Life and Love in the Fast Lane
About the Guest
Do you still feel empty, despite your personal and corporate success? Wayne Huizenga, Jr., owner of the Miami Dolphins, looks back on his life and recalls the emptiness of living in the fast lane without Christ.
Wayne HuizengaWayne Huizenga, Jr. is the President of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., a diversified company that manages and owns the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League and Dolphin Stadium in South Florida as well as investments in resorts and real estate. Wayne Jr. is married to his childhood sweetheart, Fonda Hix. They have four children: Savannah, Tres (Wayne, III), Gerritt and Ainsley. The Huizenga family regularly attend Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale.
Do you still feel empty, despite your personal and corporate success?
Life and Love in the Fast Lane
Bob: This is Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today. We've got a great program lined up for today, but we need to interrupt things right here, Dennis, to talk to our listeners.
Dennis: That's right. Bob, I'm a fan of Chik-fil-A.
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Bob: That's right, but no pickles on our broadcast.
Dennis: Okay, I got that – pickles on the chicken sandwich, right?
Bob: Wayne Huizenga, Jr., was the successful son of a very successful South Florida businessman who, when he married his girlfriend, realized that being successful and having a lot of money didn't insulate you from challenges in your marriage relationship.
Wayne: We went on to live a lifestyle that was pretty far out there – drinking in excess, parties, the wrong kind of clubs, the wrong kind of friends. When I drank, I was never angry or mean, but I said whatever came to my mind, and there's a lot of things that I said that were just outlandish that I got away with because of who I was.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, April 8th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear today from Wayne Huizenga, Jr., about how growing up with money and success doesn't mean you won't have challenges in life. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I don't know if I'm right about this, but I was thinking about our guest today, and I was thinking, do you know what they call it when two football players line up across from one another, and one football player starts mouthing off to the other player about, "Your team is no good," and you know what they call that, don't you?
Dennis: Trash talking?
Bob: And I thought, I wonder if that originated in Miami with our guest. I mean, there's a connection, don't you think?
Dennis: Bob, of all the ways we introduce guests …
Bob: I'm just trying to pull …
Dennis: No, no, no, no, no. Wayne, I want you to know, Bob is masterful at introducing guests. This has to be …
Bob: With this exception.
Wayne: That's good.
Dennis: Well, I want to introduce our guest, and then we'll tell the rest of the story. Actually, I'm going to let Bob tell the rest of the story of how that all works out. Wayne Huizenga joins us on FamilyLife Today – actually, it's Wayne Jr. Wayne, welcome to the broadcast.
Wayne: Thank you, it's an honor to be here, Dennis.
Dennis: Don't hold that against Bob.
Wayne: Not at all.
Bob: And around home, you're just known as "Junior," right?
Wayne: I am. My brother nicknamed me "J.R." back in the Dallas days because I was the evil brother, and it kind of grew into Junior. That's the rest of the story.
Bob: And you understand where I'm making this connection about this …
Wayne: I think it's great. I thought that was very well done.
Dennis: So would you like to explain it to our listeners? No, go ahead, Bob.
Bob: No, I think you can explain it better.
Wayne: No, Wayne, Sr. – I call him that because when you've worked with – I've worked with my father for so long I've realized that walking in and saying, "Well, Dad thinks we need to do it this way," just is not really effective. So I affectionately refer to him as Wayne, Sr., but we are very, very close, and Dad grew up and started waste management. He started with one truck shortly before I was born, and so I think that, you know, have him really creating waste management, the industry leader and giant in the waste business, and then being in the football business, that trash talk on the line certainly could have.
Dennis: So on a 10-point scale, what would you give it?
Wayne: I think that's a 9.5. I've got to tell him that, I've got to tell you that I know we're trash talking people now. Bob told me.
Dennis: Well, that is the largest waste company in the world – Waste Management Incorporated, and your dad helped start it.
Bob: And the connection with football is that your dad owns the Miami Dolphins.
Wayne: That's right, that's right.
Dennis: Actually, I think Wayne, Jr., owns part of them, too.
Wayne: A small part.
Dennis: Which do you own, the offensive line or which part do you own?
Wayne: The offensive line.
Bob: You'll take that as your claim.
Dennis: Tell us what it was like to grow up in your home, spiritually speaking. Did you talk about God? Was there a spiritual training that took place by your father?
Wayne: Not by my father, no. My mother divorced my father when we were five, when I was five years old, and my brother was three, and we were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, and when she announced to the minister that she was divorcing my father, they kind of divorced her from the church.
