Love Turns to Hate

with Rob and Laurie Kopf | January 15, 2009

Rob and Laurie had been apart for six years, and now that they were together again life would be blissful. Or would it? Today Rob and Laurie Kopf talk about their early years of marriage and the alcoholism that threatened to end their love story before it even started.

Rob and Laurie had been apart for six years, and now that they were together again life would be blissful. Or would it? Today Rob and Laurie Kopf talk about their early years of marriage and the alcoholism that threatened to end their love story before it even started.

Love Turns to Hate

With Rob and Laurie Kopf
|
January 15, 2009
| Download Transcript PDF

And if you register for one of these conferences today or tomorrow, you and your spouse register at the regular rate, we are going to make available to you at no additional cost, a certificate that will enable another couple to attend either with you or on their own absolutely free.  We'll send that certificate to you when you register, again, either today or tomorrow to attend one of the upcoming spring conferences on our website at FamilyLife.com.  There is a link to the area of the site where you can get information about when the conference is going to be in a particular city.  Or if it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, talk to someone on our team.  They'll answer any questions that you have about the conference, or they can make arrangements to get you registered right over the phone.

And, again, if you and your spouse register at the regular rate for one of the conferences this spring, we're going to send you a certificate so that you can invite a friend, a son or a daughter or a relative, somebody you know who could really benefit from attending one of these conferences.  This is an exceptional offer that or team has put together, but it expires tomorrow.  Call us today or go online and register today at FamilyLifeToday.com and then plan to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference when it comes to a city near where you live and join us for a Weekend to Remember.

In fact, registering for one of these conferences might be a way to take care of your assignment here on Day Number 11 in our Love Dare.  We are following the book, "The Love Dare," that was a part of the movie, "Fireproof," which was in theaters back in the fall and is going to be out on DVD fairly soon.  Today's verse, Ephesians 5:28, "Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies," and today we're considering how love cherishes another person.  And how can you demonstrate that you cherish your spouse?  Well, you can sign up for a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, or you can follow this assignment – just think about a need that your spouse has that you could meet today.  Is there an errand you could run?  Could you give your spouse a back rub or a foot massage?  Is there some housework you could help out with? 

Find a small gesture that you could do that says, "I cherish you," and then do it with a smile and with a positive attitude.  That's your Love Dare assignment for today, and if you'd like to get a copy of the book, "The Love Dare" and follow along with us as we work our way up to Valentine's weekend, you can go, again, to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com and order a copy of the book directly from us.

And we're going to be re-introduced today to a couple of friends who actually attended a Weekend to Remember conference now more than two decades ago, and it was at a pretty critical point in their marriage.  But given the details of their marriage and some of the history that they've been through, Dennis, it's remarkable to sit down with this couple and hear how God intervened in their lives and in their relationship with one another.

Dennis: Rob and Laurie Kopf join us on the broadcast for a second day. Rob, Laurie, welcome back.

Rob: Thank you.

Laurie: Thank you.

Dennis: You two brought us into a story that was incredible – a story of two teenage rebels who fell madly in love with one another, who ran off to get married from New Jersey to Las Vegas, tried to elope, whose parents reeled them back in, who broke them up, whose lives separated for a period of time – Laurie, you then got married, had a child, had a problem with drugs, ended up getting divorced a couple of years later.  Rob, in the meantime, you developed a problem with alcohol, and you fell in love with a bottle.

Well, her divorce brought back the option of you two getting back together again, which you did.  And yesterday on the broadcast what we talked about was the state of a relationship where you two had decided to get back together, but you were outside of God's will.  Take us into the start of that relationship then.  How long did you live with one another before you decided to get married?

Rob: Well, when we decided to get married, Laurie was living in New Jersey, and by state law in New Jersey you have to be separated 18 months before you can be divorced, and I didn't want to wait that long while I was still in Philadelphia.  So I quit my job in Philadelphia and moved back to New Jersey, and we rented a house with a friend of ours, and Laurie's son, with the four of us for a year.

