“What are you angry at now?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“It’s no big deal!”
“You’re crazy! I wasn’t flirting with that woman!”
“Why did you even marry me?”
“Back off!”
“I don’t care what you say!”
“Guess it’s that time of the month again!”
“Ted’s wife doesn’t get all bent out of shape when he’s late for dinner!”
“What do you mean I never spend any time with you?”
“Just forget about it.”
“I said I was sorry, didn’t I?”
“You’re crazy!”
“You’re wrong about that!”
“I don’t want to talk about it!”
“That’s just the way I am – deal with it!”
“Can’t you keep this house clean?”
“You’re not being a submissive wife right now.”
“I’ll spend whatever I want!”

When I read back over this list of angry and sarcastic remarks that husbands – even Christian husbands – direct towards their wives, I see some things that Michael used to say to me in our bad days and I still feel a little twinge over some of them too.

Anger scares me; my own, someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. I think because it can get out of control really fast. To have someone who’s supposed to love me be angry with me – I’m not talking about righteous anger here – is scary and heartbreaking. When Michael and I were in our bad days and there was all this anger flying around, I always felt hopeless and off balance especially when I thought I was doing everything he wanted me to do (always telling him where I was, more sex, initiating relationship, working more, etc.) and it never seemed to matter.

Husbands, love you wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her.

There was no giving of life back then…only taking. I would keep wondering how someone who publicly claimed to love God so much could be so different behind closed doors. This is not uncommon. In fact, in the marriage ministry we’re involved with, we often hear the same story.

Why is this? Where did everything go so terribly wrong? The list of possibilities could get quite long but I think that for us, Satan’s lie to Michael was that he wasn’t worthy of love and Satan’s lie to me was that I didn’t matter and so I should just take whatever kind of love I could get, even if it was dishonoring.

What I know for sure is this: as soon as Michael started to become the man I needed him to be by becoming the man that God called him to be, things started to really change and – as crazy as this sounds - it was kind of scary because I’d been doing my life so differently for the previous 38 years! It was an adjustment! Can you believe that? A marriage based on what God really wanted for us felt weird at first and took getting used to? How tweaked is that?

When a husband chooses his wife’s needs over his own, when he validates her, compliments her, helps her, holds her, listens to her, blesses her, trusts her; when he loves her as Christ loved the church ~ the way he’s called to in God’s word ~ there’s no room for anger.

It just….disappears….


An Intro to Us

Michael and I wanted to take a moment and introduce ourselves to you and what we hope to do by using the wonderful world of video to enable you to get to know us better by telling the story of where we've been in our marriage and where we are now and various moments along the way.

Beginning next Tuesday, we will be including a new video each week and our posts will all be under the umbrella of Testimony Tuesdays. Sounds fun doesn't it? Also, we hope to include testimonies from other couples we work with in our marriage ministry and also with couples we come across online who also have stories about getting their marriage restored which is always worth sharing.

If you're in crisis - like we were - or just settling because you think this is as good as it gets; if you're separated from your spouse or are wanting something more ~ something better ~ with one another, we urge you to step out of that mode and begin walking in the truth that YOU CAN BOTH HAVE the Outrageously Happy Marriage with one another that you deserve and that God desires for you.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for further updates and visit our other site ~ Your Marriage Restored ~ to get on your way to an OHM!

Remember, if Michael and Annalea can do it...so can you!

Marriage Ministry Calls

I love the marriage ministry we’re a part of. Michael and I know without a shadow of doubt, that God has used it to save our marriage when we were convinced that there was no hope and divorce papers had been filed. And at times it gives us pause to think that just two short years ago we were in complete crisis and here we are coming out on the other side day by day and helping other couples get on their way to having an Outrageously Happy Marriage just as God intended.

As we have continued to grow and get healed, we embraced the opportunity to facilitate a marriage ministry call for couples based on what this ministry teaches (namely, a man will become the husband his wife needs him to be when he becomes the man that God called him to be) and how it’s helped us in our own journey. We’ve been doing this for almost a year now and it’s been awesome to watch it grow; not just the call we moderate but the other calls that the ministry offers as well – 2 years ago, there was just one and now there are more than 8. God is good!

Every call is awesome in and of itself and for us, well…the more we teach the more we learn so they’ve definitely been a blessing to us. And, for the most part, we finish the calls feeling pretty good about how they went. Every now and then, however, some of the calls are just really emotionally draining and while we’ve been told that when we hang up, we literally need to hang up and just let everything go, sometimes that’s hard to do. Last night’s call was one such as this.

It’s not often that Michael and I feel stumped by the hurt and dysfunction we hear about in the marriages of the people we talk to – we’ve been there ourselves. But I’ve got to tell you that last night was really difficult. And this particular couple has had just about everything you can imagine happen in their marriage. I know that God can work a miracle in this marriage…I just keep wondering if they’re willing.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Psalm 142:10

I know that if Michael and I hadn’t been willing and teachable, our marriage wouldn’t be where it is today. It’s been HARD at times, really hard and most of us want the baby without the labor pains but that’s pretty much impossible. I just got off that call with a heavy heart for how much this couple is suffering only to wake up this morning with the same feeling inside. And then I think of John & Kate Gosselin and what they’re going through right now and how very sad their situation is as well (we watched that particular episode last night after the call…probably not such a good idea).

