On the Highway to Healing
About the Guest
Travel brought emotional emptiness to the Galluccis' marriage, but God brought healing. Author Sam Gallucci and his wife, Toni, talk about the changes that took place when Sam said “enough” to traveling, and the couple began to fight for their troubled marriage.
Sam and Toni GallucciSam Gallucci is a teaching director of Community Bible Study and on staff at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. He has extensive experience in the business world as an executive for a customer relationship management software company. He and his wife Toni are the parents of three sons.
Travel brought emotional emptiness to the Galluccis’ marriage, but God brought healing.
On the Highway to Healing
Bob: Sam Gallucci and his wife, Toni, had been leading separate lives – living in the same house but in isolation for months when Sam finally went to Toni with a confession.
Toni: He told me that he had fallen morally, and I didn't get angry, I didn't cry, I was numb. I was so numb by this time I had very little hope, and, quite honestly, the thing that came to my mind was, "Good, now he finally will understand, and he'll finally see what I've been telling him all these years. Now we can finally, maybe, have hope."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 8th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear a remarkable story today about the turnaround that happened in Sam and Toni Gallucci's marriage. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Bob, have you spoken to thousands of people before? You have.
Bob: Yeah, I've been in situations where I've been privileged to do that.
Dennis: Yeah, and I have, too. It's a great honor to be asked. Have you ever had a bodyguard?
Bob: I met a bodyguard, but he was Michael Eisner's bodyguard not mine. So I have not had a bodyguard.
Dennis: I've never had a bodyguard, but our guest …
Bob: I figure I don't have a body worth guarding.
Dennis: Our guest on today's broadcast spoke to thousands and had a bodyguard. Sam Gallucci, what in the world were you doing where you had to have bodyguards?
Sam: Oh, it's crazy. I was an executive vice president of a large software company, and with the stock that we had and the situation, each of us had bodyguards when we went to certain countries and to protect us as an asset to the business.
Bob: For the kidnapping threat is what the concern was?
Sam: Oh, kidnapping, the threat of – we had some death threats because our stock went up and went down and crazy stuff like that, that the board of directors felt we need to protect their asset. So – it was crazy.
Dennis: Man, oh, man. You're joined here with your wife, Toni. They have three sons, they live in Ventura, California, which is just a real tough place to have to live; pastors a church there called The Harbor and has written a book called "The Road Warrior," and I guess if you are a road warrior, you'd need a bodyguard – if you're a warrior, huh?
Bob: Well, I guess, although there are a lot of guys who are on the road, and the warrior they need is the Holy Spirit.
Sam: That's right, that's right, that's exactly right. It's about not just traveling but being a warrior when you travel.
Bob: Because we wrestle not just against flesh and blood …
Sam: That's right.
Bob: … but against powers and principalities that want to destroy our soul.
Dennis: And your marriage was nearly destroyed by your travel.
Sam: Yes. Twenty years of business travel and of those 20 years, I was gone 10 of them. And so gone extensively, and the time warp of that is unbelievable when you unpack – when I unpacked it – and the book really speaks about how a man gets to that point – or a woman – the consequences in their life and then what to do to travel successfully.
Bob: You've told us that you got involved in viewing pornography while you were traveling, and I presume that got to the point where pretty much every time you were out, you were watching something on the …
Sam: That's right, consumed by it, yes.
Bob: And it culminated in a decision you made one night to go beyond the TV screen, and you invited a woman into your hotel room.
Sam: I invited a prostitute in my room, yes.
Bob: You came home, didn't tell your wife immediately, but you did tell her you were quitting your job.
Bob: Toni, when Sam came to you and said, "I'm leaving the company." You had to be stunned.
Toni: Yeah, I was shocked, I was shocked, but I …
Bob: Do you remember the conversation? Do you remember what happened and how he told you and what you thought?
Toni: You know, I can't remember any of the details of that conversation.
Sam: It's such a blur, yeah, you know, I just – I think it was, "I'm home, and I'm not going back. I'm done."
Dennis: Maybe you didn't believe him.
Toni: Well, that could totally be the case because I didn't – everything that he told me, all those promises that he told me …
Bob: You'd lost faith. You weren't trusting your husband at this point.
Bob: So did you think, "He's quitting this company, but he'll join another one, and nothing is going to" – you didn't think anything was changing, he was just leaving his job?
Toni: You know, I'm totally blank there, Sam. I recall him telling me what happened in that room that night very well, and I will never forget that.
Bob: Well, and let's go to that. It had been a couple of months from the time Sam had said, "I'm quitting my job." He is now at home, going to his home office, still doing stuff, still working or talking to people, right? But one night he says, "We need to talk," you knew something had to be up. What happened that night when you sat down to talk?
