This article is the 26th in a series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, “Young adults want to know that it’s possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.” It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Rushing his wife, Sherry, to the hospital emergency room became routine for Dick Truman in the early years of their marriage. Unable to find a cause for Sherry’s irregular heartbeat, doctors continued to blame stress even when her heart stopped.
Sherry had hoped for a career in gospel music and had recorded an album, but singing worsened her heart condition, making a music career impossible. Infertility problems and two miscarriages made the dream of starting a family seem doubtful, as well.
But seven years into their marriage God blessed the Trumans with a baby boy, Nathan, but Sherry’s deteriorating health diminished the joy. With no firm diagnosis of her condition, Sherry had little hope for treatment. Dick struggled with conflicting emotions: “I felt like, if it was stress maybe I was the cause, and other times I was just irritated that she couldn’t cope better.” Sometimes Dick was annoyed with having to leave work to rush to the emergency room once again.
Eventually, Sherry became too debilitated to care for herself or their toddler. Dick felt he could not work a full-time job and take care of a toddler and a sick wife, so they decided Sherry and Nathan would move in with her parents, who lived 90 miles away.
Dick spent every weekend with his wife and son, but they had little private time. Sherry had waited so long for a baby only to not be able to care for him, and she feared she would not live to see him grow up.
“It would have been easy to let our troubles overtake us but we made a decision to work on it and not give up,” Sherry said. “We had to make our faith, not our problems, our focus.”
The Trumans committed to attend church together every Sunday and during the week to spend phone time studying the Bible, memorizing verses, and praying.
At last, a new medical test enabled doctors to detect that Sherry had a congenital heart defect. With medical treatment she improved. They adopted a baby girl from Chile: Bethany is now a beautiful young woman. They rescued an adolescent girl from a Chilean orphanage: Paola’s three children now call Dick and Sherry “Grandpa” and “Grandma.”
After 43 years of marriage, the Trumans look back on a full life. Dick has retired from a career in school administration, while Sherry uses her musical gifts to direct their church choir and offer piano and singing lessons. Nathan and his wife have given them three grandchildren.
The couple also provides financial assistance for struggling couples to attend marriage conferences. They work side by side with the middle and high school ministry Youth for Christ and have provided care for two childless widows in their congregation. They believe God has used their trials to give them compassion for those in need.