dennis, that there are a lot of listeners who, as they've heard Rob and Laurie's story, listeners who have said for years, "You know, we ought to go to one of those. I wonder if our marriage could be helped at a conference like that."
Hopefully, today those listeners will either go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY and register for an upcoming conference. We're kicking off our spring season on Valentine's weekend, February 13th, 14th, and 15th, in a number of cities all across the country including Washington, D.C.; the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania; at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas; at the Tamaya Resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in a number of other cities. That's just Valentine's weekend, and then throughout the spring, the conference will be taking place in other cities.
And if folks will register today to attend one of these upcoming conferences – you register as a couple at the regular registration rate, we'll send you, at no additional cost, a companion certificate so that another couple can attend either along with you or at a later date, they can attend the conference of their choice absolutely free.
Now, this offer is only good through today. So if you want to take advantage of what is a great offer from our team, in fact, our team has worked really hard to be able to make this offer this spring, and we're hoping that many of our FamilyLife Today listeners will not only plan to attend themselves, but they'll also plan to invite a couple to join them or to pass along this certificate so that a loved one, a family member, co-worker, someone in the neighborhood or someone you know from church can also benefit from a weekend getaway together at a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Again, you can register online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and register over the phone and today is the last day to take advantage of the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. So we hope to hear from you either online at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
And with that we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and we hope you'll join us back on Monday.
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. Have a great weekend, we'll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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