Closing the Marriage Chapter
About the Guest
'All That I'm Made For' (live acoustic) by Out of the Dust
Download the song 'Make Us Whole' by Out of the Dust
Chris and Stephanie Teague talk about when their three-year marriage ended. Stunned by Chris’s confessions Stephanie immersed herself in prayer and released Chris to God.
Closing the Marriage Chapter
Bob: Sometimes, when a marriage dies, it dies silently. That was the case forChris and Stephanie Teague.
Stephanie: We didn’t have to go to court—I just had to go into the office of the lawyer that he had hired and sign. Before I signed it, I had—because we were, I think, just emailing at that point; we weren’t talking any other way—I remember I had sent him one last email. I told him again: “This is not what I choose. This is not what I want; but if this is what you asking for, then I’m going to sign the papers.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, September 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear about what led up to the death of Chris and Stephanie Teague’s marriage today and how God was not done with them yet. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
There are some couples who—they never expected their marriage would end up where it ended up—couples who, when they stood and said, “I do,” were rock solid in their commitment to one another—only to find that, months later or years later, that rock-solid commitment had started to erode. They were now looking at one another and thinking, “I’m not sure I want to be married to you anymore.”
Dennis: Thirty or forty years ago, it was called the seven-year itch—marriage kind of goes through the ups and downs of the honeymoon and then breaking in a marriage relationship; and then, there’s an itch that used to be said occurs around seven years. That now occurs around three-and-a-half years, if you take a look at the stats.
The couple that are with us experienced that almost literally; right?
Chris: On the dot; yes.
Dennis: Chris and Stephanie Teague join us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Chris: Thank you for having us.
Dennis: They are a singing duo from near Nashville. Their group is called Out of the Dust. You shared, earlier, that in 2006 you married; and about three-and-a-half years later, Chris, you had wandered and gotten off into drugs. What else were you off into?
Chris: Off into drugs and doubt—a lot of hiding / a lot of questioning—a lot of shame.
Dennis: Lost your faith temporarily.
Dennis: Stephanie, you watched all this happen; and finally, he came home and said, “I want a divorce.”
Dennis: Thought you’d never hear those words.
Stephanie: Oh! Absolutely not! No!
Bob: Describe what it’s like, as a wife, who’s been married for three-and-a-half years—yes; there are rocky spots in your marriage; but for the most part, you’re doing okay; or you think you’re doing okay—
Stephanie: I thought so; yes.
Bob: —to have your husband sit you down and say: “I don’t believe in God, and I don’t want to be married to you anymore.” You said you couldn’t speak for—
Stephanie: It was probably for half an hour. I literally could not form thoughts! I couldn’t, because in my brain—I’m very much a mental processor / you know, I think things through very thoroughly. I could not make sense of what he was telling me; because it did not / it just didn’t compute with what my life was—like: “This was not a possibility. This was not in our plan. There’s no way!”
Dennis: You didn’t have a category for this.
Stephanie: I didn’t; no!
Chris: I chased her through the house—not literally—but I followed her through the house after I told her. She’s just sitting on the side of the bed; and I sat down beside her and I said, “What are you thinking?” And she said, “I just—I can’t even—I can’t even talk right now.”
Bob: Did you want to walk it back at all? Was there any part of you, saying, “Maybe I‘m—maybe I just misspoke”?
Dennis: Or was it a relief?
Chris: I was ready / I was studied—I was ready for—not battle—but I had gotten ready.
Bob: You had mentally prepared for this moment,—
Bob: —knowing what you might face.
Bob: And you were resolute.
Chris: Yes; and again, I mean, I am a people-pleaser. There is nothing / nothing in me that wanted to hurt people / nothing in me that wanted to tear somebody’s life apart. But what I wanted was still more important. I would say, very quickly, that I hated hurting people. She would—we’ve said this before—I was like an iron fist with a velvet glove / I was very nice: “I hate to hurt you, but I’m going to hit you in the face anyway.”
Dennis: So Stephanie, when you finally were able to speak, what were the words you said?
Stephanie: I don’t even remember! I think it was just a lot of: “Why?”—like: “What? I don’t understand!” I think, also, I remember us having conversation—maybe even just in the couple of days that followed—of: “We can still make this work; you know?
“Just because you’re going through this, it’s not / it doesn’t mean we have to get divorced. We can still figure this out together.”
Dennis: You fought for the marriage.
Stephanie: I did; yes, I did.
