Fear Of Intimacy ~ Part 2

This week we continue to speak about the fear of intimacy and this comes from my (Annalea's) point of view as it's somehting I struggle with myself. Today we share more of the conversation that took place on our Tuesday night call a couple of weeks ago when we spoke with "C" (the husband) and "L" (the wife) who struggle with this in their own marriage.

Part 2

C (said to Annalea): A lot of what you were just talking about makes sense to me. As a kid, I grew up on the computer or reading books or lost in my drawing pad because I had a hard time connecting with people. The first time I did have a connection, when I was dating L, I didn’t know how it was supposed to play out. I wanted to be friends with her and get to know her and open up my heart to hear. After we got married though, I wanted to play video games for 4-5 hours like I used to do when I was a kid. I could connect to that like you said earlier about knitting or scrapbooking. When I’m done with it I put it down and when I want it I pick it right back up.

Like you were saying, there’s no emotional connection when I work on the car; it’s not requiring anything of me and I get to feel good about fixing something that wouldn’t have fixed itself. I understand a lot of what you were saying and it’s easy to say DIE TO SELF but at the same time how does that play out? How does it click and just happen?

Honestly we can read the words DIE TO SELF in big bold letters and we know that, as believers, that we are all called to do it; it becomes a conscious choice that we make. You have to force yourself at times ~ I have to force myself at times. I’m not kidding. Michael and I both work out of home and Michael is amazing. As far as I’m concerned, I have the best husband in the universe and he serves me and he serves our children and he’s incredible and we tell husbands to be this way with their wife and she’s just going to bless your socks off and there are so many times when I’ll be sitting there doing something I'm totally into and enjoying (knitting, scrapbooking, etc.) and Michael will say, “I’m getting hungry” which is legitimate because it will be close to lunch time and I’m thinking, “…oh crap! This means I need to get up and go into the kitchen and make him something. Can’t he just make himself and sandwich or a damn bowl of cereal? I mean come on can't he see that I'm in the middle of something?” I’m not going to lie to you, these are the thoughts that go through my head sometimes and I catch myself and I think Oh my God, what is wrong with me? That is so selfish! And so what do I do? I die to self and I get up and go to the kitchen and make him something to eat.

Having thoughts like these isn’t wrong. When we get into trouble is when those thoughts turn into how we do life instead of recognizing the thoughts for what they are and making a choice not to live them out. What’s needed is to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor 10:5): I’m not going to be selfish with my husband or selfish with my wife. I’m going to go and make him something to eat or I’m going to go and make her a bubble bath and light candles and I’m going to take her to The Olive Garden and we’re going to enjoy it because that’s what SHE wants. I don’t care that I want to be home working on the car because you know what? The car’s going to be there tomorrow but there’s a very real possibility that your wife (or you) won’t be because we’re not promised tomorrow. This is where dying to self becomes a choice that you make. God, more of You less of me. L is in a position to guide you towards Christlikeness ~ where you allow her, in a safe way, to say to you, “C, you’re in that 'me' mode.” And you reply, “Baby I’m so sorry, you’re right. I’m going to wash up and take you out to dinner,” and you do it and let yourself enjoy her.

Kathy Davisson would tell me all the time, Annalea, you need to give yourself permission to enjoy Michael and your children. It’s okay. I have to remind myself of that a lot. Michael and I will be in bed getting ready to make love and my mind is all over the place and I get so frustrated that all I want to do is turn on the television and zone out. And I say, “No enjoy your husband…enjoy him.” I’ve already lost one husband to death. I don’t want to lose Michael. I want to enjoy him. God’s blessed me with him, God’s blessed you with L. Enjoy her. You might actually have fun in the process. What a concept!

I so recognize this in myself, C. The bottom line is that disengaging and not being emotionally available doesn’t serve you, your family, your marriage or even your children. Is there anything wrong with knitting or playing video games? Not at all. It becomes a problem though when it takes the place of others who need us when, in actuality, we need them too.


A Burden Lifted, A Heart Healed, A Husband Loved

I really should wait and save this for a Testimony Tuesday post because it's definitely a testimony of the journey that Michael and I are on. I can't though. It's so precious to my heart that I need to share it with you right now.

