Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Learning to Love Your Husband Again

Episode Resources

Watch a video of Bill and Vicki's story.

Leslie Basham: Here's some of what we've heard this week on Revive Our Hearts from Bill and Vicki Rose.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So you get married, and when is the first clue to either one of you that this isn't all that you had hoped or thought it might be? Who realized that first?

Bill Rose: I'm on the airplane right after we got married. We have a plane trip that night after the ceremony to fly to L.A., then spend the night in L.A., and then drive to Palm Springs. We're on the plane going to L.A. and Vicki's asleep, and I sort of looked over at her, and I'm thinking, I can't believe I just got married.

Nancy: You're probably not the first person to ever have that thought.

Bill: No, but it was also, "Well, if it doesn't work, I'll get a divorce. Not a big deal."

Vicki Rose: I had come into the marriage thinking that Billy was going to make everything okay in my life. I mean, we came in, both of us, very much thinking the other one was going to take care of our needs.

A month before we separated, Billy said, "Let's go on vacation. I'm going to try to stop doing cocaine." We went down to Hilton Head, and Billy would be in the room all day. I remember sitting on the beach. I just sat there with tears rolling down my face. I said, "Lord . . ." I didn't even know the Lord. I just prayed, "God, there just has to be more to life than this. This just can't be what it's about."

Bill: I remember telling the bartender, "Well, my wife wants a divorce, so I guess I'm free." There was actually a big sense of relief to me at that time, because now I could do whatever I wanted. I didn't have to hide anything, and it was probably the best thing.

Vicki: That night at that dinner, seated in the ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, I bowed my head and asked Jesus Christ to take over my life. It just seemed so natural. There weren't lightning bolts or anything, but when I walked out of the dinner that night and went to get my coat, I remember thinking, Something is really different.

Bill: In December of 1990, Vicki invited me to a dinner. It was just a number of tables, and I don't even remember who the speaker was that night, but I do know that that night I prayed to receive Christ.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Thursday, March 7, 2019.

All this week Nancy's been talking with Bill and Vicki Rose. If you've missed any of the story, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

For five years Vicki Rose and her husband Bill were separated. When they came to know Christ, their messy situation didn't immediately go away. This couple had to begin a long process of learning to love each other and live together.

We'll pick up in the story when this long separation was coming to an end.

Vicki: When Billy first came home, Douglas wrote a paper for school.

Nancy: He was how old?

Vicki: He was nine years old, and he wrote a paper called, "The Best Day Ever." It was about coming home from school one afternoon and finding the front hall filled with suitcases because Daddy had come home. Shortly after that, as I was tucking Courtney into bed one night and we were praying, she said, "Mommy, you know God can do anything."

And I said, "Well, Courtney, that's absolutely true, but what do you mean?"

She said, "If God could bring Daddy home—which was never gonna happen—He can do anything." She was seven years old.

Nancy: So your kids' theology was being shaped by what they were seeing God do in your marriage.

Vicki: Yes, absolutely, tremendously. As they grew into becoming teenagers, they would share our testimony—what God had done in our family.

Nancy: Bill, did you feel like there was some need to make things right with your children over what had happened over those years? How did you handle that?

Bill: For years and years. But I've had discussions with both kids about this into their twenties.

Nancy: Because there was a lot of hurt there?

Bill: Yes.

Nancy: Did you feel like you needed to go back and ask their forgiveness? How did you handle that?

Bill: I did.

Nancy: And God has given you a sweet relationship with both of them.

Bill: Tremendous. I mean, our kids . . . we're best friends. They're my life.

Nancy: Now, you moved back into the house, but having followed your journey over these years, I know that it wasn't automatic—now you're both sanctified you have this picture-perfect marriage. You faced even some more challenges at that point.

Bill: Yes, well I still had the restaurant, but that started to become a headache. I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to be there. So not only did I not want to be there until 4 a.m., I didn't want to be there at all.

Nancy: Is that because your values were changing?

Bill: Yes. I just wanted to be home. I just wanted to spend more time with Vicki and the kids, and this was just not allowing me to do that. I put it up for sale and eventually sold it in 1997.

Vicki: We went on vacation to Maine, and Billy's dad became ill. He had a minor stroke.

Bill: I hurt my knee up there. I've had eight knee surgeries from playing baseball.