Laurie got divorced in August of '82, and we got married in October of '82.  One of the funny things was that her mom did insist that we at least wait until the divorce was finalized before we sent out the invitations.  She thought that was the proper thing to do.

Bob: So you had a big church wedding?

Rob: We had a church wedding, though a lot of my friends came, a lot of our friends had come, but it was a dry wedding, and that was extremely distressful to me.

Bob: Yeah, in fact, Laurie, you had asked Rob for two things on your wedding day, right?

Laurie: Mm-hm.  I asked that he be sober and that he wouldn't wear his earring for the pictures.  But I remember, as we stood up there saying our vows, I had to hold his hand with two hands to keep it from shaking, because he was going through withdrawal, and he was having a difficult time that day.

But we made it through the wedding, and it really was a nice wedding that our parents gave us.

Dennis: Did that trouble you that he was going through the DTs?

Laurie: Well, yes.  Before we got married, the whites of his eyes would get yellow, and it really took me a little while to figure out he had a problem.  But I finally realized when he could drink a case of beer and go out and buy more, he had a problem.  And I remember one time getting ready for a date, getting all dressed up, and we were going to go out, and we were two blocks away, and he didn't want to go, he didn't feel good.  And he would just get, like, "I've got to get home."  He'd be okay if he was back at the house and in normal, you know, familiar surroundings.

So I told him he needed to go to a doctor.  I wasn't going to be divorced and a widow by the time I was 25, and I made him go to a doctor.  Well, that doctor told him that his liver was already beginning to harden, and if he didn't quit drinking right away, he was going to be dead, and so he promised me he would stop drinking, and I took him at his word, and we got married.  But it was only a couple – actually, on our honeymoon he got drunk that night.

Dennis: The wedding night?

Rob: I had been sober long enough.  It lasted about 5:00 that night.  We bought a bottle of champagne on the way to the honeymoon, and I just chugged down the bottle in the car on the way to the honeymoon.

Dennis: So you didn't fight the DTs very long, then?

Rob: No.  I held up my part of the bargain.  The wedding was over, the pictures were over, the earring went back in, I started getting drunk, that was my life.

Dennis: Amazing.

Bob: Did you guys head off on your honeymoon thinking, "This is it.  The culmination" – I mean, "no two people were ever more meant for one another.  We're going to live happily ever after?"

Dennis: Yeah, the two people who tried to elope in Las Vegas.

Rob: We were the American dream.  We were the high school sweethearts that finally got married.  A couple of our friends had all chipped in and bought us a couple of ounces of pot for a wedding present.  We had in the seat between us.  I had my bottle of champagne, and we were on our way.

Bob: At the FamilyLife Marriage Conference, you know, we talk about relationships moving through phases – from a honeymoon phase to a transitional phase to a kind of reality phase and then down to a rejection phase.  How long, Laurie, did it take to go from honeymoon to reality to rejection?

Laurie: Oh, I'd say it took that – it took a year.  By the end of our first year, I – my love had turned to hate.  I hated him.  I mean, I think we just both hated each other.  I felt betrayed.  I felt, basically, that he was having his affair with alcohol.  He didn't care where I was or what I was doing as long as he had his beer and ESPN.  And it didn't matter what I was doing, I mean, he didn't care.  I think he felt more relieved when I left the house, because then he could be alone with himself.

Bob: And you'd not seen that prior to marriage?

Laurie: Oh, yeah, I had, but, you know, you see things through rose-colored glasses.  You think it's going to be great if you just get married.  And it just doesn't work that way.

And I started to work in a warehouse, and I loved my job, and I was a very judgmental person I think from high school on.  I mean, if you were doing something, I'd say, "You're terrible for smoking cigarettes," which I ended up doing.  "You're terrible for getting high, how could you do that?"  Well I started to get high.  And I would judge people for – a lot of these guys at the warehouse had affairs, and I thought that was awful.  "How could you do that to your wife?  They're so sweet, they're at home waiting for you," and I judged all of those guys.  I thought it was awful.