Chris: Looking back, now, I think—and there’s still that blindness—but I think I knew, in my heart, that we could make it work: “You know, there’s people that believe and don’t believe; they stay married.” But at the end of the day, Stephanie, and God, and our marriage stood in the way of me being able to live this life that I wanted to live. I didn’t want to stop hanging out / I didn’t want to stop doing drugs—I wanted to live this kind of life that I’d never gotten to experience since we were married so young. So, it didn’t matter, at the end of the day, that we could make it work—I didn’t want to make it work / I was done.
Bob: You ended up—the night that you told her you wanted out—you ended, going over to her parents’ house and telling them?
Chris: Yes; fun night—yes; all of that in one night.
Bob: What was their response?
Chris: Same thing as Stephanie—just: “Why? We don’t understand.”
Bob: What was your answer to: “Why?” [Chris sighs] You couldn’t say: “Because I’m selfish, and I just want to do what I want to do.”
Chris: Right! Exactly. My cover and my explanation was just that it didn’t make sense: “Why should we stay married? Who wants that? I want” —I don’t know that I ever said this but—saying: “What’s best for Stephanie?—to be with a Shmoe like me, who doesn’t believe / who’s, you know, bored? Shouldn’t we just end it?”
Dennis: As a boy, you’re parents divorced.
Dennis: A lot of listeners, here, listening to this broadcast vowed—after they watched their parents’ divorce—that they would never go back on their promise. Had you made a vow like that?
Chris: I remember—I remember making that vow! You know, I remember saying: “I’m never going to do that. I won’t ever do that to a wife. I won’t ever do that to our kids,” or “…to my kids.” But then, there’s that moment, again, back in the garden with Adam and Eve: “Did God really say, ‘Do not eat?’”—I hear: “Do you really have to stay married? There’s no law.”
Dennis: Last night, Barbara and I were sitting on the couch. It had been a full day. She was tired, and she does a lot on behalf of FamilyLife that no one ever sees. I was just cuddled up to her, and she was there by me. I said: “You know, you’ve been really pro our marriage and our family, but also pro other peoples’ marriage and family. I just want to thank you / thank you for doing that.” For a moment, we both revisited our promise. It was really healthy to look her in the eye and say: “I want you to know I have kept my promise. You’re the one and only.”
That promise is the most sacred pledge two human beings ever make.
If there is somebody listening, right now, that’s on the precipice: “Listen to me!! You’re only a step away from destruction!” Anybody, who thinks they are standing and couldn’t fall needs to be wise; because it—basically, if you listened earlier to your story, you were kind of the model couple.
Chris: Yes, leading worship / being on stage—we were involved in the church. We were young but—
Dennis: “Don’t do it!”
Chris: That’s right.
Dennis: “Don’t do it!”
Chris: There’s a purpose to the pain. If you’re not happy, that’s not what—it’s not about happiness—you know, there’s a purpose in our own growth. If we had stayed—I don’t know; we’re both thankful for the experience—but if we had stayed, I think, the story could have been just as powerful in our lives—perhaps, not as exciting.
Bob: Stephanie, you—for the first week or so after Chris said, “I want out,”—you thought: “There’s still hope. We can still put this back together.”
Stephanie: I thought so.
Bob: But there came a point—I don’t know whether it was weeks or months later—where you thought, “This isn’t going to get put back together.”
Dennis: Well, he was on a jet sled—I mean, he was running toward the divorce courts; right?
Stephanie: He was! Again, very nice about it all—he agreed to meetings with pastors, and friends, and family—very nice in his conversations—but nothing was changing his mind. We stayed up late, several nights after that conversation, and argued and pleading—you know, it didn’t matter. It was about a month / about a month of that and just seeing: “This isn’t going anywhere.”
Dennis: So should you have contested this harder and longer?
Stephanie: You know, I spent a lot of time in prayer about this; because I had actually just walked through this same thing with one of my best friends and her husband, who’s in a very similar situation—seeing the pain that she went through, fighting.
I wanted to do what was best for him in, potentially—not even bringing him back to me—but bringing him back to the Lord. I knew—you know, if I continued to be oppositional to him / if I became a very aggressive thing, I didn’t see any fruit that would come from that.
Chris: To me, it was an obstacle course—I met with pastors; I met with friends; I met with family members—it was like / it was just a check list. To me—the end goal was freedom / the end goal was me. It didn’t matter—you know, I wasn’t listening / I was just as good at hiding my true intentions. I’m sitting there, being this great actor, you know: “Oh, yeah; I do / I do see that point,” and “Thank you for saying that.” There are so many things that I endured, in my own mind, as I’m sitting there with people and meeting. It’s all just checks on a list to get to where I want to go.
