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Staying Together When You Feel Like Leaving (Part 1 of 2)

Air Date 02/16/2016

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Bill and Vicki Rose offer hope for troubled couples as they recount the severe problems their marriage faced, how they found faith in Jesus Christ and how God has restored and sustained their relationship. (Part 1 of 2)

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Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, you'll hear a story about a marriage that seemed impossibly broken, but through a long separation, there was healing and restoration. And you'll hear how God brought this couple back together. I'm John Fuller and your host is Jim Daly and thanks for joining us today.


Jim Daly: You know, I am positive that what you're about to hear will capture your attention and your hearts today. And I'm also certain that for many couples listening, this is exactly what God wants to talk to your heart about. You might be in a marriage that's difficult. You might be even thinkin' about divorce or separation.

Today's program is gonna be for you and I want to remind everybody right from the beginning that we have the Focus on the Family Marriage Institute and this is probably one of the best things we're doing here. It's located in Branson, Missouri and this is an intensive opportunity for those couples who are on the brink of divorce. They have an 84.7 percent post two-year success rate.

So, if you're in that spot and you are struggling, we're here for you in a major way like the National Institute of Marriage or with regular resources and tools to help your marriage do better than it's doing right now. And we're gonna have a great discussion with two guests who know right from experience how God can change your heart and that's Bill and Vicki Rose. What a story. Welcome to "Focus on the Family."

Vicki Rose: Thank you so much for havin' us.

Bill Rose: Thanks for havin' us here.

Jim: Now it is amazing, and we're gonna unpack this story, but you two have been married almost 40 years and that says a lot right there, but there was turmoil and I guess, Vicki, I want to turn to you and say, what did that turmoil look like? Give us a little taste of what the difficulty was and then we'll build the story from there.

Vicki: Well, the difficulty leading up to separating is we had two young children, aged 1 ½ and 4 at that point and I was terrified. How would I live alone? How would I raise two children by myself? How would I afford to do anything? How would I raise two children going back to work, which I did. It just involved a lot of fear.

Jim: Now you both grew up in New York, right, in Manhattan?

Vicki andBill: Yes.

Jim: Bill, tell me about your background. What was it like growing up there and you're from a Jewish family. Both of you are from a Jewish families. Talk about your environment. What did you know about marriage? How committed were you to the process and to the lifelong commitment?

Bill: Well, I saw and my parents had a really good marriage, but my mom basically, did everything to appease my dad. There were 25 years difference in age. My dad never got married till he was 55 and had me when he was 56.

Jim: Oh.

Bill: So, clearly I was never spoiled.

Jim: Yeah, right. (Laughter) Clearly. (Laughter)

Bill: And … but I had a great childhood growing up and my parents were culturally Jewish. There was no … we never went to Temple. As a matter of fact, the only time that I ever went to Temple was, my dad wanted to take me to a World Series game, which back then occurred during the High Holy days and my mother said, the only way he's missin' school is you're takin' him to Temple in the morning. So, I went to Temple with dad and we went to see the Yankees play the Cardinals.

Jim: Oh, yeah. (Chuckling)

Bill: And--

Jim: And what was the highlight of your day that day? (Laughing)

Bill: --Mantle, Mantle hit a home run (Laughter) off Barney Schultz in extra innings to win the game.

John: Oh, man.

Jim: Now you are a baseball fanatic. You played and that is great. That's part of your story.

Bill: Yes.

Jim: Vicki, let me hear from you in terms of your childhood and how you were growing up in Manhattan. You kinda hit your stride and you were in the fashion industry, right?

Vicki: I did. Well, I always loved clothes and so, as I went to college, I thought how can I turn that into something I can do for a living? And so, I ended up working at Saks Fifth Avenue. I was there for eight years, starting in the very, you know, starting as a salesgirl and working way up to buyer.

Jim: Which is the goal in that environment—

Vicki: Right.

