When Marriage is So Tough That You Need a Helmet

I learned that a good marriage doesn’t come easy. While amazing books like the Bible and His Needs, Her Needs helped me learn how to be a better wife, no marriage book will do the hard work for me.

It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. A distant memory… but not so distant.

I was 19 years old. He was 20. My friend Kelly did my make-up and I wore a long, white dress while I walked down a long white aisle.

We thought we were so grown up. We thought marriage would be fairly easy because we werein love.


Then we went on our honeymoon…

We thoroughly enjoyed being together but by the final day, we were ready to go to our new home. We made the mistake of doing just one more “fun” activity before we left.

We bickered the entire time we were in a canoe together. We couldn’t get the boat to go the way we wanted it to go. We spent our time in the water working against each-other, each trying to steer the canoe our own way. Not listening to the other person.

My visions of an easy, nearly perfect marriage came quickly crashing down.

The canoe guide saw what was happening and told us about his wedding ring. Scratched and worn and no longer perfect, but still lovely.

Still lovely.

That first year of marriage I became pregnant, Nathan and I both lost our jobs, we started a computer-service company with no money in savings, a high-school friend of mine committed suicide, my parents divorced, and we moved from a tiny apartment into a house.

Plus Lily was born and we became a family of three living on one part-time income.

The stress was enough to crush us. But it didn’t. We learned. We grew. We loved. We worked. We stayed committed.

We took our vows seriously. We held tight and refused to give up.

Still lovely.


We’ve been together through the deaths of three grandparents. He held me while I cried at my cousin’s funeral. He’s also comforted me when I’ve worried about situations outside of my control and when I’ve hurt so badly I thought my heart would never heal.

I learned that a good marriage doesn’t come easy. While amazing books like the Bible and His Needs, Her Needs helped me learn how to be a better wife, no marriage book will do the hard work for me.

There’s commitment. Respecting each-others differences. Learning to work together instead of against each-other. Trying hard. Offering grace. Refusing to give upThere’s also plenty of fun!

And there’s God. Through it all, His love prevailed and we never went without a meal in our bellies or a roof over our heads. He is good and our faith has grown so much.

We now have two healthy children, my husband’s computer business is thriving, I’m able to pursue my dream of being an author, we’re almost completely debt-free, and we’re closer to each-other than ever before.

As for canoeing? 

Nathan and I finally braved it again last summer with Lily and Grace. We had a blast. We worked together, we steered the boat without any problems, and we didn’t grow upset when the other person made a mistake.

When we pulled in to the finish-line with the rest of the canoers (friends from church), they celebrated with us that we conquered a marriage fear together!


Our friends understood that, for me, canoeing successfully with my husband was symbolic of the fact that we’re getting the hang of marriage.

Sometimes marriage is work. Some seasons are tough. But sometimes? Sometimes it’s so much fun that we laugh so hard, tears stream from our eyes. Sometimes we love each other so deeply that we think our hearts will explode.

Our wedding day, 10 years ago? We thought we were grown up then, but really, we’ve grown uptogether. We finally realize that we’ll never stop growing. I’ve spent over a third of my life married to my best friend. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Never perfect. But still lovely.



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Davonne Parks believes that some of life’s richest moments happen when we embrace the beauty of imperfection as we extend grace to ourselves and others. She and her husband, Nathan, have two sweet daughters, Lily and Grace. Davonne has written three inspiring eBooks, and she blogs about organization, simplicity, and heart-filled motherhood. Davonne also offers free personalized virtual-organizational tips and fun rewards as part of her popular brand-new Get Organized challenge.

Visit Davonne at her blog: DavonneParks.com and on Facebook: Davonne Parks


  • J marsh

    How can a wife have her husband as her best friend when he continues to refer to another woman as is best friend. References her that way and they talk daily about their personal lives?

  • Mary Hopper

    Davonne, love the illustration of helmets about marriage. At first I jumped back a bit; but laughed as I continued reading. I too was married at a sweet young age of 19, he at 21; for almost 35 years. It’s been the greatest road cross ride with many crashes and high jump clearings. God has graciously blessed us over the years and we’re so humbled.
    Thank you for the article
    Mary Jane

  • Amanda

    Wow that was so beautiful and really hit home! I got married a month after I turned 19 and we got pregnant 8 months after that. We now have 3 beautiful children and will be celebrating 6 years November 22! This was such a blessing to read, never perfect, ever really…but it is amazing and wonderful and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Thank you for your encouraging post!

  • Amy G.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It really hit home with me as well. We just have to keep encouraging each other to keep working at your marriage. It is so worth it. =)

  • Michele Ewing

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! My husband and I just celebrated our 6mth anniversary and I must say everything your have described is exactly what we have encountered, but through it all I must say I am thankful to be going through it all with him. He is my best friend, and I do feel so much love for him that my heart feels like it could explode. Thank you again and I look forward to reading more of your work. Have a blessed day!

  • Eva

    I Love the article and wish my marriage had a happy ending. My husband said he resents me even for things I have nothing to do with and Has turned into a cold person. Where do I begin to pray for him and our marriage?

  • Jessica

    I absolutely love this! It reminds me so much of me and my husband. We married at 20 and 21. We went to the mountains and went canoeing on our honeymoon and just sounds like the road we’ve been down. We have been married 12 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. We have had to learn to just trust God and we have learned what love is really all about. Thanks!!

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