The Scruggs: In Love with my ExBy Cynthia Savage, The 700 Club
Ten years after walking down the aisle, Cheryl walked into a courtroom. She would no longer be Mrs. Jeff Scruggs.
“The freedom that I thought was going to have didn’t exist,” Cheryl said. “I felt like I was breaking up my family, which is exactly what I did. I don’t even know how to describe the emotion of the pain of it, but the freedom was not there.”
Her day in court was years in the making. This couple looked happy on the surface, but they never developed a close, deep relationship.
“Marriage was just getting up, sharing a cup of coffee over the newspaper and never really delving into what was in our heart,” Cheryl said. “I just thought ‘Oh, the next step is having kids.’ If we have kids everything is going to feel complete and full.”
Brittany and Lauren were joyful new additions. Yet Cheryl still longed for a deeper connection with Jeff.
“I was feeling lonely all the time. It was like a 24/7 thing,” she said. “I would wake up thinking, ‘OK. Today’s going to be different.’”
Cheryl traveled for a sales conference and ran into an old friend named Todd. A brief exchange turned into a six hour conversation. That six hour conversation began an affair. Cheryl and Todd returned to their separate cities but continued the relationship by phone.
“I felt like my heart was being stolen almost right out of my chest and that I was questioning what was going on. Why did I have these feelings?” Cheryl said. “I started making a list in my mind of all the things that Jeff had done wrong and that this guy, who I barely knew, was filling all the voids.”
“I had no idea that Cheryl had started emotionally divorcing me,” Jeff said. “I would have told you that I thought our marriage was great and that things were going perfectly well.”
Cheryl was increasingly convinced that the marriage was a mistake.
“’Are you crazy? What are you talking about? We have the perfect life, beautiful home. We have great daughters, an ideal marriage,’” Jeff remembered thinking. “There must be something missing. Like maybe she wants a newer house or something like that. So, when we moved to Dallas, we built this beautiful house on a lush golf course. I thought well maybe this will finally make Cheryl happy.”
“Probably another six months after we moved to Dallas, that divorce started coming into my mind,” Cheryl said. “‘The answer is divorce. The answer is not being with Jeff, but being with this other guy.’”
One night, Jeff opened his front door to a sheriff who served him with divorce papers.
“I tried and exhausted everything I could to get Cheryl to want to work on the marriage, stay in the marriage,” Jeff said. “In fact, what I tried to do was change her feelings. I tried to convince her, ‘You can’t be feeling like that.’”
“When Jeff was begging me to stay in the marriage, I couldn’t even hear him,” Cheryl said. “My heart was so hard to him. I almost felt like I hated him at that point. Once I divorced, I started a full blown relationship with Todd. We started looking at rings, and when all that started happening, I started to panic.”
Jeff tried to move on with his life. He turned to God for help.
“What God was trying to show me was, ‘Jeff, you’ve been leaning on your own understanding for all these years and it’s time to truly, truly surrender your heart to me and 100 percent and do it my way,’” Jeff said.
At the same time, friends urged Cheryl to give church a try.
“Jesus was pursuing me big time and I started pursuing Him big time at the same time,” Cheryl said. “And I realized that this is the peace that I was looking for. So, I surrendered my life to the Lord at that point. It was an incredible day. But as incredible as it was, that’s how bad it was. Because my eyes were opened. When I looked and saw behind me was a broken family, a crumbled marriage and what had I done,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl wrote a letter to Jeff asking him for forgiveness.
“At the very end of the letter I said to Jeff, ‘I’ve become a Christian and I really feel like God wants us to have another chance at our relationship,’” Cheryl remembered.
“As she’s sitting there – reading it, telling me that she accepted Christ, basically three months after our divorce, what I’m thinking is, ‘Well how convenient is that?’ I didn’t believe her,” Jeff said.
Jeff learned that Cheryl was involved with another man.
“For the first time I felt like Wow! Now I know what happened,” Jeff said.
Five years went by. Cheryl still hoped for reconciliation without any assurance of success. Yet God was working behind the scenes.
“Over the next several years, I really started seeing the change in Cheryl’s heart,” Jeff said. “I noticed the difference in Cheryl’s behavior. I noticed that she had a gentle and quiet spirit. When God started revealing to me, ‘It wasn’t so much you did; it was what you didn’t do;’ I started really taking ownership for where our marriage had failed the first time around. It was then that God started showing me that, ‘Jeff, you weren’t the spiritual leader for your family.’”
As the twin girls got older, Jeff and Cheryl were part of a real-life parent trap.
“We’d try to get them to kiss us,” said one twin, Brittany.
“We’d be like, ‘Kiss our cheeks.’ And we’d bend down really fast,” said the other twin, Lauren.
“Try to get us to stand close to each other,” Cheryl said.
“‘Daddy put your arm around Mommy’ or ‘Give Mommy a kiss.’ They were always trying to play up that whole thing,” Jeff said.
The girls also made prayer part of their strategy.
“They would pray when they would go to sleep at night, ‘I just pray that Daddy and Mommy get back together,’” Cheryl said. “And of course my heart was just – one, it would leap; and two, it would hurt all at the same time not knowing what was going to happen there.”
“I think the reason I prayed was just because it was the only thing that I knew and the only way that I knew how to get anything moving or happening in remarriage and reconciliation when I was that little,” Brittany said.
Jeff was finally persuaded to try again.
“I said, ‘Cheryl, how do I know I can trust you?’ She paused for a minute, almost like she was in prayer, and said, ‘Jeff, you have to understand this is about more than just you and I. This is really about me not wanting to let down my God again.’ That’s really what I needed to hear,” Jeff said. “I needed to know it was at a deeper level.”
After months of dating, they decided to remarry. Lauren and Brittany were elated.
“I thought they were playing a joke on me,” Lauren said. “And I was like, ‘Nu uh. Nu uh. And then I just kind of ran around the house all hyper and screaming.”
“I think I was just so overwhelmed with emotion that I just couldn’t even take it in – that that was actually going to happen and be in our family,” Brittany said. “Because if you’ve been praying for something for seven years – sometimes you’re just like, ‘Well, this will probably never really happen.’ And then when it does, it’s just so unbelievable that it’s just overwhelming.”
“It was an answer to years of prayer for them and friends that have known us,” Jeff said. “So, prayers do work.”
In a chapel in Colorado, the family of four was united again.
“It’s hard to explain what it feels like to take such brokenness and have a restored family that’s healthy, Christ-following,” Cheryl said. “No matter what state your marriage is in, God can do a miracle.”
“Just knowing that God has blessed us with a second chance,” Jeff said. “This time let’s make something positive out of it. I look at it as a totally different marriage. In fact, I introduce Cheryl as my second wife.”
“He still has work to do in our marriage and He’s given us that chance to do that together,” Cheryl said. “That’s amazing.”
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