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My Story

with Steve Grissom | July 10, 2006

After 13 years of marriage, Steve heard the words every spouse dreads--"I don’t love you anymore." Today on the broadcast, Steve Grissom, founder of DivoreCare, talks about the break-up of his marriage and the ministry God is using to help those who’ve gone through the same thing.

After 13 years of marriage, Steve heard the words every spouse dreads--"I don’t love you anymore." Today on the broadcast, Steve Grissom, founder of DivoreCare, talks about the break-up of his marriage and the ministry God is using to help those who’ve gone through the same thing.

My Story

With Steve Grissom
|
July 10, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF

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Bob: When business executive Steve Grissom got a divorce, none of his friends or business associates even knew what was going on.

Steve: I lived a lie for two years.  They call it denial.  I didn't want anybody to know what was going on in my life.  I did it for two reasons.  I think one was pride – this doesn't happen to people like me.  Another was that I really did want to protect my wife with the intention of getting back together.  But it's a very hard thing to come to the point of admitting, "This has happened to me, and I need help, and I need to tell people," rather than to keep it to myself.

Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We are going to be dealing with a difficult subject this week, and I want to let our listeners know right up front – we have a couple of goals for you this week.  The first goal is to help you think through the reality of what happens when a marriage dies, when it dissolves, because I don't think, Dennis, that a lot of couples really take time to think through the implications of their decision when they're considering a divorce, and we want you to do that this week.

 And our second goal is to have you consider attending, this fall, one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences no matter what condition your marriage is in.  You may have a great marriage, it may be in good shape.  You may have a marriage that is in a difficult spot.  We'd like you to consider taking a weekend, getting away together as a couple and focusing on your marriage and how to strengthen it – how to do a little preventive maintenance or a little repair work, whichever the case may be. 

And, for the rest of this month, during the month of July, for those of you who would call in to register for an upcoming conference, we want to make it a little easier for you.  We're going to give you the group rate without you needing to form a group.  That means you'll save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee if you register for one of these upcoming conferences between now and the end of July.

So here's what you can do – you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com.  There is a listing on the website of all of the upcoming conference locations and dates.  You can find out when the conference is coming to a city near where you live.  When you come to the keycode box, just write my name, "Bob," in the keycode box, and that way we'll know you're a FamilyLife Today listener, and you will qualify for the special rate.  It's the group rate.  You'll save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee and, again, that's available between now and the end of July.

And, again, we're hoping that there will be literally tens of thousands of Weekend to Remember listeners who will be a part of one of these events this fall when it comes to a city near where you live.  Whether your marriage needs hope and help or whether you just want to make sure it's strengthened for the long haul, join us for a Weekend to Remember conference.  We have seen a lot of couples whose marriages were at the end who came to one of these conferences and found both hope and help and got their marriage headed in a different direction.

That really ties in with what we're going to be talking about this week, Dennis.  For some of our listeners this subject is going to hit very close to home because these are couples who are in the middle of a real marital challenge.  There are other listeners, though, who are going to be able to think about someone they know who is in the midst of this kind of a circumstance, and it's going to be important for that listener to connect with this subject as we discuss it this week.

Dennis: Yeah, that's right.  It's going to be a heavy week.  We're going to talk about divorce and, you know, it's interesting, Bob, it is such a prevalent theme in our culture.  I found a piece of information that Carvel Ice Cream Bakery, which is located on the East Coast, asked about 1,500 people when they blow out their candles what they wished for on the birthday cake when they blow them out – 75 percent of the children with divorced parents wished for their parents to be reconciled.

 This issue of divorce is hitting the church, it hits our schools, it is hitting our culture, and as our listeners know, who are faithful about listening here day in and day out, FamilyLife is committed to a family reformation, and one of the pillars we talk about here on FamilyLife Today is the pillar of restoring the sacred nature of the marriage covenant, and this week we're going to take dead aim on an enemy of the marriage covenant.

 This morning I spoke to a group, and I talked about the need to uphold the dignity of the covenant and to start, really, taking dead aim at divorce.  But, at the same time, I told those people, "We must put our arms around the people who have been divorced, who have experienced divorce, who have gone through the heartache of a divorce, and comfort them."  That's what we want to bring to our listeners on this series of broadcasts this week.  We want to bring courage, hope, comfort, certainly not condemnation, but a call to them to step up and do the thing that the Scripture calls us to do, which is be obedient to God and obedient to the Scriptures.

Bob: Well, our guest this week shares that passion and that vision and has, in fact, invested his life in trying to help folks head off divorces.

Dennis: Yes, it's a real privilege to introduce to our listeners Steve Grissom.  Steve, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Steve: Thanks, glad to be here.