If you're familiar with our story, you'll know that, in our bad days, Michael would constantly accuse me of infidelity. It didn't matter who, what, where or when. One of the people he accused me of this with was someone very dear to my heart and who, along with his wife, had played a pivotal role in my life after Jeff died. During my third separation from Michael, I shared this with this person and his wife; we were all broken hearted about it. Since then, I've never felt able to partake of the closeness of heart that we all used to share.

It's been a heavy burden on my heart for a long time.

Fast forward to today. Michael and I have a completely different relationship and marriage than we did three years ago and much healing has taken place. And it still is. We're going to be holding our first Marriage Intensive next month and something we decided to do to get the word out was to send out a letter of introduction letting people know about our ministry and our desire to help out other couples.

One of the people we contacted was my friend that I mentioned above. I'll tell you, I was very apprehensive about this. In addition to sending a letter, Michael sent him and his wife an email. In it, he owned what he'd done in the past, sincerely apologized and asked their forgiveness. When I read it, I broke and started crying. I hugged him and thanked him and kissed him and told him that I'd been carrying this burden around for so long. He hugged me and apologized and cried with me. It meant so much to me.

I feel so much lighter now. Safer too. I continue to be amazed at how our marriage has evolved over the last few years; that we've come from a place of utter despair to one of ministering to others and asking them to take a look at hope....try it on for size....to be willing to let it out or take it in as the case may be. I love Michael deeply. I'm blessed that Michael continues to bring healing to my heart and I love God for knowing what I've always wanted to be....

A woman at rest.


We May Never Pass This Way Again

Today Michael and I went to visit the two facilities we're considering for our upcoming Marriage Intensive next month. We're super excited about the place we've chosen and know that our participants will love it.

But that's not the exciting part...at least not to us.

During the course of our second meeting, we ended up having an opportunity to sit down with the event coordinator and talk with him about this ministry and what the Intensives are all about. Turns out, he's currently separated from his wife and they're both feeling hopeless. Nothing they've tried so far has been working and they're not sure which way to go.

Now isn't that just SO God? I absolutely love how He knows what we need and orchestrates all the particulars. He knew this man needed to hear some hope for the future of his marriage and God used us to give it to him.

We may never see or hear from him again, he and his wife may or may not come to one of our Intensives, visit our blog or get on our calls. That's okay with us though. If we were able to help in just a small way....then we're good!


Fear Of Intimacy ~ Part 1

This week we’re talking about an issue that comes up a lot on our weekly calls ~ the fear of intimacy. Usually, it seems men are more afflicted with this than women, though I definitely fall into this category myself. Last Tuesday night, we had a great conversation with a couple who we’ll refer to as “C” (the husband) and “L” (the wife). Since it’s a rather long post in its entirety, we’ll be splitting it up over the next few weeks.

C: One of the symptoms of a passive aggressive man is a fear of intimacy; he feels like he can’t share his life and feelings and doesn’t want to get close. He’ll tell you he does but his actions and words say otherwise. I guess I don’t really understand why that would be the case. I want to be with my wife and I love spending time with her and I do love sharing life with her. She says I sabotage any chance we have at that. I don’t intentionally do that. My mind is always there. The whole focus is supposed to be on my wife and I understand that. I want to help myself understand

I asked L to give us an example of a time when C sabotaged the relationship and she shared the following example:

L: On Valentines Day we received a gift card to The Olive Garden. Since there are only 3 of them in our state it would be a bit of a drive to get there and so we would need to leave early to get there at a reasonable hour. C wanted to work on his car that day and had been doing so for most of it. He knew what time we’d have to leave and I would remind but by the time he stopped working on his car it was too late.

Last week was our anniversary and though C made plans they fell through so I helped him out. I gave him an idea and he called to make reservations and get things ready. Sadly, there were no emotional connections or romance at all during the weekend. It’s not as if he doesn’t know what I like either. Even trying to be intimate over the weekend was very very forced – no connection going on. He didn’t initiate any intimacy throughout the day so at night there was nothing there which put a damper on the whole evening and therefore the whole weekend. Instead of initiating things that would make it better, he sat there licking his wounds and feeling bad for himself.

At this point, I muted out our phone and asked Michael if he thought I struggled with a fear of intimacy and he said yes and I said do you think I’m getting better and he said, oh definitely. I think so too though I know it still lives within me so I shared the following with both C and L.

