When Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs got married, they moved out to sunny Southern California. They were living the “California dream”: bought an oceanfront home, dined at swanky restaurants, and both of their jobs were extremely lucrative. Weekends were spent with sand between their toes and they had savings accounts for children they didn’t even have yet. “Life was good”.
But it wasn’t for Cheryl. She had this nagging feeling that something was missing. To look at their lives you would never guess, because it all looked so perfect. When Cheryl met Jeff, she could barely keep her eyes off of him and he showed up over and over at the restaurant she worked at in hopes that she would finally agree to go on a date with him. Their marriage had everything most people would dream to have: friends, great jobs, lots of money, and good sex. What more could a couple need?
Cheryl figured becoming a mom could fill the void she felt deep in her heart. Surely, this is what was missing in their relationship. Several years into their marriage she gave birth to twin girls, Lauren and Brittany. They were beautiful and Cheryl was elated to be their Mom, but sadly the void she had always felt in her relationship with Jeff was still there.
In time, Cheryl began to list out all that was wrong with Jeff and why it was his fault that she was so unhappy. She began to question if she had ever even loved him. She started to feel like a victim in her own home. “He doesn’t ask me about me. We never talk about deep meaningful pieces of our lives.” She realized that her relationship with Jeff was very shallow.
One night, as Jeff was putting their two year-old girls to bed, the doorbell rang and the sheriff stood at the door holding divorce papers. Jeff was being “served”. He was shocked. Their children were upstairs in their beds. Cheryl was in the other room. How could this be happening?
On the day the divorce became final, Cheryl showed up at Jeff’s work with a check for “his half” of their bank account. He was crushed and couldn’t believe that after months of begging her to reconsider, this is how it was ending; with a check and very little emotion from Cheryl.
As Cheryl looked into his eyes that day, the day that the judge had slammed his gavel down and stated, “Divorce granted”, she saw that it was as though the life had been sucked out of him. “There is no more heartbreaking sight in the world than a man whose spirit has been crushed. That was the man I saw in front of me.”
Cheryl wanted to blame Jeff for their divorce. She used the typical excuses that we hear often in counseling couples, “he doesn’t ask about me”, “I don’t know if I ever really loved him.” “we got married so fast; we didn’t even know each other”. Somehow, these excuses have given freedom to so many women looking for a way out of their marriages. They might even tell you after leaving their spouse, “I have more peace than I have ever had before.”
But the truth is, Cheryl had begun having an affair with a man that she worked with. It started innocently while at her annual sales meeting for the company she worked for. Hours of intimate conversation between the two led to them talking about their respective marriages and how unhappy they each were. The next morning, they met for breakfast and thus began an intense relationship that moved Cheryl to leave her husband. She felt passion and excitement that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Cheryl says, “All I knew was that the emotional hole was being filled and I loved it and I was pursuing it.”
After the affair began, Jeff, Cheryl and the twins moved from California to Dallas, Texas. It was there that they began to go to church on a regular basis. Cheryl grew up Catholic and Jeff as a Baptist. Religion was rarely a topic of conversation between them, but because their marriage was in trouble, they began attending. And even though they were attending church and growing spiritually, Cheryl was in the middle of deception because of her secret relationship with the other man. She couldn’t see the deception and allowed the divorce to go through. 3 months after the divorce was final, she gave her life to Christ and began a spiritual journey with Jesus that she had never known. Women from her church showed her how to study her Bible and encouraged her to write out her prayers. One day as she was writing out her prayers, “I want you to pursue reconciliation with Jeff” came across the page. She was shocked. She had no intention of actually reconciling with Jeff. She was pursuing marriage with this other man. In brokenness, she knew she had to be obedient to the Lord. Later, she sat under a 6-week marriage study at her church and realized that they had done it “all wrong”.
Cheryl says, “I looked back in my wake to see the devastation I had left…a broken family and a fractured marriage.”
Jeff had also gotten very involved in his church. Crisis often leads people to find “something” and both of them felt church could be the place to find “it”. Men, who taught him what it looks like to be a godly man and a leader, were mentoring him. But, he was angry with Cheryl for ruining their marriage. He only wanted to talk to her if it had something to do with their twin daughters and admits that he couldn’t even look her in the eye for 3 years after the divorce was final.
Cheryl wrote a 16-page letter to Jeff and asked if she could come over and read it to him. He reluctantly agreed. In it, she apologized for leaving and explained the change that had taken place in her heart. She shared that she felt God calling her to reconcile with him. When she looked up after reading the letter, there were tears in his eyes, but these weren’t tears of joy or forgiveness. They were angry tears. He really just wanted her to leave his house. He couldn’t believe she was doing this, now.
Cheryl asked him on a regular basis to come over for dinner. He declined. She asked him to get together with the girls. He refused. It took time, but 5 years after their divorce was final, Jeff accepted one of Cheryl’s dinner invitations.
A year later, Jeff asked her out on a date. He realized that he was falling in love with Cheryl all over again. They wanted their new relationship to work. They were deeper, Christ-loving people now and longed to be a family again. Over time Cheryl began to grow tired. She had been working so hard on pursuing Jeff, so she finally asked him, “What is taking so long?” He wasn’t sure if he could trust her.
Cheryl told him that it was no longer just about them. This time it would be different. “This is about God and I don’t ever want to disappoint my God again.”
That was all Jeff needed to hear.
After being divorced for 6 ½ years, while their daughters were off at camp for a week, Jeff asked Cheryl to marry him…again! She said yes! They spent the week talking and planning and couldn’t wait for Saturday to come so that they could tell their girls the good news.
When Jeff and Cheryl told the girls that they were getting re-married, their daughter Brittany held tightly to the counter and cried. Lauren ran around the house yelling, “are you for real?!” Jeff and Cheryl realized that their divorce had been torment for their children. “All these kids really wanted was their parents together,” Cheryl said.
On October 3, 1999 after being divorced for 7 long years, Jeff and Cheryl were re-married at the Chapel in Beavercreek, Colorado. Their two beautiful daughters stood by their side.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
My husband and I met Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs while living in Dallas, Texas almost 10 years ago. They shared this amazing testimony with our young-marrieds’ class one Sunday morning. We had never heard anything like it, I mean honestly! Have you? They have been a wonderful resource to us in our church ministry and we have loved watching their family flourish as they trust the Lord and put him first in their marriage.
Some excerpts in this blog were taken from the book they co-wrote called, “I Do Again”. I highly recommend it.
A personal note from Cheryl:
Our God is an awesome, miracle-working God. Nothing is impossible with Him (Matt 19:26), and He can do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). Jeff and I counsel and speak to hundreds of couples across the nation struggling in their marriage. The most important thing we tell them, is that pursuing Jesus and putting Him first in their marriage is paramount. Learning to love Jesus gives you the ability to love one another well. Remember that God has an order for a marriage; God first, spouse second, children third……..and when the order is out-of-order, there is chaos.
May He bless your marriage abundantly!
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Scruggs on “I am Second”: http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/the-scruggs/