Jim: --isn't it? You both describe yourselves as Type A people. What does that look like as we get to know you better? What is Type A for Vicki look like? What was your day?

Vicki: Live life to the max. Make every hour count, and I'm always right. (Laughter)

Jim: That's what Type A means.

Vicki: Right?

Jim: I get it. And Bill, how'd you feel about that? (Laughter)

Bill: Well, first of all, she was never right. (Laughter)

Jim: Well, I don't know about that.

Bill: Okay, well, that was my Type A.

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: And I just … I guess I liked to be in control and I think Vicki liked to be in control, so we had—

Vicki: That's true.

Bill: --we had two control people in the same, you know, in the same environment.

Jim: When you got married, did you ever talk in your premarital days about this? What attracted you to each other? Did you see something that made you think, "We could have somethin' really special in this world with each other?"

Bill: We had none of that. We had no marriage counseling.

Vicki: We got married back in the Dark Ages. (Laughter) I mean, we were married in 1977, so it was a long time ago and we didn't talk about any of that. I was afraid … I mean, I didn't even know about any of that and we just thought dating was fun and life was fun and we hung out with all these famous people and went to baseball games and sat in the owner's box, and that seemed like a great life.

Jim: And that was your kinda goal, wasn't it?

Vicki: Well, I thought if I got married, all these old childhood hurts and emptiness that had built up in my life would just go away. I thought marriage would solve that.

Jim: Talk about that. What were you coming into adulthood and marriage with? What was that … what—

Vicki: Well, I had—

Jim: --many people—

Vicki: --I had—

Jim: --call "baggage," but what [was it]?

Vicki: Yeah, it was definitely baggage. I had grown up in a very strict environment in my home. My mother, a perfectionist, had anger issues. And then when I was 18, a week before high school graduation, she died. Suddenly I felt free in some ways and … but there was an emptiness that started to build and I didn't know what that was. In my family, we didn't know or talk about grieving and so, back in 1971, there was no cancer care support groups, at least that we knew about. So, that, you know, was just pushed aside and we went on [with] our life as usual.

Jim: Wow.

Vicki: And so, that was a heavy thing and I went into marriage thinking everything will be fine once I get married. I thought, I'll have somebody who's gonna love me, take care of me and that was really all I thought about.

Jim: Bill, you're comin' from this really strong, (Chuckling) overindulged household it sounds like, Yankee fans all the way.

Bill: All the way.

Jim: All the way, but talk about how you met and you got these two Type A personalities comin' together. What was the scene like in which you met as young Bill and young Vicki?

Bill: Well, I was walking with a friend of mine. Actually, his name is John Schnauf [sp?]. I didn't forget, and I saw this girl walk out of my parents' building and I said to him, "She's pretty cute. I wonder who she is." And he said, "I think her name is Vicki Gage [sp?].

So, the last name sounded familiar, so I asked my mom to find out if she was related to Sue Gage, who was a friend of my mom's. And it turned out to be her niece. And she said, "But don't bother calling. She's goin' out with this like hippie guy from the Village and (Laughter) so, forget the whole thing," so I did. And then a year later, Sue Gage called back and said they broke up. Have him call. (Laughter)

Jim: Now that's tight. That's information traveling quickly.

Bill: Right and that's what happened.

Jim: And you went out, and did you fall in love then or did it take time, or what happened?

Bill: No, it was pretty quick. Our first date, what was our first date?

Vicki: Our first date, Billy took me to this very fancy place in New York called Le Club.

Bill: Oh, yeah.

Vicki: And it's--

Jim: Oh, Le Club, yeah.

Vicki: --you know.

Bill: --it was a private you know, dinner-dancing place. For our second date, I took her to a Ranger hockey game and then to the 21 Club for dinner.

Jim: So, you're pretty impressed with what—

Vicki: Oh, yeah.

Jim: --your needs were.

Bill: I was … I was a good date.

Vicki: He was a great date and I had been dating an artist, starving artist and we didn't go on dates like that.

Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, right.