Dennis: So take us to the moment the divorce was finalized. Were you in court that day?
Stephanie: We didn’t have to go to court—I just had to go into the office of the lawyer that he had hired and sign. Oh, gosh, such a bizarre thing. But I know, right before I signed it, I had —because we were just, I think, emailing at that point; we weren’t talking any other way—I remember I had sent him one last email. I told him, again: “This is not what I choose. This is not what I want. What I want is you and for our marriage; but if this is what you are asking for, then I am going to sign the papers.”
Once I—I felt released, at that point. He knew where I stood, and he still wanted to move forward. So I had to—in the most bizarre, probably, experience of my life—I had to walk into a lawyer’s office, sign my name a couple of times, and walk out. And that was it.
Bob: When you go home from a meeting like that—to an empty apartment, or a house, or wherever you were living at the time—you just feel numb; don’t you?
Stephanie: Yes; yes! Throughout that season, I’d been through the gamut of emotions. You know, it was anger—and I’m very justice-minded—so it just felt so unfair!—you know: “This isn’t what I chose for my life. I’m here trying to fight for our marriage, and I can’t do anything about it.” I think that was the hardest part—was the helplessness for me—that I couldn’t do anything / that I couldn’t change his decision.
A lot of it, too, was I felt shame; because, here I am—I’m very achievement-driven—you know, for people to see what had happened in our marriage. I mean, we were well-known in our community and in our church. I’ve never been one to care a whole lot about what people think of me; but for people to see me as: “Oh!”—like: “She’s like 23/24 and divorced. What really happened?”—you know?—
—just that shame of being a divorcee, at such a young age.
Bob: When you knew that the divorce was final—when the lawyer called and said: “She signed it. We’re done,”—that’s the goal you had been aiming for—
Bob: —was there the momentary euphoria of: “Now, I’m free”?
Chris: No; no. Not at all—my heart was hardened—I do believe that. But at the same time, I remember the two really key moments I—it was when the papers were filed and, then again, when I took over the house—you know, I remember sitting in a banker’s office in downtown Nashville, fighting tears, while I’m sitting with this person across from me: “Sign here,” “Sign here,”—you know, this huge HUD form and all that—holding back tears, trying to keep it together, while I’m sitting there. There was still that spark, but the enemy just had such a hold on me for what I thought was best and for what I wanted to do.
Bob: Even though this is what you wanted—
Bob: —there was still something inside, going, “This is wrong”?
Chris: Yes; and just the hurt and the: “This is not where I thought I would be”; you know? There was a lot of confusion, I think, during those moments.
Bob: You had quit going to church at this point; right?
Chris: Oh yes; absolutely!
Bob: Because in your mind, the whole God-thing has just been wrong. You’re starting to hang out with different folks.
Bob: You are now a 24-year-old single guy, hanging out with people, who don’t have any spiritual convictions. That’s a dangerous place to be.
Chris: Yes; yes! It felt like freedom, though. I had felt like I’d been living / I’d been living in duplicity for years and—
Bob: For how long did it feel like freedom?
Chris: Not long! But for those—you know, that first rush of dopamine/adrenaline—that cocktail—it felt great, but it was very short lived.
Bob: The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season.
Chris: Yes; I believe that! Nobody would sin if it wasn’t fun.
Bob: And you got the initial pleasure out of: “Okay; this is what I was looking for. I’m free. I can do what I want / I can make those choices.” But there’s a bitter aftertaste that comes with that, and you experienced it pretty quick.
Chris: Yes! Another analogy—I love the idea of Wiley Coyote running. He doesn’t even know that the ground is gone any more—he just keeps on running and running—and that was me, you know, very quickly. Sin does have consequences. The relationships that I started were—I wouldn’t say numerous—but it wasn’t just one. I was doing things / being with people— starting new relationships / ending relationships—
—it all—it was all out of this just massive desire—I felt like I’d been cooped up. I sort of exploded in this big blaze of—I guess, yeah—of pleasure, and the sin, and all that that entails—in the freedom that I felt like I had.
Bob: Did you know this was his new life? Were you hearing word, around town, that: “He’s going out with So-and-so”?
Stephanie: A little bit—I mean, we’re in the same town.
Stephanie: So you can only avoid so much. But I—
Chris: And Facebook® too—it’s impossible.
Stephanie: —but I blocked it so I couldn’t see his Facebook, because it was nothing but painful to hear what was going on.
Bob: Any part of you, thinking to yourself: “Well, maybe God is protecting me from what would have been a terrible”—you know—“this guy. Maybe, now, I can meet some really godly guy”?