This is something I’ve noticed about myself and the reasoning behind it for me is that if I’m going to be in an intimate situation with someone (not necessarily sexual intimacy) where there’s emotion required of me, I have a difficult time going there; wherever “there” happens to be. If I’m going to allow myself to have an emotional connection with my husband or even with my children, it’s going to require me to step out of my comfort zone. And if I’m going to do that I have to be prepared for whatever shows up; anger, tears, anxiety, correction, worry …anything which is uncomfortable for me and so I’d rather not engage that person on a deep emotional level. It’s very easy for me to be surfacey and say something like, “I just cooked you this incredible meal, isn’t that enough? Why do you have to sit down next to me on the couch and be super close to me and want to talk with me?” That probably sounds really weird coming from a woman but I get like that.

I know this stems from my own arrested development; of being a child who was taught to be seen and not heard so that waves weren’t made between my mom and I or anybody because, I thought, if I became emotional and voiced what I was really feeling than I risked someone getting upset with me. So, rather than risk that I would just be quiet, keep stuff inside and amuse myself or be unobtrusive.

How that shows up now looks like this: me spending an entire day knitting or scrapbooking or being on the computer or making something and feeling frustrated when I have to stop what I’m doing, get up and attend to the needs of my children and even Michael.

Knitting or crafting….they don’t require anything of me. They’re made up of inanimate objects that I work with. They don’t care if I pick them up for a few days and then set them down for two months. They don’t care that I haven’t taken them anywhere or sat down with them for a visit or made love or asked them how they’re doing. Just like with a car. The car doesn’t car whether or not it’s going to The Olive Garden. It doesn’t care if it gets worked on or washed; it doesn’t have any feelings and won’t require anything of C. It’s the same with another couple in the ministry. He loves to be in his garage. He doesn’t come home and connect with his wife ~ he comes home and hangs out in the garage. She goes out there and tries to connect with him and he barely looks at her.

I assert that passive aggressive people have a real fear of intimacy because intimacy requires emotion which can require a level of discomfort and that, I believe (and speaking from my own experience), is what holds us back. I know it holds me back. I’m getting better at it because of the way Michael is being with me now. This is one of those things that Joel and Kathy mean when they teach that as a husband brings healing to his wife her issues will go away and whatever’s left over she’ll work on with the Lord and a lot of this is happening now in our marriage.

Michael and I are over two years into the process and I’m beginning to see a lot of this in myself. Is it still uncomfortable to be emotional? Yes, it is. But I do it. I press in because it’s not about me and that’s the concept that people who struggle with this have to get. It’s not about them; there are others around us who require pieces of our heart for love, for validation, for help, for understanding. To share in life with. And that’s just something that requires constant death to self because it’s a very selfish way to be.


Southern California Marriage Intensives Now Here

You would have been able to knock us over with a feather if you'd ever told us we'd be involved in marriage ministry just two-and-a-half years after being separated for the third time with divorce papers still hot off the press (or wherever they come from)! Yet, here we are doing just that and being continually amazed at how God is using our story and what we've learned since then to touch other couples and give them hope for their marriage.

You may already know that Michael and I facilitate a conference call each week on Tuesday nights as part of helping to share what we've leaned through Joel & Kathy Davisson's ministry and today we have some fantastic news to announce!

Next month (November 19-22) we will be holding our first Marriage Intensive Weekend out here in southern California! We're so excited to be able to offer this to all of you west-coasters who can't quite make it to Flordia but want to learn how to move your marriage from crisis mode into being Outrageously Happy!

Remember, if we can do it....You Can Do It Too!

Just give us a call at 562.438.7248 or send an email to yourmarriagerestored@gmail.com to reserve your space for this life-changing event during which you'll learn how to Rebuild Your Marriage, Recover From Adultery and Abuse, and Enhance Your Marriage Using the Life Changing Principles that God Taught us.

Michael and I are not licenced councelors in any way. We're a married Christian couple who've been where you may be ~ in complete crisis. Our hearts are to see your marriage restored as ours has been by giving you the tools to do so and sharing with you how we got there.