Dennis: Steve is the president of Church Initiative, which is a divorce care, divorce recovery ministry that actually came out of your own experience with divorce, which we'll talk about in just a few moments.  He and his wife, Cheryl, have three children.  They have both experienced a divorce and prior that, Steve, you were trained as a journalist.  You had experience in newscasting, worked in a television broadcast medium, and after your divorce found that you wanted to make a difference in other people's lives because of the heartache you experienced, is that right?

Steve: That's exactly right.  There was no help – or not the right kind of help for me, personally, and I felt a leading from the Lord to try to help folks get over the pain of divorce.

Dennis: Tell us a little bit about Church Initiative.  What's your mission?

Steve: Church Initiative is a church-equipping ministry.  We believe very strongly that the work of the local church is central in God's plan.  So what we try to do is provide tools for churches to help them in some really difficult areas of ministry – divorce recovery, divorce prevention, for prisoners and addicts, we're working on a project for grief recovery.

Bob: Steve, take us back, if you would, to that time in your marriage.  How long had you been married when you realized that things were not going in the right direction?
 

Steve: I had been married 13 years, and like many people I've talked to since, I think I knew long before I admitted to myself that things were getting bad, and there were some things happening that shouldn't be happening in my marriage.  But it blew up after about 13 years of marriage.

Dennis: What was taking place in your marriage?

Steve: Basically, I felt my wife starting to withdraw dramatically.  She just pulled back emotionally, she pulled back physically, and I didn't understand what was happening.  I started talking to her about it, started pressing and said, "What's wrong?"  "Nothing's wrong, it's just the way I feel right now."  And eventually she said to me those classic words that many people have heard – "I just don't love you anymore.  I think we need to separate.  Maybe that will help us work it out," and that was a blow to me that is indescribable.  It was an extraordinary sense of nausea, hollowness, numbness, emptiness, panic.  There is just no way to be confronted with that issue and understand it unless you've been there.  I hope our listeners never have to do that, but we know that many will.

Bob: But in the back of your mind did you know it was coming?

Steve: I did not believe that it was coming.  I believed there were some things we needed to address.  There were some things going on in my life spiritually.  I was growing at a rapid rate at that point after what I call a period of "being a lump-on-the-log" Christian.  I was undergoing a spiritual renaissance and kind of focused on that, and that may have been one of the things that affected the balance in the marriage at that point.

Dennis: You know, if there is a theme, it seems that men are surprised more often than women.  There is a sense in which a woman's relational bent uncovers this growing isolation before it's announced verbally.  But with a man, a man can be giving his life to his job, his pursuits outside the family.  In fact, those issues, as you just said, may be contributing to that isolation, and yet when it happens it still stuns you, though, doesn't it?  I mean, it's a shock.

Steve: I think it's fair to say that many of us men are just downright insensitive and unaware when it comes to things like this, and I put myself in that place at that time.

Bob: So here comes this bolt from the blue – your wife says "I don't love you, let's separate," you feel that numbness.  What did you do?

Steve: I panicked, emotionally just choked.  I did everything I could to save the marriage, but I did it all in two days.  You know, you just start – and this is typical – you get to the point where you almost grovel, and that's not all bad, because the heart is right, the motive is right, but it makes the situation worse because it crowds the person who is trying to get some space.

Dennis: Yeah, I've gotten letters, Bob, on a number of occasions where you can tell as the man is writing that he's hovering over his wife, and he's not giving her space.  And she may be open to receiving that love.  Her heart might be able to be thawed, but that man who is not being wise about his love and not going about it in a sensitive way, in a way that doesn't possess, in a way that doesn't panic, in a way that doesn't hit some kind of button that sends up all these signals to her just scares her half to death.  It convinces her she is making the right choice after all.

Bob: I remember talking with Dr. Don Harvey about this situation.  He wrote the book, "When the One You Love Wants to Leave," and he talked about this panic reaction and the smothering reaction that can often come, and how that drives people farther away.  I think that's something Dr. Dobson has addressed in "Love Must Be Tough," when he says you really have to pull back and say, "I'm going to give you some space.  You've got to sort out what's right for your future and, in the meantime, I'm going to be praying about what we're going to do."

Dennis: And, at the same time, letting that other person know, "I don't want this divorce."

Bob: Right.

Dennis: "I want you to know that I'm going to pray, I'm going to be humble, I'm going to be teachable, I want to hear from God what my responsibility is for this, where I've failed you, where I need to confess to any wrongdoing, but I'm going to give you the space."  And it could be that what's best for a man in those moments – or a woman – is to get an accountability partner who can kind of balance you out at that point and help you not smother the other person with that love.