Stephanie: Yes! I mean, you have to make sense of it somehow. You believe the Scriptures that there’s a purpose in that suffering. I didn’t know what it was, at that point; but I did know—hearing and seeing what he was doing—I knew that I didn’t want to be a part of that.
Dennis: I’m not that familiar with all the songs you’ve written.
Dennis: Was there a song written about this particular moment in your relationship?
Chris: We see this as a ministry. We think our story serves the music and the music serves the story as a platform together. Anything we write—typically, we try to have, not generic, but we want it to relate to our story—but also, we know that this is not common—so we do try to make it point outward as well. There’s no—there definitely is a downer—“We need help” song—but there’s nothing that speaks specifically to this moment.
Bob: You have written about the fact that God has purposes in suffering—that God redeems suffering / that suffering is not something you run from but something you lean into.
Chris: That’s right.
Bob: What’s a song that captures that?
Chris: Make Us Whole, for sure—our song—it’s on our record. We do believe that so much. We wouldn’t trade our story. One of our counselors, as we were coming back around—I’m jumping ahead / I’m sorry but—said: “God allowed you to go through this.” That’s hard to hear sometimes; but our song, Make Us Whole, says: “We are tested; we are tried. But there’s a blessing on the other side,” because He does redeem that suffering when we give it over to Him. It may not be this side of heaven, even—that’s something we have to wrestle with, as we walk through this ministry and hear these stories—but there is a blessing, regardless of the ending of your story.
Bob: Rather than recite the words, can you grab the guitar and sing it for us?
Chris: The song is called Make Us Whole.
[Chris and Stephanie singing Make Us Whole]
Bob: That’s great! That’s Chris and Stephanie Teague from their CD, Out of the Dust. The song is called Make Us Whole.
Dennis, you know, most of the time, when we are going through trials / going through valleys, we’re not thinking about how God is at work in the midst of that; but James, Chapter 1, teaches us that that‘s exactly what’s going on.
Dennis: It is. I was also thinking about Romans, Chapter 5, as well—it talks about how tribulation works about and results in patience, and perseverance, and proven character.
Dennis: All of those result in good fruit.
Bob: Yes; in fact, in the midst of all that was going on in your marriage, you didn’t realize that God was at work in some significant ways; but He was.
The good fruit was just beginning to ripen as you were going through all of these trials. We’re going to hear more about that this week.
I want to let our listeners know, Dennis, that we’ve got copies of Chris and Stephanie’s CD. They perform under the name, Out of the Dust. That’s the name of the CD; and you can order copies, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you’d like to order a copy. The song, Make Us Whole—that we just heard—is on the CD, along with another ten tracks. Again, more information about the CD available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order your copy.
Let me, again, just say: “If you’ve never been to one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways—or it’s been a while since you’ve gone—I want to urge you to do some preventive maintenance on your marriage.
“Get to a getaway and strengthen what is the most important relationship you have on planet earth—your relationship with your spouse.” That’s worth a weekend away; isn’t it? Find out more about when we are hosting getaways in a city near where you live when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call for more information about the Weekend to Remember—our phone number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, you stop and ask the question: “How much is a marriage worth? How much is a strong family worth in our culture today?” Our goal, here, at FamilyLife is to effectively develop godly marriages and families; because we believe marriages and families are the foundation of any society. “The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people,”—that’s been attributed to Abraham Lincoln—I don’t know if he actually said it or not; but it’s true, whether he said it not.
I know many of you, our listeners, believe that as well; because many of you have helped support this ministry and have helped extend the reach of FamilyLife through your donations. The dollars you contribute go right into expanding the reach of this ministry so that we can reach more people more regularly. We appreciate those who partner with us, helping to make that happen.
If you’re able to help with a donation today, we have a special thank-you gift for you. It’s Dennis Rainey’s brand-new book, which is called Choosing a Life That Matters. At the end of the day, the foundation for every healthy marriage and family is a spiritual foundation—that’s what Dennis addresses in this book—the kinds of decisions we all face / the kinds of choices we have to make to either honor God or to live for self.
You can donate to FamilyLife Today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can donate by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY—ask for your copy of Dennis’s new book when you get in touch with us. Or request the book when you mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111 Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Tomorrow, we get to hear about the resurrection of Chris and Stephanie Teague’s marriage. Of course, the fact they have been with us this week—you knew that this resurrection was coming; right?—but it’s a great story. I hope you can tune in to be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
©Song: Make Us Whole
Artist: Chris and Stephanie Teague
Album: Out of the Dust (p) 2017 Discovery House Music
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