So growing up, I really didn't spend much time in organized religion. Christ lived in my mother's heart, and she did her best to share who He was and that He was God's Son, and she'd pray with us, and we occasionally made it to church but very, very little organized religion in my life as a young man growing up.
Bob: Now, your dad had gone to a Christian college for a couple of years, right?
Wayne: He did. He had gone to Calvin College, and his father was very religious also, and – but not necessarily in relationship with Christ at the time.
Dennis: Do you recall when you found out your parents were splitting up?
Wayne: You know, I don't really remember that. I remember sad times when I was five, and we moved from Florida back to Chicago, but a lot of it is kind of a blur and not really understanding what was happening, and Dad was in the throes of creating Waste Management at that time and was traveling quite a bit, and I really didn't get to see him that much. So – more of a void, but when I did get to see him, it was wonderful, and it wasn't – there was never any anger or anything like that. It was, "Boy, am I glad to see you," like seeing your best friend, and we'd always go and do something neat and being sad when he had to go. But understanding – and I really thanked my mother many, many times, because she never put it on dad – that he was a bad dad. It was always, "He loves you, he's trying to do something special for you, and he wants you to have all the best things, and he's working hard so that you can have a different kind of life." And she was always very, very supportive of him, unlike, so many times we hear moms and dads trash talking, if you will, in front of the children, especially about them. And that may have occurred between them, but it never occurred in front of my brother or I, and she was always very supportive.
Bob: So at age five, you moved back to Illinois with your mom.
Bob: You saw your dad, then, just on occasion when he'd show up in Chicago?
Wayne: That's right. He was still working in Ft. Lauderdale. They ended up moving Waste Management's headquarters to Oakbrook, Illinois, and Dad would come, would be there, but he was on the road the majority of the time.
He told me a story that in one nine-month period they closed over 100 acquisitions – bought over 100 companies in a nine-month period, and he tells the story that he would fly in on a Monday to have a board meeting to approve all the deals they did, and my stepmother, who I also call "Mom," and she's been wonderful in my life, would say "and to get his laundry done," to pick up clean clothes, and he would be out on the road again.
Dennis: Did you think you were a follower of Christ, a believer?
Wayne: When I was younger, I suppose I really didn't think about it, but I would have said that I was, and as I got older, my mother started getting after me and looking at the lifestyle that I was living, and I was married and had two children. She said, "You need to get back to church, because you need to figure out how you're going to ground your children," and at that time we began going to church, and if you had asked me then, do I think that I'm a Christian, I would have said, "Absolutely, I proclaimed myself as a Christian," although my life didn't reflect it, and if you would have asked me, "Well, do you think you're going to go to heaven?" I would have said, "Sure," and if you would have stopped long enough to say, "Well, why do you think you get to go to heaven?" I think I would have told you, "Well, you know, I'm in church, three rows back on the left on Sundays. I put my money in the basket when it goes by, and I never commit any of those big sins like murder or anything like that, and I try to be a good person. I think I've done more good than bad, and that's why I would get to go to heaven."
Dennis: So – I want to kind of rewind here quickly …
Dennis: … back into your teenage years and have you share about how you met your wife and kind of how that romance started and how you ended up with four children.
Wayne: Right. I met my wife when we were 15 years old. A friend of mine invited me to go water skiing with him, and he was bringing his girlfriend, my wife, and I didn't know that at the time. And she brought a date for me, and so we spent the day out in our little 13-foot boat out water skiing, and we were going to go roller skating that night, again, a double-date, and I drove the car with my mom in the seat next to me, we were 15. And I got to the roller rink, and my date wasn't there, and I was crushed. "Wow, what happened?" I'm a fragile young teenager, and I come to find out later on that my wife threatened her best friend within an inch of her life that if she showed up that night that would be it, that only one of them was walking out.
So my wife, Fonda, my wife, we were 15, she ditched her boyfriend that night and skated with me for three hours at the roller rink and left screaming her phone number out to me as he drug her out of the roller rink.
Bob: Well, you must have been better looking than you are now?
Wayne: Absolutely, you know, and in her mind's eye, at least, absolutely. I was a thin man, then, too, and yeah.
Dennis: So here we've had the trash talking, and now Bob is …
Bob: Now I'm insulting …
Dennis: Yeah, he's insulted you. This doesn't usually happen, Wayne, I just want you to know. How long did you date, though, before you …
Wayne: Three months. Three months – because she was a good girl, and I was looking for a bad girl, and I broke up with her.
