Mark: The year was 1982. The month was November. It was a late Saturday night, or probably more like the wee hours of Sunday morning, when I got a phone call from a friend who was heartbroken and had obviously had too much to drink.

“Savage, she broke up with me. You have one hour to come get this engagement ring or I’m flushing it.” Kenny’s fiancé had broken up with him and he was devastated. He knew Jill and I were talking marriage and he was offering me the ring.

I was broke and didn’t know how I was going to be able to buy a ring so you can bet that I jumped in my car and raced to Kenny’s house.

Jill: Mark told me the story of the ring. I was a frugal girl then just as much as I am now so I was grateful for the affordable ring.

Mark did end up giving Kenny some money for it—certainly not close to what it was worth though. Believe it or not, Kenny had actually gotten the ring from another friend in a similar way! Because it had such a colorful past, we eventually had it appraised just to make sure it was a real diamond—and it was! We had it re-sized and I’ve now worn this beautiful emerald cut diamond for over 35 years.

Mark: Today is our 35th wedding anniversary and we’ve been talking about our rings. You see our rings represent our 35 years in so many different ways. First, the diamond in Jill’s engagement ring is a precious stone made from carbon under pressure. It’s the under pressure part of forming a diamond that makes it so appropriate for wedding rings.

Jill: Second the gold and silver our rings are made from also come from messy processes. Formed from heat and pressure these metals are created by hot fluids flowing through cracks deep in the Earth’s crust. Once mined, both gold and silver are refined and purified with fire. No wonder so many wedding rings are made from gold and silver. It’s an accurate representation of marriage!

Mark: In our No More Perfect Marriages book, we say that a real marriage isn’t perfect. A real marriage is two people being perfected. We are perfected when we allow God to use marriage to shape and mold us to be more like Him. We can either let the fire—the challenges of marriage—destroy us or purify us. It’s our choice.

Jill: Our marriage has indeed been through the fire. In our darkest season, it appeared that the fire might destroy our relationship but thankfully we both—in time—allowed God to use it to perfect us instead. To draw us closer to Him which ultimately allowed us to draw closer to each other too.

Mark: When I left during our dark season, I stopped wearing my wedding ring. In an action of continued commitment, Jill slipped the ring on her thumb and still wears it today. When I returned home, I suggested that we get me a new ring. One that signified my new commitment. As we drove home from the store, I pulled into the driveway of a church just a mile from our house. There are three crosses out near the road that I led Jill to. She wasn’t sure what in the world I was doing, but when we got to the three crosses, I knelt down on one knee, near the middle cross, and committed to her that I would never ever leave her again. I would never betray her trust again. I would never walk away from doing things God’s way again. Then I slipped the new ring on my finger. That happened just a few weeks before our 29th wedding anniversary…six years ago.

couple standing in front of a crossJill: I shed some pretty huge tears there at the foot of the cross. Mark was different, surrendered, and I’d had a front row seat at watching God work in his life in the previous few months since Easter Sunday when he had his own personal resurrection. His decision to put on his new ring at the foot of the cross was a beautiful gift. Since then, he’s been faithful to his commitments and he’s never taken off his new ring.

Even though I remained faithful in our marriage, there was plenty of perfecting that needed to happen to me. There still is for both of us.

Mark: Yes, marriage is still refining us, purifying us, and perfecting us to be more like Christ every day as pride, selfishness, judgement, deception, fear, independence, mistrust, unforgiveness, hopelessness, and other issues that keep our hearts at a distance from God and each other are brought to the surface in the fire of marriage. If we allow Him to use the marriage fire to refine us, those sins are surfaced in the heat, then skimmed off the top allowing us to be purified and able to operate more like Jesus in our marriage and other relationships.

What about you? Where is God refining you through your marriage or other relationships?

35 years—35 hard-won years—calls for a celebration! We’re doing that in two ways:

      • kids celebratingWe’re partnering with Compassion International to find 35 sponsors for 35 kids who desperately need someone to believe in them, support them, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus! $38/month will do that! We’ve seen 9 kids sponsored in the past few weeks since we started sharing about our anniversary goal. We have 26 more to go! You can learn more and find a match here: Or if you’d like for us to help you find a great match for you, just email us at and we’ll help you find a child that share’s a special birthdate, lives in a certain country, or is a certain age! (If you want to hear about how I got involved in Compassion International because of a dream—you can watch this short Facebook video!)


      • Three years ago, we first shared our story of redemption after infidelity in what we called the No More Perfect Marriages 10 Day Blog Series. It’s been the most popular posts on Jill’s blog over the past three years and it laid the foundation for our No More Perfect Marriages book that’s available today. We’ve been working on making the 10 Day Blog Series available in an easy-to-read, easy-to-share PDF format. We’re happy to release that today! You can find it here to read or share!

If you’d like to tap into any of our other marriage resources, you’ll find them here:

No More Perfect Marriages book
Your Next Steps: What To Do When Your Spouse Is Unfaithful book
#MarriageMonday Blog Posts
No More Perfect Marriages FREE E-Challenge
No More Perfect Marriages Seminars
The Flirt Alert
Book Mark and Jill as speakers
No More Perfect Marriages FREE Video Curriculum
No More Perfect Date Night–a club for your marriage!


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