But, you know, by the end of – I was there, I guess, three years, and by the end of that time, there was a guy there who I would never have considered, and he just – you know, he'd be there to listen to me, and I'd share things, you know, about, you know, terrible Rob at home, and we got closer together at work, and I ended up having an affair with this guy.  And I got to the point where I didn't care what happened to him anymore.  I just wanted somebody to love Laurie for who she was – just being myself.

And I realized later that stuff wasn't going to work either, but I remember going home, and I decided, "I'm going to tell him, because I want him to kick me out.  I just want out."  And I went home that night, and I told him "I just want you to know that" – I don't know the exact words I used, but "I've been seeing somebody else, and I don't want to be married anymore."

And we had a big fight, and I really – I told him basically to end the marriage.  But something happened where I think he realized just how much he'd hurt me and alienated me totally.

Dennis: You know, as you were sharing that, Laurie, I thought how a simple gesture of the attention of another man was a statement of acceptance of you, as a person, and how that's what we long for in marriage, and if we don't get that in a marriage relationship, how we're vulnerable to any act or any gesture of compassion or of acceptance or of love and how that can lead to a connection of the heart.

Rob, I've got to ask you – at that point where you aware you were deficient in accepting Laurie at that point?

Rob: I probably was aware and was glad for the relationship that we had, because Laurie's – our marriage didn't interfere with my drinking any longer.  She would go off on what she would call union meetings.  She was part of a union at the warehouse, and she'd go off on these union meetings, I thought that would be great.  I would stay home, put Calen to bed, get my case, and watch ESPN.

And she's right – I did emotionally reject her, I sexually rejected her, and as perverted as I was, as degenerate as I was, there was no emotional – I mean, I was upset, I was more – my pride was hurt, my manly pride was hurt, you know, "How dare you," you have all these images, because I knew who this guy was, and you have all these images of what was going on.  But it was also – I was kind of – I made lemonade out of lemons by saying, "I'm going to use this.  I'm going to put this up my sleeve.  This is an ace that I have.  I'm going to put this up my sleeve, and I'm going to use this as a weapon for the rest of our marriage," because I refused to think – now, this happened back in 1983 – I refused to believe that I was in any way responsible for her affair.  She was just tramping around.  Some guy just had the hots for her, they got together, and, you know, Laurie is pretty lucky that I even stayed around.  That was my thoughts.

Dennis: And so you refused to forgive her?

Rob: I refused to forgive her, and I refused to kick her out because I wanted a marriage that didn't interfere with my drinking, and now I had this tremendous weapon.  And it still hurt, I mean, it hurt me, but I would drink it away.  It wouldn't hurt as long as I was drunk, so I just continued to drink.

Bob: How long did your marriage go on like this?

Rob: With the drinking or the affair?

Bob: With the drinking, with the hatred, with the tension, with the …

Rob: The drinking – about another eight or nine months; with the hatred, with the ace up my sleeve, 14 years I used that as a tool.  Whenever we were getting into a fight that I was losing, I'd bring it up, and I'd say, "Well, it wasn't as bad as what you did with so-and-so," and I'd always win the fight.

Dennis: Well, I want to talk about that before we're finished, but I also want to talk about what was going on in your marriage.  Did God finally get your attention and bring you to the end of yourselves before this thing exploded?  I mean, I'm wondering what kept you from shooting each other at that point.

Laurie: I think right after we'd had this big fight about the affair, it wasn't long after that that Rob made a commitment.  He stopped drinking, and we decided to try to find a church to go to.

Bob: Did you get some help?

