As anyone who has been married for any length of time will tell you, marriage is hard work. Our 23 years (and counting) of marriage is no different. Like the majority of people out there, our story is marked with many highs as well as many lows. Looking back on the journey so far, we will both tell you that the lows were often related to one or both of us withdrawing, being hard on each other, and giving in to addiction and selfishness. Conversely, the highest and proudest moments are those in which we broke through, persevered, and both committed to doing whatever it took to nurture the relationship. In our opinion, the bottom line is that success boils down to a commitment to personal growth and the willingness to make the right choices.
Matt has experienced a fair amount of success as an athlete, a business leader, a media personality, and as an author, recovery coach, and mentor; helping thousands of men and women repair lives impacted by trauma and addiction. I have my master’s degree in Business Management and Leadership and have always been the operational glue both at home and in business that “holds it all together.” Looking in from the outside, it would be an easy assumption to make that everything was going perfectly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We both came into our marriage wounded. Both of us were cheated on by our former spouses. Both marriages were lost, not because of the infidelity, but because neither of our former spouses would do the work necessary to repair the hurt. Both of us came from homes where our dads were tyrants that ruled the home with an iron fist and wounded our hearts. We are both trauma survivors; experiencing abuse and neglect in early childhood that left us crippled. We often treated each other with harshness. We generally didn’t have a clue about what a healthy relationship looked like. We wanted a healthy relationship; we just didn’t know how to get there. All of our efforts seemed to take us further from where we wanted to be. All of the many years of counseling we did brought us no closer to what we desired to have together. It was beyond painful.
We met at church, fell in love, and got married after a year of dating. Before getting married, I knew that Matt had been in pornography addiction recovery for several years and (at that time) had over 6 years of sobriety under his belt. He had also shared with me how he had spent many years in counseling to work through the impact that the sexual abuse he had experienced as child had on him. I felt safe and reassured that Matt was healthy; someone with integrity who would honor our marriage and protect my heart. What I couldn’t know and would soon come to understand is that Matt lacked the ability to truly open up and share himself with me. While I had anticipated that someone with a pornography addiction might struggle with it from time to time (and he did), I could have never anticipated the lack of intimacy, lack of emotional connection, and the ever-increasing judgement, criticism, and confusion that had now become part of my daily life. It was like a switch had been flipped shortly after we were married, and there was no way to “unflip” it. I had never felt so alone.
Then came the darkest and lowest of the low points. Matt was diagnosed with two separate forms of cancer. This started a downward spiral that felt like it would never end. We lost our businesses, our income, our house, our cars…everything. And because of Matt’s inability to connect to me and support me, I went through this all feeling completely alone. Looking back on it, I think that he felt alone in it also because he couldn’t bring himself to reach out and go through it with me. Instead, he chose to get more critical, more distant-and he was convinced (and had me convinced) that our lack of closeness was all my fault. I tried harder, but nothing worked. I was a mess. I ignored my intuition, my needs, and my health. This went on for 2 years, during which time I developed a bleeding ulcer that resulted in my being hospitalized for anemia so severe that I needed 2 blood transfusions. The doctors told me later that I was very fortunate that the lack of oxygen in my blood had not done permanent damage to my heart that could have resulted in a fatal heart attack.
As I mentioned earlier, we had sought out counseling for our marriage problems many, many times. We both worked hard and did whatever the counselor suggested, but were always met with mediocre, limited results that never seemed to last. It just didn’t seem to make sense. We should be getting better, right? We were doing all of the work. Yet, somehow, the healthy relationship that we both envisioned remained elusive.
It was later in our marriage, when Matt and I got formerly trained as clinical trauma specialists and recovery coaches that we both realized that what had confounded us all of those years was a hidden addiction known as Intimacy Anorexia. We applied what we'd learned to our own marriage and began to see true and lasting healing. This transformation has poured over into our relationships with our sons and daughter too. Our entire family system has and is being transformed.
Now we are closer than ever. We are doing life together, not as roommates, but as best friends, as lovers, and as couple coaches. We know how to walk couples from shattered to strong. To help them repair the devastation that pornography/sexual addiction, infidelity, lack of intimacy and connection have caused in their relationship. To lead them to a place where the gaping holes in in their hearts can be mended.
As we spend the rest of our lives dedicated to doing our part to create a world without the impact of relational trauma and brokenness, we invite you to join us on this journey. If you're willing individually and as a couple to do the hard, painful work required to move your relationship forward, we will walk with you and show you how.
There is hope that there IS a better – achievable - way forward in life… without repeated hurt, failure, patterns of fighting, guilt and feelings of shame. Old patterns CAN be broken and anger from pain and disappointment CAN dissipate. You are not in this alone. There is a way forward-- out of your pain and challenges. As seasoned guides, we offer a safe place to face hardship with vulnerability and resilience, past or present, and craft a better path forward. You will be accepted, never judged. You will be supported.
We are you. We were there. We will walk through this together. If you do the work and own the process, you will come out stronger, individually and as a couple. We will show you how.
Our Mission: To be a catalyst for couples ready to courageously change their lives.