A Story of Finding Hope in Marriage
When our family left on a three-week pilgrimage to southern Europe, springtime had nearly arrived in the Chicago area. Upon our return, it was clear that spring had indeed, sprung; the plants were overgrown and there was an abundance of weeds. From my kitchen window, I could see that my prized rose bush had not survived the harsh winter, so my husband made plans to dig it up and plant a new one. It made me sad knowing that the new rose bush would take time to establish its roots and grow to look as beautiful as this one had once looked.
The day before Troy was planning to uproot the rose bush, I noticed a bright red spot in the middle of the dead branches. Could there be life? Is it still alive? I looked more closely. There was one single rose in the middle of all the dead branches. The bush was still alive! It just needed some pruning and tender care.
Sometimes, our marriage might appear lifeless and we may even consider uprooting it because we feel our love has died. If you are there right now or if you find yourself at this point in the future, I want to encourage you to find the single rose, the glimmer of hope in that difficult time. Marriage is forever; this was God’s design from the beginning. Marriage was never meant to be uprooted and tossed away. With God’s presence in the marriage, there is always hope, but feelings of despair can set in when a marriage is struggling and obscure that saving hope. Despair can leave us longing for a glimmer of hope for a happy and fulfilling future with our spouse and tempt us to look elsewhere if we cannot find it.
The path to holiness in marriage is not easy, but it can be beautiful and life-giving when we work with what we have, instead of against it.
If your spouse is willing to work at the marriage – that is your rose. If your spouse is not currently willing to work at the marriage, but still loves you, then hold on to that hope – the hope that LOVE REMAINS. It may not be what you envisioned or desire, but – God willing – with prayer, sacrifice, outside intervention if needed, patience and time, things can change. Your spouse can reach a point of maturity and realize the need to work at the marriage, so it can grow, deepen, and bring true joy to both of you.
My husband and I recently emerged from a very difficult and challenging time in our marriage. Three years ago, I lost both of my parents within five months and during that time Troy started traveling every week for business. These weekly trips continued until just a few months ago. With five children at home, ages 1-18 at the time and one with special needs, the stress was overwhelming. I often felt like a single mom. The lifestyle he was living that required constant travel and stays at fancy hotels and restaurants, slowly began to have a negative effect on him.
Since Troy was away so often, it was challenging to keep our marriage and family life strong. He made sincere efforts to stay connected and support me from afar, but as more time passed, our once close connection began to dissipate, and disheartening feelings seeped in. We both fought in different ways and at various times to keep our marriage alive. We prayed and prayed. Throughout those three years, I always found hope in the fact that Troy truly loves God and he loves me. Whenever despair, loneliness and feelings of distrust began to set in, I relied on this anchor of hope.
This past March, Troy attended a week-long Theology of the Body immersion course. It changed his life and it changed our marriage. The truths Troy took away from the week and shared with me helped set both of us back on track and reignited the love of Christ in our marriage. We have a renewed sense of mission.
Despite three long, challenging, and difficult years, neither of us lost hope. Our faith was always alive, but our love was clouded by the tugs of the world and sin. Troy’s authentic faith and his love for me was my constant rose in what often felt like a dead bush. Praise be to God, we survived this harsh winter in our marriage and our love is more deeply and firmly rooted because of it.
What is the rose in your marriage? How can you better tend to it?