Jared and Leigh Anne Sullivan

re|engage Testimonies

“Get help, or lose your family.” Hear how Jared and Leigh Anne learned to work through conflict and overcome addiction.

Feb 5, 2020Dallas

In This Series (100)
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Jared and Leigh Anne Sullivan
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Ivan and Martha Illaremendi
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Jodi and Neil Curran
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Susan and Dick
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Monte and Marsha Dunn
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Julie and Mark Nicholson
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Jerry and Lori
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Steve and Amie Bradley
Oct 11, 2023Dallas
Marcus and Carol Brown
Sep 20, 2023Dallas
Nancy and Mark Rovenstine
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Kyle and Lucina Thompson
Aug 23, 2023Dallas
David and Cait
Aug 9, 2023Dallas
Mandy and Leonard Bagdanov
Aug 2, 2023Dallas
Michelle and Nate Ball
Jul 26, 2023Dallas
Nate and Megan Mickish
Jul 19, 2023Dallas
Wes and Angie Talley
Jul 5, 2023Dallas
Jen and Alex Lesko
Jun 21, 2023Dallas
Alissa and Shane Mauldin
Jun 14, 2023Dallas
Daniel and Cynthia Costa
Jun 7, 2023Dallas
Sheri and Brett Johnston
May 31, 2023Dallas
Robert and Linda Green
May 24, 2023Dallas
David and Tara Jensen
May 3, 2023Dallas
David and Manuela Acosta
Re|EngageMar 26, 2023
Jared and Leigh Anne Sullivan
Jared & Leigh Anne SullivanJan 11, 2023Dallas
Markus and Mary Kay Jabek
Jan 4, 2023Dallas
Neil and Jody Curran
Dec 7, 2022Dallas
Scot and Michelle Buchanan
Nov 30, 2022Dallas
David and Cait
Nov 16, 2022Dallas
Michael and Melinda Parisi
Michael Parisi, Melinda ParisiOct 12, 2022Dallas
Jim and Judy Wimberley
Jim & Judy WimberleyApr 28, 2021
Ryan and Callie Nixon
Aug 28, 2020
Steve and Amie Bradley
Jun 2, 2020
Troy and Julia Bussmeir
Feb 7, 2020
Nick and Rachel Klein
Feb 7, 2020
Mike and Shelly Ahlemeier
Feb 7, 2020
Matt and Andrea Walker
Feb 7, 2020
Luis and Kaylee Caceres
Feb 7, 2020
Graham and Stacey Robbins
Feb 7, 2020
Andy and Jenny Marsh
Feb 7, 2020
Jared and Leigh Anne Sullivan
Feb 5, 2020Dallas
Michael and Selena Thompson
Oct 21, 2019
Brandon and Brittani Travelstead
Sep 7, 2019
Martin and Lenore Gao
Jul 24, 2019Dallas
John and Debbie Wingfield
Jun 12, 2019
Alex and Jen Lesko
Jun 12, 2019
Tim and Kalyn Gereg
Jun 5, 2019
Jimmy and Michelle Comeaux
May 29, 2019
Jason and Mandy Castro
May 15, 2019
David and Robin Howard
May 15, 2019
Robert and Linda Green
Robert and Linda GreenApr 10, 2019
LaDale and Cynthia Buggs
Apr 10, 2019
Markus and Mary Kay Jabek
Apr 3, 2019
Brett and Jan Bruster
Brett & Jan BrusterMar 13, 2019
Greg and Emily Goodin
Mar 6, 2019
Charles and Karen Bundren
Charles & Karen BundrenFeb 6, 2019
Bobby and Shari Johns
Bobby & Shari JohnsJan 9, 2019
Simon and Katrina Saugier
Katrina Saugier, Simon SaugierOct 10, 2018
David and Denise Renken
David & Denise RenkenSep 10, 2018Plano
Shane and Alissa Mauldin
Aug 22, 2018
Greg & Tonya Gilmer
Greg & Tonya GilmerMay 30, 2018
Paul and Kelly Rutherford
Paul & Kelly RutherfordMay 9, 2018
Nate and Michelle Ball
Nate & Michelle BallMay 2, 2018
Kevin and Kelli Mainz
Kevin & Kelly MainzApr 18, 2018
Brett and Chrisey Billman
Brett & Chrisey BillmanFeb 21, 2018
Todd and Alex Wagner
Todd & Alex WagnerFeb 7, 2018
Robert and Liz White
Robert & Liz WhiteNov 8, 2017
Kyle and Lucina Thompson
Kyle & Lucinda ThompsonSep 13, 2017
John Paul and Rena
Aug 16, 2017
Trey and Shera O'Neal
Trey O'Neal , Shera O'NealJul 19, 2017
Erick and Gina Frank
Jun 28, 2017
Mark and Kathy Thomas
May 17, 2017
Peter and Eleanor
May 10, 2017
Eric and Catherine Couch
Eric Couch, Catherine CouchApr 19, 2017
Bill and Ann Daly
Mar 29, 2017
Michael and Stefanie Santiago
Mar 6, 2017
Steve and Natalie Hamm
Re|EngageFeb 20, 2017
Chris and Charece Robbins
Feb 8, 2017
Klein and Holly Swannie
Jan 18, 2017
Dean and Tawney Macfarlan
Jan 11, 2017
Mark and Nancy Rovenstine
Dec 21, 2016
Rick and Michele Howard
Re|EngageAug 10, 2016
Scott and Laura DeBow
Re|EngageJul 27, 2016
Zech and Kim Lumpkin
Re|EngageJul 20, 2016
Scott and Kristen Kedersha
Re|EngageJun 22, 2016
Newly and Karen Spikes
Jun 2, 2016
Jon and Kathy Flaming
Re|EngageMay 11, 2016
Robert and Linda Green
Re|EngageApr 30, 2014
Mike and Laura Labunski
Re|EngageNov 6, 2013

In This Series (355)

“I tried to control everything, from our financial decisions to where the kids were going for preschool. There was no room for Jared’s leadership in our marriage.” – Leigh Anne Sullivan

“It’s almost like I was sweeping my husband’s feet out from under him,” said Leigh Anne Sullivan. “That’s what my desire for control was doing to our relationship. I tried to control everything, from our financial decisions to where the kids were going for preschool. There was no room for Jared’s leadership in our marriage.

“My desire for control was fueled by the insecurity, instability, and fear I experienced as a child. My parents divorced when I was young, and my dad wasn’t involved in my day-to-day life. My mother struggled with a host of challenges, and by the time I graduated from high school, I had lived in 15 different houses.

“I coped with the chaos by being a good kid and immersing myself in sports, friends, and school work. Catholic school gave me a little guidance and introduced me to a God I had no exposure to before then. Knowing the Lord was real was the extent of my faith.

“In high school, I looked to alcohol, partying, and relationships with boyfriends to fill the void. That pattern continued when I went off to college. I made a lot of irresponsible choices, and my moral compass was all about comparison. If I wasn’t doing something worse than another girl was doing, I was OK.

“Although Jared always jokes that his good looks won me over, it’s actually his sense of humor that made me fall in love with him. We got together in college, and along with dating me, Jared also got to date all my anxiety and insecurities. My constant fear of losing him was not great for our relationship, and neither was our partying.

“Jared’s parents are wonderful, and I met them shortly after we started dating. They shared the gospel with me and prayed for me often. During that time, I also went through the most difficult chapter of my young adult life when my father passed away very suddenly. At the time, I was preparing to graduate and take the registered dietician exam so I could start my master’s degree. Life was just a blur.

“Jared and I got married after that, and we moved to Dallas. We both got great jobs and immediately bought a house. I thought that material things could fill the void already growing in our relationship. Jared had a high-stress job, and alcohol no longer masked his anxiety, so he started using drugs. There were signs of his drug use, but I was in a total state of denial.

“Because Jared traveled for work, I was at home alone for much of the time. Feeling isolated, I sought fulfillment in my relationships with friends and family. After our daughter, Caroline, arrived, I distanced myself from Jared by pouring myself into motherhood. Paying very little attention to my husband, I sort of stopped being a wife.

“We fought a lot about Jared’s drinking, but the more I tried to control him, the more he withdrew, which only made his drinking worse. Eventually, I caught Jared doing drugs. It’s almost like God put it right in front of me since I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Now, Jared says that he was praying to get caught.

“When Jared and I decided to go to re|engage, I thought we were there to fix Jared. God used re|engage not only as a turning point for our marriage, but also as a starting point for my faith in Christ. One week, we had a lesson that focused on the fact that we are totally undeserving of the free gift of God’s grace through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. This was the first time I’d ever connected Christ’s death on the cross to my own life. How could I ever earn that kind of love from God? I learned that trusting in God’s grace and walking in faith meant I could find my identity in His love. I no longer had to search for fulfillment in being a wife, or in motherhood, or even in being in control.

“As we went through re|engage, Jared’s heart began changing as well. He went from withdrawing from our family to caring deeply and leading us so well. Both of us started seeking accountability and running to the Lord for support. I worked on letting go of control, which gave Jared room to lead our family. We started out in a hard place, and today we are more in love than before.

“Our marriage is still a work in progress, and we continue to take steps in improving communication. We have been part of a community group for a while now, and it is great to have people to walk with us and hold us accountable. We also serve as leaders in re|engage, where we have the chance to encourage other couples the way we have been encouraged. I frequently get to tell other couples that God has used the struggles in our marriage to free me up to love Him and others. As I have focused on not being anxious, as it says in Philippians 4:6-9, I’ve trusted God to give me contentment that I wouldn’t otherwise have. There is no explanation for the peace I have now, and I am thankful.”

Jared My name is Jared Sullivan and this is my wife Leigh Anne. Last November we celebrated 13 years of marriage. We an 10-year-old daughter and a 8-year-old son. I grew up in Oklahoma and was raise by two wonderful Christian parents who set a great example of what a husband and wife should look like. I am the 3rd of 4 children and the only boy. We grew up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening and any church function that happened through the week. We were forcefully, but lovingly submersed in church. I accepted Christ as an early teen and pursued Him strongly until my senior year in high school when I began to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex. While I maintained an image of a Christian young man with my family and church, I was living secret life with a different set of friends. During this time, I went to college at the University of Oklahoma on a scholarship but left after my first semester to pursue a life of rebellion and full time partying. I had rebelled against my parents and more importantly abandoned my relationship with Christ. A year later, I decided to return to OU and finish my degree although my partying lifestyle continued. Shortly after returning I met a beautiful, blonde girl….in a bar.

Leigh Anne Hello, I am Leigh Anne. I was born and raised in Dallas. My parents were married in their young 20’s and became parents to my sister and I soon after. Shortly after my birth, my parents separated and divorced. I have no memory of my parents as a couple. Both were re-married and divorced again while I was a child. My sister and I were primarily raised by my mom in a single parent household after my dad left and was not consistently involved in our lives. My mom struggled with mental illness and as a result our childhood was unstable. We were exposed to drug and alcohol abuse and we were physically and emotionally abused. My childhood themes were worry, insecurity and fear. As a result, I focused on school, sports and friends trying to be the “perfect child” and stay out of trouble. There was no daily pursuit of faith in my household. At this point, I did not have nor did I understand what a relationship with Christ was. I found myself at the University of Oklahoma after graduating high school pursuing a degree in Nutrition. During college, I began to think that if I worked hard enough to make my life different than it was during my childhood, I would be happy and fulfilled. I looked to friends and relationships with guys to distract me from my insecurities. In 2005, I met a handsome, also blonde, hilarious guy and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Jared After I met Leigh Anne, I pursued her strongly and with my great personality and my dashing good looks, it didn’t take long for her to come around. We began a serious relationship shortly after meeting. In our early relationship, an important part of our life was socializing and drinking with our friends. As time went on, Leigh Anne became less involved in the college party scene and I continued….or revved up my partying. When confronted by Leigh Anne about my drinking, I had the excuse that it was not a big deal because I was still in college and that it was normal. We were married in 2008 just before I graduated from college. We moved to Dallas a month after our wedding. We were newly married, working full time and my drinking continued with a shifted excuse that it was “necessary” for networking at work functions. In our early marriage, conflict resolution and communication was difficult. Since my parents never argued in front of me, I never saw an example of marital conflict resolution. Leigh Anne had only seen conflict in marriage result in divorce. With my tendency to withdraw and a lack of leadership, this led to lots of unresolved conflict in our marriage.

Leigh Anne After a year of dating Jared, my father passed away suddenly. This was the first time Jared and I struggled in our relationship as I did not feel supported by him through this loss. Even with communication struggles and unmet expectations with little resolution during dating, I was convinced marriage was the answer to all of our problems. I believed that I could learn to overlook things or that I could change Jared into who I wanted him to be. My struggle with wanting control began to take deep root during this time. I was seeking happiness and security and I was looking to Jared to provide that to me. I brought many insecurities from my past into our relationship and it led to immediate mistrust with Jared even before he had a chance to make a mistake. God was working during this time, but I did not know it. Jared’s family is amazing. I have faithful in laws who immediately started sharing the gospel with me and had been praying for me long before they met me. I did not respond at that time, but would one day understand their pursuit of Jared and I.

Jared Less than a year into our marriage, I had to start traveling for work. I spent week days away from home and came home on the weekends. Alcohol was no longer filling the void, so I turned to drugs. On and off for the next 4-5 years, I would use drugs to cope with the stress in my life. It was an escape for me and I hid it from Leigh Anne. I did find moments of real conviction when I thought about how I was failing to lead my family as a father and husband. I would find myself praying to God that Leigh Anne would catch me so that I would be forced to make a change. Where I was can be described in Psalm 69:1-2 “Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in the deep mire, and there is no foot hold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.” God was faithful and answered this prayer. In 2014, Leigh Anne found out and confronted me about my drug use. After initially denying it, I finally confessed to all that had been happening. Although this was an important first step towards healing our marriage, it was temporary because we were still looking to all of the wrong things as the “fix” for our marriage.

Leigh Anne While Jared traveled, the physical distance led to more emotional distance between us. We had our first child in 2011 and my life was forever changed. I was able to find a new identity, security and happiness in being a mom. This only gave me more things to feel like I needed to gain control over. Controlling my environment had become a way I felt like I could make our lives more stable and secure. I was a worried mom and a distant wife. I did not give Jared the attention or love that a wife is called to give their husband, because I was spending all my time planning our every decision. The thought of my relationship with Jared coming before my children was foreign to me. At this time, Jared’s drinking did not seem to be as frequent, but each time he drank the conflict in our marriage continued to escalate. We were not resolving conflict during this time in our marriage. I would react to his behavior by threatening to leave with our daughter if it did not stop. I was in denial that I had any part of our marital problems. While Jared withdrew, I gladly stepped up and became very controlling of our life, our family decisions, and our schedule. We had our second child in 2013. My day to day life was busy with 2 kids under 2 and I continued to allow our marriage to become less and less of a priority. When I found out about his drug use, I was devastated. I reacted by giving him an ultimatum of “get help or lose your family.” Once again, I wanted him to be fixed since I thought he was the problem and my frustration continued to grow that I had not been able to “change him”. Proverbs 21 speaks of the wife that I was “Better to live in the desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” After a few months of trying to fix our problems alone, and being very isolated, we heard about re|engage. We decided to go and I was extremely scared. I hoped to see major change in Jared. Little did I know how much change needed to happen in me. It was easy to be deceived to think that Jared was the major problem and he just needed to stop doing drugs, drinking and withdrawing and all would be okay. Worldly advice validated my thoughts of him being the issue. That same thinking likely would have led me to think I didn’t deserve this treatment and that I should leave him. I was in for a rude awakening. During our time at re|engage, God starting working on my heart.

Jared When I came to re-engage, I did it reluctantly. I knew I wanted my marriage to be better and I knew I didn't want to lose my wife and kids. So I agreed to bare down and push through it. Every week we came and we found a little more hope. We found much encouragement and love from very great leaders, Clark and Candy Lauderdale. A very important part in this moment of our story needs to be highlighted. Re-engage was not what saved our marriage. Clark and Candy were not who saved our marriage. Yes, the Lauderdales were instrumental in God's plan to bring us closer to Him. And yes, the Re-engage material was tremendously helpful in equipping my wife and I to address and work through issues, seek and offer forgiveness, better communicate, better serve, and better understand one another. But, even after finishing re-engage I was still missing the key ingredient to really equip me to lead my family well. That ingredient was my relationship with Christ. I hadn't fully returned to him. But once I made that decision to swallow my pride and admit I needed God, I found, even after being gone for so long, a Father that never stopped awaiting my return. A Father that still had open arms ready to receive his imperfect son. Job 22:23 "If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent." The moment I returned, I found that restoration in Christ. I found that a weight I wasn't intended to carry was lifted from me. Our marriage is far from perfect and we still fall short every day. But He is always there awaiting our return, with arms open wide.

Leigh Anne While doing a lesson on God’s grace during re|engage, I learned about the undeserved love that the Lord has for me. I started to understand that God loved me, no matter what I had done in the past. I saw that He had not forgotten me even in my most difficult moments as a child. His plan was beyond my understanding. It says in Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I was not perfect, I had sinned and was not being a devoted wife. I was investing in everything but my marriage. The Lord knew I would fall short in this life and He sent His son to die for me so that I would no longer have to be separated from Him. As a parent, I had to soak that in….He let His son die for me. I had been seeking a “secure and happy” life, but I had missed the most important part, He is all the security that I need. With a lot of guidance from Christian women, I began to pursue a relationship with the Lord, put my focus on Him and He began to do work in me. The Lord showed me that I had a part in our marital problems. I was looking for Jared to be my security and happiness. I was not giving Jared the opportunity to lead or trusting that he was able. I had been trying to control him and his actions for so long that it forced him to withdrawal. I found that when I stopped trying to control our marriage and our lives, Jared began to seek the Lord to lead. This was not easy for me, but I wasn’t giving God a chance to work in Jared’s heart. There is no greater joy to me than having my husband take a leadership role in our family. As a daughter of Christ, I have learned many things. I started as a fearful, anxious, self-centered and mistrusting woman. I now seek to be more trusting, God centered and content. A verse that I have relied on many times as a believer is Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jared It has been amazing watching Leigh Anne transform into a God fearing wife and mother. Immediately after turning her life over to Christ, she heavily pursued a personal relationship with Him. It was extremely encouraging to watch and it motivated me to be the husband and father that I know God has called me to be. I had the privilege of baptizing my wife 3 years ago.

This used to be the end of our story, but in March of 2018 the Lord begin to work on us again. After Leigh Anne had a minor outpatient procedure, her surgeon made a mistake and she was unexpectedly in the hospital fighting for her life. We were looking at an uncertain tomorrow and frustrated at the mistake of the surgeon that would change our lives. These were the most difficult circumstances we had ever faced as a family. The enemy wanted us to go back into our old ways and believe we had stepped into battle alone with no weapons to fight, but we were quickly reminded that God had given us all we needed. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 it reads, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity one who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Leigh Anne Jared led our family through this difficult several months as God slowly healed my body. Jared did not do this by his own strength, he sought strength from the Lord. He prayed relentlessly; he trusted the Lord’s plan for us was good even when we were just getting by minute by minute. He accepted help from our wonderful family and our community around us. I could spend hours telling you beautiful stories about the way Jared loved me well through this time. In years past, this trial would have looked very different. I can't imagine the destruction and darkness that this would have brought into our family had we not had the Lord and His people surrounding us. I’m thankful for the complete transformation in my husband. It is a change that the world would have told me couldn’t happen and a change that doesn’t make sense. People once advised me to leave him. If I had listened to that advice during those dark times in our marriage, I would have missed out on these wonderful years with a man who loves me well. Our children would have spent the last 8 years in a broken home. We were not capable of making it through these things, but THE LORD IS and He has provided a way to turn our ashes into beauty! We celebrated our 13 year wedding anniversary last year.

Jared We realize through our trials that we must constantly be on guard. In the small successes, we always see common factors.

Here is a list of 5 things that are always present when our marriage is going well:

  1. Community: Surrounding ourselves with a community of other Christ followers has been essential.

  2. Confession: keeping short accounts with one another, confessing and asking for forgiveness when we do stumble.

  3. Circle: staying in our own circle and continuing to work on ourselves. Overlooking small offenses with one another.

  4. Commitment: never turning our back on the covenant that we made to stay together and pursue oneness in our marriage.

  5. Christ: most importantly, keeping Christ at the center of our marriage. When that relationship does not come first, our other relationships suffer.

About 're|engage Testimonies'

This series contains teachings and testimonies of God's transforming power in marriages at re|engage. re|engage is designed specifically to address needs in marriage by helping couples move towards oneness in their marriage through stories of grace, teaching and small groups. Whether your marriage needs to be reignited, or is in need of a complete resurrection, re|engage is a safe place for couples to reconnect. It is a 16-week experience which includes a time of praise and worship, a teaching or a testimony by a couple who has experienced victory in the midst of hard times, and small group time which follows a specified curriculum. We meet every Wednesday night, 6:30-8:15 p.m. in The Loft (7540 LBJ Freeway @ Park Central, Dallas). Kids Ministry is available with advance registration.

About re|engage

Re|engage is a weekly ministry for married couples to find help, learn, and grow in their marriage through a small-group setting.