Celebrating 22 Years of the Perfect, Imperfect Marriage!

22 years ago today I embarked on a wild and crazy adventure….

As I took those first steps towards life with my beloved I could not know what twists and turns, valleys and peaks, lay on the road ahead.

I did know that I was exactly where I wanted to be.


As I grasped my father’s arm and breathed in deeply, a wonderful peace filled my heart and soul. God had brought me here and He would be a part of my journey to the end.

Though I lived in Los Angeles by then I chose to get married in Paris where I grew up. It was a tough decision in some ways because some of the friends Cris and I cherished as a couple would not be able to attend.  But I knew deep in my heart it was the right thing to do. I was crazy about Cris and knew he was my guy, but I also knew that I would need the support of loved ones as we ventured into this new life together.

I also knew that our marriage needed God’s anointing.

As I looked for a church in Los Angeles, nothing felt right.  I had not yet found my community and I did not want a church wedding just as a formality.  I wanted my wedding in a house of God filled with His spirit.  So I returned to the church of my childhood. I had the privilege of attending Mass for much of my formative years with a community of the  most beautiful nuns.  At every mass a wonderful peace and joy wrapped itself around me as their angelic voices lifted in song.

This was my spiritual home.  It was where I made my first communion and where I wanted to get married.


The priest who celebrated our wedding, Archbishop Guy Thomazeau, is a dear friend of the family and one of the most saintly men I know.

I truly had the perfect wedding, surrounded by friends and family that had been part of my life’s journey up until this day, and new friends who were just coming into it.

And always by my side, my mom, dad and three sibling. My family has been my rock and has supported me through good times and challenging ones. My parents have shown me by their example that working through the tough times in a marriage leads to the greatest rewards.


Let’s be honest, marriage is not easy.  Life takes us on a path that is full of surprises. And though we become one through God’s blessing, we remain two individuals who keep on growing as we experience new things, meet new people, and face trials that test our very core… sometimes we change together… sometimes we don’t.

The first five years of marriage were pure bliss.  Cris and I had work schedules that allowed us a lot of free time. Weekends were filled with adventure. We both became certified dive masters, discovered the magic of rock climbing and became volunteer ski patrollers.

That passion for living life fully and our ability to push everything aside and escape for a few hours or a few days, has been a saving grace time and again.

When our first daughter was born a whole new world opened up. She was our little ray of sunshine and gave everything we did a new purpose.  Children touch our very core and as we fumble through the wonderful world of parenting we learn new things about ourselves at every turn. Our beliefs are tested as much as our patience.

As we’ve journeyed through this new world with two more daughters making our little family complete, we’ve been tested time and again in ways we could never have anticipated.  Cris and I have different parenting styles, and though we share the same core values, we express this in very different ways. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed how often we’d find ourselves on opposites sides of the fence.  We’ve also both brought into our marriage deep wounds from our childhood.  Wounds that were buried or ignored and have surfaced as we’ve been tested.

More than once I’ve found myself on my knees pleading with God for mercy, grace, patience and understanding. I would be lying if I said I never had the urge to run away.  But deep down I knew it wasn’t what I truly wanted and it would only bring more pain.

Whenever I’ve found myself in a dark place, where life felt overwhelming and I could not breathe, I’ve gone back to that perfect day… That magical day when we both said “I do”.  I meant it from the depths of my soul when I said “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

Cris and I may not agree on everything and we both have habits that drive the other one crazy, but we share a deep and unconditional love for each other.  We cherish and respect each other and are committed to walking this path together wherever it may lead, and no matter how challenging the journey may be.  We know the importance of asking for help when we need it and have been blessed with phenomenal friends and a supportive family.

I always tell my girls good things are worth fighting for. My marriage may not be perfect but it truly is the perfect marriage for me. And as we celebrate our twenty second anniversary, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished.  We’ve fought hard to stay together.  But we have done it together and together we look forward to what life has in store for us.

More trials will come our way.  In one short year our oldest will turn 18 and will leave our little nest to fly off to life on her own. Our family dynamic will change.  But we’ll adjust and discover knew things to love and cherish.

