Their Story Continues
About the Guest
Cheryl was battling a bout of depression. Her marriage of just a few years was on the rocks, despite her love for her husband, Sandy. Hear Sandy and Cheryl Spangler tell Dennis Rainey how God used the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember to give them hope and bring new life to their marriage.
Sandy and Cheryl SpanglerSandy, a former construction worker, and Cheryl, former Nursing Director, share the trials of their first eight years of marriage openly and candidly. Sandy is still on staff at FamilyLife® where he and Cheryl have served for a number of years. (Cheryl went to be with the Lord in 2013 after a prolonged battle with cancer.)
Sandy and Cheryl share how God used the Weekend to Remember to give them hope and bring new life to their marriage.
Their Story Continues
Bob: As far as Sandy and Cheryl Spangler were concerned, their marriage was over. All that was left was for them to sign the papers. They had a friend who suggested they attend a FamilyLife®Weekend to Remember®marriage getaway.
Sandy: We hadn't really talked about it—I had only seen the poster. But this was the first time that she had even confronted me with—and it was very confrontational, as I remember.
Cheryl: I gave him an ultimatum. I said: "Either go or let's end it right now. I'm done."
Sandy: “We've already been to the lawyer. The papers were done. Either go to this thing or let's finish it because it’s not worth it anymore.” I do remember her saying that. “I’m exhausted. I can't play house anymore. I'm done.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, September 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Sandy and Cheryl Spangler had to come to a point where they gave up on their marriage for the transformation to begin. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. It was back in 2005 when we first sat down and talked with a couple, who were fellow staff members of ours, here at FamilyLife Today. Sandy and Cheryl Spangler had shared their story with us of how God had done a remarkable redeeming work in their marriage.
They were in isolation, as a couple. Sandy was drinking heavily and regularly. They had been to see a lawyer. That was the direction their marriage was headed when a friend suggested that they should attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
There are really two reasons why we want to share this story with you today. The first is because, this week and next week, our team has a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. If you’d like to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway—you and your spouse take two-and-a-half days, get away for a fun, romantic, relaxing weekend where you can learn, together, the biblical blueprints for building a stronger marriage—now is the time to get in touch with us because, this week and next week, when you contact us and you register yourself for the Weekend to Remember, your spouse comes free.
It’s a buy one/get one free offer. You’ll save 50 percent off the regular registration fee, but we have to hear from you this week or next week. You either have to call and let us know you listen to FamilyLife Today or go online. As you register online, type my name—type “BOB”—in the key code box on the online registration form. The special offer is good this week and next week only. If you need more information about the Weekend to Remember, go to FamilyLifeToday.com or give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY. We’ll answer any questions you have.
The second reason we wanted to feature Sandy and Cheryl Spangler’s story with you this week is because, earlier this year, after a prolonged battle with cancer, God called Cheryl home. We thought the best way to honor her and her husband would be for you to hear their story. If Cheryl was still alive today, this is the story she’d want to tell you. It’s a story of transformation and a story of redemption. So, let’s listen. This is Part Two of our conversation, from 2005, with Sandy and Cheryl Spangler.
Cheryl: I was really starting to suffer from depression because of all of this. I’m trying to be mom, I’m trying to work, and now, I’m dealing with all of this.
Dennis: You were not just working a little, either. You're working, like, what—50/60 hours a week?
Cheryl: I was. I always worked at least 40 hours, but I was also on call. The cath lab that I worked in was very busy. So, I never knew when I would go home in the evening. It was anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week I worked.
Dennis: And, Sandy, you were working 70—
Sandy: About the same—maybe, sometimes more. You know, you run your own business—you work until the job gets done. We were both working just a lot of hours.
Dennis: So, when you two saw each other, you were exhausted.
Cheryl: There wasn't anything left. By the time I got home, there wasn't anything left for my husband or my kids because I was spent.
Bob: So, the paperwork's in process for this divorce; but something derailed it; huh?
Cheryl: Well, my bout with depression—I ended up having to take some time off work. During that time, I went to see a physician—who also happened to be a personal friend of mine—and was talking to him in his office. He walked in; and he said, "So, how are you doing?" I burst into tears, and I said: "Everything is a mess. I'm depressed. My marriage is going down the tubes. I don't know what to do."
He said, "Well, let's talk about this." We spent the next half-hour talking, and he had encouraged me to go to see a Christian counselor. Now, this was a Jewish physician who encouraged me to go to a Christian counselor. He’d actually been on a women’s panel, where they were doing a symposium. He was there and met her, and was really impressed with her, and thought that maybe she could help me.
Dennis: So, you went to see the counselor?
Cheryl: Well, I started to go see the counselor. The counselor was an hour away from where we lived. Because I was so depressed, I was falling asleep when I would drive. So, I, actually, had Sandy drive me to the doctor.