Vicki: We had just gone on a vacation for the first time in a long time. We had gotten both of our children in a camp for two weeks each. I had all this hope focused on this vacation because Billy worked a lot in the restaurant. Then we get there and a day into it Billy says, "We have to go home to my dad."

I said, "Oh, it's just a minor stroke. Do we really need to go? There's someone there caring for him." I was totally in the wrong. So we flew home. I was very upset—very upset—because I felt Billy was prioritizing somebody else besides me again. I was just so not right.

Anyway, we go back to New York to take care of Billy's dad. Then we fly back to Maine to pick up our children at camp. As we're driving, we had a huge fight because I clearly told him I didn't think we needed to go home to take care of a sick father. He's furious. He's mad at me, and rightfully so, and I'm acting like a brat.

I'm driving (because his knee is bad), and we got off the plane and got in our car. He said, "You know, I just don't think this is going to work."

Nancy: He's talking about the marriage.

Vicki: Yes. We'd been back together maybe two years. I had the steering wheel in my hand, and I swerved off the road, slammed on the brake, and said, "Since the day you came home, I made a commitment to you till death do us part. I am in this marriage no matter what we face, but I don't feel like you've made that same commitment to me. It's time, because we can't go back and forth. We have to know we can work through things and not be afraid that one or the other of us is going to walk out. So today, here on this roadside, you have a choice either to make the decision or not. Please let me know because we need to know now."

Nancy: Were you a little taken back?

Bill: Well, yes, and I was also afraid if I didn't say "yes," she'd leave me there. It was at that point that I started to realize that marriage is a commitment; it's not a feeling. Feelings come and go. For the last number of years . . . I can tell you I'm madly in love with my wife . . . but there were a lot of days prior to that where I just didn't feel it. But it didn't mean that I was going any place because I came to the realization that it is a commitment. It's not a feeling. I just committed myself that day to the marriage. That's when we really started to really put this back together again.

Vicki: That was so important for me to know that Billy was committed because prior to that I was kind of walking on eggshells. I felt like, if I do something wrong, is he going to walk out? If I say something he doesn't like? So that started me being able to be a little more honest about my feelings and my desires, although still not there at that point 100%.

Nancy: But you took the "D-word" out of your vocabulary?

Bill: I did, I did.

Vicki: Totally.

Bill: I came to realize that, for Vicki, and I think most women, I guess, security and trust are just huge, huge deals. I had to make a commitment to myself to be able to show those things to her so that she would feel secure in our marriage, and she would begin to trust me again.

And, listen, I haven't been perfect over the last ten years, but we have worked through a lot of issues. I can tell you, our marriage right now is as strong as it's ever been. Now thirty-five years later, I would marry her all over again.

Nancy: You're speaking to a lot of women today who are in marriages that are, well, let me just say, for those who can't see what I can see, that Bill and Vicki have just reached across the table and grabbed each other's hands. I've seen the growth and the changes in your life, Vicki, and in your marriage over these years.

But we're speaking to a lot of women who are where you guys were years ago, where he still hasn't really made a commitment—and this can go the other way, too. We don't want to put all the bad stuff on the guys. But, Bill, as a husband, as a man, speak to the wives what can help them stay the course. What encourages a husband to stay the course in a difficult marriage? What changes have you seen in Vicki or the things that she does that help to contribute to the marriage working positively?

Bill: Well, I've come to believe that it's such a two-way street. Vicki will do things for me to encourage me, to get behind me, to be a cheerleader at what I'm doing, to make sure that every word she says edifies me, and that I feel good about what I'm doing, that I feel good about myself.

But on the other hand, I've come to also realize that by doing things that she loves that are just outside my comfort zone or something that I would never normally do, like going to Niles, Michigan—I'm serious. I mean, Vicki's never been here. She wanted to see the ministry. She wanted to spend some time with you and be here, and I knew how important it was to her. I know to her that says to her that I love her. And because of that, she then wants to do stuff for me or wants to go to the Dominican Republic, which she did, to see some of my players that I represent.

Nancy: You're really learning to put each other first and esteem each other better than yourself. And, Vicki, I know you've had to grow a lot in . . . that God has changed you in areas that weren't so obvious as some of Bill's areas. You mentioned self-righteousness, a critical spirit. There were some of the areas where, as a wife, a woman of order, a more direct thinker, things are black and white in your mind . . . God has changed you in some of those areas.