Jesus Ate Dates

Tradition is a funny thing.
Last night, Michael and I went to the wedding of a family friend (on my side). She's more than a friend, really. More like a cousin though we're not related by blood...or by marriage for that matter. Her aunt and my mom and been best friends since the 7th grade. Aunt Susie, as they call my mom, has made all of our wedding cakes; the bride's for this wedding, the bride's sister for hers, the bride's cousin (her real cousin, Nicole, the daughter of my mom's best friend) and mine for both of my weddings.

We've all been serenaded by Nicole's father with the same song ~ My Girl ~ and we've all used the same D.J. (as far back as this bride's Bat Mitzvah!) which, I must tell you is something of a joke because he's totally stuck in the 80's which isn't such a bad thing if (like me) you happen to like that era for music. It's just that what he plays isn't the good stuff. With him you get the Chicken Dance, the Electric Slide, Night Fever and the theme from Ice Castles (which he played twice at our wedding despite being told ~ quite vehemently by me ~ not to do and my apologies to any of you who look forward to the Chicken Dance). Now, however, it's just how we roll, to coin a phrase, and our celebrations wouldn't be quite the same without all of these....traditions.

The wedding we went to yesterday was a Jewish one and it was lovely. Not that I've ever been to a wedding that wasn't lovely (and believe me, I've been to a lot because my mom used to decorate cakes for a living) but something struck me this time. It was the tradition of it all....the timelessness, symbolism, the history.

I love to eat dates!

What? How did we go from traditons and wedding to dates? Stay with me here, I promise I'll tie it all together.

Whenever I eat dates I always say to my boys, "You know....Jesus ate dates," to which I get resounding moans of, "Maahhhmmmm....you always say that!" It's true though! I don't just eat dates because I enjoy their shockingly sweet chewiness; I love eating them because I know that my Lord ate them too. I'm sure that each wedding Jesus attended was a Jewish wedding and that He saw and partook in many of the traditions that we did last night. I just LOVE that! I'm sure that Jesus said "Amen!" after each of the Seven Blessings were read by the rabbi over the bride and groom; that He shouted, "Mazel Tov!" when the groom broke the glass and that He held hands with the wedding guests and danced the Hora around the bride and groom with much joy and merriment!

I felt close to the Lord last night.
Just like I do when I eat dates.
Just like I do when Michael prays over me.
Just like I do when I know that the sun I see everday is the same one that Jesus created....the same sun He saw when He walked the earth.
So...go eat some dates.


The Answer Is Right Before Your Eyes









All reasons Michael and I began a relationship with one another 7 years ago. Were they the right reasons? It seemed so at the time. Looking back, however, we see now that while well intentioned, those reasons backfired almost from the get-go because they weren't centered around what God desired for our relationship; they were centerend around our own desires of we thought we needed.

Early in my life I (Michael) reconized my need for a Savior. This came about mainly because of the instability in the home I grew up in; my father and step-father were prime examples of how not to do marriage and fatherhood. I made a childhood vow that I would learn how to love and be a good husband and father from Jesus. After all, He is the author of love and so becoming like Him became my life's passion. When I started dating Annalea, my desire was to pursue her passionately, only I wasn't aware of how to do so in a way that would touch her heart in a positive way. I simply thought that passion in and of it self was more than enough to win her over.

Let me back track a bit. Before I met Annalea I did a lot of self work to prepare myself for the possibility of marriage. During that time I asked God to heal me of all my junk; I read numerous books on relationships and marriage; I went to and volunteered in small groups that promoted Christian maturity and manhood. When it was over I believed I was ready and so when I met Annalea and started dating her I wrote long love letters proclaiming that I would do anything for her. I would buy random gifts that would represent some aspect of our relationship. I would take her on romantic dates.

With me doing all this I thought we would be passionately in love but it didn't work the way I thought it should. Why? Because I was loving her under my terms, even if on the surface it appeared to be good there were always underlying conditions and when she didn't respond the way I wanted her to or thought she should my insecurity would raise it's ugly head and Annalea's heart, along with our relationship, would suffer the consequences.

The following question begs to be asked: If I'm loving my wife who decides if it's in a way that she needs? If I decide then it's conditional and on my terms. If she decides and I recieve what she thinks and feels then she can freely live out her thoughts and feelings in our marriage...with me. Self work aside, my woundedness still showed up in our marriage. Initially, I thought my marriage created problems; what was really happening was that problems within me were being revealed.

