We have been married for 13 ½ years. Within the first few months of marriage we wondered if we had just made the biggest mistakes of our lives! I had children, he didn’t. He was an only child, raised by a single mother, abandoned by his father at age 4. I was the oldest of 4 children, sexually abused by my father, divorced for two years. He had 20 years of sobriety. I had a practicing eating disorder. He had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had just become a Christian. I’d been a Christian for 30 years. He had 3 years of personal counseling under his belt, I had 8 years of personal counseling under mine. Without question we came together with a lot of suitcases!! Year 5, we sought church counseling with our pastor, year 6; infidelity was disclosed and divorce looming.
Our family pastor “strongly” suggested we attend Relationship Lifeline’s 4 day intensive program. We did, one of us particularly reluctant while the other complacent. It was the ride of our lives, as our pastor predicted. We both raised our hand on the first day proudly acknowledging we were there to fix our partner! We both worked hard those 4 days. We left with a better understanding of who we each were, why we react the way we do, a clearer understanding on the act of forgiveness and the freedom that comes as a result.
We left with the revelation; how toxic practices effect each of our performances in our jobs, relationships, marriage, parenting and our relationship with God! I am now on staff at Relationship Lifeline. So many of my family and friends are active in the entertainment industry and I am sad to report that this industry speaks to the world and demonstrates the throw away nature of “relationships”. I want to effect change. Every month at Relationship Lifeline’s 4 day intensive program, I get to see “change in motion”. It’s incredible, it’s really quite mind altering. I would and have recommended every family member and friend, married or not to attend.
-Denise & Thomas
Denise Santangelo and Thomas Smith June 10, 2015