Updated: Feb 25
Photo by Foto Pettine - @fotopettine
Sueann and Josh are the real deal. They are genuine people, warm, intelligent, with a faith that goes deep. I struck a friendship with Sueann years ago because of a book club we started at my old job and soon after was introduced to her husband Josh, at a mutual friend's barbecue one summer. Instantly, I became a fan of them as a couple! I could tell how much fun they have together and loved their mutual respect. There are a lot of great couples out there, but their marriage is one that I truly admire. It's honestly one of my favourite ones to witness because of how Christ centered it is.
I have been wanting to interview them since last February and finally got my act together this year! When they invited me to have lunch with them in their cute little town before Christmas, I made sure to ask them and both said yes right away!
This adventurous pair got married young on October 24, 2014, but you wouldn't know it because of how intentional they are about their covenant (an oath before God to put the other before themself). They live this out and in so doing display the beauty of marriage (i.e., the love Christ has for the church). With seven years under their belt and their first baby due in May 2022, I hope you glean in all the wisdom that these two have in spades. Enjoy!
How did you two meet and what were your first impressions of each other?
J - Sueann and I met while playing volleyball with some friends- a fairly classic way of meeting your future spouse in the circles we ran in. I was invited to play some volleyball and was told that there would be some people I didn’t know and that excited me since I always like meeting new people. I drove up in my obnoxiously loud car that I was overly proud of hoping to catch the eyes of someone new. Sure enough, Sueann was one of the first people I saw on the court. She was athletic, beautiful and had the big, sparkly eyes that I nearly fell in love with on the spot. Sueann had a bubbly personality that was intoxicating to me- I enjoyed her intelligence and fiery personality. I spent the rest of that warm Sunday afternoon trying to get her to laugh and somehow, by the Lord’s good grace, I got myself invited to more volleyball games. The rest is history.
S - We met at a volleyball game on a Sunday afternoon. We had a mutual friend that invited us both along with a number of other people. Josh pulled up late in his car which was a 96’ Acura Integra with a loud sound system and fancy rims – or so I was told. Everyone was thrilled when Josh rolled in, but I rolled my eyes because guys that spent too much time and money on cars were automatically annoying to my all-knowing 17-year-old self. However, turns out this guy had social skills, loved to make people laugh, and didn’t actually like talking just about his car. I had to quickly recalibrate my first impression because he was a joy to be around and genuinely cared about the people he talked to.
What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to get married?
J - I would tell them that it’s the greatest institution on the planet and it will generate immense joy for both of you. In order to accomplish this, be open to the Lord’s ongoing sanctification through that other person. It’s a fairly trite expression, but ‘marriage isn’t always easy’. Remember that, despite your initial infatuation with someone (and I believe you should be 100% infatuated), you’re still learning to set up camp with another imperfect, fallen human. This means that there are gritty times ahead as you learn to be open to one another. What makes the difference, though, is the fact that there’s no one else you’d rather fight with, and there’s no one else you’d rather triumph with. This person should be your home- be open with them and let go of your pride.
S - There is so much to be said about marriage, hence why you will find a thousand books, blogs, articles and marriage counsellors. But when I think of our young-selves, I think one thing that I would have loved to hear is that marriage is the one and only covenant relationship you will ever have. If you see this relationship as anything less, don’t do it. It requires a reverence that other relationships don’t and therefore, requires you to give your best. When you give your best, it’s the best. But you will need help! Make sure to immerse yourself in community and accountability – this is a game-changer. Additionally, in a faith-based marriage, it’s important to ask yourself before you get married: Am I able to serve and imitate Jesus better and more fully through this relationship or will this hinder me from becoming more Christ-like and furthering His kingdom? Your motives for marriage can be an interesting thing to dissect and should be central to your thoughts prior to getting married.
Photo by Denny Müller
What wisdom have you gleaned from working through conflicts together?
J - Conflict can be a really hard, uphill battle if you enter into it assuming the other person is 100% wrong and you’re 100% right. That is rarely the case. In every conflict, your goal should be to see it their way in the end, not to convince them to see it your way. When you enter into conflict, assume right away that there is something they know that you don’t- this gives you the opportunity to approach it ‘curiously, not furiously’ and it also expedites the process of apology which each party should be competing to be first in. If we vow to serve one another forever on the wedding day, we are vowing to serve them in conflict as well.
S - Conflict is good (or at least can be). When done well, it can bring life to your marriage. But when done poorly, it can also bring death. Be sure to hone your conflict-resolution skills. Generally, you begin resolving conflict in the same way you resolved conflict in your family of origin and therefore you both bring different methods to your marriage and sometimes this can be good, and other times they can clash and be unhealthy. Recognize when it’s unhealthy, work to fix that and keep trying; don’t avoid it and walk patiently and humbly with each other. There is so much to learn about ourselves and our spouse and it doesn’t happen overnight.
I have always loved how you two are big advocates for doing therapy. You’re people who desire to grow as individuals, in your faith and as a couple. Why do you believe in therapy?
J - Christ-centred counselling has played a large part in our success as a couple. We’ve both accrued our own baggage as people do, and neither of us expected the extra luggage on the flight. That’s okay though, because no one is perfect and certainly no one has all the answers. This connects to my point on pride in question #2; often we aren’t equipped with the right tools to deal with said baggage. Understanding that counselling is nothing more than equipment helps to lessen the blow to one’s ego and encourages reconciliation with not only each other, but also the past hurts we carry with us.
