Marriage is hard. No one knows that better than Cassie Soete who has been a volunteer marriage mentor through Southeast Christian Church for more than 30 years. In that time, she’s ministered to more than 1,000 couples. She says about half the couples stayed together and half divorced. While those odds may discourage some, Cassie is a fighter, having fought to keep her own marriage intact while building a better and stronger relationship with her husband of 50 years.
Cassie married the love of her life, George Soete, just two years after graduating from Assumption High School. The couple had six children — five girls and one boy. Then on their 20th wedding anniversary George left Cassie for her best friend. For more than four years, the couple teetered on the brink of divorce before finally reconciling.
Their personal struggles and ultimate reconciliation became the basis for a Christ-centered ministry that helped married couples weather their challenges and put the pieces back together.
When George died suddenly in 2015, Cassie wasn’t sure she could continue the ministry, but her passion for marriage and a calling to help others has kept her going.
“If someone is hurting, I just drop everything to help them,” said Cassie. “I’m thankful George and I went through that valley to arrive at where we did. God brought us back together, and we had 30 wonderful years of marriage after that. It was so worth it. I want to help folks to avoid what I’ve been through. I want to help them heal their marriages.”
What can couples do to renew their marriage?
“Be a better listener. Listen to what your partner is saying and pay attention to their likes and dislikes. Have realistic expectations. People let you down sometimes, but you have to be willing to sacrifice for the other person to make it work. Keep your lives interesting to one another. Try doing what your partner likes. Put the other person first. I got everything I ever wanted because I gave George everything he ever needed.”
What advice do you have for couples who are now empty nesters and having trouble reconnecting?
“I hear this all the time. After the kids leave the couple looks at each other and doesn’t recognize the person they see. You have to keep the embers going and pay attention to your partner. Try to make time to be alone together. Value what the other person brings to the table. Take classes, go on retreats, or go to counseling to find that spark again. Be honest with each other and most importantly, learn to forgive. Holding on to a grudge will ruin a relationship.”
By Kym Voorhees Raque | Photo by Patti Hartog
P.S. Look up!