Marriage is hard. But for me it has been worth every battle.  And I am a much better person thanks to my beloved.



  1. Valerie, it is a lovely, lovely article! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Happy, Happy Anniversary Valerie & Cris! What a wonderful, warm, generous, loving & yes, very athletic family you have! Love to you all XX

  3. Happy Anniversary! 🙂

  4. April Walsh says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your marriage! Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Well said and happy anniversary.

  6. Happy Anniversary!! <3 <3

  7. Nice article. I think it is great that you went back to Paris to the church home of your childhood.

    • It was such a special day Lynda… I felt like a princess and was so grateful to be surrounded by the people who had known me for most of my life up until then. Leaving everyone behind for college was heartbreaking so this was the perfect coming home.

  8. Happy Anniversary! Loved reading this.

  9. I love this. Congratulations! I love seeing the pictures too.

  10. Happy Anniversary and congrats on 22 years!

  11. Valerie, congratulations on your 22 year anniversary and for sharing the journey. I hope the future holds many more anniversaries and that you continue to learn and grow through each of them

    • Heartfelt thanks Paul! I too pray we have many more anniversaries to celebrate 🙂 We’ve learned so much as we’ve travelled this bumpy path together, and have both become much better human beings for it, and yet in many ways we’ve just scratched the surface. So many more new discoveries await us!

  12. A touching and honest perspective of the journey of marriage, Valerie. My wife and I celebrated our 33rd year last week and I don’t think you get to either of our numbers without some bumps along the way. The irony may be that it is overcoming those tests that can bring strength and new appreciations. I suspect your parental example will serve your daughters well as they move into new phases of their lives. Thanks for the share.

    • Thanks Derrick and congratulations on 33 years!You are absolutely right, bumps along the way are part of the journey and the key things is to take those bumps as they come, allow then to slow you down, reassess and find a way around them rather than let then derail you. And I agree that in overcoming those test we become stronger and more appreciative of what we can accomplish when we stay committed. I do hope my girls will show that same blend of resilience and tenacity when they are ready to move into that state of their life.

  13. Congratulations on your 22nd wedding anniversary. You are so lucky to have found a soul mate and have wonderful children. All marriages have ups and downs and you have found the perfect way to keep on being happy.

  14. Congrats on staying together for 22 yrs of marriage, in our world today that’s especially something to be proud of. It sounds like you have a good solid marriage.

    • Thank you Crystal.. We do our best and ultimately that is the best we can do. Some battles have been more painful than others but in the end we’ve grown so much and learned so much together and deep down have never wanted anything other than to succeed together. A good relationship takes work and a solid commitment from both parties to stay the course. I am grateful that my guy is committed to the end.

  15. Gorgeous! Wow! I loved reading your story, we will be celebrating 14 years on Monday!

    happy Anniversary!!!!

  16. Happy 22nd. I look forward to that day.

  17. I like how you said it’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for you. That’s such a great attitude to take. You were a beautiful bride, by the way.

    • Thank you Liz. You made me smile. I personally believe that this is the secret to enjoying everything that life throws at us, recognizing that it is perfect for us, and the moment, with all of it’s imperfections. Have a splendid day!

  18. thanks for sharing, this was beautiful

  19. Congrats on your anniversary! I have Been married almost five years and you are an inspiration. You guys are a good looking couple and you both are adventurous! That is great that you have a great relationship with God to. God has helped out in so many situations! Great article! 🙂

    • Thank you Crystal and congratulations! I don’t know how a relationship can thrive without God because no matter how strong our love for one another is, we are tested time again.. And as our daughters transition in and out of the teen years, I believe the tests become greater. Having a solid foundation of love and faith is essential. All the best to your and your husband for a long, prosperous and joyful marriage 🙂

  20. Aw, that is such a great article. Happy anniversary and may the next 22 years be as good or better. 🙂

  21. Happy Anniversary! I wore the exact same color bridesmaid dress in my sister’s wedding!! 🙂

    • Thank you Stacie! Isn’t that color gorgeous! What was fun is that each one of my bridesmaid had shoes the color of the dress but completely different styles that matched their personalities.. so fun!

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