Sandy: And I did.
Bob: Well, I'm sure you did. I'm sure you're thinking, “Anything to get her fixed;” right?
Sandy: Well, that's what I was hoping for. Besides, I didn't have to go in. I just had to take her there. I sat in the truck, and she went in. I was really hoping that they were fixing her.
Dennis: “Let the counselor fix her,” and you get to keep your toys and your stuff—
Sandy: That's right, my four-car garage.
Dennis: —your empire.
Sandy: That's right!
Dennis: So you walked in to the counselor—
Cheryl: Well, God just really used her to begin to soften my heart. Even though she had shared the Gospel with me, I still wasn't ready, at that point. We just began starting to unravel what was going on the past eight years of our life.
I had gone back a couple more times to talk to her. It was actually about the third visit—maybe, fourth visit—there was a poster that went up in her waiting room. It was a poster of a Weekend to Remember. The poster was a picture of a family. I thought to myself: "Whatever it is that they have is what I want. How do I get it?" But I didn’t dare say anything to him because I was too stubborn.
Dennis: When you were telling that story, just now, it seemed like you got a little emotional as you reflected on seeing that poster. Why?
Cheryl: [Emotion in voice]Because my life was so miserable. I just wanted it to be fixed! I really did love Sandy. I just didn't know how to do it; but by that time, I really did love him. I had a lot invested in him—a lot of years.
Bob: It’s hard to train a husband; isn’t it?
Cheryl: It is.
Sandy: Especially, one like me!
Bob: Did you ask your counselor about the poster?
Cheryl: I actually did. I finally had talked to her and asked her about the conference, and she told me about it. She had gone and encouraged us to go. I said, “I don't know that I would ever get Sandy to go.” She said, "Well, try!" So, I did.
Dennis: So, how do you get a construction guy—
Sandy: Well, actually, it was about that time that the counselor—talking to Cheryl—said: "I think that this would be a good time for Sandy to come in. Maybe, we can begin to talk some of this stuff out."
Number one, construction workers don't go to people to talk things through because they already know all the answers. The other thing is—it was a woman. I was certain that, whoever this woman was, would take her side. So, I'm going to end up being the bad guy.
But I did—I went. I was there all the time, anyway, because, at that point in time, I was really driving her every time she had to go. So, I was there. I said, "Okay, I'll come in." While I was waiting in the waiting room—actually, I think we were both waiting in the waiting room, at that time—was the first time that I saw the poster that Cheryl referred to. I had no idea, at that time, that Cheryl had even noticed the poster. But I did, and I felt exactly the same way Cheryl did. If I could get what that guy in that picture had—if I could just get it--I didn't know what it was—but if I could get ahold of it and get my arms around it, then that's all I would need. But I had no idea what it was.
I had never heard of a FamilyLife Marriage Conference before. Besides, as I remember, there were a couple of rings—and there was a cross hanging out of one side or something. I thought: "Oh, that's probably one of those religious things. I certainly don't want to go with that. But it might be worth it if I could salvage this thing.” We didn’t really talk about the poster at all—rode all the way home, in silence, again.
Cheryl: Without really knowing how to even go about asking him to do something that I wanted, that I knew that he would be against, I gave him an ultimatum. I said: "Either go, or let's end it right now. I'm done!"
Bob: How'd that go over?
Cheryl: Believe it or not, not very well. But—
Dennis: Just moments before, he'd expressed interest in going—but now, presented as an ultimatum—
Cheryl: Well, I didn't know. I didn’t even know.
Dennis: Oh, of course; of course.
Sandy: We hadn't really talked about it. So, I had only seen the poster; but this was the first time that she had even confronted me with—and it was very confrontational, as I remember. It is: “We've already been to the lawyer—the papers are done. Either go to this thing, or let's finish it because it's not worth it anymore.” I do remember her saying that. "I'm exhausted. I can't play house anymore. I'm done!"
Dennis: Okay, so what did you say, at that point—she throws the gauntlet down?
Sandy: I agreed to go. To this day, I don't know why. Well, I do know why; but I agreed to go. But it was back for the same reason—you know, “Maybe, whatever they have to say can salvage my empire.” That's really how I was looking at it. I was looking at—I wasn't expecting to get anything. I was expecting for her to get it.
Bob: You stop and think about that—if a wife plays that card, that's a pretty hard card to play; right? “We either go or it's over.” There will be a lot of husbands who say, "Okay, alright, we'll go," but they're going—just thinking, "Okay, I'm doing everything you're asking;" right? "Now, I don't have to listen. I don't have to absorb anything. I just can check it off and say: ‘What more do you want? You said, “Go to the conference.” I went to the conference! I'm trying to do everything you're asking!’"
So, you may have gotten him to the conference; but you probably didn't get him there with this tender heart, wanting to hear whatever wisdom we might have to share; right?
