Andy and Katy are premarital and marriage mentors, and hosts of the Real Marriage show!
Andy grew up in a small family with one older brother. Talking about God and Church were not a regular thing until High School where he attended youth group one night a week. This was the first time he learned who God was and what role he had to play in God’s kingdom. As a young professional and many years being absent from God he decided to pray for not just a “good” wife, but an awesome wife. Weeks later she showed up at his work, but little did he know (at the time) that the awesomeness would take hard work on both sides.
Katy grew up in a large family, the second oldest of 7 children. Her parents taught the bible as a life base, and her ideals about marriage were shaped by her parents example (they are celebrating 30 years of marriage this year!).
Her goal through the high school years was to be a field worker for Compassion International, and when she was 18 her friend Kristy offered her a job at a local bank while she saved money to go overseas. Two weeks after she started work at that bank, she met Andy Gillis and thought to herself “If this is the one, Lord, I’ll take him!”
Shortly after meeting, the couple began dating and soon after, moved in together, knowingly setting their “faith aside” while doing what they wanted to do.
A year later they were married. But they had never really talked about faith, finances, family, goals, sex, or relationship roles – and each came into the marriage with an unwritten list of expectations they placed on their unknowing spouse.
Katy immediately started attending church, reading devotionals, and praying again…and pestering Andy to get on the band wagon. But He had no ambition to do so.
This led to many arguments. Not only arguments of faith, but of how their money would be handled, who’s family they’d visit over the holidays, and nagging on each other’s personal styles and habits. Stepping on each others toes and getting on each other’s nerves was a daily occurrence that left the stubborn couple frustrated.
A few weeks after their wedding, Katy was in tears as she thought “This was not the marriage I imagined it would be!” and in an immature move, packed up her bags and planned to run home to her parent’s house. On the way their, she pulled into a church parking lot and went through her phone and dialed the number of Joy, her pastor’s wife, and wailed her story of unjust treatment and her quickly failing marriage. Joy listened patiently and then instructed: “Katy, go back home, unpack your car, and you and Andy come over after dinner tomorrow night, ok?”
The next night, Andy and Katy showed up on Pastor Mike and Joy’s doorstep, were welcomed, and settled down for a quiet chat in their living room. They were about to get schooled on marriage!
Katy: I cheered inwardly as I thought “Now is the time for Mike to show Andy how to behave!” …boy, was I wrong!
Andy: I did not want to go, but was out of strategies on how to tame this woman.
On that evening, Mike and Joy shared their own story – the trials, life, sins (!), and joys they’ve shared together. They shared biblical truths and spent hours sharing what a “real” marriage was. Gently chastising us both and guiding us on how to move forward from here, we left their home with a deep knowing of what true grace was…and how it could make our marriage better.
Not saying that things were peachy the next day – no, truth is, it took years for them to get to the point where they felt truly great about their marriage and where it was going. But the example of “real marriage” of an unbiased, Christian couple who’d been at this longer than we had was invaluable. To have the ability to be mentored and guided and knocked to their knees was exactly what they needed, and that took place in the living room of a kind couple’s home. They are ever thankful for them being willing, real mentors for them in that crucial time!
In 2006, Andy and Katy moved to Atlanta and started attending Buckhead Church, a campus of North Point Ministries, where they thrived in the many faith-growing environments there, diving deeper into their own relationships with God, and began experiencing a Christ-centered marriage.
In 2011, they were asked to apply to become pre-marital mentors; the list of waiting couples was long, and the need for mentors was great.
Katy: I remember laughing – surely WE – who started all wrong and made so many mistakes along the way – would not be suitable mentors for those newly engaged sweethearts!
Andy: I signed us up because I felt we were perfect, since we had a lot of examples of what not to do
But Andy was excited about it, and so they went through the lengthy application process and were selected and invited to be part of the leadership team of mentors. Session one with their very first couple left them both knowing that this was the ministry work they were called to do! God was and continues to use their imperfect story and lessons learned to guide their couples in their own journey.
Andy and Katy Gillis have been mentoring engaged couples and leading married community groups in their home ever since, in the laid back, “real marriage” style that helps their couples feel secure as they work towards the God-centered, joy-filled and pressure-free marriages they wish to have.
In 2017, they became certified Prepare-Enrich facilitators, and launched their “Real Marriage” Facebook page, where they share helpful and engaging content and host a weekly video show “MTV” Marriage TV.
The Gillis’s mentor engaged, newly married, and married couples in their home and online through a 9 week couple coaching program and intimate small group environments.
They are creating a married leader training program for others who are called to be mentors to the couples in their circles. Look for that program soon!
Andy and Katy wish to honor God in all that they do, and through Real Marriage their focus is supporting and encouraging couples to enjoy Christ-centered marriages, because, as the Mark 10:8 says “so they are no longer two, but one…”