Joan and Mark Endicott are shown during their college years, when they first met and fell in love. That was 43 years ago. Both Endicotts prayed as young people that God would bring “the right person” into their lives. (Courtesy photo)
By Joan Endicott
Having just celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary on December 20, 2022, it’s fun to watch people’s reaction when they hear that. Often it’s a jaw-dropping reaction. Of course, we’d love to think that those dropped jaws are a result of us looking waaay too young to be married that long. I mean, it just doesn’t seem possible, right? But alas, to many, it’s because being married for so long seems like such an anomaly anymore. Whatever the reason for their surprised response, very often it’s followed with this question, “So, what’s your secret?” Before telling you what we think is foundational to a lasting marriage, let’s go back a few years, shall we?
Once upon a time—actually 43 years ago—two young’uns went on their very first date.
And so, the story goes…It all started September 1979 at Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon. Mark first saw Joan in the Chapel service while she was on stage singing a solo with her buddy Dan accompanying her on guitar. (Mark thought to himself that she must either be married or have a boyfriend.) Joan first saw Mark while she and a friend were walking back to campus from Taco Bell—her go-to for dinner when not working—where he was with a group of other grad classmates who were preparing to go roller-skating.
As it so happens, though Joan normally worked on Friday nights, she had that night off and her friends had asked her to go roller-skating as well. So, Joan and Mark ended up meeting and visiting with other friends in small groups at the skating rink. When it was close to closing time, with music still playing, they announced it was time for Ladies’ Choice. In roller-skating that’s where the girl gets to ask the guy to skate—without seeming forward.
Joan saw Mark standing behind the partition and asked him if he’d like to skate. He looked surprised and then said, “Oh I would, but I just took off my skates!” Mark said he had mixed emotions because he was very happy that Joan wanted to skate with him but not happy that he had just taken his skates off. Joan felt a little embarrassed, but as she started to skate away, Mark said, “But I can put them back on!” and he did. Though he felt a little awkward with not having much experience skating, they ended the evening holding hands as they skated.
They saw each other a few times, mostly during mealtime in the cafeteria since Mark had grad classes and Joan was a sophomore.
One day, Joan’s English teacher, Barb Darland, gave an assignment to interview someone—anyone—they wanted to get to know better. “Hmmm,” Joan thought, “I’d like to get to know Mark Endicott better! I could ask him for an interview!” This assignment was not due until semester’s end. It’s the ONLY assignment Joan ever got done early!
So next time Joan saw Mark in the cafeteria, she told him about the English class assignment and asked if she could interview him. He agreed and…guess what? Joan left the cafeteria and was walking to the campus post office when Mark caught up with her and suggested they go out for dessert and do the interview over dessert. Joan slyly—I mean shyly—smiled and said, “That’s a great idea!” So they made plans to go out on Friday night after Joan got off work at the Gateway Fred Meyer as a grocery cashier.
BUT THEN, something happened that halted those plans—Mark caught a cold. Naturally he wanted to make a good impression, which meant being healthy before going out on that date. He showed up at 7 p.m., cold medicine in hand at her checkout stand. He explained the situation and asked for a rain check for their date. Joan’s insecurities kicked in and she thought this could be just an excuse if he had started having second thoughts. I mean, he didn’t LOOK sick to her—in fact, he looked pretty good!
Several days passed and they would see each other on campus, but Mark never mentioned a new date for the interview. (Did I mention he didn’t LOOK sick to Joan?) So naturally, Joan was thinking he was not actually interested in setting a new date, but she did want to know for sure.
One night when she was at work, she was filling out a rain check for a customer and had a bright idea! Since Mark had specifically asked for a rain check, she decided she’d write one out for him—with a due date and everything. She used an actual paper rain check, wrote it out, and then delivered it to the campus post office. Then, she panicked! She thought Mark would think she was a weirdo for sure, so she decided to ask the clerk to retrieve it for her, but when she went to the post office window to ask, the office was closed! Of course, then she worried, stressed, and second guessed herself all over the place.
The next afternoon, another gal in her dorm came to her room and told her there was a phone call for her. When she answered it, the voice on the other end said, “Yes, hello, I have a rain check here and I’d like to know when I could come pick up the package?” Joan laughed and asked, “How would you like the package wrapped?” To which Mark replied, “I thought we could go have Chinese food—do you know of a good place?” They both laughed and laughed and that was the start of something wonderful! (They’ve been laughing ever since!)
Forty-three years ago was a first date that led to becoming best friends, then partners in marriage (mawage), then parents of three amazing humans plus their amazing bonus daughter, and now three grands that call them GiGi and Papa. They are forever grateful to the Lord for His abundant blessings in every chapter of their lives and look forward to continue serving Him for the rest of their lives.
So what is the secret to a long, fulfilling marriage? Let’s go back a few years before that first date in September 1979. When Joan was in high school, she realized it was a good time to start praying for the man she would eventually marry. At 15, she wrote out one of those prayers and put it up on her bedroom wall. Though she had no idea at that time who that would be, she knew this was incredibly important since she had witnessed both extremes, starting with her own parents’ marriage that was on life-support. On the other end of the spectrum were her role-models who had wonderful marriages and they truly were best friends. She wanted God’s best, so she began to pray for it.
When Mark was transitioning from high school to college, he made an even deeper commitment to not just know Jesus as Savior, but committed to put Him first and truly make Him Lord of his life. Wanting God’s best certainly included whom he would marry, so that’s when he started to pray for his future wife. That said, they believed it was important for them to pray for their future mate while seeking to grow closer in their relationship with the Lord themselves. Joan and Mark both believed they would connect with the right person at the right time if they continued to grow spiritually—becoming the exact right fit for the person they were praying for. If Mark hadn’t been walking closely with the Lord, Joan would not have been attracted to him and vice versa.
Some Fundamental Values We Shared:
- Personal walk with Jesus as Savior and Lord
- Commitment and belief that divorce wasn’t an option
- Putting each other before self
We know there are no guarantees. We know so many people who did their part, prayed and believed they had married their right person, only to find out that that person did not have the level of commitment, ethics, values, character and beliefs they represented themselves as having. Our hearts break with you and for you and we are so deeply sorry for what’s happened to you. Please know, you can only control your controllables. You could not predict what that person would decide to do. We all have a free will, friend, and you cannot choose for someone else. Each of us are personally responsible to the Lord.
Grab your FREE copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® book and videos at www.JoanEndicott.com. Joan is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author and Coach who’s coaching has reached over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messages on Facebook and Instagram.