Joe’s Story: God and My Wife Saved My Life

For decades, researchers have found indications that married people are healthier than people who are single, divorced or widowed.

People in happy marriages have been shown to live longer, have fewer strokes and heart attacks, have a lower chance of becoming depressed, be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time, and survive a major operation.



A 2017 Carnegie Mellon University study provides the first biological evidence to support these claims.

The CMU research team found that married individuals had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who never married or were previously married. These findings support the belief that unmarried people face more psychological stress than married individuals. Prolonged stress is associated with increased levels of cortisol. High cortisol levels can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate inflammation and therefore promotes the development and progression of many diseases. 

And a recent study of 25,000 people in England found that among people having a heart attack, those who were married were 14 percent more likely to survive. Plus, they were able to leave the hospital two days sooner than single people who had a heart attack. 

Joe Minarik has survived an aortic aneurysm and kidney failure. He gives credit to God and his wife, Karen, for restoring his health and strengthening his faith. Joe’s story is featured in my second book, Grace Revealed: Finding God’s Strength in Any Crisis. Here is the rest of Joe’s story, which highlights Karen’s remarkable role in his journey.

Karen Catches My Eye

In December 2012, I was working as a mechanic at Taylor Rental in North Falmouth, Massachusetts. I told my boss, “If you will host a Christmas party at the place down the street, I will pay for the entertainment, and you can pay for the drinks.”

My friend, George, plays in a blues band. He was going to provide the entertainment for the party, and I was going to sing with his band. He asked me if he could take a friend to the party, and of course I said yes. His friend was a woman named Karen, and she caught my eye.

George and his wife stayed at Karen’s house for a few weeks while their house was being built. George called me one day and said, “Hey, we are having dinner at Karen’s. You want to come over?”

So I went. A week later, George asked me over to Karen’s again, and I went. But I was wondering why Karen didn’t call to invite me herself. The third week, George called me and said, “When are you going to ask Karen out to dinner?”

I responded, “I was waiting for you to call me!”

Our First Date — To the Hospital

There are some unusual first dates, but mine will be hard to beat. In November 2014, Karen and I finally had our first date — at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

Some date. I tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. I had a heart aneurysm. The doctor told me I would need to have surgery in January.

On the way home to North Falmouth, Massachusetts, we stopped on Cape Cod and then had dinner at the Silver Lounge in Falmouth. During the entire day and evening, I thought about this beautiful woman by my side. I wanted to have a relationship with her, but I felt it was unfair to put her through all the stress, worry and inconvenience of the health problems I was having. I wondered why she would want to go out with me again because I could die during the surgery in January. But I didn’t say anything to her.


In January 2015, my heart operation was successful. As I was recovering, Karen was by my side. I proposed to her at the end of February 2015 at her house, and we got married on September 19, 2015. It was a bit rushed, but my father was sick, and I wanted my parents to see us married.

Karen is funny and compassionate. She loves her dog and loves to be with her friends. Everyone loves her, and it’s easy to see why. I thank God every day for bringing this wonderful woman into my life.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
— Proverbs 18:22

Beating the Odds

Two months later, doctors told me my kidneys were damaged and working at only 5 percent capacity. I was told I would have to begin dialysis. That’s when I told my wife to bail out. “What kind of life can I give you?” I asked her. “I don’t know what is going to happen.”

But Karen shook her head and said, “I don’t care, Joe. I want to take care of you for the rest of your life.”

I was on dialysis three times a week for four hours each time. The doctor told me I would have to be on dialysis for the rest of my life Karen and I hardly knew each other at that point. But she stayed with me through all of it and is still by my side. I will do the same for her if the situation arises.

Then Karen did something even more remarkable: she offered to donate a kidney to me. We were a match because we have the same blood type. But our transplant surgery was put off because of a misreading from the hospital. Then it was delayed a second time because I got a blood infection. After I recovered, I got an even more serious blood infection that was septic. Before they could reschedule the transplant, they started working to take me off dialysis.

Currently, the doctors say I have stage 3 moderate chronic kidney disease. I beat the odds. I got through the worst of it. I healed because of God’s generous grace, my mother’s daily prayer marathons, and the love and support of my wonderful wife.

Karen is the best gift God has ever given me. I would not have made the journey to the other side of the life-threatening medical conditions without her love, support and encouragement. And I would not be able to get through each day without her. I tell her I love her every day and show her my affection.

You can buy your spouse a car, a house, a vacation home, trips or jewelry. But the most important gift you can give your husband or wife is your daily commitment to be there during those incredibly difficult moments in life.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
— Proverbs 31:10

My Take on Joe’s Story

I heard Joe tell this story in church, and it was a joy to hear about this remarkably selfless gift from Karen and from God. It’s easy to get discouraged when we hear about people who are in unhappy relationships and the fact that about half of all marriages end in divorce. Joe’s story is a refreshing reminder that marriage can enrich our lives and make us stronger, happier and healthier. One of the greatest joys in life is having a loving, supportive spouse by your side as you fulfill God’s will in your life. You can encourage each other to stay healthy, walk closely with the Lord and lay all your challenges at His feet.