The Marriage Project | Tom & Marianne

"We're not any wiser than anyone else, we've just not known what we're doing for longer."

Over some of the best and freshest Italian food we've ever had, we were privileged to hear just parts of Tom & Marianne's story. Less questions and answers, and more stories. Which is why we wanted to hear from couples who have years and years of shared memories & shared ups and downs--there is so much beauty and depth to people who have lived life alongside each other for almost twice as long as we’ve been alive.

Tom is a little quieter, steady, and compassionate, and Marianne is every bit of the loving, energetic Italian woman you could hope for.  They’ve been married for 42 years, and we’ve enjoyed and been blessed by them & their marriage for several years now.

This is a little bit of their story.

Tom was the funniest person Marianne had ever met. The day they first met, she kept laughing even when she got home. Before going to sleep, she laughed so hard remembering what he’d said, that her mother overheard her and wanted to find out who was in bed with her.

She was the first girl who laughed at Tom’s jokes—so, of course, he married her.

That hasn’t changed—laughter has been a huge and vital part of their relationship from the beginning. (Which was unmistakable as we all attempted not to spew our wine across the table). In hard times and good times, in the middle of the night, in a fight—being able to really laugh together destroys the tension and brings you together like nothing else.

Marianne can complete his sentences, (or say the whole sentence to begin with), so it’s always a personal triumph for Tom when he can tell her a joke she hasn’t heard before and get her to bust up laughing.

They had the dreamy courtship (and planned their wedding in 6 weeks), but it didn’t take long for serious hardship to hit: Tom’s dad unexpectedly died two days after their wedding. They didn’t even realize all of what was happening at the time until decades later—just that it was hard. And getting married felt like a mistake. Tom was grieving, without knowing how, and Marianne wanted to be able to get back to the honeymoon newlywed life eventually. It was hard to communicate or articulate feelings, and it was a lot of fighting, and a lot of depression.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. They were stubborn enough to stick it out, for the commitment alone, and a couple years after they got married, Marianne became a Christian. Tom immediately started to look different to her—she didn’t immediately fall in love all over again, but she felt herself getting pulled toward him, instead of pulled away. Marianne attended church alone, and eventually with their unexpectedly-soon kids.

On their 6th anniversary, Tom went with Marianne to a church event. The gospel message was being given, and all of Marianne’s friends were spreading pray for Tom to get saved. Marianne was desperate for a husband who believed in God too, and she was praying and hoping more than she ever had. Tom was agitated and sweating, and she was devastated when he finally got up and left, before the message was over. She felt like the one shot was over. The meeting ended, it emptied out, and Tom came back to get her. Dead silence as they walked to the car. Then Tom said, “You know when that guy talked about inviting Jesus into your life? ...Well, I did.” While Marianne had been desperately wishing that he’d stayed inside for the rest of the message, Tom had gotten to the door and couldn’t leave.  He’d been there, hearing the entire call to salvation.

But, “being a Christian isn’t for sissies”. They immediately hit new trials—Tom lost his job, which started years of money troubles, and Marianne struggled with the expectations she had for her new-believer husband.

But those early years deepened their faith in God in a way nothing else ever could have. “After five years of God coming through for us even in the middle of it all, we believed that he wouldn’t ever fail us. He had a good track record.”

You never know what will happen in your future, but when you look back at dark years that God stood with you, and never let you down—you know he’s not going to let you down, despite what new trials come. God's faithfulness through plenty of dark years was their reason for trusting him through the rest of them.

“Love is what’s left even after that early fleshy feeling fades: it’s waking up every morning and choosing each other.”

“Marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Something you continually have to work on. It doesn’t just happen.”


The book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” is helpful. Men often process things by being in a cave alone—so don’t feel rejected when that’s what happens. (God’s big joke is how different he made men and women!) Men are naturally wired to look at a problem, fix it, and move on.  Men—listen to her! 1) Stay awake, and 2) Look interested.



Women need to process things verbally. Just sit there, hold her hand, nod your head, and say “that must be hard” every once in awhile. You’ll get done with the conversation and she’ll think you gave her the best advice! 

Affirm her every day. Compliment her—even when she’s in her 60’s.

It’s ironic how we’re all looking for what we need, but then we often pick people who are so different than us that they aren’t naturally good at giving what we crave most! Marianne had to realize that it wasn’t personal when it didn’t come automatically for Tom to be verbally affirming—he just didn’t know how.


They love going on dates, and going bike riding together. Experiencing new things together always shakes things up—most recently, going into business together as real estate agents! When you’re with the same person for that long, you might think it would get boring, but people are always changing.


Sometimes, there’s just not the energy to invest in catching up, and being intentional. Sometimes you just suck it up and get through another day—praying for more wisdom and love for the other person.


Yes, it was frustrating and demanding at times, but that’s not what they look back and remember now—they remember with misty eyes, being together after their children’s births, a family with a whole, brand new person, discovering the stars, bike rides, first steps, and getting to enjoy their children.

“Tom is such a tender daddy, he made being a mommy wonderful.”

“It just changes your whole life—other things that you thought mattered just fade away.”

They get to delight in the blessing of their children’s spouses & four grandchildren now, and enjoy things all together.

Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff).

Be lighthearted—don’t take parenting too seriously and negatively. Let them know you enjoy them!

Be consistent—be reasonable about boundaries, but then stick by them, or they won’t respect you.

Don’t teach them that they’re the center of the universe! Family life isn’t a democracy.

Words stick—good ones + bad, so be careful with them. The things you say to them will shape their lives.