 I've had people actually read books.  They've brought the books, and you can see they're devouring it.  It's underlined, they're obsessing over what they're reading so wanting to do it right.  It's like what you were talking about Steve, they're trying to save their marriage in two days.  They didn't get in the ditch overnight, and they're not going to get out of it overnight, either, are they?

Steve: They are not, and you're trying to make these kinds of decisions and judgment at the time when you are emotionally least capable of being intelligent, rational, and you really do need help and guidance at that point.

Bob: You went through two years of separation at that point with your wife.  I'm sure you sought counsel and tried to find a way to make things work.  What kind of help did you get at your church?

Steve: I found a – not at my church – but a wise grandfatherly type counselor who was of considerable help to me personally, a deeply committed Christian person, and if you can find somebody like that, that's wonderful.

 Churches are becoming more and more aware and equipped of this simply because the problem presents itself so often.  But often it will be an individual, a family member, a friend, somebody older, mature in your church as opposed to a pastor who is beleaguered with so many requests for help that maybe he could at least guide you to a person like that.

Dennis: So often, when a couple goes through this, they are members of a church.  They are both attending and, all of a sudden, one person shows up at a Sunday school class, and the other spouse is not with them.  Was that what took place in your situation?

Steve: I lived a lie for two years, and this is typical.  I didn't want anybody to know what was going on in my life.  I believed that I kept it from my office staff – I was in an executive position at that time – and my former wife would sometimes come to social functions and that sort of thing with me.  I hid it to the degree I could.  Now, I did not in my church but, obviously, some people have the same reaction as it relates to church.

 I did it for two reasons.  I think one was pride – this doesn't happen to people like me.  Another was that I really did want to protect my wife with the intention of getting back together.  But it's a very hard thing to come to the point of admitting "This has happened to me, and I need help, and I need to tell people," rather than to keep it to myself.

Dennis: How would you rate the help you received in preventing that divorce?  Everybody that helped you – the church, the counselors, Christian community – how would you rate it?

Steve: I think the entire help spectrum at that point – it was just unequipped to help me sort out the issues dealing with how to best save my marriage, how to confront some things that needed to be confronted.  You know, there's a great model in Matthew 18 on how to confront wrongs that are occurring, and I should have done that.  I should have done that in the biblical model, but I didn't know about it, didn't understand it, didn't have a mechanism in place at that time.  And so the help was foggy.

Dennis: You wouldn't give it a passing grade then?

Steve: I wouldn't give it a passing grade, but there were lots of well-intentioned people and a couple of people who came along beside me and ministered to me more than helping me deal with the issues in rebuilding the marriage.

Bob: You know, Dennis, the church has struggled in this area for years.  You've felt a part of it.  It's a struggle in no way wanting to condone divorce but, at the same time, not knowing exactly how to respond to folks who are in the middle of it.

Dennis: You know, we're not down on the church.  We're doing these broadcasts because we want to help the church better address these issues, and we're not saying that we've got a corner on the truth at this point.  I just know the kind of training that the average seminarian, prior to moving into the pastorate, receives.  They are not prepared to face the onslaught of issues from this dysfunctional culture.

 In fact, I was up late last night talking with a pastor and his wife just about how his church is so overwhelmed with the needs of people who are either going through a divorce or coming out of divorce.  And so here you've got this huge onslaught of people who are coming to the church with all these needs, and the pastor has got little or no training, and it takes him 15, 20 years to get the experience under his belt to be able to address it and, by that time, he's exhausted. 

That's why I think something like what you've done, Steve, is so important.  You have put together a package, an entire curriculum of material that is intended to come alongside a pastor and actually equip laymen to be able to assist him in rescuing these marriages from divorce and preventing divorce in the church, isn't that right?

Steve: That's right, and I want to underscore what you said.  I've committed the rest of my life to ministering to churches and helping equip them in some very difficult types of ministry, and so I am not down on the church at all.  My experience was a learning experience, which has helped us do that.

 But divorce and marriage problems are not solved in two or three counseling sessions.  No pastor, with the schedule they keep, can sustain an ongoing counseling/friendship/mentoring relationship necessary.  It takes sometimes two, three, four years to get a person stabilized after a divorce.  You can't expect that of a pastor or even a staff pastor.

 So you've got to look at another mechanism, and that's what we tried to do with these materials.

Bob: We see some couples on the brink of dissolving a marriage and, again, even in a weekend conference like we have, about the best you can do is turn folks away from the direction they're headed, get them set back on the right road, but they may have been driving on the wrong road for a long time.  It may take them a long time to get back down to where they started.