Rob: The story that I stopped drinking July 4, 1984, my Independence Day, was that my best friend across the street, my drinking buddy, he invited me over to his house for the Fourth of July, and we drank all day.  Then we got our cases for the nighttime, and we finished our cases at night, and it was about 2:00 in the morning, and Laurie was there, and his wife was there, and the four of us were just kind of hanging out in their house, and Bernie and I started calling around to bars to try to get more beer.  And we couldn't find any bars that were open because the Fourth of July they close early.

I got so upset that I started trashing Bernie's house, and he was so drunk, he started joining me, and so we started just trashing his house.  We started, like, tearing telephones out of walls and throwing furniture and just clearing tables with our arms, and we were just – we were mad that how dare they be closed when we wanted to go out and get beer, because we went to all the bars in the area and couldn't find anybody that was open.

Well, Laurie ran across the street to our house and went to bed, and Bernie's wife went to bed, and the next morning, I remember waking up and remembering, sort of, what had happened that night before.  And all along the time that led up to this, I found out about the affair about February, so about February until about July, I knew that – you know, here it was, less than two years after this wedding that I had dreamt for forever – within two years I had totally alienated my wife, I had made her hate me, led her into another guy's arms, and here I had trashed my best friend's house.  And I knew that I was out of control, I knew I was totally out of control, and that's the day that I stopped drinking.

Bob: Just like that.

Rob: Just like that.  It was a choice.  Drinking is a choice.  Alcoholism is a choice, it's not a disease, it's a choice.

Dennis: And it was the trashing of a friend's house …

Rob: It was the trashing of the friend's house but also with the realization of what I had done to my wife – watching my wife run across the street screaming, "You're out of control.  I hate you."

Bob: Did you have a couple of days of shakes?

Rob: I still get the shakes.  I went through – I went through – how many months of DTs?  I mean, where, literally, I was just sitting there.  For the longest time, we'd go to church or a movie, I'd have to sit on the outside seat.  I can't sit on the inside seat.  Laurie knows when I'm getting the shakes, she can recognize it still even now, years later, and it's a consequence of my sin.

Dennis: Spiritually speaking, did that bring about a sense of renewal – that commitment, that decision to move toward reality and away from denial and alcohol and making it your god?

Rob: Laurie had been prodding me for quite some time to say, "We need to get back – you know, we need to take Calen to a church."  She was pregnant now with our child at this time.  And we had been trying to go find a church, and we finally found one, but the problem was, see, we still had our old friends.  So we had these friends come over, and say "We're not going to get high anymore.  We'd appreciate it if you don't."  Oh, well, sure, so they went outside to get high outside, and they'd come back in.  And we thought, "Well, this isn't working out," and we just had our old life tugging at us, pulling at us, always trying to bring us back into that old life.  This had been years.  I mean, we are now 26, 27 years old, and we still had that old life.  So that's when we decided we had to move, literally, out of that part of the country.

We moved to Norman, Oklahoma, to be with Laurie's brother, Bruce Hess, who was pastoring a church at Wildwood Community Church in Norman.

Laurie: What happened with Wildwood was they invited us to go to this FamilyLife conference, and we were still having problems even when we moved to Norman.  We'd have an argument, and he'd throw his ace out and say a lot of mean things, and we just really couldn't communicate.  We couldn't have an intimate communication of the heart because he was still angry, which I can understand.

And we went to the big Dallas conference in 1986, and we went with a group from our church.  My brother was there and fought the entire time we were there.  And at one point, Rob, I think, left the building, and basically we sat there and listened, but we didn't do any projects, and we didn't talk to each other at all.

Bob: Dennis was speaking, right?

Laurie: Mm-hm.

Rob: By Saturday night date night, her brother and his wife asked us to go out to dinner with them, and Laurie says, "Well, I'm going to go."  And I said, "Fine, I'm not."  So they went out to dinner, and I went up to the room and watched the ball game.

Dennis: Was that because you were so ticked off at her?

Rob: Oh, sure.  We were so upset with each other, so mad.  I remember telling Bruce at that conference, you know, divorce sounds real good right now, and that's where our relationship was.  Here we are at a FamilyLife conference, and I'm thinking divorce sounds real good.