Don’t be fooled - Satan is working overtime to destroy our marriages. If he can get a foothold in them, he can take down generations in myriad ways.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may
have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart!
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

So today, I pray a hedge of protection around all of our marriages and our children and our children’s children and their marriages as well. Amen.


The Blood Covenant of Marriage

I really enjoy listening to Pastor Creflo Dollar and I usually do so once a week. Lately, he’s been talking about the strongest covenant known to man as being a blood covenant. This makes a lot of sense to me and, of course, the bible is filled with this type of covenant with the most important to us being that Christ shed His blood for us that we might have fellowship directly with God the Father. Not only that, the bible is divided into two covenants: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

Covenant in Hebrew means a cut-where-blood-flows. The purpose of covenant was to create a binding agreement, more powerful than a contract or agreement. This was to be forever - the life span of the participants, it was to be holy, sacred, to violate the covenant would mean death. The blood covenant was the ultimate insurance of loyalty and fidelity. Marriage is the closest agreement to the blood covenant in modern society and, sadly, marriage is today closer to a contract than a covenant.

Being involved in marriage ministry, I began to wonder about how a blood covenant would apply since we westerners don’t cut each other when we’re taking our vows. Simply put, it would be virginity. When a bride and groom consummate their marriage on their wedding night, as virgins, there would be a showing of blood; from her and onto him. Here’s the sad part…I had to think about this for a moment. Why? Because I wasn’t a virgin on my wedding night nor was my first husband, in fact, he wasn’t even the first man I’d ever been with sexually. And, having been previously married, there would be no physical way for there to be a showing of blood on my second wedding night and Michael and I had already been intimate with one another prior to that night. How sad it is that most of us, even Christian men and women, no longer hold fast to the sacredness of this most intimate of covenants. If we haven’t had at least one sexual partner before we get married then most of us have at least sampled the fruit with our affianced partner.

Now that Michael and I are finding our way through our marriage as God meant it to be for us, I sometimes find myself wishing that our marriage covenant had been one begun with the blood of virginity, if not literally, then lived out and treated as such.


Lord of All

Just a bit tonight and not really related to marriage at all.

This is a picture of the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy. It is 1100 light years in diameter. It's reported that the image at the nucleus of the galaxy is a result of various gases and dusts. I see our Lord at the center of His creation. A glorious reminder to us that He is Lord of All.


Apology 101

Saying "sorry" to someone doesn't mean anything unless it's from your heart. Most husbands, even Christian husbands, will take the approach of a simple apology as a blanket statement to cover all of the ways they've hurt their wives throughout their marriage. Sorry guys, this really doesn't cut it. And the sad thing is that because a Christian woman wants to be perceived as a Godly wife, she will accept the apology for the mere sake of keeping peace in the home without having received any real heartfelt healing and closure from the one who hurt her.

One of the things that the marriage ministry Michael and I are involved in encourages a husband to do is to take the time to write down all of the ways that he can think of in which he knows that he's hurt his wife. The purpose of this exercise is mainly to get a husband to really think back over the course of his marriage and come into a knowledge of what he's done and then to take responsibilty for beginning to repair the damage.

What follows is Michael's apology to me. It's not fancy or flowery and it came via no prompting from me (in fact, I didn't even know he was writing it until he gave it to me). It's raw, and extremely personal (and if you ever speak with us you'll know that we don't hide our stuff because what's the point when healing is involved) and will give you real insight into what our struggles were; they don't seem very Christian at all. But they're real and, sadly, quite common among many married Christian couples no matter how those struggles show up.

Annalea, I apologize for:

Committing adultery
Going on the web looking for women
Having an emotional affair
Looking at pornography
Threatening divorce
Broken heart
Insulting you
Keeping you up at night
Poking, probing and harassing you
Driving you crazy
Not accepting your friends
Not accepting your family
Following you and having you followed
Taping you
Running a DNA test on your clothes
Checking your phone records
Having you take a polygraph
Blaming you for problems with the kids
Blaming you for our marriage problems
Being mean to you
Calling the police on you
Being physically intimate with you before marriage
Letting you drain Jack and Evan’s accounts
Not providing financially for us
Breaking promises I made to you
Saying Daniel was not my son
Allowing pornography into our bedroom and our home
Hurting your reputation
Suggesting your family and friends were covering for you
Making you, Jack and Evan move out of the house to live in a bad neighborhood
Ruining your credit
Being a hypocrite
Going to a strip club
Accusing you of cheating
Being a fraud
Not being the man you needed me to be
Not making your dreams come true
Not treating you like a queen


Conflict Resolution = Closure

Tuesday’s are the nights that Michael and I facilitate a couple’s call for the marriage ministry we’re involved in and it was a good call last night – a lot of great questions and issues that came up which got worked through during the 5 hours we were on (try getting that much time from your Christian counselor without having a huge bill to pay! – btw, we’re not counselors, just a married Christian couple who have moved from being in complete crisis to being restored). Christian wives got validated and Christian husbands learned how to listen to their wife’s heart and meet her needs. We just love when this happens!