Dennis: Oh, so you didn't get married then at 16?
Wayne: No, we split up and, like I say …
Bob: Went your separate ways?
Wayne: Went our separate ways, and I'd come and visit, and she said, "Yeah" – and she told me later, "You'd come and visit when you were in between girlfriends." We lived in small town in Palm Beach, and we'd run into each other and kept in touch.
Dennis: Was she still smitten with you?
Wayne: I believe so, and she had other boyfriends, and I had other relationships, and we went off to college, and she went to Vanderbilt and went to work for Procter & Gamble and was doing quite well, and she came home to visit her parents at Christmastime 21 years ago, and called me up and said, "I'm in town visiting, would you like to get together?" And we went out on a date, and fell back in love.
She traveled from Phoenix where she was working for Procter & Gamble for a year, and we lived in sin for another year. We got engaged, and …
Dennis: So how did you get engaged?
Wayne: I took her back to this little island in the Bahamas and sat her down in a little – a kind of a palm-tree covered little hut, if you will, on the beach, and I knelt down and told her that I loved her more than any other woman and that she had been in my dreams since we were children and had dated, and I asked her if she would marry me, and I made her say yes before I'd give her her ring. But she said yes immediately, and I just joke about that part. It amazes me that God would put someone as special as her in my life despite the way – the secular way that I thought, but …
Bob: Let me ask you about the transition from living together to being married – I mean – other than the fact that you'd had a ceremony and there was a ring, it was functionally about the same. Was it emotionally different?
Wayne: It was. There was commitment because – in my life, having come from a divorced family, I was terrified, and I did not want to repeat the same. And fond of being a professional and myself trying to be a professional working with Wayne, Sr. We even talked about whether to have children. We said, "Do we just both go on and be professionals and not have children? Or do we make the commitment?" And we, together, made a conscious decision when we decided to have children that we were not going to work seven days a week and work those incredible hours, and we would enjoy the blessings that we had, and I often thank Dad, because he gave me a lifestyle and the ability to do things and to live a life that I have not earned and that I do not deserve and to be able to give my children the things that he gave me that he worked so incredibly hard and sacrificed so much of his life for. So I am truly, truly blessed.
Dennis: You know, I wanted to stop there and talk about that because, Wayne, I think there are a lot of singles who listen to our broadcast, and the reason they listen is they want the mentoring – they are hoping someday to have a successful marriage and family. And there are others who are married today who come from broken homes, but they've brought this baggage into a relationship, and they're not sure why they feel the way they feel.
But as you were talking, I was thinking about Romans, chapter 8, verse 28 – and I don't want to be glib about quoting this, but it says there, "All things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose."
And you weren't a Christian during this time, I mean, you grew up in a home, your parents divorced, but God used that experience, He used the pain of that divorce and you growing up to embed in you values and convictions that when you did tie the knot, you knew what you didn't want, and you knew what you did want.
Dennis: And I think that's important for couples who maybe come out of dysfunctional backgrounds. It's important, I think, that they come to the conclusion of what you believe, and what are your convictions and what are the values of your marriage and family, going forward?
Bob: And you know the statistics that cohabiting is hazardous to marital health.
Bob: If you live together before you get married, the odds of getting a divorce are higher. Were there time in the early years when you thought, "This isn't going to make it?"
Wayne: I don't think I ever thought that. I'm not sure if Fonda thought that, because we went on to live a lifestyle that was pretty far out there.
Bob: What do you mean?
Wayne: Drinking in excess, parties, the wrong kind of clubs, the wrong kind of friends. When I drank I was never angry or mean, but I said whatever came to my mind, and there's a lot of things that I had to go back and apologize for, and a lot of things that I had to ask God to forgive me for that I said that were just outlandish that I got away with because of who I was, and things that I did that I regretted and things that I had to apologize to my wife about afterwards.
And so the fact that she stuck with me, I think, more amazes me. There was never a time in my life that I didn't know that she was the one and that I loved her more than anything else, but the way that I acted certainly did not belie the way that I felt about her.
Dennis: Bob and I interviewed a couple who grew up in New York City, and they were people of great means and had a lot of access to people who were famous, and they got off on the drug scene. Did you all participate in that?
Wayne: No, it was more alcohol for us, and then Fonda quit drinking, probably six or seven years before I did, and she just got tired of it, and it was after we won the World Series, actually, the Marlins, when we owned the baseball team. We won the World Series in 1997. Of course, they had doused us in champagne and beer in the locker room and whatnot, and we had gone out celebrating with Dad and some of the team and managers and whatnot, and we ended up at a friend's restaurant about 3:30 in the morning, and she was sitting next to me, and I stunk of everything that had been sprayed on me hours earlier and then someone passed a drink in front of her, and she said, "You know, after that I just never had a desire to have another drink," and that was in 1997.