Dennis: I'll tell you, you are so right, Bob, and one of the problems is when couples get off in the ditch they think that there is going to be some magic wand that is waved over their relationship that instantly brings about the healing; that instantly moves them out of the ditch; puts them back on the high road and the highway; and it's suddenly love forever, ever, after.  Well, that's not real life, that's not the way God intended it to be, I don't think.

Bob: The day that the judge banged the gavel and said the divorce decree is final – compare that with the day your wife said, "I don't love you anymore."

Steve: By the time that happened, that represented some closure.  It was, in my case, a long process.  There are 30-day divorces now.  This was a four-year cycle.  So by that time I had pretty well worked through many of the issues.  But there is nothing to compare to the news – maybe you learn your spouse has been unfaithful, or maybe you learn that they just want time and space, or they want to do their own thing, or they say, "I just don't love you anymore."  I think that is probably one of the lowest moments.  There are many low moments, but that first moment of shock is indescribable.

Dennis: You talked about how there are no words to describe it.  I've heard people attempt to – say it was like an emotional earthquake with aftershocks that continue on through the heart and the soul for years and years to come.

 I ran across a poem that is entitled, "I Am Divorced," and I think it gives us a little peek into what someone has experienced who has been through this severing of the covenant.

 "I have lost my husband, but I am not supposed to mourn;

 I have lost my children, they don't know to whom they belong;

 I have lost my relatives, they do not approve.

 I have lost his relatives, they blame me.

 I have lost my friends, they don't know how to act.

 I feel I have lost my church, did they think I have sinned too much?

 I'm afraid of the future, I'm ashamed of the past

 I am confused about the present,

 I am so alone, I feel so lost

 God, please stay by me

 You are all I have left."

 You know, in Malachi, chapter 2, verse 16, God says, "I hate divorce."  That's why, right there.

Steve: That sums the divorce experience up in a few short words.

Dennis: And, you know, I pray that these broadcasts might be used mightily to turn husbands and wives and their hearts not only back to one another but back to God who builds homes.  You know, one thing that occurs at a FamilyLife Marriage Conference is couples come, and they both get a set of blueprints that give them a game plan from which to build.  People lose hope because they don't have the right plan, and I'm convinced the reason there are so many marriages that find healing and so many good marriages that get better over these weekend experiences is because at the conference they hear what God says about how you resolve conflict, how you forgive each other, and how you can be reconciled.

Bob: You know, we mentioned at the beginning of today's program that this month we're giving FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to register for an upcoming conference at a special rate.  And if folks need more information about the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference you can go online at FamilyLife.com.  You will find the cities where we're going to be hosting these conferences throughout the fall, find the dates and the weekends when we're going to be in a particular city, and you can register online.

 If you do that between now and the end of July you will save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee.  That's the group rate that we're making available to FamilyLife Today listeners, and it's only good during the month of July.  Go online at FamilyLife.com for more information.  If you're registering online, as you fill out the form, you'll come to a keycode box, and you just type my name in there.  Just type in "Bob," that way we know you're a FamilyLife Today listener, and you get Bob's special FamilyLife Today rate.

 You can also register by calling 1-800-FLTODAY, mention you're a FamilyLife Today listener and, again, you will save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee as long as we hear from you between now and the end of July.  We do hope you'll make plans to attend one of these upcoming conferences.  And we also want to encourage our listeners, Dennis, to get ahold of the DVDs that Steve Grissom has produced.  A series called "Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce."  This DVD series, as you've heard today, is designed to be used to challenge couples to think through what they're doing.

 So often when couples are facing a divorce, they're not thinking, they're just reacting.  They are guided more by their emotions than by reason, and these tapes are designed to bring you back to a thoughtful process, to really begin to consider what it is you're thinking about.  And if you know someone who is at the point where they're ready to throw in the towel on their marriage, let me encourage you to get a set of these DVDs, pass them along to them, talk to them about the possibility of attending a Weekend to Remember conference. 

 Again, there is more information about the DVD series, "Choosing Wisely Before you Divorce," on our website at FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information.  That's the same number you'd call for information about the Weekend to Remember conference – 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.

 You know, part of our design for the series this week is to tell listeners the truth, which is really the same objective that you have in the DVD series.  We want to tell folks the truth about the option of divorce; we want them to understand that there may be pain in their marriage right now, pain in their relationship, but we want them to know the truth about the option that they're thinking about jumping to.

Dennis: That's right, and if you know of someone who is having trouble right now, give them a call and encourage them to both tune into the broadcast this week.  Maybe it's through their computer at home after work in the evening, but find a way to listen to these broadcasts so that they can hear what Steve has found in rescuing these marriages to keep them out of the divorce court.  The costs are enormous.

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 

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