Here's the amazing thing though ~ the answer to my pursuit of becoming more Christlike, to being a great husband and father, was right before my eyes. It was my wife!

Guys...the same answer is before your eyes too. The shift in your heart will come when you realize that you're not loving your wife with a Christlike love. Christ doesn't love half-heartedly or blame shift or demand a response or any of this craziness. Make a decision today to truly win your wife's heart and to allow any negative stuff in your belief system and heart to die off.

Remember, if I can do it...You Can Do It Too!


How Could A Girl Say "No" To This?

Michael and I live in southern California and we grew up going to Disneyland pretty regularly. We love it! The sights, the sounds, the smells....and now to see our kids experiencing it as we did makes it an even more special experience whenever we go. When I came across this video on Youtube I absolutely had to share it with you. It proves to me once again that Disneyland really can be The Happiest Place On Earth!

I doubt that this is the first proposal ever to take place there but I'll bet it's the first one of it's kind. Seriously, how could a girl say "no" to this? I just hope he keeps that kind of excitement alive for his bride beyond "I Do."



Never Give Up!

As husbands, you need to be single-minded and passionate about winning your wife's heart; as single-minded as this young man. As passionate, as dedicated, as willing.

How are you going to show up when THE Coach calls your number?


My Mr. Darcy

Michael and I love period films and one of our favorites is the most recent rendition of Pride & Predjudice by Jane Austen (the one with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen). Seriously, we can watch it over and over. In fact, on the forum of the marriage ministry we're involved in, our usernames are Miss Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; names I chose mainly based on the scene towards the end in which Mr. Darcy walks out of the mist with the single-minded determination of declaring his love for Miss Elizabeth.

Over the last two years, Michael has become that "mist"-tical Mr. Darcy for me. A man who tells me each day by word and deed that, "you have bewitched me body and soul and I love...I love... I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on." Let me give you an example.

In my first marriage, there was very little physical intimacy between me and my husband. He felt that our frequencey was normal and the same for most couples. He knew that I wanted more and at one time proposed divorce because he didn't think he'd ever be able to meet my needs in that part of our relationship (just so we're all on the up and up, my first husband and I were very sexually active for the two years before we were married and that all but ended on our wedding night). Being too afraid that he'd leave me if I pressed him, I suffered silently inside because he was great in many other ways and wasn't that enough? F.Y.I. settling is never good enough.

Now, let's talk about emotional arrestedness for a moment. Mine occured when I was 5 and sexually molested by my paternal grandfather. I grew up, believing the lie of the enemy that my worth as a person and as a woman was tied to whether or not a boy or man had sex with me. Each time my first husband refused me it sent me into a tailspin of undesirability, unfulfilled need and worthlessness that I eventually accepted a way of life.

Fast forward to the present. One night last week, Michael and I had made love and were lying next to each other kissing. All of a sudden, emotion swept through me and I began to cry. When Michael noticed, he began to wipe my tears away and asked what was coming up for me. I told him that I'd had a memory of how, when I would be lying in bed with my first husband wanting to make love and would begin to kiss him, he would immediately change the kiss from one of passion to one of 'good night' effectively shutting me down. I hadn't thought of that particular part of our relationship in years.

God's been doing this lately, bringing up memories for me that need healing and He's using Michael to bring that healing to me. My husband held me, kissed me over and over, told me how much he loved and wanted me and made love to me again to solidify the healing he'd so effectively brought to my heart in that moment.

Michael didn't shut me down. He didn't turn away from my tears or become frustrated & jealous by the fact that I brought up my first husband (something he did in our bad days). Instead he made me feel completely safe, heard and loved. He put me above himself. He freed me up to draw closer to him, to release my first husband in forgiveness, to draw closer to the Lord and to share in the mystery of us both becoming one in body and soul.

This is what it looks like when a husband becomes the man that God called him to be. He becomes the husband that his wife needs him to be and the father that his children need him to be. His marriage flourishes and he matures in his relationship with the Lord. I see this in Michael more and more each day and it's precious to behold.

My Mr. Darcy.

If he can do it guys....You Can Do It Too!

Remember to join us tonight for our free weekly marriage ministry call. The fun begins at 7pm (pst) 512.716.6531 access code is 981128# We'd be blessed to have you join us!

In Him!
Michael & Annalea