Vicki: So, this was very great.

Jim: So that was more like fast food and (Laughing) …

Vicki: Right, exactly.

Jim: So, that was impressing you at the time.

Vicki: It was very impressive.

Jim: And then finally you pop the question. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees was at your wedding; is that right?

Bill: He was.

Jim: It was a small wedding, too.

Bill: It was.

Vicki: Yes.

Jim: What happened?

Vicki: It was a small wedding partly because, well, when I was 10, even though my family was Jewish, we joined a church. So, my dream had always been to get married in a church. And I remember sitting with Billy and his family, having a conversation about where our wedding would take place, right after we had become engaged.

And his parents said, "There is no way you two are getting married in a church. Everyone, Vicki, knows you're Jewish and it would just be a total farce. So, no, we will not hear of it." And I was, at age 23, afraid to rock the boat or just, you know—

Jim: Right.

Vicki: --[say] what I wanted.

Jim: It was intimidating.

Vicki: It was very intimidating and I didn't have the personal relationship with Christ, so getting married in a church was an external for me, really—

Jim: Right.

Vicki: --more than a meaningful [location].

Jim: It looked good.

Vicki: Yes and so, we ended up having a small wedding in my father's living room.

Jim: Where did it start getting rough? What happened? Was it a year into it or quickly? Days? How did you realize, okay, we might be in a bit of trouble relationally?

Vicki: I would say within the first year my emptiness and my unhappiness and our differences, we are so different. I love to go out and do things and Billy loves to watch sports a lot on TV. And so, you know, we'd both work all week and then we'd get to weekends and I'd want to go do something and Billy was really happy watching sports on TV.

Jim: Just vegging.

Vicki: Right and so I was realizing that this wasn't the answer.

Jim: Well, let's talk about that, because you mention that in your book. There's just this need to have certain needs met and it wasn't there for you.

Vicki: Right.

Jim: And that was driving you to a conclusion that maybe he's the wrong guy or what?

Vicki: It was driving me to the conclusion that I was really unhappy and maybe it was Billy. Maybe it was … I wasn't sure. But it was becoming clear to me that this thing that I thought would solve everything hadn't.

Jim: Vicki, so many, and I would say men and women, but so many women are resonating with what you're saying, 'cause they're expecting more in the relationship. And guys, we tend to get away with not doing what we should do, 'cause we are all pretty comfortable watching sports on the weekend. Not everybody, I know not everybody watches sports, but talk about that, Vicki. What was in your heart? What was really missing at that time? And all the needs that you had that you were expecting Bill to meet.

Vicki: What I have come to learn now, many, many, many years later, and we have been married almost 40 years is, that my husband and anyone else's husband was not created to meet all my needs and fill all my longings. Only Jesus Christ can do that. And so, putting my husband and putting any husband in the position of being savior is not gonna work. I'm always gonna be disappointed if that's who I think he's supposed to be.

Jim: How did that manifest itself? It had to be more than just, we're not spending time on the weekend together. What were some other things where Bill is not meeting that expectation? Sorry to do this to you, Bill. (Laughter)

Bill: Well, that's okay; it's in the book.

Jim: You're kinda speaking for all guys at this point, but Vicki, I think men struggle to understand, hey, I can't be all that to you. I'm not your girlfriend.

Vicki: Right, and we didn't understand any of that, then, that we now understand a little better.

Our communication was not great. We didn't know how to have a good fight. We didn't know how to fight fair. We just, you know, I blamed him; he blamed me. We just clammed up and you know, walked out. We didn't have any tools. We had no tools whatsoever into how to have a good marriage.

Jim: Yeah and of course …

Vicki: And a good marriage doesn't mean there's no disagree[ment]. And we also had misconceptions. A good marriage doesn't mean there's no disagreement. A good marriage doesn't mean we agree about everything, because we still don't a lot of the times. A good marriage meant that we respect one another, that we respect our differences. We work through our issues and we're still doing that—

Jim: Right.

Vicki: --at 40, almost 40 years. We don't have it all figured out, but one thing I do know is, that Billy's not meant to be everything for me.

Jim: And that's a real eye-opener.

Vicki: Yes.

Jim: I mean, a lot of newlyweds need to understand that and certainly, premarried couples, the sooner they understand that, the healthier their relationship is going to be. Now, the additional challenge you had as a young 20-something couple was, you didn't know the Lord. You're not in a Christian context at this point. You're in a very, what sounds like a very worldly context. You're livin' the high life. You're goin' out to all the clubs and all of that. Could you see at all why the marriage wasn't working, and what did you do?

Vicki: Well, we separated in June of 1986.

Jim: Separated.

Vicki: We separated.

Jim: That was about five years after you were married?

Vicki: Yeah, it was nine, 9 ½ years after we married we separated in 1986.

Bill: We actually separated for a very short time prior to that--

Vicki: Right.

Bill: --and got back together.

Vicki: Not because we had any counseling or anything, but just because one romantic night, we got back together. Nothing had really changed, but we … you know, one thing that has always been constant is our love for each other, my love for you.

Jim: So, that's always been there.

Vicki: Yes.

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: But you separated for a short time, came back together.

Vicki: Right.

Jim: Still God was not in the picture at this point.

Vicki: Not in the picture. Then—

Jim: Then you separated.

Vicki:--we went on to have children and when our children were 1½ and 4, we separated. Billy had a terrible addiction to cocaine and other things and I couldn't live with that any longer. And the emptiness and no relationship and it just … it was just a mess; it was chaos.

Bill: I owned a restaurant called The Sporting Club, which was one of the top places in the country, rated by USA Today and [The] New York Times, and you would go there. You'd be afraid not to go there because of who you might miss seeing. I mean, every athlete that you could think of would come in, especially when they were visiting from out of town. And because of the hours that I was spending there, I'd get there around noon time and I'd probably get home around 4 or 5 in the morning. And a lot of it was … there were drugs there and there were women there and it was very easy to succumb to both.

John: And Bill, it sounds like the emptiness Vicki was describing earlier was certainly felt in your life and you were trying to find some fulfillment in things that didn't provide that.

Bill: It was, but I didn't know that at the time. I thought that these things were fulfilling and it took me a good 3 ½ years of doing this before I started to realize there has to be more out there.

John: Well, as you listen along to Vicki and Bill Rose on "Focus on the Family" today, it may be that, that emptiness they're describing is acutely felt in your life. Maybe you've got a strong marriage and you know somebody that's really having a hard go of it. Let us know here at Focus and we'd be happy to send Vicki's book, Every Reason to Leave. The subtitle is Why We Chose to Stay Together and we'll get this out to you for your gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, when you call 800-A-FAMILY or you can go to

Jim: You know, really our hope today is to inspire people who are living in a similar place. It's not gonna be the exact same place as Bill and Vicki, but they maybe in a similar place where they're not really living up to their potential in their marriage and they know it. And we want to be able to provide that hope for you, to inspire you to live each day better. And that's what we live and breathe to do here at Focus on the Family. So, if you need help, call us and we want to be there for you.

I want to pick up, Bill, where you left off there, because we talked to Vicki about what those needs were for her as a young newly married wife, and what she was expecting from you. So, you've got this thriving restaurant business in New York City. It's taking all of your time. What were your needs and were you running from something?

Bill: Wow, I don't know that I was running from something. It was a real power trip this restaurant and I was caught up in the whole glamor of the athletes and the women and the drugs. And so, I guess it was somethin'. I put that before Vicki and before the marriage. And I just thought this would make me happier and as the years went on, I realized that was just not the truth.

Jim: Yeah, boy, so many people could fill in the blank with whatever they're doing, particularly men, whether it's that title, whatever vocationally they're doing. They're not comin' home at night because it's easier to be at the office. It's easier to earn the money and to justify the time spent there.

Vicki, at this time, you're a single mom. What did that jungle look like for you? You're trying to sort out, where do I go? I mean, what was your life like?

Vicki: My life was completely around the kids, and I also went back to work a year after we separated at Macy's, R.H. Macy and Company as their corporate buyer. So, the chaos increased because then there was a nanny, and you know, we had a dog and I was running off to work every day and two very young children, so life was very chaotic, and I didn't have any idea how to fix that.

Jim: Right.

Vicki: I just kept running, in a sense, kept running to do the next thing.

Jim: Did you feel like the faster you run, maybe you'd fix it by working harder?

Vicki: I don't know if I thought that. That really wasn't it. I just felt I had to keep it all together, was really the driving thing for me. Billy was gone and I had these two children, and I had to keep it all together for them, really was my mind-set, whatever that took.

John: And during this season, Vicki, was Bill in your life at all, or was the separation such that you just lived your life, and he was out there and not part of any of it?

Vicki: A little of both. Billy would come once … one night a week, he'd bring McDonald's for dinner with the kids. And it was the night that I would be attending the 12-step meeting or have dinner with a friend. And so, we didn't have very much connection, except when we needed to talk something about the children.

My life was so much about the kids, but also, who am I? What am I supposed to be doing now with my life? My husband's gone. We're separated. We're not divorced. My parents sat me down. My father and stepmother sat me down one evening and said, "We saw Billy at a restaurant with another girl and he's gonna have an easy time finding someone, but you're not, 'cause you're a woman, and you have two children."

And so, that really blew me away. It didn't feel very much like parental support, and I didn't know what I was gonna do with myself. I didn't … I was just, my brain was circling around and around and around all the time. What am I gonna do? Am I gonna find another husband, somebody to help me raise these kids? How am I gonna do this? Because I really didn't know how to raise the children.

Jim: And in that context, what did you turn to for support?

Vicki: And so a couple of friends decided they'd set me up with a date, and so I went out and actually my mother-in-law encouraged me to have an affair. She said that would make everything better, so I did and it definitely didn't. And I realized at that point that, that was definitely not the answer.

One of these other dates that someone fixed me up with had lines of cocaine and this was back in the late '80s, where people still thought that was a fun thing to do, didn't realize what we realized and know today how deceitful it is, how—

Jim: Devastating.

Vicki: --addictive, devastating to a family it can be. And so, I started doing that, too.

Jim: Vicki, where did the Lord begin to enter into this? I mean, Bill's not livin' with you. You've got two young kids. Did you all of a sudden wake up and say, we need more God in our life?

Vicki: No, the day after we separated, I started attending a 12-step program and I don't know if you're familiar with it, but you—

Jim: Oh, yes.

Vicki: --through the process of the steps, it talks about prayer and meditation and having a higher power. And so, I started to pray, and I had grown up in the church, but I started to go back to the church, even though it wasn't a Bible-teaching church. And a year and a half into our separation, I was invited to a dinner party by Mrs. Arthur S. DeMoss, who's Nancy Leigh DeMoss's mom.

Jim: There in New York.

Vicki: In New York City. It was at the Waldorf Astoria. It was a beautiful gold inscribed invitation that arrived. It said, "Mrs. Arthur S. DeMoss invites you to hear Secretary of the Interior and his wife, Donald and Barbara Hodel and hear about Christianity in the world today." And in the lower corner of the invitation, it said "Black Tie" and here I am a single mom with not much to do and a friend who worked for Mrs. DeMoss had sent me this invitation.

And so, I accepted. I said, "I'm going." I can get dressed up and go out and have a fun night." And in fact, I had an amazing night, because I heard the Gospel presentation that night and God had prepared my heart through working through these 12 steps and prayer and I heard that God loved me and had a plan for my life, but that I was separated from God by what the Bible calls "sin." And I thought, well, I haven't killed anyone, including my husband, who I would've like to have. But it was explained to me that sin was anything like worry, or gossip, or fear, or envy, and I knew I qualified.

And so, that God loved me, that I was separated from Him, but that Jesus Christ was God's only provision for man's sin, including mine, that His shed blood provided the atonement, the forgiveness for all my sins and that simply it was offered that we could just receive him. So, they told us that it says in the Bible, to those who receive Him, He gives the right to become children of God. And so, that night at that dinner party with 900 people in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to take over my life, to make me the person He created me to be.

Jim: That's exciting, 'cause of the back story on that. Of course, Don—

Vicki: Right.

Jim: --served here on the board of Focus on the Family years after this--

Vicki: Right.

Jim: --and eventually was the interim president after Dr. Dobson stepped down from that role and before I was appointed into that role. And so, Don and his late wife, Barbara, have been terrific friends of Focus on the Family. But that's—

Vicki: And—

Jim: --how—

Vicki: --of ours.

Jim: --God weaves it together.

Vicki: Yeah and we got to meet with them two or three or four times after that dinner and we visited them a couple times, so they've been so dear to us, because what they spoke that night. And their story had things in it that matched my story.

Jim: You know, this is really intriguing and we've gotten to that point where we're talking about how the Lord has tapped you on the shoulder, Vicki. You still got Bill, who's doing cocaine and other things and the restaurant and you're not clean in this either. You know, you've got your issues that you've been dealing with and this is where people connect, because if I could be so bold, you guys' lives were a mess--

Vicki: A mess.

Jim: --spiritually speaking.

Vicki: Everything speaking.

Jim: And I want to come back and talk about that and how the Lord began to in essence, clean your heart and clean your house and I think people will really benefit from that. Can we come back and talk about that?

Bill: Sure.

Vicki: Absolutely.


John: Well, what a conversation we're having and I'm sure that you connected with Bill and Vicki at some level, as we've gotten to know them here. Their story is captured in Vicki Rose's book, Every Reason to Leave: And Why We Chose to Stay Together. It's an excellent book. It's so inspiring and their true story from her perspective offers a lot of the Scriptures that helped carry Vicki through the tough times. And those are gonna benefit you, so please request the book when you get in touch.

Now through research, it's estimated that Focus on the Family has had the privilege of helping to save a marriage about every four minutes through these radio programs and all the other efforts here. And one of the most important things you can do to help keep a marriage together is to make a financial contribution to Focus on the Family. If God puts it on your heart, if He impresses upon you the importance of saving marriages, I hope you 'll call us right now to donate and to help a couple to begin thriving again. When you do, we'll send a copy of Vicki's book as our way of saying thank you and inspiring you to have a stronger marriage. Our number is 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or go to . You can donate online or on the phone and request a CD or download of this broadcast, as well.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we hear more from Bill and Vicki Rose.


Vicki: And one morning they said, "Mommy, we need to pray for daddy to know Jesus." I thought, pray for him? I'd rather kill him, but I didn't say it. I said, "You know, you're right. We need to pray." And so, we started to pray and really that's where it happened, was through prayer.

End of Excerpt

John: You'll hear how that intercession made such a difference in the lives of Bill and Vicki Rose, next time as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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More Episode Resources


Vicki Rose

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Vicki Rose is a public speaker and Bible teacher who is passionate about encouraging Christians in their faith and ministering to women through her church. She and her husband, Bill, share an incredible testimony of God's restorative power in their marriage in the wake of problems that included drug abuse and infidelity. Vicki is author of the book Every Reason to Leave: And Why We Chose to Stay Together. Learn more about Vicki by visiting her website,


Bill Rose

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Bill Rose is a part owner of the New York Yankees and the founder-president of DRM Sports Management, a company representing professional baseball players. His wife, Vicki, is a public speaker and Bible teacher who is passionate about encouraging Christians in their faith and ministering to women through her church. Bill and Vicki share an incredible testimony of God's restorative power in their marriage in the wake of problems that included drug abuse and infidelity.