During the course of the conversation, Michael and I will often jump in when there’s a lapse between couples and so last night I began speaking about the fact that I couldn’t really remember the last time Michael and I had argued – actually, I had thought that it was around Christmas time. This is a huge difference from when we were in our bad days and we used to fight and argue more than once a week. Ick!

So, this morning we were speaking to one of the guys who helps out in the ministry with his wife and he brought up when I’d said this last night and then reminded me that it had been more recent then Christmas because Michael and I had been on the phone with him and his wife to get their help on working through the issue that had come up for us – and it was a big one now that I think about it.

Here’s the awesome thing though; Michael is doing such a great job at being Christ like in initiating healing and moving towards me emotionally and physically when we do have an argument, that this amazing thing happens – closure! Once there’s closure, it’s completely possible and natural to forget about a situation that you’ve struggled through or been hurt by. Remember when I mentioned that the last thing we’d argued about was a big deal? It was! But because there was closure involved, we’ve both been able to move forward and not let that dissention follow along for the ride.


The Proverbs 31...Man?

What Christian wife hasn't heard of the Proverbs 31 woman? For as long as I can remember, this picture of perfect, biblical womanhood has been taught in myriad ways and her seemingly endless capabilities acclaimed as vituous traits that every Christian wife should strive to for.

Very recently, I was wandering around on the various blogs I follow and came across a post on The Marry Blogger about the Proverbs 31 Man which intrigued me because I'd never heard of this before. So, thinking it was the blogger's clever play on words I went ahead a read the post.

I haven't been able to pick my jaw up off of the floor ever since.

There's a Proverbs 31 man??? Of course there's a man! He's not mentioned as much as she is but he's there alright. And when I began to read the proverb with him playing a role in all that she does, my eyes were opened in a whole new way.

Here is a wife who is well treated by her husband. He provides for her financially, he fully trusts her, he praises her to her face and in front of the children. He affirms her in every way. Seriously, if he were being a creep, there's no way that she would be able to do all that she does and, in fact, she probably wouldn't even want to. But because the Proverbs 31 man treats her so wonderfully and the way that God has called him to, she is capable of blessing his socks off. And - get this - she wants to!

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to delve into Proverbs 31 so that we can all learn more about this incredible guy whose wife responds so positively to him and why. I don't know, but the more I think about it, I think Proverbs 31 is God's picture to married Christian couples of what an Outrageously Happy Marriage can look like when a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church and lays his life down for her.


The Dog Whisperer Is A Marriage Whisperer?

If you’ve ever listened in on one of our Tuesday night conference calls, you may have heard me singing the praises of Cesar Millan a.k.a The Dog Whisperer. Michael and I think Cesar is a genius when it comes working with dogs and we’ve used many of his techniques on our own dog with great success. The reason I’ll bring him up on our calls, however, isn’t because I want to talk about how to handle a dog but because the way he teaches people about their dogs crosses over into marriage.

Excuse me….um...what?

Hold on now…I am not saying that we’re dogs. Though I believe there’s much to be learned from the animal kingdom and Cesar showed me one such way last Friday.

Cesar’s ability to rehabilitate what he calls “Red Zone” dogs is what put him on the map as a trainer. Last week, he was working with a woman who has a mobile dog grooming business and while she’s great at handling dogs, there were three that she needed his help with. The one that sticks out most in my mind for the purpose of this post is one which was very fearful of having his ears cleaned and medicated. Whenever the groomer attempted to help the dog, it jumped and squirmed and yelped and bit and scratched…whatever it could do to try to get away despite the fact that it was tied up, muzzled and not being harmed.

How did Cesar help this dog? By staying with it. Did you get that? Staying with it.

Okay…stay with me here (pun intended). When a Christian husband begins to lay down his life for his wife the way Christ called him to and bring healing to her heart, there are going to be times when she vents to him about the way he’s treated her throughout their marriage; old wounds that he hasn’t yet healed for her. And this venting can come out in many ways: yelling, crying, silence, arguing, etc. In the past, her venting would be met with the same responses from her husband and the two of them would get nowhere except to sink further into disharmony.

Now, however, this Christian husband has learned to become a safe place for his wife when she vents because he stays with her. He doesn’t get defensive, he doesn’t raise his voice, he doesn’t ignore her or walk away, he doesn’t “bite back”. He listens, he apologizes, his voice is calm, his eyes welcoming, his arms wide open to receive her.

Can I just tell you, that at the end of Cesar’s time with this particular dog, because Cesar had stayed with him, he was calm and happy. His tail was high and wagging, he was nudging Cesar affectionately and wanted to be next to him, not run away the moment he was off leash.

Husbands, listen to your wives. Become a safe place for her heart. Show her that no matter how much she vents, you’re going to be there for her, bring healing to her, stay in it with her. It will be hard sometimes and messy and ugly and that’s okay. Because when it’s over and her tears of hurt and frustration are spent, and she sees that you’re still there in front of her willing to be in relationship with her, loving her as Christ has called you to, she’ll fall into your arms with tears of love and happiness over the man of God that you’re becoming.