Toni: Yeah, he told me that he had fallen morally, and, you know, it's funny, because it doesn't surprise me that that happened, but I was surprised.
Bob: But you didn't get angry.
Toni: I didn't get angry, I didn't cry, I was numb. I was so numb by this time over the years of promises and the years of trying to do it in my own strength, I had very little hope, and, quite honestly, the thing that came to my mind was, "Good, now he finally will understand. He'll finally see what I've been telling him all these years. Now we can finally maybe have hope," because there was no hope.
Bob: Was he weeping as he told you this?
Toni: He was crying, he was crying. He was broken.
Bob: Did you have any sympathy for him?
Toni: No, no. He took hold of what he was seeking.
Sam: It was a very dark time for me, because I realized how far I'd distanced from the one I really loved and how far she had distanced from me.
Bob: You guys were in complete isolation.
Sam: Complete isolation. We were living as domestic partnership – in a domestic partnership. We had community property, and …
Bob: Was there any intimacy in your marriage?
Sam: Occasionally, yeah, I mean, you know, occasionally, and things.
Toni: I wouldn't use the word "intimacy."
Sam: Intimacy probably wouldn't be the right way to say it, yes.
Toni: Yeah, no.
Dennis: What about your sons? How did you tell them?
Sam: It took me another year and a half to tell them. I struggled with who I was as a person. When you travel for that many years, you lose your identity. You lose every part of who you really are. The biggest thing is that gets robbed from you is memories – memories are part of God's beautiful gift for a man and a woman that develops inside of you based on being physically present. And they are one of the biggest things that the adversary robs from you when you continually get consumed along the way.
Dennis: You were a father of a teenager at that point, and a couple of other younger sons, did it take you a year and a half to realize you didn't have a relationship with them? They didn't know you, and you didn't know them?
Sam: No, it took me a year and a half to get up the courage to tell them how bad their father had failed.
Toni: What's amazing is – and Sam traveled, he was gone, but when he came home, he spent time with the boys big time. I was the one that was back-burned.
Toni: So I asked my oldest son, you know, "Did you miss Dad?" And he goes, "You know, Mom, I really didn't notice," you know, because Sam was so – you put it – you really made it a first priority to be with the boys, and you know what? That's out of God's grace that those relationships continued, and he really supported them, he did things with them, he played ball with them.
Sam: And I was kind of like their hero. You know, I would swoop in and swoop out, and I was kind of like the hero to my boys and so, for me, the hardest thing I ever did was have to tell them that I had failed, and I knew I had to tell them. And then one day, finally, I got up the courage to share with each of my boys what I had done, and it was part of the healing and the redemption process as I shared in the light that Dad had failed. It gave them the courage to bring it into the light in their own lives.
And so as I shared with each one of them, it was a very similar response by each one of them.
Dennis: You know, Toni, we've talked about your lack of trust of him for years before he shared infidelity. Did these kinds of steps of him telling his sons like he did help rebuild the bridges of trust between you two as a couple?
Toni: Yeah, you know, when Sam told me what happened, and we turned our lives together fully towards Christ, you know, you can't walk with somebody unless you agree with them, and for finally, for the first time in our lives, we were on the same page. God was our number-one priority. And we were walking together with that – that common goal, and one step at a time God healed and restored and reestablished us.
Sam needed to prove his trustworthiness to me. This was not something that, "Oh, now I'm supposed to trust you." I was to trust God and allow God to change him and rebuild him and me to reestablish what He has always wanted for us.
Bob: And how long did that journey take – for you to go from years of mistrusting Sam to where he confesses? Now you're turned in the same direction, but he's got to prove his trustworthiness. Was that months? Was that years?
Toni: Yeah, it was a while, it was quite a while. But the Lord let me see, you know, one act at a time, one sentence at a time, one commitment at a time. Those were the steps that we had to go to get there. But, yeah, it probably took a couple of years.
Bob: And in the process was the relationship between the two of you starting to find its way back together?
Toni: Yes. You know, I want to just go backwards a little bit. First, when you have something tragically appear in your marriage, what has to happen in a Christian couple's eyes is you have built things that shouldn't have been built on this foundation. So you need to remove the things that were on there, that won't stand a storm; that will weaken your marriage. Then God can start rebuilding. And so you have to be willing to go through that process in your marriage and, you know, expect to go through it and it's not so easy, and it's an upward hill, but God will encourage your heart through it and enable you to do that. Oh – go ahead.
