Two daughters talk about the divorce and subsequent reconciliation of their parents.
By Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs
Editor’s note: On FamilyLife Today Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs tell the story of their marriage, their divorce, and their reconciliation. Through 10 years of marriage, Cheryl Scruggs grew increasingly dissatisfied with her relationship with her husband, Jeff, and eventually was unfaithful to him. Finally, Cheryl left her husband. Soon after the divorce, Cheryl surrendered her life to Christ and almost immediately, she sensed God leading her to end the relationship with the other man and pursue reconciliation with Jeff. At the time of the divorce, their twin daughters were four years old. You can hear the story by visiting www.familylifetoday.com or by purchasing their book,I Do Again.
Our daughters, Brittany and Lauren, are our greatest blessings and the loves of our lives. They not only lived this entire story with us but played significant parts and were a vital factor in our reconciliation. God used our love for our girls to keep us in contact with each other nearly every day throughout our divorced years. That love was one thing we always had in common, so that no matter what other emotions were coursing through us, we were parents together.
For that reason, we wanted to give Brittany and Lauren their own voices here. We wanted them to have the opportunity to speak freely about how our journey affected their lives. They were four years old when we divorced and eleven when we remarried.
We’ve made it a habit to be honest with the girls about what happened between us in an age-appropriate way. They were thirteen when they learned the most devastating part of the story—that I (Cheryl) had an affair. I’d been praying that God would give me the right time to tell them, and then Brittany asked me flat out, “Did you have an affair?” I explained it to them, in eighth-grader terms, while I sobbed. It was very difficult, coming clean before my precious daughters. And it was hard for them to know the truth about their mom. But it was freeing to finally have the whole story out on the table, and I believe my willingness to be honest has had profound effects on my relationships with them.
Today they’re twenty years old and absolutely the light of our lives. Our editors asked them a few questions, and they were happy to give their perspective on this story that defined their childhood.
How did it feel when you learned your parents were getting back together?
Brittany: When my parents told us they were getting back together, I almost fainted. I had literally prayed every night for this. I cannot even describe the happiness and joy I felt when I found out.
Lauren: I’m not really sure how I felt at the moment; it was a mix of many emotions. This restoration was full of the power of God. It was almost surreal. I knew I had seen Jesus work a miracle.
What do you remember about life after the divorce?
Brittany: I remember my dad coming to pick me up during the week at my mom’s house. We went home after school with my mom and then switched off houses evenly during the week. I was always excited to see Daddy. He usually cooked pasta or ravioli, and we had Italian names to go along with the meal. We always had fun at my dad’s house, but I wanted to be with my mom whenever we were away from her, and the same situation happened when we were away from my dad. I remember feeling sad when I had to leave the other parent because I realized they would be alone.
Lauren: I constantly wanted unity for our family. I frequently felt worried because I could tell my parents were hurting, and I hated that. I remember wanting to be like other kids at school whose parents were married. I didn’t want to be confused about what address to write when I was filling out papers; I wanted to know I was going to one house when I left at the end of the day.
It was my dream for my parents to reconcile. It seemed like an impossible miracle to me, but I had hope because I watched my mom hope, and I watched my dad submit to the Lord to soften his heart. I prayed for them to get back together every single night. My friends and I always talked about how much we all wanted it.
Brittany: I think getting our parents back together was probably one of the biggest things I thought about while I was young.
What was it like going back and forth between your parents’ homes?
Lauren: It was miserable! It was such a hassle in the insignificant things. I remember forgetting parts of outfits or homework for the next day of school, and we would have to find a way to get everything. Every time we switched houses, I had strong feelings of dysfunction. I just wanted to stay in one house with everyone together and happy.
Brittany: I didn’t like it either. I always missed one or the other. A lot of times, I cried for the one I wasn’t with.
Lauren: I wanted to make sure they were doing okay, and I didn’t feel like I could do that when we were at separate houses. It affected my sense of what “home” should feel like.
What changed in your lives when your parents got back together?
Lauren: I felt wholeness and peace. I felt settled. It was incredible, and it actually took some adjustment because the majority of my life I had not known what it was like to have my parents together in the same house. I felt so blessed watching the love between my parents.
Brittany: I felt a peace that I had never felt before because our family was whole. I was blessed to see Jesus unify our family and mend many of the broken pieces in each of us. I felt I’d actually witnessed something real the Lord had accomplished in our lives. I’m extremely grateful for that now.
What lasting effect has your parents’ divorce and reconciliation had on you?
Brittany: In some situations, I’ve struggled with the feeling of abandonment. I don’t know if this relates to the divorce, but I believe it does in some situations. I’m really grateful for the blessings that the Lord has given my family in restoration. I feel extremely blessed to have such a beautiful story of reconciliation in my family. I have seen the work the Lord has done, not only in me personally and in my family, but also in the many lives Jesus has transformed through His work of restoration through my parents. I understand more fully the reality of marriage today, and the importance of placing Christ first in every part of our lives. I don’t know who I would be today without Christ’s powerful work of reconciliation in my family.
Lauren: It has shown me that the grace of God is so powerful, that He always has a plan. I have seen what a marriage is like before and after Jesus. I feel like I am more aware of the reality of marriage—that it’s not a fairy tale but simply a reality. Marriage can be a daily struggle. It has also shown me that the things of the world are unfulfilling (my parents’ first marriage), that communication is pertinent to having a healthy marriage, and that love must be fought for. I’ve learned that anyone can be tempted into adultery of many kinds, no matter how strong you think you are.
From I Do Again. Copyright 2008 by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs . Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved.