Marriage Is Not About Two Perfect People

They said it would never last. We stubbornly scoffed at them. We were young and so naïve.

I was 20 years old and engaged to be married to a man I’d known less than a year. I promptly ran out to buy my wedding dress and gathered prices on reception halls.

Two months later I was pregnant and the fairy tale wedding unraveled along with my reputation and friendships.  Our family was disappointed but supportive; we moved the wedding up and scaled down the celebration. I’d need a new dress, the off the shoulder summer design would not work for a November wedding.

Good friends stood by us, many church friends did not. A Pastor, who’d taken great interest in us as a young dynamic Christian couple, no longer greeted us with a big smile, instead a cool nod in our direction. Obviously, we’d failed him.

Matthew was born in May and we continued having a baby every other spring until 3 lively children filled our home. The years that followed were filled with love, laughter, tears, mountain tops and valleys.

Fast forward 25 years. Add another child…sans labor and delivery, this one was born in our hearts and brought home from a tiny village in the Chinese province of Xi’an.

It’s been an incredible journey, a road I’m so thankful to have traveled with my best friend. Like any friendship, there have been ups and downs, but always a commitment to come home and honor the promises we made that cold uncertain day in 1987.

Mark and I have spent endless hours counseling couples, many on the cliff ready to dive into divorce. As both sides plead their defense, our first question is, “how are your individual relationships with the Lord?” It’s so easy to blame problems on a marriage, but we have to look deeper than that. Often a marriage in trouble is just a symptom of one or two people who are not walking in personal peace and contentment.

The foundation of a strong marriage is girded on our personal walk with God.

When trials come, it is too easy to retreat emotionally, walk away from our partnership and let bitterness rule our thoughts. When we have the Holy Spirit whispering truth in our hearts, it anchors us, reminds us and draws us to lay down our offense and choose grace. Forgiveness is the powerful cord that weaves through our lives and holds us together.

Many said we would never last, I’m sure they saw what seemed like a shaky foundation. Thankfully we each had an honest personal relationship with a Father who never let go of us as we clung to His hand.

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matt. 11:29 MSG

Marriage is not about two perfect people making it work, it’s about learning the unforced rhythms of grace as we navigate this dance we call life.

I’m grateful for the partner I’ve danced with and as we celebrate Matthew’s wedding this weekend, and add another daughter to our family, my heart swells with joy and anticipation of the next 25 years and new adventures ahead.


Edited to add:

We had a fabulous dinner last night at Ruth’s Chris in Grand Rapids and had to take a pic on the same stairway that we took pictures 25 years ago.

And a blast from the past:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Congratulations!! Larry and I celebrate our anniversary today also and consider it a great testimony to the Lord. We came close to calling it quits, but He had other plans! And you and mark had a hand it that, as I was one of the many you have counseled. Marriage is an amazing journey, for sure!

  2. Thank you for always being so honest, transparent and real. Enjoy this weekend. <3

  3. The important part of your story (as is the case with all of us on this journey of life) is the covenant you and Mark still keep with God. Your marriage (much like my own) had inauspicious beginnings—but that's not what matters 24-25 years later. Blessings on this wonderful event you and your family are about to celebrate. May God richly bless your son, his bride, and your family. 😀

  4. How beautiful Sue! Congratulations on 25 years and many more to come. You are a great role model for Matt and his bride. We also got married Thanksgiving weekend. What a wonderful day ahead for you all.

  5. 1. we shared the same taste in hair back then!
    2. thank you for sharing so openly!
    3. happy anniversary!
    4. I'm still in shock that my husband and I have lasted for 24 years! Only by the grace of God has that happened! We did come to a cross roads a few years ago, and almost didn't make it. Thank God we had people that came along side us and helped us persevere. It's now better than it ever has been. God is using your story to help many other couples persever! big ole hug to you!

  6. Awesome!

  7. about100percent says:

    What a wonderful post – and so true. Thank you!

  8. Congrats on your silver achievement. Marriage isn't always an easy road but the best things in life are appreciated that mush more when we have to work for them a little bit.

    Jim and I weren't supposed to last either. We too were dating for less than a year when we got engaged. I ;too got pregnant and had to move the wedding date. We lived together before marriage and I made more money than he did. Four strikes against us,not to mention the high divorce rate in the US, but somehow we made it through too.

  9. My wife was 8 years old in 1987 she could have been your flower girl if you knew her then. That makes you feel old don’t it

  10. thanks Sue….Happy anniversary!!!

  11. U KNOW WHO says:


    Someone wanted me to tell you that he forgot to tell you that… I bet U KNOW WHO!!! 😉

  12. Jenn Nilsson says:

    Happy Anniversary and thank you SO much for sharing your story, Sue. Love you!

  13. Happy Anniversary….. And our sweetie is from just outside of Xi'an, a tiny city called Baoji. Have we talked about this before? I don't think I knew your daughter was from Shaanxi. Hubby calls her his little dumpling in honor of one of their greatest contributions to our home and to his culinary fave from our time there! 🙂

  14. Congratulations! I remember people saying my husband and I wouldn't last. Well, it's 16 years of marriage, 18 years together and 24 years of loving each other.


  1. […] Forgiveness in Marriage […]