Sam: One of the things that really helped us tremendously is we got involved in a ministry called Community Bible Study where, as a husband and wife, we started to study God's Word as a couple, and it's kind of this forced discipline and after a year we went through Deuteronomy and the Psalms. It was life-transforming. The Word of God – just studying it every day together and then doing our homework and then being in the class – that was a huge part of the help. And some close friends were really helpful and our church, you know, getting back involved in the church was really helpful, and there were several things that we did that were really helpful to get back on the right track.
Bob: Now, were you telling other people outside the family any of what had happened?
Sam: Yeah, step-by-step – it was – it started with my wife, my kids, and then some very close friends.
Toni: Our parents.
Sam: And then our parents, and we just made – we started to make the rounds, and, little by little, we opened up the circle, and then God started opening the circle to share …
Bob: Toni, do you remember a time after all of this had happened and after the trust was being rebuilt when you looked at Sam and thought, "I really love this guy."
Toni: You know, that is the most amazing thing in the world, and it chokes me up because I really didn't think I'd ever have my heart desire. You know, and to be satisfied, and I look at him, and I go, you know, "I am really attracted to him." And for him, like, on our way here, he had gotten each of us a coffee, and I like an inch of water in my coffee, because I don't like it strong, and I tasted it, I go, "Oh, it's strong." He goes, "Oh, let me get it for you. There's one right over here, I'll get it for you."
He jumped up, and he got – I mean – he's attentive to my needs. I mean, my husband and I have changed, and that is the power of God, and, you know, the barren places He makes fruitful, and, I mean, we're living testimonies of that. You know, this isn't really our testimony. We blew it. We walked away from God's instruction. This is a testimony of God's mercy, God's forgiveness. He has His arms wide open to everybody that's listening right now and saying, "Here I am. Come here, just come."
Sam: Yeah, and there is no greener grass, and I get so choked up as well because I have a relationship with my wife, and I was so consumed with work and self that now I look back and how much I missed and how much I treasure my wife now and how valuable she is to me and how much of me she completes, that I thought work and success and money and things would complete me, but they never did. There was just nothing but loneliness.
Dennis: Sam, have you ever paused for just a moment and thought if God hadn't broken through, you were still now married to your job, deeper into pornography, deeper into other stuff …
Sam: That's right.
Dennis: Think about where your life would be now and then where it would be headed at the end of your life when you're 70, 75?
Sam: Oh, yes, I think about that, and that's the most amazing part of the rescue. I would have been a lost man, an empty shell, stripped of all the great blessings that God had just for me that only happens through a marriage, that only happens with the one that the Lord brought to you in the marriage vow for the fullness and completeness of everything. And I would have been stripped of all the life that would have come from being in relationship, intimate, deep relationship – not just physically but in every other dimension, which I didn't realize what I was missing in the intimacy of relationship that I understand now.
And I would have lost all that and, you know, the one thing that goes on is those relationships. The rest of it is empty, and I'm so thankful the Lord rescued me.
Bob: Sam, this month I've got two trips, three hotel nights that I'm going to be away. So coach me – I'm a business traveler headed out on the road – what's your best advice for me so that I don't get to where you got to?
Sam: This is the second half of the book, because you can travel successfully if you are intentional – you manage your integrity, your faith in relationships if you're intentional. There are five key relationships that you need to really protect and focus directly on, and if you do, they become a built-in governor, if you will, that will help you self-select more effectively.
The focus of each one is important – God for strength – that's the one relationship that goes with you when all the others don't. Most business travelers don't do extra things that they normally would do at home when they travel. As a matter of fact, a lot of business travelers don't even do the things they do at home when they're on the road because they're busy, it's tired, it's late – but God for strength.
And I talk about how to develop that relationship while on the road and how the Lord can really give you the strength within that relationship.
Bob: How to stay connected with Him.
Sam: How to stay connected with Him when on the road. There are some specific things for road warriors, for travelers, that I speak about.
Spouse for intimacy – when you focus the goal of your intimacy with your spouse, there is something dynamic that happens, and there are several things about that – one of them protecting the image of your wife or your husband. And so many other things we talk about around intimacy – business travelers get into a lot of very bad habits that need to be broken – in intimacy, and false intimacy, we speak about that.
Bob: What do you mean "protecting the image of your spouse?"
Sam: It's critical that you protect the image of your spouse and protect it with, certainly, the obvious one is pornography. Pornography destroys the image of your spouse inside of you and sets up strongholds in your mind that are against the knowledge of God, and those become arguments – set up arguments about every dimension of intimacy that is connected with some foreign person not your spouse. So it's a series of arguments or lies of intimacy that are directly connected to the image of another naked person other than your spouse.
And it's with pornography, it's with flirting, it's with deep intimate conversations that don't include your wife with someone that you don't even know when you're on an airplane or traveling somewhere. It's a series of things that you need to protect in that.