Vicki: Right. Yes, and necessarily so. When Billy first came home, I really was so self-righteous. So if we were not doing it exactly the way I think we should do it based on what I think God's Word says, then we're doing it wrong.

Nancy: A judgmental spirit?

Vicki: Very judgmental. I really had to almost crash and burn about three years ago. Billy became sick again, and I just didn't handle that very well. I went into fear mode. For so many years I pointed the finger, "It is Billy's fault that I am not happy. It's Billy's . . . Look at what he's doing. He's not . . ." In some ways people would say I had legitimate reasons to do that, but really there's never a reason to do that. No other person can make you happy. Joy comes from the Lord and has to be from within in any circumstance.

So I really had to look at myself and say, "What's my part? What am I doing that is not okay?" And I realized, again, that I still had the critical spirit. I wasn't satisfied in the Lord. I wasn't completely satisfied in Him. I had to look at, "Do I really submit to my husband in all areas?" And I had to say, "No, I really am not in my heart." Maybe outwardly I am, but inwardly I'm complaining about what I have to do or what Billy may or may not be doing.

I had to take a close look at that and go before the Lord and ask for His forgiveness, ask for Him to really change me and fill me with His Spirit, His joy. I prayed that the joy of the Lord would be my strength; that I would be honest; that I would speak the truth in love; that I would have the courage to say what I'm really feeling. In a sense, I was being dishonest in my marriage. I wasn't really sharing the truth. I prayed that I would put Billy first and that, with God's help, I would surrender every part of my life.

I came to a place really that I had to say, "God, You are the God, the Creator of all things, the Creator of the Universe. Your Word has promises for me in my life. You have promised to take care of me, provide all that I need, and no matter what I do or what I say or whatever happens, You're going to be there. And so I release the control I want to exert to have Billy be a certain way because I think that will meet my needs. I want to release all that, Lord, into Your hands and just live one day at a time in You—receiving whatever You have for me and being content in whatever You don't have or do have."

Nancy: What does that do for a husband when a wife . . . As women, I think our besetting sin since the Fall is the strive for control. What does it do to a husband when a wife releases him to the Lord and becomes content in the Lord? How does that impact the man in her life?

Bill: Well, it makes me want to do more for Vicki. It makes me want to put her needs, her feelings, in front of mine. It makes me want to be less selfish. I am naturally a very selfish person, but I'm getting better at it. I can see daily that I'm making progress towards being less selfish. There are periods of time where I sort of pull back. With both of us you have basically two type-A personalities sort of battling over the same stuff. On a daily basis we have to be able to just turn it over and try to let it go because it's not a one-time thing. It has to happen every day.

Nancy: There's something I've been wanting to ask both of you. You've now been married over thirty-five years. It's a marriage that, apart from God's grace and intervention, would not have made it to the thirty-five year mark. I can't imagine that it would have, but God has intervened. You're together. Your marriage is in a good place. You're both seeking the Lord.

But it's been hard. It's been a lot of work. It's still a lot of work. It's still a daily surrender to the Lord and, as you've said, dealing with selfishness issues and control issues. What makes it worth all the hard work and effort and sacrifice and surrender to stay in the marriage?

Bill: We just spend this last weekend with our son and daughter-in-law and little granddaughter, just to have our whole family together. The love that exists between us and our children and grandchild and one on the way, it is such a blessing. It is so incredibly strong, and I wouldn't give that up for the world. I just thank God so much for giving us the strength to battle and to continue to battle because it is so worth it.

I can't even express in words how much the sacrifice that we've put into this marriage, and where we are now, it has all been worth it.

Nancy: And the end result that God will be glorified because I think we need to remember that marriage is not about us.

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: It's not about Bill's happiness, Vicki's happiness, your happiness as a couple, even your children—great as that reward is—it's ultimately about that earthly picture of God's redemptive love being seen and God being honored. And, Bill, when you talked about you coming to the place of putting a stake in the ground and saying, "Yes, I'm committed to this marriage," I was just sitting here thinking, Isn't that an incredible way of a husband demonstrating the covenant-keeping love of God and Christ who has pledged Himself to us, to the Church as His Bride, and says, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.

So yes, it's made your marriage go the distance, but to what end? Well, if nothing else, to the end that people see something about the character of God.

Bill: Well, God is really serious about His relationships with us.

Nancy: Yes.