Cheryl: That would be true. He was the man with the skid marks that you talk about. He sat in the back row. I, actually, did sit next to him—but not very close. He had his hands folded the whole time.
Dennis: We talk about people at the conference—who have been drug in by their spouse.
Bob: Yes, and you see the skid marks on the carpet—
Dennis: —all the way from the parking lot, in through the lobby, into the ballroom.
Bob: Right. And those were some of your skid marks.
Sandy: They were!
Cheryl: I had to drag him all the way from Cleveland, Ohio, all the way to Columbus because there was no conference in Cleveland yet.
Bob: How was that ride over?
Cheryl: It was a three-hour long, quiet ride until the very end.
Bob: And what happened at the very end?
Cheryl: We got lost.
Bob: Oh, there's a good way to start off a conference.
Sandy: I hate to be lost—out of control—you know. I was upset. We finally found the parking garage, started walking across the street, and expressed my unhappiness, I guess—really, by just letting her know that there wasn't anything that they had for me there and—besides, if they were going to start talking this Christian stuff—that she needed to make sure that she had bus fare because I was leaving. I was not staying! My plan was to flee as quickly as possible.
Dennis: You were going to put her on the bus. You wouldn’t take the bus.
Sandy: Oh, I’m not taking the bus. I’ve got the keys to the car. No, I just wanted to make sure that she had bus fare so she could find her way home because I knew that she would stay.
Dennis: So, what did you think about that?
Cheryl: Well, it was just par for the course. I was just used to that kind of conversation with us, and I just really ignored it.
Bob: Were you thinking, though, as you walk across the street with a husband who says: “I’m not happy to be here. If they start in on anything, I’m out of here,” were you thinking, “We’re just wasting our time,” or did you have some hope that, maybe, there would be something that weekend that would give one of the two of you a clue?
Cheryl: See, I had some hope because, when I saw the poster—there was, in the back of my mind—there was some hope that maybe this might do it—that there might be something there. I guess I didn’t want to get excited about it because, if it didn’t happen, then, I wouldn’t be heartbroken; but I just felt there might be something there.
Dennis: Okay, so you find yourself on the back row—
Sandy: Back row—facing the door.
Dennis: You’re facing the exit. [Laughter]
Sandy: I’m as close to the exit as I can get.
Dennis: What did you think about the first night because we talk about five threats to oneness—five things that are dividing couples today and keeping them from experiencing the intimacy they want?
Sandy: This is really going to sound strange--I hated that speaker. He began to share about the threats to oneness. Everything that he said was me. I really didn’t like him, and I wanted to leave; and I couldn't. I had to hear what he had to say because, every once in a while, in the midst of that, he would throw out a little glimmer of hope—or at least it seemed like it to me—but it was just so difficult for me to sit through that Friday night. But I did—I couldn't leave.
Bob: Did you know Sandy was struggling like that?
Cheryl: I knew that he was. I knew it was really hard for him to sit there, but it was amazing. Before the night was over, he actually agreed to work on the projects—which totally blew me away.
Bob: What was going on there?—because we have projects throughout the weekend. The first one is Friday night, after the speaker is done.
Dennis: It’s just a couple working together.
Bob: Yes, just the two of you going through a project that’s in the manual; but for a guy—who has arms folded, and is looking for the door, and, “If there is anything Christian, I’m out of here,”—and you bring up and say, “Hey, I think we ought to work on these projects.” What was happening?
Sandy: I’m not so sure that I brought up we should work on projects—
Cheryl: I agree.
Sandy: —but it was the little nuggets of hope, that kept coming through, that I can't identify, to this day. I think, at that point in time, is when I started to think that: “This isn't her problem—it's not Cheryl's deal. I've got some responsibility here. Maybe, if what that speaker is saying is true, then, maybe, I need to work on this. Maybe, something can change in our relationship and in me.” I think that's the first point that I started to think about it was me. It wasn't as much Cheryl as it was me.
Bob: While you were watching your husband kind of go through this, you were also hearing what the speaker was saying to you. What was that first night like for you?
Cheryl: Oh, it was—it was very difficult because I began to see a lot of things that I had been doing wrong in the marriage. Then, you know, you start to play the "What if" game with yourself: "Well, what if I'd done this?” and, “What if I'd done that? Would it be different? What would it look like?"
Then, you begin to almost be angry because: "Why didn't I know this information before? Why did nobody share this information with me so that I would not have had to go through all these years not knowing?"
Dennis: All the pain.
Cheryl: All the pain.
Dennis: All the bitterness, the anger, the resentment. You wouldn’t have had to experience that.
Dennis: So, you're sitting there with regret. Did you want to do the project?
Cheryl: I did. I was much more willing to verbalize things and talk through things—even though, sometimes, we would start talking and they would become heated arguments.
Bob: You get a little louder, yes.