So she sobered up, and I continued on, and I think that that's when it really became apparent how our life had diverged, and I am amazed that she stayed with me.
Dennis: I think the thing I want couples to hear, maybe who have started their relationship out living together, is that it can work.
Dennis: And there is hope for relationships even that perhaps started out in a very improper, maybe even a wrong way, like living together. And I think many times those of us in the Christian community are real good at pointing fingers and looking down our noses at those who step outside the traditional bounds of marriage, and we need to be reminded that the Gospel is about redemption.
Wayne: That's so true.
Dennis: It's about bringing hope and help to people who need forgiveness with God first so they can begin to express forgiveness toward one another.
Bob: Do you know, it feels a little scary to say that because you're always worried that somebody on the other side, somebody who is 19 and thinking, "Well, maybe we ought to move in together," will think, "Well, we can do that, and it can work," but you don't want to stack the deck against you. You don't want to head in thinking we'll redeem it on the other side.
Bob: If that's what you've been through, yes, God can turn it around. But if that's where you're headed, God would say, "Stop, don't go there. There is wounding and scarring and damage there that you will regret." I mean, you look back and go, "If I could do it all again, we'd do it differently," right?
Wayne: Absolutely, absolutely, and when God laid on my heart and convicted me of living with my wife, I wish that I had been strong enough and had been man enough to have backed away and said, "You know what? I love you this much, and let's re-commit and make for something special and let our wedding night be the reuniting of us," and I wish I had not given that precious gift that God gave me in my virginity away as I did and had had something that special to offer my bride. And I regret it, and God did use it. Wonderful things have come out of it – four wonderful children – but I wish I had had another opportunity.
Dennis: You know, I am increasingly running into young men and women as we just go about the culture who are doing the very thing we're talking about here, and my great encouragement to them is come to one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. Come and hear how you can get the tools to deal with your fear of commitment and to encourage that commitment to be made.
Because I think one of the reasons why a lot of couples live together is they do want to test it out. They're really afraid of a failure, and obviously because it's between two imperfect people, failure can occur. But there is a way to ensure success in your marriage and family, and I think that's what I want couples to hear today.
Bob: Yes, you and I have both spoken at one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences in the past couple of weeks. You spoke at the big conference we did in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area back in February, and I just spoke at the conference up in Newport, Rhode Island a few weeks ago, and I was talking to a colleague of ours who had been to one of our conferences this spring, and he said, "You know, the thing that amazes me – anytime I attend a Weekend to Remember is to see the difference – you can actually kind of watch it unfold, in the lives of married couples who attend this conference. The difference in how they are interacting with one another between Friday night and Sunday morning."
There is something about pulling off to the side of the road for a weekend. Just setting everything else aside, focusing on your marriage, listening to what God's Word has to say about things like communication, how to resolve conflict, understanding what God's plan and purpose for marriage is in the first place. There is something about being in that environment that is rejuvenating and, in some cases, transformative.
And we still have a number of these conferences taking place in cities all across the country throughout the rest of this month into next month and beyond. In fact, we've got conferences coming up in places like Portland and Seattle, in Southern California, Lake Tahoe, in Houston, in Orlando, Florida, in Phoenix, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and dozens of other cities all across the country. All the information you need about upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences can be found on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can call us toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY. So, again, either go to FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and make plans to attend one of these upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences when it comes to a city near where you live.
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In fact, the DVD we'll send you has audio tracks in Spanish, French, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian. You can pass it along to somebody who might be a native speaker of one of those languages and share the story of Magdalena and the story of Jesus with your friend. Again, the DVD is our gift to you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this week with a donation of any amount.
If you're donating online at FamilyLifeToday.com, all you need to do is type the word "Magdalena" into the keycode box you find on the donation form. That's m-a-g-d-a-l-e-n-a, Magdalena. When you type that in, we'll send you a copy of the DVD or call 1-800-FLTODAY. Make your donation over the phone and ask for the thank you DVD. Again, we're happy to send it out to you, and we so much appreciate your support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow we're going to continue our conversation with Wayne Huizenga, Jr., and we'll find out about the submarine captain who became friends with Wayne, and when their lives intersected, it led to a pretty dramatic change. You'll hear about that tomorrow. I hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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