Bill: When we give our testimony, I talk about the fickleness of sports fans—especially New York sports fans. One day a guy can be the toast of the town, and the next day he's just toast. I mean, guys go from the penthouse to the outhouse in a heartbeat and then back to the penthouse. It's a good thing God is not fickle like that with us. Otherwise we'd be in big trouble.

And we have to take that same stand in our marriages. We cannot be fickle about our marriages. God's made a covenant with us. We have to make the same covenant with our spouses.

Vicki: Yes.

Nancy: You guys have done that, and you're still doing it, and the grace of Christ is being seen as a result, and the covenant-keeping nature of God. I don't know if there's any better testimony to the world of what God is like than a marriage going through what you guys have been through, but doing battle for it, finding God's grace to restore and redeem and to stay in it, hard as it's been at times . . . but what a picture that is of God's faithfulness to us.

Vicki: God's faithfulness is so overwhelming to me at times. He is so faithful. Then we get to be a part of what He's doing here. I'm so in awe that He chose us for this—not for us, but so that He does receive the glory. That is our hope. That's why we're sitting here with you. Not to paint a picture of who we are, but to paint a picture of who God is.

My heart's cry is for women who are in hard marriages to cry out to God because, Psalm 40, He turns to us. He hears our cry. He pulls us out of the miry pit, out of the slime and the mud, and then He sets our feet on a rock and gives us a firm place to stand, and He puts a new song in our mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

And then, in that psalm, it says, "And then many will see and fear and put their hope in the Lord." That's really Billy's and my desire—not just that you look at us, but that you would put your hope in the Lord for your marriage because God is so great.

We think it's all up to us, but we can't do anything apart from God. John 15:5, "Apart from You, I can do nothing."

When we let God work it out, when I zip my mouth shut and don't say what I want to say that may not be nice, when I just give it over to God and say, "You work here, Lord. You have what You want," when I let go of my desires and say, "Lord, I'd rather have what You want here," it's just so much better and so good. Then it does glorify Him.

Leslie: That's Vicki Rose. She and her husband Bill have been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about God's miraculous work in their marriage. If you've gotten a lot out of Bill and Vicki's story this week, I hope you'll watch the video version. The Revive Our Hearts video team made a ten-minute documentary on what God's done in their lives. I hope you'll see it. It's fast paced with footage shot in New York City where the Rose's live. Here's a preview.

Bill: After I came home, things were not perfectly happy ever after. We had our differences, but we just continued to grow.

Vicki: If married people are honest, every married person would say there are times that they go through hardships, and we're no different. Our marriage isn't perfect. We've experienced so much of God's grace. He's given us our salvation, and He's restored our marriage, but Billy and I are still in process. Thankfully, God's grace is sufficient for us today as it has been all the way through.

Leslie: You can watch the video of Bill and Vicki's story at ReviveOurHearts.com. And while you are there, you can also order a copy of Vicki's book from our online store. It's called, Every Reason to Leave, and Why We Chose to Stay Together. 

The reason we’re able to bring you videos and programs like this one is thanks to listeners who support the ministry. Nancy’s here to tell you about a special group of those listeners.

Nancy: Well if you appreciate hearing Revive Our Hearts each weekday, you can be grateful for the Monthly Partner team. They are a huge part in making this program possible. Monthly partners are listeners like you. But they’ve gone to another level of involvement with us. They commit to pray for the ministry. And I'll tell you . . . I am so, so grateful for those prayers! They let others know about the resources and the programs that are available through Revive Our Hearts. And they support Revive Our Hearts with a gift each month of $30 or more.

We love to stay in touch with this team, so we send an exclusive devotional booklet each month. It's called Daily Reflections. Monthly Partners also can join us at the conferences we host and we cover their registration. That includes Revive '19 coming this September! This month we’re praying that God provides many more Monthly Partners.

And when you join the team this month, we’re going to send you a big welcome package including two of my most recent books—Adorned and Lies Women Believe (recently updated). To see all the other welcome gifts visit ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can sign up to become a Monthly Partner or get all the details. Again, it’s ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for you encouragement and partnership as we help women around the world, like Vicki Rose, experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: What do you think about your emotions? Are they good or bad or reliable? Is it possible to control them? Dannah Gresh will tackle these and other questions about our often unruly emotions. Be sure to join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know God's grace is sufficient for you. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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