Today’s episode is a little bit different – we’re going to listen to the redemptive story of Sam and Toni Collier’s marriage, and we think you’re really going to enjoy it.
Interview with Sam and Toni
Sam and Toni have been married for a little over a year and they’re a blended family. Toni’s three-year-old daughter, Dylan, is a ball full of energy in their home!
Sam: I was adopted at two months old with my twin sister. We were adopted out of a poverty stricken situation by a lovely couple. My dad was married twice before he met my mom and my mom was coming out of an abusive marriage. They become believers and got married, after which they find out that they can’t have kids.
They come to meet my sister and I and were told they shouldn’t adopt us because we wouldn’t amount to much (due to where we came from). They taught us that if we didn’t believe in ourselves, it was viewed as wrong. They didn’t fight in front of us, and every morning at 5am they were up praying.
Toni: My story isn’t as polished as Sam’s. But we do have a central thread – my mom was abused in her previous marriage. My parents met and my dad rescued her from her situation. My dad has had two marriages as well, and they came together and get saved. However, my mom didn’t heal from her first marriage. My dad had a tough childhood as well, and you bring these two broken people together and brokenness leaks out onto your kids.
I was verbally abused myself, and in the 3rd grade my mom had a stroke and it completely knocked her out. I watched her bounce back from a lot of health issues, but I was parenting my mom and myself. I graduated at 16 and left the house. But in the midst of all that brokenness, I still take away their willingness to give and my dad’s willingness to provide.
Sam: We met in ministry, and as soon as we got married we jumped into counseling. Toni had been through so much in her last marriage with the verbal abuse, some physical abuse, lack of providing… and our counselor has helped us through that.
Ted: My view of divorce over 16 years has evolved – I think I had a really legalistic view of it. I can say that for most people, divorce is not the answer. But for some people, it is. We make promises that people’s spouses can’t keep. I can make promises about your relationship with Jesus – because he is the same every day. But people that do what I do can tend to say, “If you do X, your spouse will do Y” and that’s not always the case. What would you say to a spouse who is damaged and hurt?
Toni: I don’t want to advise anyone to make a decision – anyone in a hard situation really has to make the decision for themselves. But in my own personal story, I’ve known that God has a plan for me. And there was a moment in my first marriage where I didn’t have that hope anymore and it wasn’t my fault. That’s when I knew I had to go.
Ted: Now, we shout from the rooftops that we love counselors. But I never want to forget that guy or that lady who thinks there’s something wrong about going. But once you do it, you shout it from the rooftops. What made you guys so comfortable with it?
Sam: Well we have to say Reggie (head of Think Orange). But some tangible reasons – she didn’t mention much about the abuse she went through, but when you go through stuff like that you need someone. I think it’s great to have somebody who is unbiased pouring love on you all. And third, I hate not being good at something. And at the end of the day, I’m going to be measured on what I was given – my family. Why wouldn’t I go?
Toni: For those of you experiencing that friction of not having time for it – we make time for the things we care about. I want to be a better me emotionally. One thing to watch out for with counseling is fear – fear of exposing myself to a stranger, fear of being judged. But vulnerability and bravery and being courageous unlock so many other emotions. I am a much better me, wife, friend and mother because I know what’s going on with me and I know where it came from.
Ted: You guys are modeling something great, and I just want to say thank you so much.
Thanks for joining us for the Married People Podcast! We hope today’s episode helped you realize that marriage is a little easier than you may think. We hope you’ll subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave a review – they help us make the podcast better.
If you want more resources, check out Your Best Us and our blog at MarriedPeople.org. You can also check out Sam’s podcast A Greater Story, and find more from Toni on her website.
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