Dennis: What were you ticked off about?  Was it just everything in general or something specific?

Rob: Well, it didn't take a whole lot to get us upset with each other at the time.  We weren't communicating.  I was still upset with her because whenever I brought my ace out, she would always mention that maybe I had something to do with that, and I said, "Well, that's totally non-acceptable.  I don't accept any responsibility for that." 

So then we go to this conference, and we hear about 50-50 plans, and we hear about my responsibility and her responsibility, and I'm hoping she's listening, and I don't want to listen, and she's hoping that I'm listening, and the more truth we heard, the more Satan fought us, and the more I didn't want to be there.  I was having too good of a time fighting and thinking about maybe it's not too late to get divorced.

Bob: Too good of a time fighting?

Rob: But I remember the one thing I did take away from that conference was how – and Dennis spoke of this – as a man, as the leader of my family, I was responsible.  And ultimately I was the one who was going to be held accountable.  And my dad, he always held me accountable for everything – everything that went on in my life growing up.  And when I heard that God is going to hold me accountable, whether I accept that or not, that's one thing that Dennis continued to say is whether you accept these truths or not, they're still true, and you can't run away from that.  And that's the one blossoming seed that I took away with right away – that I'm the real one responsible, and that's when I started getting back into what do I have to do?  What is my role as a father, as a dad, as a husband?  What do I need to do to please God?

There was one verse that's in James 4:17, where it says, "If a person knows what the right thing to do and does not do it, it is sin."  And I used to hate that verse, because it was so convicting.  And I remember that verse just staring at me, haunting me in front of that manual, because we did look through the manual.  We didn't do any projects, but I did look through the manual.  I remember that verse just like it was just a neon sign saying, "You know what's right, and if you don't do it, it's sin."

Dennis: You know, Rob, as you were saying that, I was thinking what a Gospel.  What a Gospel.  This is what Jesus Christ does – is He reaches down in people's lives who are absolutely a mess, that are broken, who can't fix them by themselves, and He can do what they can't do if we'll just start responding at that point that He calls us, and that's what you did, and that's why you're here today.

Bob: Yeah, and we have seen God do that same thing so many times.  In fact, you guys have had the chance to see God do it as you've now attended Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences in your capacity here as staff at FamilyLife, and now you're on the other side, but you'll watch how God works in some pretty dark circumstances.  I mean, some of the couples who are coming to the conference – not most of them but some of them are coming in a very difficult marital situation, and yet we've seen God do some powerful breakthrough stuff at a Weekend to Remember.

And we're hoping that today and tomorrow our listeners will take advantage of this special offer we're making to FamilyLife Today listeners this week, and they will register for an upcoming conference.  We're kicking off the conference season on Valentine's weekend in about eight or nine cities including Hershey, Pennsylvania; and Dallas, Texas at the Gaylord Texan; and at a resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and in Washington, D.C.; and then conferences are continuing throughout the spring.

But if you register as a couple today, and you register at the regular registration rate, we're going to send you, along with your registration, a certificate that is good for another couple to attend a conference of their choice at no additional cost.  So it really is a buy one get one free kind of arrangement that we're making with listeners.

If you want to take advantage of this, though, we need to hear from you today.  Tomorrow is the cutoff date for this special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners.  So either sign up on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY and get registered over the phone.  We can answer any questions you have about the conference, but we do hope you'll take advantage of this very special offer.  Register as a couple at the regular rate, and we'll send you a companion couple certificate so another couple can attend at no additional cost.

Again, all the details are available on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call us at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY and plan to join us for a Weekend to Remember.

And plan to join us back tomorrow as well, if you can.  Rob and Laurie Kopf are going to be here, and we're going to hear the conclusion of their story and hear about some of your experience attending a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  That's coming up tomorrow, and I hope you can be back with us.

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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