Dennis: It could be how you speak of your spouse to your business associates.
Sam: Exactly, your business associates, right.
Dennis: When you talk of her in noble terms.
Sam: Noble terms or – right, yes.
Dennis: And don't tell jokes, you know, the degrading jokes that men can tell from time to time.
Sam: That's right. And having pictures of your family is a powerful thing to have in your hotel room; obviously, blocking all the adult channels; setting a perimeter fence around your life.
I talk about children for development, children for development is critical. When you're developing your children, you develop yourself. Friends for accountability – that's a huge one. We talked about in orders of magnitude better accountability. And then yourself for balance – these things are things you can do that really protect your personal life and relationships when you travel.
Dennis: And there's another list of external filters that are just – well, it's loaded with practical advice.
Sam: Yes, yes.
Dennis: Around how to protect your marriage, your family, and maintain balance on the road. And, Sam and Toni, I want to thank you for being on the broadcast. As I have heard your story here this week, I've reflected often around statements, Toni, that you've made around how you have to be agreement. And Amos 3:3 says, "How can two walk together unless they be agreed," or "unless they be in agreement," or "unless they agree to meet," and they agree to go together.
And it's so important for couples to be one, and you don't know this, but at our conference, our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, we spend all weekend equipping couples to know how to achieve oneness, and I think a lot of the problem that you've talked about here on the program today and other days has really been the result of two people who were missing each other; who didn't have a plan; who weren't one but were isolated.
Dennis: And that's one of the great dangers of a marriage and, Bob, you know the Weekend to Remember is just a great time of equipping couples to rid their marriage of isolation and achieve the intimacy that Sam and Toni have talked about here.
Bob: Well, one of the things we say at the conference is that the natural drift of every relationship, whether you're on the road or not, the natural direction in which relationships go is toward isolation because of our fundamental selfishness. What we've got to do is be intentional and purposeful to pursue intimacy with one another.
Dennis: Yeah, and I recently received a letter from a friend who thanked me for gently pursuing him to get him to the conference, and, Bob, we've been gently pursuing our listeners for 16 years, encouraging them to get to the Weekend to Remember. And it's not that that's the only place you could meet God, but you know what? It is a good place to meet God, because you're going to hear the blueprints from the Bible as to how you build your house on the rock.
And so consider this a gentle invitation to get your marriage to the conference! Some of you are toying with life and death issues, and you need to get your marriage there and begin to do something new.
Bob: Yeah, and we have conferences taking place in cities all across the country this fall. Listeners can get more information about when the conference is coming to a city hear where they live by going to our website, FamilyLife.com, clicking on the right side of the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast." That will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about dates and locations for the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
There is also information there about the book that Sam Gallucci has written called "Road Warrior," and, you know, I had the thought, as we were talking about this, you ought to order a couple of copies of this book and put them in your briefcase, and the next time you're on an airplane, especially if you wind up getting bumped up to first class, because if you're up there, you're probably sitting with people who are doing a lot of traveling. Just pull a copy of the book out of your briefcase and hand it to your seatmate and say, "I heard about this book on the radio, and I bought a few copies, and if you're a road warrior like me, you may find some hope and help in this book."
Again, information about the book, "Road Warrior," is on our website, FamilyLife.com. Click on the right side of the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast." Get information about Sam's book and register to attend one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. It is a great investment in your marriage.
Now, if it's easier for you to call us, our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329. When you contact us, someone on our team can answer any questions you have about the conference, they can get you registered over the phone, or they can make arrangements to have Sam's book sent out to you as well.
And let me real quickly, if I can, say a word of thanks to those of you who listen to FamilyLife Today and who support the ministry by making a donation from time to time. The reason we're on this station in this community and on other stations all across the country is because of your financial support. We're listener-supported, and when you help support the ministry, you make it possible for us to be here.
This month, if you can help with a donation of any amount, we want to say thank you by sending you a couple of CDs that include a conversation Dennis and I had with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs on the subject of communication in marriage and what we can do as husbands and wives to improve our communication with one another. Those CDs are our way of saying thank you for your financial support.
You can request them when you make a donation of any amount either online at FamilyLife.com, and if you are donating online, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type in the word "code," c-o-d-e, so that we will know to send you those CDs, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, make a donation over the phone and, again, request the CDs on communication. We're happy to send them out to you. We appreciate your support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow we're going to sit down with a couple who experienced a different kind of challenge in their marriage relationship. We'll talk to Brad and Cheryl Tuggle and hear how they overcame the challenge they were facing, and I hope you can be with us for that conversation tomorrow.
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 back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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