S - Therapy is good for so many reasons – one of my most treasured reasons for advocating for therapy is that it allows you to slowly pull off the mask that we wear to protect ourselves from perceived harm. We bring these defense mechanisms to our marriage that hinder authentic relationship like anger, withdrawal, denial, isolation, sarcasm and so on. These mechanisms are learned in our family of origin and no longer serve us well as adults but rather, as I mentioned, hinder us from authenticity. When you slowly start to realize your behaviours are unhealthy and a disservice to yourself and your new family, you can work towards creating newer, healthier ways of handling yourself under stress and duress; you build a toolkit to handle life better and you will be more joy-filled and resilient. Therapy is a great way to have a safe place to start this process and to walk alongside someone who is trained to listen, validate and provide insight on how to best move forward. Make sure you find a credible therapist that you trust though – not every therapist is for you even if they have a bunch of letters behind their name. Be discerning.
What role does faith play into your marriage?
J - We strive to have a Christ-centred relationship. This is not always easy, of course, as things are constantly attempting to draw our attention away from that goal. Nonetheless, we continue to strive for it as we believe that Christ is centric to a fulfilled life.
S - Central. As I mentioned earlier, marriage is the one and only covenant relationship you will have which is a Christian concept. And that means when you enter this covenant, you are now required to love your spouse as yourself. The key word is required, it’s not a suggestion but a commandment. This gets tricky when our selfishness rears it’s ugly head and we focus on our wants and needs instead. But that’s when repentance and forgiveness become verbs. The more we work towards being like Jesus, humble, gentle, convicted, and loving, the more fulfilling our marriage has been. Faith has given it fuller life and meaning and without the guidance of the Spirit, our faith-community and the example of Jesus, I don’t know what our marriage would look like. Because I can tell you, a Sueann left to her own devices is not a great wife or life-partner.
Photo by Wedding Dreamz
What do you appreciate about one another? And how does the other person make you better?
J - I appreciate Sueann’s sense of humour and her informed approach to life. We laugh hard on most days and on worse days, we simply laugh a little less. She is driven with razor-sharp intelligence- this leads to success in her endeavours and gives me the opportunity to praise her for her achievements. We work well together in the age-old sense that I’m a dreamer and she’s more rational. She has saved us from many a disaster in areas I’d have never seen it coming. She sharpens me, keeps me focused, God-centred, and always laughing until my cheeks hurt.
S - In so many ways, Josh is the opposite of who I am which is a good thing. He makes me better by providing a fresh view on life. He sees opportunity where I see opposition; he has a deep desire to experience life to the full and he dreams big. So many of the opportunities I’ve had in life are because he dreams it up and advocates for it while I work out the details because that’s where my strengths come in handy. He’s a man who acts on his convictions and is not afraid to tell you he loves you; people are drawn to him and his kindness and enthusiasm; and he’s wildly intelligent – he always adds such depth and insight to conversations. I genuinely enjoy his company and we can talk for hours about all sorts of things because he knows the most random facts as a result of researching things that nobody else cares about. Ask him about foxes. His knowledge on the subject is so strange and endearing.
What has God taught you through your marriage?
J - God has encouraged me to see life as less of a playground through Sueann. As I said, she is quick on her feet to see things as they really are and this is immensely beneficial. I have been taught that humility, honesty and prudence are Godly traits and not just things one reads about in books. I’m thankful for the constant blessings in marriage that truly never seem to end in such a way that glory be given only to Him and none to us.
S - He’s taught me how much I lack humility at times and how much I need transformation through the Spirit. Marriage has been a humbling endeavour and has pointed out the worst parts of me that need repentance and reconciliation. Without the mirror of marriage, I wouldn’t have been able to see the areas of my life that were lacking so much grace for myself and others around me. Through marriage, I’ve learned that if I can be lovable to another person who isn’t capable of perfect love, how much more am I loved by Love Incarnate itself? I imagine that being a parent and loving a child has the same effect and as we enter this new stage of life together, I am excited (famous last words) to learn even more fully what it is to love and be loved.
Photo by freestocks - @freestocks
What do you hope to impart to your baby that’s on the way?
J -That life is a journey,and it takes a while. Loving the Lord, smelling the flowers, doing some good work with one’s hands and mind, petting cats, learning constantly and finding joy in the smallest things of life are the virtues we hold dear in our house.
S - So many things. But what I deeply want for our baby is for them to feel safe and loved in their home; for them to know how intrinsically beautiful and valuable they are for simply being created in His image and not for what they can offer the world; and I want them to see how much their mom and dad want to love and be like Christ that they want that for their life too. Life is full of beauty and tragedy so my hope and prayer is that they would have what they need to be able to weather whatever storm comes their way. An easy life is not an option, but an easy yoke is.
One of my favourite things about you guys is how much fun you have. What do you guys like to do for fun?
J - We do all kinds of things for fun and rest! It really depends on the kind of week we’ve had. Some days we’ll go for long walks in parks and then throw a frisbee around in our backyard. We’ll sit on the deck and soak up the sun, or have a long and serious, thought-provoking conversation. Or maybe Sueann will find a cozy chair with a book and I’ll play that new video game that just came out. I’ve always believed that it’s important to find someone that you can rest with, even if it’s done in different ways. One of the greatest treasures to be found in a marriage is making your spouse your oasis through knowing they respect your style of rest.
S - We’re pretty eclectic with what we enjoy and do for fun and it depends highly on the season. During the summer, we’re always down for a camping adventure, time on a lake boating or wakeboarding; we also love bonfires and good food and drinks on a patio with our friends. During the winter, we love to hunker down at home with a fire, charcuterie board and a good bottle of wine. And if we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll also take a day and hit the slopes for some snowboarding.
Photo by Mattias Diesel - @mattiasdiesel
Do you understand why I love them? Aren't they incredible?! Want to read more of their insights than I strongly encourage you to check out their blog at Harvey House Musings. It's SO good!!
Thank you dear friends for opening up your hearts and sharing what the Lord has taught you and done through your beautiful marriage. May God continue to bless your sweet union. Happy Love Day everyone!