Cheryl: But I was always willing to talk about things. To me, the project was just talking about some of the things that were going on in our life.
Bob: Sandy, one of the things you had said was, “If they start in on this Christian stuff, I'm outta here.” Were you hearing things that were causing you to flinch and think, “Oh, it’s going to get preachy on me, here.”
Sandy: I don't think that I heard things that put me on the edge of my chair—you know, like, “It's time for me to leave,”—really, because what I was hearing made sense! I didn't like it, but it did make sense. I'm a very logical thinker. So, it made sense that, if there were things that you could change so that you wouldn't go toward isolation, then, you need to do that.
So, it didn't seem like it was preachy; or it didn’t seem Christianese, at that point. It just seemed like these are just basic principles that I could probably put into effect.
Dennis: As you guys finished your project that evening, and went up to your hotel room, what were you thinking? If we could, somehow, have interviewed you in the elevator, on your way to the room, what would you have said?
Sandy: I think, for me, I was starting to see some hope; but I didn't want to get a hold of it because I didn't want to be disappointed.
Bob: Right. Were you at the same place, Cheryl?
Cheryl: I would say, “Yes.” At the same time, though, I guess I was very guarded in what I was going to share because I didn't want it to be shot down or belittled because of it. So, I think that we were very guarded; but yet, I think we both just said: “There's some hope here. They're telling us some stuff that we could buy into.”
Bob: One of the things that we try to remind couples, regularly, as they attend a Weekend to Remember conference, is that it takes longer than a weekend for a marriage to drift toward isolation. It's going to take longer than a weekend for a lot of what's been done to be undone or for some new patterns or habits to be developed.
The Weekend to Remember conference is not a quick-fix miracle cure for a marriage that's off in the ditch; but what it can give couples is the hope that Sandy and Cheryl are talking about, and some practical tools—some practical ways of approaching a relationship that they haven't thought of before—that, because they're from the God who created marriage in the first place, they work!
Dennis: You know, we're an interesting people. Some of us spend eight years, like the Spanglers did, of messing their lives up. We think nothing of going to a conference, like this, and say, "Fix it!"
Bob: Yes, that's right.
Dennis: “Let's get this worked out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”
Bob: Well, especially, a businessman, like Sandy, who wants [Snapping fingers], "Let's get this done!"
Dennis: “Get the new model that we roll out on Monday morning after going to the Weekend to Remember.” No, life doesn't work that way; but you know what can happen in a weekend? A couple can hear the authoritative blueprints of the Designer—the divine Designer of marriage and family—not some pop psychologist on television or the radio—but the author of it.
God created marriage. He knows how to make it work. If He knows how to make it work, He can help broken, selfish, sinful people—of which all of us are just like that. He can help us make that marriage successful if we'll yield and surrender to Him.
Bob: We’re listening, back this week, to Sandy and Cheryl Spangler sharing their story with us. This was originally recorded in 2005. We’re doing it, in part, to pay honor to Cheryl Spangler, who earlier this year, went home to be with the Lord—but also, to point people to the fact that it doesn’t matter how damaged or broken a relationship is. There is hope for your marriage.
Most of the people who attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway are folks who are coming to do preventive maintenance—not folks whose marriages are off in the ditch. These are people who want to make sure that their marriage stays healthy. And yet, we’ve had lots of folks who come—who are in the same situation Sandy and Cheryl Spangler were in—more than a decade ago. We’ve seen God work, time and time again, in the lives of these couples.
One way our team is paying tribute to Cheryl Spangler, this week and next week, is by making available to FamilyLife Today listeners a special offer on registration for a Weekend to Remember. If you and your spouse would like to attend a weekend getaway—two-and-a-half days where the two of you can get away and just spend time focusing on each other, on your marriage, and understanding better God’s design and purpose for marriage—if you sign up this week or next week, you register for yourself and your spouse comes free.
It’s a pre-season buy one/get one free offer. You save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. Now, to qualify, you either have to call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today, and you want to take advantage of the special offer—or you can register, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link there for “Weekend to Remember” and find out more about the event—when it’s coming to a city near where you live. And then, you can register online. Simply type my name—“BOB”—in the online promotion code box. You’ll qualify for the buy one/get one free special offer.
It’s only good this week and next week. So, if you want to take advantage of it, then you need to contact us as soon as you can. I know, if Cheryl was here, she would urge you to make this a priority for your marriage—and to be on the same page, together, as husband and wife—pursuing God’s purpose and God’s plan for your marriage.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link to the Weekend to Remember. Register online; and be sure to put my name—put “BOB”—in the promotion code box. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Register over the phone and mention that you’re a FamilyLife Today listener. We’ll see you at an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear how Sandy and Cheryl Spangler, eventually, got to the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway and about how God got their attention that weekend. I hope you can tune in for that.
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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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